Taking care of our hair; the natural way
Hair has always been a symbol of beauty. In many cultures, hair is seen (physically and/or figuratively), as an extension of oneself. In African cultures the head is the centre of communication, control and identity. One’s hair is regarded as a source of power, which can be used for spiritual purposes and/or casting a spell. Because it sits at the highest point of the body, Africans believe that it is in order to communicate with divine spirits, thus it is taken care of from a young age. In the Yoruba-culture, a baby’s head is shaven to mark its passage from the spirit world into the living world. The shorn hair can be used in good luck charms, or in healing tonics.
The Incas in Peru, cut the hair from a one- or two-year-old baby at a special ceremony called Rutuchicoy. The Incas believe that hair contains a person’s essence, thus the cut hair is kept in a safe place. Hindus have followed a long tradition of shaving a child’s head as a way to get rid of impurities, so that fresh / new hair can grow in its place. Removing the “old” hair is believed to bring energy, strength, long life and other virtues. The shorn hair is offered as a religious sacrifice!
There are many factors that influence our hair growth cycle and/or pattern of hair loss, for example the environment, weather, hormonal changes, diet, nutrition, stress, genetics, and so forth. In this blogpost I want to touch on a couple of vitamins, minerals and herbs, that is important for keeping your hair looking healthy and strong.
Vitamin D plays an important role in stimulating old and new hair follicles. If you lack vitamin D in your system, new hair growth can be inhibited, causing stunted hair growth during winter. If it is possible, try to spend more time in the sun, to absorb more vitamin D. Otherwise make sure to take a good vitamin D-supplement. I like Solgar, Solal and Biogen.
Omega 3 is part of the fatty acids group and essential for hair and skin. It helps to promote scalp circulation, which triggers hair growth. Omega 3 fatty acids helps to prevent inflammation of the hair follicles (a factor that contributes to hair loss).
Zinc plays a key role in the growth and repair of tissue. It helps to keep the oil glands around the follicles in good working condition and, in turn, these oil glands feed the scalp and hair. Zinc can be found in legumes, beef, spinach, wheat germ and pumpkin seeds. Many supplements also contain zinc.
Vitamin A is needed for cell growth. Our hair is no exception; vitamin A helps the skin to produce sebum. Sebum is our scalp’s natural moisturiser, which reduces dandruff and itchy skin. Orange fruit and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and mangoes, are good sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin C needs to be taken every day as it is a water-soluble vitamin. It is important as it helps the body to absorb iron. Iron is important for hair growth, helps to improve blood flow to the scalp and prevents hair breakage. Berries, guavas, citrus fruit, broccoli and leafy greens, all contain vitamin C, as well as potatoes in the skin, oranges and mangoes.
Collagen not only promotes hair follicle-growth, but can help to curb early signs of greying hair. Bone broth, egg whites, berries and citrus fruit are foodstuffs that assist the body with the natural production of collagen. A good supplement is also a good option to use; you can either add it to your smoothie or whichever way you choose.
Biotin is part of the B-vitamins. It helps to increase oxygen-flow to the hair follicles and scalp. This in turn supports hair growth from the root. Try adding more egg yolks, nuts, bananas, cruciferous vegetables, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado and/or pistachio nuts to your diet.
Water is still one of the best ways to hydrate and nourish your whole body and hair, from the inside. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, either boil it and let it cool, drink filtered water and/or add a slice of lemon, orange or strawberries, to give your water a better taste.
Moringa is and age-old herb that is used for multiple health remedies. It acts as a super enabler for hair growth and is loaded with vitamins A, B, C and E. Moringa also contains iron, zinc, essential amino acids and antioxidants, that are responsible for nourishing your hair. It can be taken as a drink, incorporated in your food or applied as a hair mask.
Ashwagandha is another herb that is very helpful in combatting free radicals. It protects the scalp and hair follicles and helps to promote healthy hair growth. Ashwagandha is found in Africa and Asia and can be used in food or taken as a supplement.
Beauty comes from within and this is very true. Your hair is your crown (so to speak); taking care of it from the inside is key. Using the right shampoo and conditioner is important, but if you lack some / all of the above-mentioned vitamins and minerals, it will show in your hair (and skin). Eating a healthy, balanced diet, drinking enough water, getting out into the sun, exercising and making sure to supplement if you have a deficiency, are important. Healthy hair that shines in the sunlight are beautiful; enjoy your head of hair!