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Dandruff

General characteristics

General characteristics

Dandruff (also known as seborrheic dermatitis) describes the condition where flakes of scalp are shed in excess producing the appearance of white/yellowish flakes in the hair and on the shoulders sometimes. The scalp may or may not be itchy.
Possible causes of dandruff include fungal infection with a certain strain of fungus which requires sebum to live which in turn causes over secretion of sebum from the sebaceous glands of the scalp, stress, hormone imbalances, lack of hair brushing, eczema or psoriasis, reactions to hair care products, as a result of head lice, poor immunity/vitality, exposure to extremes of temperature, poor diet and as a result of certain illnesses like Parkinsons or HIV.
It is not infectious and is considered more of a cosmetic problem than a medical one.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Make sure you are getting plenty of B vitamins in the diet. Good sources include wholegrains, seaweeds, dark leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, sprouted seeds and pulses.

Foods rich in zinc such as watercress, seafoods, legumes, pumpkin seeds, and wholegrains can help in the healing and prevention of dandruff.

Consume plenty of plant based fibre to prevent constipation.

Increase the amounts of fruits that you eat, especially citrus fruits.

Avoid eating too much sugar, junk foods, processed foods generally, fatty meats, refined oils and refined processed carbohydrates.

Limit alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

See also the diet section for 'yeast infections' for more ideas on what to eat and what to avoid.

Consider taking a teaspoon daily or flaxseed oil or evening primrose oil.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Fenugreek seeds have a good reputation for treating dandruff. Simmer 2 teaspoons of seeds in a little water and whizz in a blender to form a paste. Apply to the scalp every few days and leave for half an hour before rinsing with a mild shampoo. You can also add the seeds to your cooking or take a teaspoon of the seeds as a tea daily with a little honey added.
Make a strong infusion of nettle, cleavers, chamomile, sage and rosemary by adding a heaped tablespoon of each dried herb (or a handful each of fresh herb) to a jug and pouring on a pint of boiling water. Stand for 20 minutes, strain and keep the liquid and use as a hair wash, massaging thoroughly into the scalp and hair roots. You could put a shower cap on and leave the herbs in for an hour or so before rinsing out.
An oil made from burdock root can also provide relief from dandruff and soften the hair. Add 2 tablespoons of dried burdock root to about 200 mls of olive oil, allow to macerate for several days then whizz the whole lot in a blender and store for a few weeks in a cool dark place. Rub into the scalp every few days, leaving for about half an hour before washing out with a mild shampoo.
Massaging neem oil into the scalp can also help, particularly if the dandruff is caused by fungus. Neem leaf tea can also help as an external hair wash or internally.
Gentian root can be helpful in stubborn cases of dandruff, a few drops 3 times daily of tincture .

Natural healing

Natural healing

Brush the hair daily to distribute the oils and to improve circulation in the scalp.
Limit the amount of styling and other products you use. The dandruff may be a reaction to an excess of harsh chemicals present in the products.
Apply cider vinegar to the scalp and leave for 20 minutes or so before rinsing clean with a mild shampoo. Do this every other day for a couple of weeks. It will also sooth itching.
Make a wash using the fresh juice of a lemon and a lime. Apply to the scalp every other day, leaving for 20 minutes or so before rinsing clean. This works well for an oily scalp and helps to relieve itchiness.
Massage the scalp once a week with a tablespoon of sesame oil which helps to boost circulation.
Add 2 drops each of lavender, eucalyptus, lemon or tea tree essential oils to a blob of your shampoo before applying to the hair. Both oils are anti-fungal and cleansing.
Whilst in the shower try showering the scalp with alternating hot then cold water for a few minutes. The effects of hot then cold water will stimulate the circulation and cleansing mechanisms of the body/skin complex.
Massage the scalp once a week with course sea salt for 15 minutes at a time before rinsing well with warm water.
Try using a shampoo that is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) free. We sell a nice mild one in our shop.

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