Dandruff: The Real Root Cause
Dandruff is a hyper-proliferative affliction of the skin of the scalp, meaning that for some reason the skin has a rapid rate of turnover and flakes off in excessive amounts. Although emboldened with it’s own scientific name, Pityriasis Simplex Capillitii (complete with no less than eleven syllables and a double ‘ii’ thrown in for good measure), the term ‘dandruff’ is really more of a wastebasket diagnosis, meaning that any number of factors can cause it. But even if they don’t fess up directly, those dandruff shampoo manufacturers are betting that it’s caused by a fungal infection.
Just go take a look at your bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo. Ketoconazole? Selenium sulfide? Zinc pyrithione? All anti-fungals. Hmm. Could it be that everyone’s dandruff is caused by a yeast infection? But why on earth would so many people have this infection?
Shampoo is derived from the Indian word ‘champa’, referring to a head massage. Although most of us have a bottle of it in the shower, it was only a couple generations ago that we in the West even learned about the virtues and benefits of this new-fangled hair product called sham-poo (yes, the Europeans were admittedly a smelly bunch…). But instead of washing our hair with herbal rinses and floral waters, massaging and combing it with a little coconut oil as they traditionally did in India, the stuff we call shampoo is closer to industrial run-off mixed with water, a toxic soup with untiringly complicated names like sodium laureth sulfate, methylchloroisothiazolinone and polymethacrylamidopropyltrimonium chloride. Fortified with such ingredients, the cosmetic industry would have us believe that these fantastic concoctions will leave us with luscious controllable hair.
It may seem crazy to consider, but if you are one of those vigilant daily hair-washer with dandruff, it is very likely that the cause of your dandruff is the very thing you are using to clean your hair. Loaded with toxic compounds, the regular use of shampoo has utterly disrupted the natural ecology of your scalp. The first microorganisms to get hit were the friendly bacteria that naturally live on our skin and are supposed to surround us in a thin protective bacterial membrane. After this was destroyed the yeasts moved in, and being naturally more resilient to these preservatives, they dig in for the long haul, growing into the epidermis of the scalp, stimulating the skin to shed faster to rid itself of the yeast. So now you turn to anti-dandruff shampoos and find you have to use it regularly to beat back the yeast.
So what’s the solution? Get off the drugs, treat the yeast within and restore the body’s natural ecology. Avoid all sweets, sugars, breads, pasta, pastries, dried fruit, natural sugars, most fruit and dairy products. Eat whole grains, root vegetables, leafy greens and high quality animal products (organic, free-range, wild). Eat live-culture fermented foods. Make sure you get your omega 3 essential fatty acids and take herbs that have an antifungal and skin supportive activity. Turmeric, Buplerum and Oregon Grape root are great remedies. Use coconut oil to massage into your hair and scalp on a daily basis. If you do have a fungal infection, mix in a little Neem oil or Tea tree with the coconut oil and leave it in the hair for 20-30 minutes a day before washing it out with a little castile soap.