Hair graying according to Chinese Medicine

Hair graying can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like hair graying here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here hair graying is often associated with hair loss, poor bone development and late closure of fontanelle in the pattern “Kidney Essence Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause hair graying.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of hair graying we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the three medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat hair graying.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause hair graying

In Chinese Medicine hair graying is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Essence Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

Kidney Essence (Jing 精) Deficiency usually involves Deficiency of Kidney Yin and, to some extent, Kidney Yang. Its symptoms are typically in relation to growth, development, reproduction, sexuality, bones, marrow, the brain, teeth, memory and hair.

In addition to hair graying, other symptoms associated with Kidney Essence Deficiency include hair loss, poor bone development and late closure of fontanelle.

Kidney Essence Deficiency is often treated with Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Zuo Gui Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Kidney Essence Deficiency here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin

Tongue color: Red

In addition to hair graying, other symptoms associated with Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin include hair loss, sore knees and weak knees.

Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin is often treated with Er Zhi Wan, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Glossy Privet Fruits - Nu Zhen Zi - as a key herb). Er Zhi Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Liver Yin".

Read more about Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin here

Two herbal formulas that might help with hair graying

Er Zhi Wan

Source date: 1534 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Liver Yin. Nourishes Kidney Yin.

Why might Er Zhi Wan help with hair graying?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin' of which hair graying is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Deficiency Of The Liver And Kidney Yin include hair loss, sore knees and weak knees.

Read more about Er Zhi Wan here

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with hair graying?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Essence Deficiency' of which hair graying is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Essence Deficiency include hair loss, poor bone development and late closure of fontanelle.

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan here

The three Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat hair graying

Why might Glossy Privet Fruit (Nu Zhen Zi) help with hair graying?

Because it is a key herb in Er Zhi Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin' (a pattern with hair graying as a symptom)

Glossy Privet Fruits is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Nourishes Yin of the Liver and Kidneys. Clears Yin Deficiency Heat (False Heat). Brightens the eyes and reduce premature graying hair.

Read more about Glossy Privet Fruits here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with hair graying?

Because it is a key herb in Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Essence Deficiency' (a pattern with hair graying as a symptom)

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Eclipta Herb (Mo Han Lian) help with hair graying?

Because it is a key herb in Er Zhi Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin' (a pattern with hair graying as a symptom)

Eclipta Herbs is a Cold herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Yin of the Liver and Kidneys. Clears Blood Heat and stops bleeding.

Read more about Eclipta Herbs here