I spent several years searching for an explanation for my hair loss. I went from naturopath to naturopath and eventually landed in the office of a cold and abrasive dermatologist. The doctor spent all of 5 minutes evaluating me then bluntly confirmed, “Your hair is falling out.” She didn’t attempt to explain my hair loss, but had not problem offering a prescription for spironolactone and hormonal birth control. (No thanks, babe.) I didn’t want to cover up my hair loss with pharmaceutical drugs! I wanted an explanation and a holistic solution, but all I got was a fat bill and flat affect.
I wasn’t naturally drawn to acupuncture. Needles? Energy? What could that possibly do for my hair? But I was desperate for an answer so I found the best acupuncturist in town and started weekly treatments.
She was rigorously trained with years of experience. I was comforted by the fact that she wanted to take a look at my lab work and even requested an updated blood panel. She spent 2 hours taking a detailed medical history- it was obvious she really cared about my health. She recommended herbs and weekly acupuncture sessions- as most Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners do. We talked about my diet and she urged me to start eating more protein.
The needles weren’t painful and I felt relaxed and hopeful after leaving her office. I followed her guidance and was shocked by the results. The quality and texture of my hair improved after only 4 weeks.
I couldn’t believe it. After so many years of searching for a solution, this TCM doctor knew exactly how to guide my body back to balance. I’m sure the herbs and acupuncture sessions had a positive effect on my digestive and nervous systems, but I honestly believe protein made the biggest difference in my health and hair growth.
Hair is composed of 95% protein. Of course protein is important for hair growth! Why did my other doctors brush it off? How did the other docs miss something as obvious as protein?
My acupuncturist was well-equipped to help me heal from hair loss because TCM is a system designed to establish balance and harmony within the body, and healthy hair is a reflection of total body balance and internal harmony.
I had so much trouble finding a solution with Western medicine because that system is focused on alleviating symptoms and cataloging different diseases. Western doctors have a hard time treating hair loss because hair loss is rarely linked to a single disease- rather it’s a sign of imbalance, malnourishment, or declining cellular vitality.
Western medicine can be incredibly effective in emergency situations, but hair loss isn’t usually a sign of medical emergency. We need a paradigm based on balance, harmony, and holistic health to truly heal from hair loss.
I saw 5 different naturopathic doctors with zero success. Though naturopathy has great potential to heal, this holistic system hasn’t had time to fully mature. Don’t get me wrong, I love the principles of naturopathy! I agree with the core tenets; I agree diet & lifestyle are the source of true health and pharmaceutical drugs are too harsh in many situations.
Naturopaths are at a disadvantage when it comes to resolving hair loss compared to TCM doctors, because TCM fully integrates the emotional and spiritual body with physical health. Chinese medicine the oldest form of medicine. It emerged from a record-keeping culture that has catalogued the connections between mind, body and spirit for the past 2,200 years.
While, naturopathy acknowledges the connections between mind and body, it hasn’t evolved into a cohesive holistic system. I’m sure there are highly skilled naturopaths who can effectively treat hair loss, but they would probably refer you to an acupuncturist to re-establish hormonal and emotional balance.
In essence, naturopaths are at a disadvantage when it comes to resolving hair loss because naturopathy hasn’t fully integrated emotional and spiritual health with physical well being. If we can all agree on one thing; hair loss is an emotional experience!
It’s a unique experience for everyone, but hair loss is usually accompanied by a large dose of fear and shame. These two powerful emotions are a natural response to a change in appearance because most of us live in a culture that elevates physical appearance. Unpacking and releasing yourself from the emotional baggage of hair loss is just as important as eating a healthy diet! If left unchecked, fear and shame will perpetuate a vicious cycle of hair loss.
Addressing the emotions of hair loss is vital to your health and acupuncture is designed to help unblock and rebalance powerful emotions.
Though acupuncture is uniquely positioned to support emotional release, reversing the vicious cycle is an active process. We must actively choose self-compassion when fear and shame arises.
Choosing the right doctor will make a big difference in your health and healing. I recommend working with a practitioner who’s been educated in Traditional Chinese Medicine (rather than Classical). Classical Chinese Medicine places more emphasis on the spiritual aspects of physical health with less potential to interface with Western medicine. TCM doctors who were educated at high-ranking schools (and, for those in the US, have passed the California Board Exam) should be able to order and interpret Western lab results which gives you the best of both worlds.
Healing from hair loss is a journey towards a fuller and healthier version of yourself. There are many lessons along this path we’re walking together. Changing my diet and learning to release stress have definitely improved the quality and texture of my hair, but the emotional and spiritual lessons cannot be ignored. I encourage you to find ways to process the emotional weight that so often comes with hair loss. Actively choose self-compassion, forgive, and trust your body. <3
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