Monday, July 16, 2012

Holistic Hair Care

The main function of the hair on our head is to provide protection from scalp injury and sun burn, but the importance of hair extends deep into our cultural views of beauty. Cut, color and style of our hair are all important in our social views of what makes someone attractive. But the most important quality is whether or not the hair is shiny and smooth. So let's discuss a little about how to have beautiful and healthy hair.

Hair is mainly composed of keratin, which is not living; however, each hair develops in a sheath know as the hair follicle and the hair itself develops from a living cell at the base of the follicle. The shaft of the hair is known as the portion above skin and the root is the part of the hair below the skin. A sebaceous gland, located next to the root of the follicle produces sebum. Sebum is responsible for maintaining the acidic pH of the skin, keeping the hair from drying out and becoming brittle.

Hair grows in response to the amount of nutrients in your diet and in relation to your emotional health. Eating a diet high in fruits and veggies will provide adequate nutrients to maintain hair health. If your diet isn't all that great, you can supplement with B vitamins and Vitamin A, C or E or with the herbs listed below. I most clearly see the emotional effect on my hair when I am overly stressed. Not only is the texture of my hair become overly greasy but my hair falls out very easily. Try and keep your stress to a minimum, not only for the sake of your hair but for the sake of your overall health.

As far as herbs go, there are three aspects of herbs that make them effective at helping to strengthen the hair. The first group is the herbs that are high in vitamins and minerals. This includes nettles, raspberry leaf, oats and horsetail. The second group is herbs that nourish and tonify the kidneys, including cleavers, reshi, eclipta, walnuts remannia and black foods such as black sesame seeds. The final group of herbs is applied topically to stimulate the follicle, strengthen the hair and cleanse scalp. This includes sage, lavender, calendula, licorice, chamomile, and henna. One recipe for a hair tonic wash involves a handful of sage leaves and a handful of rosemary leaves simmered for several minutes and then steeped for three hours. The resulting liquid is then massaged into the scalp every night to tone the hair, improve color and remove dirt and dead skin.

Other tips to a healthy head of locks include:
  • Don't over wash your hair. It will dry it out and wash away important oils from the scalp. If you can stand it, once a week is an adequate amount of washing.
  • Use a shampoo that is pH balanced. The scalp is naturally acidic so you want to use a product that fosters that acidy
  • Try to do a couple days a week or one week a month when you don't blow dry, straighten or use chemical products, sprays or gels. All of this contributes to poor hair health.
  • Have two or three different shampoos and rotate using them every few days. If you use the same one all the time, it can cause imbalances in your hair and scalp.
  • Massage your scalp and/or brush your hair often. This will help to bring circulation to you scalp and make your hair healthier.
  • Avoid conditioners that contain glycerin. Although it is natural and makes the hair shiny and smooth, it also attracts dust and dirt to your hair.
  • Extra virgin olive oil or castor oil rubbed into the scalp can help to moisturize the scalp and thicken the hair.
Tomorrow, I will provide the recipe to herbal, all natural shampoos so stay tuned!


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