Please excuse my humble brag…
I’m often complimented on my hair and then asked what my secret is. How do I keep it so long and thick? Is it genetics or something I eat? Do I get acupuncture? The answer is all of the above. While I can thank my parents in part for my luxurious Asian hair, I do try to keep it lustrous and supple by maintaining my overall health. I can always tell when I’m overworked, under-slept, or not eating as nutritiously as I should be. My hair is the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. When my body’s not happy, my hair’s not happy. It starts to lose its luster and becomes brittle. Or I’ll start to notice more hair in the drain after a shower.
In eastern medicine, the kidneys are in charge of growing hair. They are the source of our essence and jing. In western medicine terms, you can think of it as our genetics, the adrenals and overall hormonal equilibrium. It’s important to find a life-work balance and get enough rest. In addition to nourishing kidney qi through acupuncture, you can also have acupuncture performed locally on the scalp to bring more qi and blood to the follicles. Blood is equally important to hair health, and nothing wears out the blood faster than being overworked and staying up past midnight.
Foods that I recommend to nourish kidney qi include seaweed soup – even easier to make than the ox tail soup! Before your first attempt at making it, try it at Kun Jip in Koreatown just down the block from the clinic in Manhattan. Ask for the MYUK GOOK. These days you can find seaweed in places other than your favorite sushi bar. You can find sheets of nori in Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. This kind can be made into sushi rolls, shredded to have with rice or vegetables, or eaten as as as a snack. You can also get gomashio (also spelled gomasio) for a one-two knockout punch for the hair combining seaweed and black sesame seeds. Other foods that nourish kidney qi are red and black beans, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and any root vegetable.
Try this tips for a tasty treat. And next time you’re in the office, ask me how I turn my grays back to black. 😉
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