In TCM, it’s said that hair is the excess of the blood. What does that mean exactly, and how does that apply to you? Let’s break it down.
Blood in TCM
In Western Medicine, blood is made of red blood cells, white blood cells, proteins, electrolytes, and other nutrients. It moves through our bodies to transport nutrients, glucose, and even distribute hormones. Blood is constantly moving and fluctuating.
In TCM, the perspective is similar, but more holistic. Blood is seen as fluid that provides nutrients for the whole body. Blood comes from Jing and food essence. Jing is the essential energy we are born with, which is associated with growth and development. Food essence is the energy we get from food. In TCM, the spleen and stomach transform food into food essence. It is then taken to the lungs and heart where it turns into blood.
Worry, stress, anxiety, and over-thinking can negatively affect the spleen. These emotional states cause stagnation in the spleen, which has a negative impact on the transformation of blood. Also, an imbalanced diet, or one with lots of greasy foods, contributes to a heavy workload on the spleen, which impedes healthy blood formation.
When blood circulates, it first reaches the internal organs to distribute nutrients. Then, it flows to the skin and hair, which receive its remaining nutrients. This is why hair is the excess of blood — healthy hair is a result of abundant nutrients.
Generally, when we use topical treatments to enhance hair, we’re looking at the same herbs that are used internally to treat blood:
- Strong stimulating herbs that restore circulation to an area
- Blood-regenerating herbs to encourage microcirculation
- Historically beneficial herbs for hair like he shou wu
When we look at hair growth holistically as the excess of blood, we can see that giving our hair and follicles the nutrients and energy they need, rather than working against their natural functions, is the key to robust, healthy hair.