There are a lot of things that go along with growing older: more responsibilities, for better or worse, new opportunities and experiences, and, yes, changes in your appearance. You might notice your hair start to thin, your face start to wrinkle, and your hair start to gray. And though people certainly have mixed feelings about these changes, they're not all bad. Still, if you're finding yourself wishing that you could slow things down a bit, you might want to know about some of the unexpected ways to prevent your hair from going gray, according to Eastern Medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine has things to say on this topic and, if you understand the advice that TCM practitioners give about this, as well as how you might be able to implement them in your own life, you too might be inspired to switch things up, at least temporarily, just to see what might happen.
"Although [gray] hair is hereditary, if you take care of your body, and keep your nutrition on point and support the body you can slow down the process," Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, AP, a long-time TCM practitioner, tells Romper in an email exchange. "A perfect example is my husband who has been eating TCM-style for almost 30 years. Out of five men in his family, his hard is the least gray and he has the most hair despite male pattern baldness. These strategies improve the condition but [don't] reverse."
Still, slowing the development of gray or thinning hair might be worth it for you, especially if these strategies can actually have bigger effects on your body and health that go beyond just your appearance. And though there's nothing wrong with using your appearance as a motivating factor, if you can experience effects beyond that, it's a definite win-win.
1. Consider An Herb
In TCM, there are some herbs that can play an important role in your health and well-being. When it comes to trying to prevent — even if just for the time-being — your hair from going gray, Trattner says that the one to keep in mind is Fo-ti, which, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine reported, is also known as He Shou Wu. Trattner says that this herb is actually intended to address gray hair. A quick internet search shows that it's fairly readily available and easy to purchase, but local shops and TCM practitioners can be great resources here too because they'll be able to guide you in a way that an e-commerce site isn't always able.
2. Eating Foods That Boost Blood/Kidney Energy
Additionally, eating foods that boost certain energies in your body might also help slow the process. Trattner says that dark-colored foods like molasses, blackberries, seaweed, and black beans and lentils are good options, as are seafood and bone broth. Though you can purchase bone broth now at many grocery stores, it's easy to make at home too, plus you might save yourself a little money in the process.
3. Generally Taking Care Of Yourself
Though you may have never considered that it would have much of an impact on your graying hair, Trattner says that, according to TCM, taking care of yourself and keeping kidney energy as bountiful as possible can both be "anti-aging."
4. Eating Foods That Boost Yin
"Also, building yin or the nutritive essence can keep hair full, from falling out, and possibly not turning [gray]," Trattner says. She recommends eating things like darker-colored berries, bone marrow, seafood, and small quantities of red meat if you're trying to boost yin. Yin (and yang) are "preserved" by the kidneys, she says, which is at least partially why taking care of your kidneys is so important.
5. Trying To Preserve Your Jing
"Jing is your vital essence," Trattner says. "The preservation of vital essence is key in anti-aging in TCM, as it is your mojo. You are born with a certain amount and it is very hard to replace when lost. Pregnancies, illness, trauma can all drain jing. You can only replace little drops of jing by the excess of food, sleep, and building yin and yang. Draining jing can turn you [gray] overnight."
Eating nourishing foods, minimizing preventable illnesses and injuries, and getting plenty of sleep not only takes care of your physical body, as discussed previously, but can keep you from losing vital essence, which you definitely don't want to do, according to Chinese medicine.
6. Avoid Negatively Affecting Digestive Energy
Trattner says that "draining digestive energy...ultimately will drain the kidneys," which is a problem if you're focused on anti-aging strategies. Taking care of your digestive energy can help you in many ways, but helping to support your kidneys might help you slow down graying hair too.
7. Taking Care Of Your Kidneys
If you think you've noticed that a lot of this seems to come back around to your kidneys, you're right. "The kidneys in Chinese medicine preserve yin and yang and 'hold' essence," Trattner says. "Protecting kidney essence and kidney energy also keeps hair from turning." And if that's what you're after, if you're following Traditional Chinese Medicine, the focus on your kidneys is super important.
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