Dry, brittle hair is one of the oldest (and most telling) naturopathic signs that something isn’t quite right with a person’s nutrition. Let’s face it: as much as we think thick, shiny hair is important in evolutionary terms it’s not a big priority for the body. Because of that, your hair is one of the first places you might see signs of a nutrient deficiency. Most commonly, that means dry and brittle hair. It can sometimes also mean your hair will start falling out leaving your mane less full.
Interestingly, it’s often the big guys (macronutrients like protein and fats that are the issue. So making sure you’ve got those right is the first step. After that, we can get in to the nitty gritty of the little guys (micronutrients and phytochemicals) to make sure that you’re giving your hair the best natural treatment that you can.
Here are my top tips for giving your hair a natural boost!
Salmon is my favourite, but other oily fish like tuna and sardines are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids too. This is essential for hair growth. Remember that hair is 97% protein, so you need to be sure you’re getting plenty. This is even more important for vegans and vegetarians. If fatty acids are the issue, you’ll know it because you’ll likely have dry, flaky skin as well. I recommend one or two serves a week, as well as the same number of white fish. These smaller fish swim in the shallows of the ocean and therefore contain less heavy metals.
All nuts are good. Except peanuts though. They’re actually legume trying to trick you into thinking they’re a nut! But my favourites for hair health are almonds and walnuts because they’re also a good hit of zinc, biotin, vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fats. Have a little handful daily.
We’ve all heard of being so stressed that you’re “pulling your hair out”. But did you know that even before it gets to that stage, stress can make your hair start to fall out? No hands needed! Stress puts some hair follicles in to resting phase (because if your body thinks it’s running away from a threat, it doesn’t care much about how your hair looks) and eventually the hairs fall out. The interesting thing is that the hair often doesn’t fall out until weeks or even months after the stressful event, so you may not have put the two together!
A homemade coconut oil hair treatment with a few drops of rosemary oil is an easy remedy for slow-growing hair. Rosemary is a traditional herbal medicine that increases blood flow to the scalp, bringing with it nutrition for the developing follicles.
In male pattern hair loss, it’s dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is the culprit. Daily intake of a herb called Saw Palmetto will help lower the conversion of testosterone to DHT, meaning that hair loss will be slowed.