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  • Writer's picturePhysician Lim Chen Sing | 林晨欣

TCM Help In Hair Loss

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help in hair loss (alopecia)?

As the pace of life accelerates, many young and middle-aged people find out that their hair loss has increased, and their hair is getting sparse. According to recent studies, the number of people with hair loss has increased after the pandemic, 22% of COVID patients were dealing with hair loss months after being discharged from hospitals. This is closely related to our mental health after the pandemic, how can we get rid of the problem of hair loss?

How to recognize pathological hair loss (alopecia)?

The growth of our hair was divided into anagen(growing), catagen(degenerative), and telogen(resting) phases. Generally, hairs in catagen and telogen phases fall out naturally, so it is normal to shed around 60-100 hairs a day.

If you notice severe hair loss when gently pulling along your hair, or observe an increase in hair loss on the pillow, gradual thinning on top of head, circular or patchy bald spots, or sudden loosening of hair, then you should seek professional medical help.

What is the cause of hair loss?

According to the TCM theory, blood is a substance that provides nutrients for the whole body, and as “hair is the excess of blood”, indicates that the hair is nourished by the essence and blood stored in the liver and kidney. Besides that, the spleen has the function to generate blood, and the heart has the function to promote and regulate blood circulation, these are also the key to supply nutrients to the hair follicle. Hence, the pathogenesis of hair loss is closely related to the Zang-fu organs in TCM theory.

Causes of hair loss:

  • Emotion: Emotions such as stress, anxiety, depression can negatively affect the liver dispersing and discharging functions, causing Qi-stagnation and inability to regulate the blood. When the circulation of blood is poor, blood deficiency at local areas and attack by wind pathogens will eventually lead to hair loss.

  • Diet: Imbalance diet, or one with lots of greasy foods would increase the burden of spleen, causing spleen dysfunction, dampness-heat that accumulates will impede the growth of hair, leading to hair loss.

  • Physical weakness or postpartum: Deficiency of Qi and blood unable to nourish the hair, leading to hair loss.

  • Hereditary.

  • Collaterals stasis or blocked on head and scalp.

How does TCM prevent and treat hair loss?

  • TCM herbs: Herbs have a good curative effect and it can be taken through internally and externally. By taking it internally, it can adjust and improve the patient's physique, so that the hair follicles have enough nutrition to nourish the hair. By using herbs externally, it can help to improve the health of the scalp to prevent hair loss. In clinical practice, TCM diagnoses and treats hair loss by using syndrome differentiation. According to different syndromes, the choice of herbs would be different. The common treatment methods are as below:

  • Hair loss due to liver dispersing and discharging functions affected: The treatment mainly on soothing the liver and disperse wind, commonly used herbs are Chai Hu (Radix Bupleuri), Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii), Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma chuanxiong) and etc.

    • Hair loss due to internal damp-heat: The treatment mainly on remove dampness and clear orifices, commonly used herbs are Cang Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis), Chen Pi (Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae), Chang Pu (Sweetflag Rhizome) and etc.

    • Hair loss due to weak physique and postpartum: The treatment mainly on nourishing blood to promote hair growth, commonly used herbs are Huang Qi (Radix Astragali), Dang Gui (Radix Angelica Sinesis), He Shou Wu (Polygonum Multiflorum) and etc.

    • Hair loss due to blood stasis blocking collaterals: The treatment method mainly on promoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis, commonly used herbs are Tao Ren (Semen Persicae), Hong Hua (Flos Carthami), Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubra) and etc.

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help to regulate Qi and blood of Zang-fu, unclog the blocked hair follicles and increase the blood flow of the scalp to improve the hair loss symptoms.

  • Seven-Star needle (Mei Hua Zhen): Seven-Star needle is a type of cutaneous needle that can stimulate an area superficially by tapping to promote the circulation of Qi and blood on head and stimulates hair follicle in order to prevent hair loss.


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