Hair is one indicator of blood quality. In Eastern medicine, hair is said to be an extension of the blood and therefore influenced by the health of the spleen-pancreas and kidneys. Also, the head hair is directly affected by the kidneys in other ways. Healthy hair is lustrous and thick. Hair loss and prematurely gray hair can be treated by improving blood quality and strengthening the spleen-pancreas and kidneys. Certain foods have traditionally been used to prevent gray hair: hijiki seaweed, blackstrap molasses (too much may have the opposite effect), nettles, and wheatgrass. These four foods are exceptionally rich in the blood-building nutrient iron, and nettles and wheat grass are concentrated in chlorophyll as well. The eating of nettles, hijiki, and wheatgrass is also thought to help keep hair from falling out. The famous Chinese herbal blood tonic, Polygonum multiflorum (ho shou wu) has been used to darken gray hair.
Americans have the highest incidence of baldness of any people; this is understandable since hair loss is tied to high-fat, high-protein diets, which damage the kidneys and create acidic blood. Meat and dairy are high in fat and protein and considered “sweet” in Eastern medicine. Considering the additional sweets, desserts, and sugar-laced foods and drinks in which Americans indulge, we can see that the sweet flavor dominates the typical diet. The Inner Classic cautions that too much sweet-flavored food makes the head hair fall out. A further caution from this ancient text: “Too much table salt damages the blood [and therefore the hair].”
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