Getting the perfect shine, sans dandruff
Having tried washing their hair with a complete range of specialist shampoos and even vinegar as a last resort, long-term dandruff sufferers yearn for a better cure. Three experts offer some suggestions.
The nutrionalist, Dr John Briffa: Dandruff, is very often related to scalp infection with yeast (fungal) organisms, which is why anti-dandruff shampoos, such as Head and Shoulders, contain anti-fungal agents.
When dandruff is persistent, it is usually a sign of yeast-overgrowth elsewhere in the body, particularly the gastrointestinal tract. So the root of your problem is in your digestive tract and diet. I recommend you avoid foods which encourage yeast growth such as sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates (like white rice and pasta), along with bread, dried fruit, alcohol, vinegar, soy sauce, peanuts and mushrooms.
For at least a couple of months base your diet around meat, fish, fresh vegetables, beans, lentils and some whole grains such as brown rice and oats.
The dermatologist, Emma Edmonds: Dandruff is actually caused by an oily scalp (not the overdry scalp many assume), which can encourage the yeast Malassezia to grow. The trick is to treat it regularly.
Try different shampoos -- most dandruff hair products contain antiseptic properties (eg zinc, selenium, sulphur), until one `cocktail' works for you. Vinegar has antiseptic qualities though its pungency means it's probably not a great longterm strategy. If your scalp becomes itchy or inflamed you could have seborrheic dermatitis, or even psoriasis. If so, see a dermatologist, as there are more specialist treatments available.
In extreme cases, dermatologists can also make up even stronger `shampoos' containing coal tar and steroids. This isn't a particularly easy option though -- the shampoo, which is the consistency of Vaseline, is left on the head overnight.
The acupuncturist, Angela Hicks: Chinese medicine says that dandruff is caused due to "liver blood deficiency". Blood help keep the body moistened, so `blood deficiency' doesn't mean you are anaemic but that your blood isn't moistening your scalp enough.
A group of six points on the back are known to `nourish' the blood while the `Sea of Blood' point, close to the knee, also works very well. Another possibility is that your dandruff is due to too much `damp' -- a stagnation of fluid in your system causing greasy hair. Again there are points to alleviate this. Prescribed herbal remedies of angelica combined with peony both nourish the blood, and may also help.