Healthy food, healthy hair…
A seemingly forgotten fact these days is that any disease which affects your body’s health is likewise going to have an effect on that of your hair. Hair and scalp problems are indicative of bodily problems, as a toxin-filled person is unable to carry nourishment to the hair and scalp.
Health can affect the hair’s colour, lustre, level of dryness or oiliness, and strength.
Hair health starts from within—and no amount of treating the hair with shampoos or hair masks can change this. When it gets down to it, the food you eat is the number one factor in hair health.
Science shows that hair is comprised of iron, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon and sulphur. Therefore, the body must be given these nutrients in the food it eats, so the blood will carry them to the scalp. Since raw foods contains the highest concentration of these, a raw food diet is the best way to healthy hair.
How clean is too clean?
One of the worst things many of us do for hair health these days is washing it daily. This strips the hair of its natural oils and makes it dry. It also means that you need to wash it more often, as it becomes oily faster…those who switch to washing their hair once or twice a week find that, after an initial period of oily hair, while the hair is adjusting, they can go a few days at least before the hair begins to become oily.
Brushing the hair gently each day with a natural bristle brush can help distribute the hair’s natural oils. This can prevent them from accumulating in the scalp and clogging up hair follicles.
Massaging the scalp with your fingers in a circular motion is another way of promoting circulation to this area, which can lead to faster hair growth and healthier hair.
When it comes to beauty products, the old adage, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your body is as true as ever…and, I’ll tell you, I would not put the vast majority of commercially-available shampoos anywhere near my hair, let alone my mouth!
That’s where herbs come into it. Herbs have been used for thousands of years to condition and treat the hair. Most shampoos that claim to have herbal extracts in them contain them in such small quantities that they would do very little, if anything, to help our hair health. In any case, all the harsh chemicals they contain counteract any good the herbs do, anyway!
It is easy to make a deep conditioner to help stimulate hair growth and promote luscious, strong and shiny hair:
- Gently heat some organic castor oil and massage it through the scalp.
- Wrap a hot, wet towel around your hair. Leave it there for at least half an hour.
- Leave the oil in your hair overnight. (Placing an old towel over your pillow is advisable, as castor oil can leave a mess!)
- In the morning, make a tea with equal parts sage, chaparral and yarrow. 1 tsp of this per cup of distilled water. Allow it to cool before you have your morning shower.
- Wash your hair with a natural shampoo. You may need two rinses, because castor oil has a thick and sticky consistency.
- Rinse your hair with the cooled sage, chaparral and yarrow tea. Do not rinse this out—leave it in the hair and massage it through the scalp. This tea mixture can also be drunk throughout the day for added power.
- Follow the same procedure the following night.
- For the next two nights, follow the same procedure again, but replace the castor oil with organic olive oil.
- For the next two nights after that, follow the same procedure again, but this time replace the olive oil with wheat germ oil. Wheat germ oil can also be taken internally throughout the 6 days of hair treatment (capsules are advisable, as the oil does have a rather strong, unpleasant taste!)
Aloe Vera is well-known for its ability to repair skin when it comes to sunburn. Similarly, it is helpful when it comes to hair growth. It contains enzymes which help dissolve the dead skin cells and oils which can clog hair follicles and negatively affect hair growth. It moisturises and hydrates the hair, as its molecular structure is somewhat similar to keratin, the protein which makes up our skin and hair. It also contains salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic properties, and can be used to treat dandruff.
To apply to the hair:
- Take three Aloe Vera leaves and cut them in half, long ways.
- Scoop out the gel from inside the leaves and place them in a blender.
- Blend until free from lumps.
- This gel can either be applied to the hair by itself, or equal parts of olive oil can be added.
- The gel mixture can then be left on the hair for 15 minutes to half an hour, before being rinsed.
Burdock root has often been used for hair health due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in fatty acids which help promote shiny hair and improve hair elasticity. Burdock root also increases blood circulation to the scalp, which encourages hair growth. The silica it contains can help with scalp problems such as dermatitis, psoriasis and dandruff.
