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Repair Damaged Hair Naturally Using Diet and Herbs

Tips on how to repair damaged hair naturally using a healthy diet and improving hair with herbs, includes information about hair and adequate protein and adding essential oils from herbs to your hair.

| November/December 2003

  • Aside from a good diet adequate in protein and iron, the topical use of essential oils of certain herbs has been shown to reverse hair loss.
    Photo by Fotolia
  • A healthy diet and essential oils from herbs can help repair damaged hair naturally.
    A healthy diet and essential oils from herbs can help repair damaged hair naturally.
    Photo By Mother Earth Living staff

  • A healthy diet and essential oils from herbs can help repair damaged hair naturally.
We spike, tease, color and curl it. We heat, gel, straighten and spray it. We fret and fume over it, spend pots of money on it and weep when we lose it. It’s our crowning glory, a vital sign of health, youth and beauty. It’s our hair, and we want it to look great.

This year, consumers worldwide will spend $38 billion to tend to their hair, using products that claim to include vitamins, fruit juices and herbal oils. Natural products like rosemary, almond oil, honey, avocado, kiwi and lemongrass often are listed as ingredients in shampoos and conditioners. These products sound good enough to eat, but is it really possible to “feed” our hair from the top down and repair damaged hair naturally?

Hair and a Healthy Diet

Clinical nutritional consultant and co-author of The Food Doctor (Collins & Brown, 1999), Vicki Edgson, argues that the key to healthy hair is to “Feed it properly from the inside.” Hair is made of a stretchy protein called keratin, so maintaining a diet with adequate protein—from fish, plant sources, chicken and eggs—is important. The same nutrients that make good skin, nails, bones and connective tissue benefit hair health. So if you want healthy hair, eat wisely, Edgson advises.

Your Hair’s Life Cycle

Over-the-counter conditioners may make hair feel and look better by smoothing down the shingle-like cuticle, which protects the hair shaft. But by the time hair is visible at the scalp level, it is no longer alive and is not able to absorb nutrients. Living cells reside on and beneath the scalp, where there are some 84,000 to 145,000 hair follicles. Each follicle holds an individual hair that is embedded in the skin by a root at its base, which benefits from a blood supply rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

Every hair has a life cycle, when it is actively growing (anagen phase) and resting (telogen phase). Hair grows about one half inch per month, or six inches in one year. Hair also routinely falls out. It is perfectly normal to lose from 50 to 100 hairs per day. But more significant hair loss may be due to environmental pollution, over-medication, stress, hormonal changes or poor diet. The lack of iron has been linked to excessive hair shedding, according to a 2002 report in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. But the author of the report also cites excessive use of supplements as a possible factor contributing to hair loss.

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