Anti-aging practitioners and specialist clinics seem to be all the rage at the moment with a wide range of supplements, herbs and products on the market to entice people. These products include a more natural type of treatment including vitamin and herbal combinations. There are also modern scientific treatments such as hormone injections and stem cell therapy. Do they work and are there any health risks involved? The debate that estrogen supplements for post-menopausal women is effective and safe is still a very topical issue. People have claimed that taking Human Growth Hormone for example has reversed their grey hair. The Mayo Clinic advocates that there is no problem with these hormone treatments but others say that it may cause other problems, including cancer.
To my knowledge, there have been no western herbs or herbal treatments that have suggested or stated that they can reverse grey hair. I am referring here to classic sources such as Culpepper’s Herbal and if there are any old European herbal texts that mention herbs that reverse grey hair, please contact me and let me know.
But with Chinese medicine it is a different story. There are many herbs that have been recorded historically as useful for reversing grey hair.
Firstly, however, it needs to be explained why hair turns grey according to traditional Chinese medicine.
The Chinese view the kidneys as the main organ associated with the aging process. This idea or theory if you like, comes from the observation that the kidneys are connected to the bladder, which are then connected to the sexual organs. If there is a problem with the sexual organs such as low libido or infertility, then often the kidney energy may be involved. Aging signs such as low libido, a weak lower back, and loss of memory, forgetfulness, weak eyesight, tinnitus and greying hair can all be contributed to declining kidney energy according to Chinese medicine.
Just as there are many herbs that address the symptoms of weak libido and forgetfulness there are herbs that have been historically recorded to reverse grey hair.
Chinese medicine says it is natural to show signs of aging and they will occur over a certain timeframe. For example, ancient texts state that at age 49 women should finish their menstrual cycles and no longer be able to have children. Hair should start to grey around 40 years of age. Chinese medical literature tells us that if we start to become grey for example, in our 20’s, then something is not right. This could be an indicator for a constitutional kidney deficiency.
China has had a history of individuals including emperors and famous physicians who have tried to achieve immortality and reverse the aging process. This included them trying various herbs, doing specialist exercises and meditations in their quest. The ancient texts are full of success stories. They didn’t have advertising restrictions back then!
So now of course, all readers will want to know which herbs they took. There are many, and some of these will be outlined below. It must be stressed though to readers, Chinese herbs when treating diseases are prescribed and used in combination with other herbs and rarely used as an isolated herb. This is because other herbs balance and improve the function of the chief or emperor herb.
Some herbs which have the reputation to reverse grey hair
One herb that has become quite popular now in the west is the Gou Ji berry. It is so common now that it can be even bought in any supermarket in rural New Zealand. Westerners like to sprinkle a few seeds on their cereal. Chinese would double steam the seeds to maximize their benefit or cook them in a soup. This herb also nourishes liver blood and liver blood is said to provide the hair with nourishment.
There is a another famous Chinese herb called He Shou Wu which translates as Mr Black Hair because of its reputation of reversing grey hair. Some classic sources say that to promote longevity, one day you should have Ginseng and the next day He Shou Wu. From a modern scientific perspective, it is said to have antioxidant properties which enhances the immune function and also inhibit b-monoamine oxidase (b-MAO) which may contribute to anti-aging.
Then, we have a formula combination of two Chinese herbs called Er Zhi Wan that has the herbs Han Lian Cao and Nu Zhen Zi, which is used to treat deficiency of liver and kidney yin. It is used to address other symptoms too – such as thirst at night, night sweats, tinnitus and premature greying hair.
But before you rush out and start buying these herbs and try to turn back the clock, it’s good to know a little more about them. It is good to know some of the stuff that shops and herb companies who sell them usually neglect to tell you. You will find that many of these tonic type herbs have what in Chinese medicine is known as a ‘greasy nature’. Greasy natured herbs and foods require a healthy spleen and stomach to process and digest them properly. Many westerners have a spleen deficiency as a result of a long-term improper diet, particularly people who are eating a raw food diet. Taking these grey hair reversing herbs may result in having a bloated stomach, loose stools and wind. To test the strength of your spleen try eating 15-30 grams of Gou Ji berries before falling asleep each night and see how you fare after a couple weeks.
Sorry, achieving immortality wasn’t meant to be easy
A simpler method to try is Chrysanthemum flowers, known as Ju Hua in Chinese. It is also said to reverse grey hair, help your liver and benefit your eyes. The classic texts say to drink it in small, weak amounts over a long period of time to see the benefits. I like this one as it’s cheap to buy and easy to get. And you don’t have to worry about it being too harmful for your weak spleen, if you have one. Just throw a few flowers into a cup with hot water and all will be sweet as they say in New Zealand. Let me know if it works for you.