You can make your own Burdock root oil to use as a hair treatment:
- Chop up dried Burdock root into small pieces.
- Place them in a blender to bruise them, or pound them with a hammer or mallet.
- Place the roots into a glass jar and fill it with olive oil, to just cover the roots.
- Place in a dark place and leave for at least a month.
- Once a week, give the jar a little shake.
- Strain out the oil, and apply this to your hair. You can heat it gently and massage it massage it into your hair for a deep conditioner.
Otherwise known as marigold, calendula can increase production of collagen and scalp circulation. Collagen can help to protect against brittle hair, as it gives more elasticity. It is rich in both anti-oxidants and minerals, which is soothing and moisturising to the scalp. It is also mildly anti-bacterial, which can help to leave your hair and scalp free of infetions. For the same reason, it is a great herb to use for dandruff problems.
While some other herbs may be more difficult for the average person to acquire to use or home remedies, calendula can be found in gardens all over the country in the spring time. For any other time, dried calendula can be easily found in the tea aisle of many health food shops.
It is very easy to make a calendula rinse for your hair…
This will help to cleanse the hair and scalp, and remove residues left on the hair and scalp from hair products such as hair gel, hair sprays or synthetic conditioners. This will, in turn, lead to soft, shiny hair. It is also particularly effective for bringing out highlights of blonde hair.
- Pour two cups of boiling water over 4 tablespoons of dried calendula flowers (use around 6 or 7 tablespoons of the flower if you are using it fresh).
- If you wish, at this point you can add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender or peppermint.
- Allow the water to infuse with the flowers for at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Strain the liquid.
- You can then either use it cold, or heat it up gently.
- After you have washed and shampooed your hair in the usual way, pour it over your hair and massage through both the scalp and the entire hair shaft. The best way to do this is over a sink or basin, with a bowl under your head to catch any of the excess liquid. This can then be reapplied to your hair.
- Massage in this way for up to 10 minutes, and then just let your hair dry, without washing out the liquid.
Horsetail is one of the world’s richest sources of silica, a nutrient which our bodies convert into calcium. This can help repair damaged hair, and protect against breakage. Horsetail is rich in minerals, promoting both strong hair growth and a healthy scalp. It stimulates the blood vessels that supply oxygen to our hair follicles. Horsetail tea or tincture can be taken internally for a calcium source that the body is very able to assimilate.
In fact, Horsetail is the main ingredient in the Herbal Calcium Plus tincture. This is a wonderful tincture to take on a daily basis for hair health which, don’t forget, starts from the inside out.
To make a simple horsetail rinse for your hair…
- Take a handful of horsetail and place it in a pot of simmering water (preferably distilled water, but at the very least, filtered).
- Allow the mixture to simmer for around 20 minutes, and then strain.
- After shampooing in the usual way, poor the cooled liquid over your hair, and leave it in for 20 minutes. Wrapping your hair in a warm towel will help to boost the conditioning power of the liquid.
- Rinse hair.
Liquorice contains amino acids, polysaccharides and flavonoids which help to moisturise the scalp. They can also be used for scalp dermatitis or fungal infections. Liquorice root can help to promote strong and shiny hair, as well as preventing hair loss.
The power of liquorice tea:
If you do happen to experience hair loss, consider drinking liquorice tea each day. Not only does it have a lovely naturally-sweet taste, but it can help to stimulate your hair follicles and help your hair to grow.
Parsley contains a range of vitamins and anti-oxidants which increase scalp circulation, promote healthy hair growth, and increase the production of keratin and collagen. Zinc and copper are also present in parsley. They work together to synthesise melanin—the pigment which protects both our hair and skin from sun damage. Many people like to make a tea out of parsley, and allow their hair to soak in this. If pregnant, avoid taking large amounts of parsley internally, as this can cause a miscarriage. Likewise, this is a herb to avoid if breastfeeding, as large amounts taken internally can lead to a reduction in your milk supply.
