The Taoist have a long standing tradition of rejuvenation that goes back thousands of years.
What is today considered traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure, herbology, etc. has its roots in an ancient system that is considered now more than ever to have a legitimate scientific base. Since they have meticulously accounted for virtually every ailment known to man since time immemorial, if it is not surprising that they have some things to say about hair loss.
Instead of taking you around the world with elaborate explanations of energy and chi flow, pressure points, and how they relate to different types of hair loss, I’ll cut right to the chase and attempt to summarize what may actually prove to be of use for preventing or treating male pattern baldness.
Goto Kola – Recommended for several types of disorders, including male pattern baldness and age related hair loss. Several famous Chinese centenarians, and Taoist “immortals” have sworn by its ability to help them keep not just some, but all their hair well into their 90’s and beyond! It is also indicated for memory, anxiety, cognitive enhancement, insomnia, wound healing, edema, circulation, and high blood pressure.
It would be easy to dismiss it as fanciful fiction except for the fact that some studies have produced some intriguing effects.
In one study Gotu Kola was orally administered to some alopecic rats, and over time was shown to, check this out: thicken epidermis and restore thick hair growth, actually speeding it up beyond its original growth rate. Sounds a lot like Viviscal, with the epidermis thickening mechanism of action. Remember epidermis naturally thins with male pattern balding (in the scalp), and overall with aging. What I don’t know is how the dosage given the rats would correlate with human consumption.
In another study including rats, Gotu Kola was shown to significantly speed up wound healing by increasing the rate of collagen synthesis, which implies that it may be capable of offsetting, and possibly healing the inflammation around the hair follicle seen in M.P.B. In yet another intriguing, yet unrelated controlled study, a sample of mildly mentally retarded children significantly improved on most cognitive performance parameters on just one 500 mg., powered whole herb capsule a day. Many feel that Gotu Kola will be next biggest herbal discovery since St. John’s Wort, and perhaps rightfully so. Gotu Kola is currently under intensive investigation by several large pharmaceutical companies. Am I endorsing Gotu Kola? Not even close. Will I include it in my treatment protocol? Damn right I will, but only as an adjunctive treatment. It costs next to nothing, and comes in encapsulated and powder forms, the recommended dose is 2, 500mg. capsules a day, AM and PM. Extremely high doses can cause a sedative effect.
Ginseng – What haven’t you not already heard about Ginseng? The reason I mention it is that several authoritative texts in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have indicated its usage in the treatment of hais loss, even MPB specifically in some cases. Its mechanism of action varies from mild 5 alpha reductase inhibition to cortisol inhibition, not to mention its function as an adaptogen. I’m not sure how it would directly affect hair growth, but it gets mentioned almost as much as Gotu Kola in the traditional texts for hair loss prevention or treatment. For those so inclined to give it a try I would use only the standardized, encapsulated, Ginseng extract. They were the only ones shown to be of any use in the numerous stress and endurance studies evaluating its effects.
Foti – The famous “shien mien”, which has been promoted as a hair growth agent for the last couple of years. No evidence exists yet, but perhaps someday, it will.
Another fact that is consistently emphasized in their traditional medical texts and in ancient Taoist teachings is how sexual activity affects hair growth and loss. They all state that a healthy head of hair in a man is indicative of a high level of sexual energy, when depleted through “excessive emissions” has a profoundly negative effect on a man’s health, leading to premature aging, and amongst other things, hair loss for many. They created specific exercises and techniques designated to allow one to cultivate sexual energy, libido, and ultimately stall the aging process. For more on this fascinating “facet”, read “Taoist secrets of Love”, by Mantak Chia. Having met him in person, I was astounded by his youthful appearance and totally thick, full, black hair. This guys in his late 50’s.
An interesting epidemiological study was done in Japan about 8 years ago. It simply compared the incidence of male pattern baldness in rural Japan and urban Japan.
It was noted that the incidence on MPB in urban Japan was 4 times higher that that of rural Japan. The author, Dr. Inabi, hypothesized that diet played a major role. In urban Japan, the city dweller have essentially gone to a western diet, meaning more meat, dairy products, and fast foods, not to mention the stress. In rural Japan, he studied that they eat a traditional macrobiotic diet consisting mainly of fish, grains and vegetables, high in 3 and 6 fatty acids.
The incidence of MPB amongst the urban Japanese is only slightly less than what it is in the U.S., and among Japanese who have been living in the U.S. for more than one generation, it is identical to other ethnic groups. In Japan, prior to WWII, and its subsequent urbanization, MPB was virtually unknown and extremely rare. This study sheds a drastically different light on how diet and environment can impact genetic triggers and the predispositions.
If nothing else this study strengthens my commitment to lay off the French fries and trans fats, and perhaps eat more whey protein, fish, and flax oil instead of red meat…