Coffee, Menopause and Great Hair

An Ayurvedic mission, part 1

This was me about 15 years ago:

And this was me in 2020:

Do you notice a difference?

Yes, it‘s the hair. 

I always had a lot of hair. Even as a child. 

I loved it. And I abused it. 

In my teens I wore dreadlocks, which I, after becoming a mom, painstakingly tore apart.

I died it with Henna, I died it black, I died it firetruck red, with the ‚directions‘ colours that were fashionable among us outcasts in the 80s. Then, later, when the first greys started to show, I settled for a dark brown, a couple of shades darker than my natural… what was it again? Ah, yes, a kind of a field mouse brown. I think. I haven‘t actually seen it in a long time. 

Well, I was working as a belly dancer then, always wanting to look good and my hair was (in my opinion) my greatest treasure. 

On stage about 15 years ago

And then my daughter became a hairdresser and started to practice on me, advising me, slathering me with stuff that I didn‘t dare to breathe in too deeply. But it looked so lovely!

Until my menopause began to say hello.

By then I was living mostly according to Ayurvedic principles but still, I lost so much hair that our drains were constangly clogged. I got a fright, to be honest. 

Thankfully I knew what to do and started to apply some Ayurvedic measures, which helped a lot at first, but then I had a major life change happening in 2021, moving country, leaving my husband and family behind and starting from scratch, with no income and no plan (only dreams…).

I tried my best to keep my healthy lifestile but living among close family again (which I hadn‘t experienced since the age of 16!), in Bavaria of all places, where social life centres around food and drink, was making it a lot harder. 

I tried. 

And often I succeeded. But not always. 

Ah, Germany, the land of coffee, beer, wine and oversized portions. The land of indulgance. 

And then, this summer, I went to Northern Spain. If there is any culture that places even more importance on food and drink then the Bavarians, it must be the Asturians. 

I stayed there for 4 weeks, with friends and family, all of them eager to show of their home cooking and artisan skills (a whole other story for another time).

By the time I left, my hair loss was back, I had put on an uncomfortable amount of weight, I felt bloated, my skin was breaking out with spots (which is something I hadn‘t experience since my teenage years!), and I was tired. So tired. I never felt a stronger urge to live on nothing but kitchari and tulsi tea. I was even craving the toe-curling taste of triphala powder. My heart was longing for a cleanse, I was actually feeling excited for it.

It was like coming home to myself – my Ayurvedic lifestyle, which always made me feel so good and full of energy. Which I believe in with all of my heart. Which I love. I felt as if I was cheating on Ayurveda and now realised that she is the one and only for me. From now on I will be faithful. Thanksfully, she is very forgiving.

It is all in my hands. I can easily do something about the greasy feeling in my gut, the heaviness in my body and mind that had accumulated, the tiredness I had started to feel. The hormonal imbalances and the hairloss were going to be a little harder, but I was ready to take it all on.

I was finally ready to make the two most difficult, but maybe most important changes in my lifestyle: I had to ditch the chemical bomb I was steeping my scalp in every month, and the coffee. I knew that coffee has a lot to do with it. It messes with blood sugar levels, spikes cortisol levels and increases adrenal stress. It creates an estrogen imbalance that, especially in menopause, can have very undesirable effects, to say the least. It also increases inflammation in the body, cellulite, allergic reactions and gastric reflux can get worse and in the long run, it makes us more tired than it wakes us up. Of course, when we are young and have no issues, it may not seem so bad at all. The advantages seem to far outweigh the disadvantages. And for healthy Kapha types a cup a day might even be a good idea. But menopause is not a healthy Kapha phase. It is a phase of hormonal upheaval. Plus, for most of us, it is an addiction, just like the chemical hair dye. 

And I was addicted to both. But it seems that sometimes, we have to feel really bad to find the motivation to make ourselves well again. 

So, on sunday 21 August, the day before we arrived back home, I drank my last cup of coffee. 