This is a herb which is full of vitamins. It has both anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties, and improves circulation to the scalp. This promotes scalp and hair health, and helps to make your hair shiny. It is also effective for enriching the colour of dark hair
Rosemary treatment for shiny hair:
Boil 3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, 2 tablespoons of fresh sage, and 1.5 litres of water. Strain the mixture, and let it cool to room temperature, before keeping it in the fridge. After shampooing, pour some of the mixture over your hair. Leave it in for 2 or 3 minutes, before rinsing out.
Yarrow has anti-sceptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, which makes it a great herb for promoting hair growth. It is high in saponins and fatty acids, making it a good hair cleanser. Yarrow tea has traditionally been drunk internally AND applied to the hair to restore colour to greying hair, too. Many people have reported success using Yarrow to bring back colour to their greying locks. In fact, the great herbal healer, the late Dr. Christopher, promised that by rinsing your hair with Yarrow tea 2 or 3 times each week, within around a year your hair’s natural colour will return.
Yarrow hair rinse:
Boil a litre of water (preferably distilled) in a saucepan, and add around 1.5 cups of dried Yarrow. Cover and let the mixture steep for half an hour. The tea can be kept in the fridge for around a week.
After washing your hair as usual, take around half a cup of the tea (more or less, depending on the hair’s length) and apply it to the hair. Massage the mixture into the scalp, and let the hair dry with it still in—don’t wash it out.
Do this at least 2 or 3 times a week, and you should see your silver streaks returning to their former colour!
This wonderful herb is high in a range of vitamins and minerals, but especially vitamins A and C. It is used by many for strong and shiny hair, and helps bring greying hair back to its natural colour. It stops the production of one of the enzymes in the body which is the cause of hair loss.
Nettle tincture is recommended to prevent baldness or thinning hair. Nettle tea can be drunk for the same purpose, or applied to the hair for added shine.
During the spring time when stinging nettle can be found in abundance in many gardens, the fresh nettle can be picked (particularly the new growth) and steeped in boiling water. Some people are reluctant to try this due to the herb’s sting, but once heated, it no longer produces this signature sting.
Fresh nettle can be gently steamed and eaten in the same way as any other leafy green. You can get creative, and even make the following nettle pesto:
- 3 cups of fresh stinging nettle leaves
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- A pinch of salt
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
- ¾ cup of pine nuts
- Blanch the nettles in a saucepan of boiling water for one minute.
- Strain thoroughly, to remove as much water as you can.
- Place the nettles in a blender or food processor.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
This truly spectacular herb is wonderful for treating dry hair. It is highly mucilaginous, which helps to detangle and moisturise hair, leading to shiny, soft and strong hair, with less breakage. Comfrey contains a compound called allantoin. This, along with rosmarinic acid, tannis, vitamin B12 and zinc, aids in cell regeneration. As well as this working for bones and cartilage, it also applies to your hair.
It is unfortunate that comfrey has got a bad rap in recent years based on studies that were conducted on extracted allantoin, rather than the comfrey as a whole herb. For that reason, it is illegal to comfrey for recommend internal consumption.
Comfrey is one of the key ingredients in our BF&C (Bone, Flesh and Cartilage) tincture. This tincture can be added to water (preferably distilled, but at least filtered) and applied to the hair in a similar manner to a tea.
Comfrey hair soak:
To add shine and strength to your hair, take 1 teaspoon of dried comfrey (if using fresh, add 3 teaspoons instead, and ensure the leaves are well chopped or bruised). Place it in a bowl, and pour over a cup of boiling water. Next, add one tablespoon of either lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar. Mix well, and cover the herbs. Allow the mixture to steep for around 15 minutes, before straining.
Wash your hair as usual, before applying the soak in your hair. For best results, leave it in without rinsing out.
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