And then, on Saturday, the 10th September, I got my hair died with pure, natural herbs. That‘s it. No more chemicals. I went to a local hairdresser who specialises in plant colors. The brand they use is Khadi. 

I even loved the smell of it – earthy and mild, healthy somehow, not at all like the stinging, burning smell of Loreal and the likes. I felt like having a spa treatment. 

The results were great too. I had let my roots grown out to about an inch so that they could see the glorious amount of white I already have at the front and top, and my natural brown colour at the back. They tried to match my natural color with a mixture of nutbrown and dark brown and – voila! The fact that the different shades are slightly shimmering through is a bonus for me. I like it that way – it seems more natural. And it won‘t be so harsh later on, when I finally go grey.

Back home, I immediately ordered more Khadi products from their website – Shampoo, conditioner and hair oil. Let the feasting begin! 

Already my hair feels in better condition. 

Now for the harder part. 

Coffee was never something I was willing to give up. In fact, every time I tried before I failed miserably at the first signs of the feared detox headache. It was awful. But then again, I had a household to run that included up to 6 children (stepchildren, my own two kids and a foster child), so there was no time for dealing with headaches.

But now I have no excuse.

Plus, I was so ready to detox from everything, so ready to let go of my old skin. Why do I even still carry all of these addictions with me? Why haven‘t I freed myself of them already? With all the yoga and the chanting and the vegetables, you‘d think that it wouldn‘t be so hard, but it still is. 

Except for this time. 

This time, it was easy. 

The headaches still came, with a bang. Two days almost imbarable, another 2 a little less, and 2 more hardly noticable. And the tiredness. I slept 10 hours a night for the first week. 

My body cells must have been thinking – Finally! Finally she‘s not muffling our desparate calls for sleep with caffeine. Finally we actually get what we need. 

In the morning I had chai. No black tea, just the spices. Yogi tea classic, loose chai, with oat milk. I prepared it in the evening so that I only had to heat it up in the moring. 

I actually much prefer the taste. Especially first thing in the morning. 

Not drinking alcohol isn‘t difficult for me. 

I ate lentils, rice and vegetables only for the first week and took Triphala at night. Then I indulged in fruit. It‘s still fruit season in bavaria – fresh, sweet peaches, apricots and melons. Still some berries too, and juicy plums. Grapes and apples and pears are just coming in. I love fresh, seasonal fruit. Not mixed with anything else, just fruit, in the evening, when we sit on the couch and chat or watch a movie. Or in the morning for breakfast. 

Whenever we do watch a movie, which is a few times a week, I use the time to massage my whole body, head to toe, with Triphala oil. My partner laughs at me for that – other people knit, I massage. I start with my head, especially the thinning patches, and my face. Then I work on my feet and all the way up my legs. Then my belly, my arms, my breasts. In the morning, I do my yoga, but not as strong as it used to be. I meditate more. 

In the second week, I noticed a huge rise in energy. 

Like I hadn‘t had in a long time. 

Mostly mental energy. I started to work and I didn‘t stop until late at night.

Now, at week 4, my energy is really so much better. 

I caught up with all of the work that I had neglected during my holidays. 

And I feel excited about all of my new projects (coming soon… ) and my new hair. 

It really isn‘t very different right now, the hairdresser did only the roots, using Khadi Nutbrown mixed with a little dark brown.  

It doesn‘t cover the greys 100% but almost. I actually like it when there is a natural shading, it doesn‘t look so artificial, so done up. 

When I got home, I went on the Khadi website and ordered a lot of hair products – hair dye, shampoo, conditioner and hair oil. I can already feel the relieve of not poisoning myself or the environment anymore. 

And I can‘t wait to feel my hair growing back again, and to see what it will look like with my greys shining through – a promise for wisdom?

This is me, today, at the beginning of a coffee & chemical free journey.

How it will go, I will keep you posted! 

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Danke!


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