Shedding Hair? Tips to get it back!
There is something quite scary and disconcerting about clumps of hair falling out of your head or finding your hair everywhere in the house. There are several reasons why this could be happening to you and I will go through each one. I believe you need to get to the root cause to slow and/or stop it from happening. There are some good supplements and essential oils you can use and take which will help but these are not normally total solutions to the problem.
1. Androgen Alopecia
This is normally the classic picture people think of when we say thinning hair but it is not always the problem. Androgen alopecia has a strong genetic component, so if you’re female and your mum, and or grandmother have this condition it is likely you may too. If you're male and your father or grandfather have the condition you could have a predisposition to it too.
It's caused from the male hormone dihydrotesosterone (DHT), a very potent metabolite of testosterone where the androgen pathway preference is androsterone (5α) rather than the less potent etiocholanolone (5b) pathway.
2. Alopecia areata
Also known as spot baldness, is a condition in which hair loss is lost from some or all areas of the body. It is an autoimmune condition where the body is attacking its own hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth.
3. HPA (Hypathalamus Pituiatry Adrenal) Axis - Adrenal Stress
When the adrenal to pituitary to adrenal axis pathway gets de-sensitised from chronic stress over a long period of time, low cortisol output occurs. The body then may stop growing hair as it's not essential to survive and focuses on healing and repairing.
High cortisol production and then low cortisol production have have a flow on impact to the sex hormones; estrogen and testosterone. Low estrogen levels (which happens in peri-menopause and menopause) can also result in hair loss.
Chronic stress comes in many different forms such as; psychological, traumatic, electromagnetic, infectious, allergic, intolerances, dysbiotic, xenobiotic, physical, physiological and emotional. When you think of all the possibilities from this list you can understand why stress management and mitigation is extremely important.
4. HPAT (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Thyroid) Axis
Cortisol produced from the adrenal glands inhibits TSH to slow down metabolism when under stress and conserve, hair growth is not important for survival so this is one of the first things effected. Cortisol also inhibits conversion of T4 to active t3 and also raised rT3 which blocks free T3. So chronic stress can down regulate the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos also down regulate thyroid function.
I mentioned earlier about low estrogen from HPA axis dysregulation and menopause causing hair loss but excess estrogen can also cause hair loss. Another time in life when estrogen levels drop are post partum. When a women is pregnant her estrogen levels are higher than normal, which signals more hair follicles to "grow" and fewer to "rest." After birth and for several months the hair enters into the resting phase where it sheds.
High estrogen levels can also impact hair health. Estrogen is a powerful hormone in a woman’s body, and an excess amount may lead to estrogen dominance. When women have too much estrogen in relation to progesterone it can results in a whole host of hormonal imbalance symptoms.
Your body normally breaks down estrogen and uses it before it can build up to high levels. But when our bodies produce too much estrogen while having too little progesterone, and we aren’t able to metabolize it quickly enough, the imbalance can lead to problems like depression, fatigue or hair loss.
6. Low Iron
Iron deficiency hair loss is caused when the body lacks enough iron to produce hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin is the ingredient that carries oxygen for the growth and repair of all body cells including the cells that make up hair follicles.
7. Other nutrient deficiencies
Such as zinc or biotin. Are you not consuming adequate levels of these nutrients or is there a problem with poor stomach and intestinal absorption of nutrients?
What to do?
Always try to find the root cause of what is happening. There are supplements and even medication you can take to help stop hair loss but the hair loss will start again if you stop some of these things, unless you are resolving a nutrient deficiency.
The best and quickest way to solve the problem is doing some functional testing to get an insight into what your physiology is doing. The DUTCH test is the gold standard for hormone testing and a comprehensive gut test to assess gut health is essential. An extensive thyroid panel should be completed to rule out any thyroid conditions.
Silica, zinc, biotin and iron are the essential nutrients for hair growth. Find a practitioner brand supplement with these nutrients and take regularly for at least 3 months.
Vitamin C and magnesium are essential to support the adrenal glands when under stress.
Iodine, tyrosine, selenium and zinc if there is a hypothyroid condition.
Because hair loss is often associated with stress, adaptogenic herbs are excellent in supporting the HPA axis. Some adaptogenic herbs are peony, rehmannia, dong quai and ashwaganda.
Good nutrition is vital in helping restore your hair and stop the shedding. You want to follow an anti-inflammatory template such as; fresh vegetables, salad vegetables, some fruit, some whole grains, good quality protein and good fats.
Include foods particularly high in the hair nutrients biotin, silica and zinc such as; egg yolks, almonds, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, seeds, legumes, shellfish and peppers.
You want to avoid anything that is a stressor on your body such as excess caffeine, sugar, wheat and dairy. Ingesting these things set off an inflammatory response.
5. Essential Oils
There are some great essential oils to apply topically which can help stimulate hair growth such as Rosemary, thyme, lavender, ylang ylang, cedarwood, clary sage, geranium, ginger, lemon or grapefruit. I use Doterra oils because of the high quality of the products. I just add drops of 2 or ore of the above oils to my conditioner so I my scalp is regularly getting a hit. Private message me if you would like a wholesale account on these.
6. Stress reduction
Excess hair shedding is not ‘normal’ and stress can contribute largely to the cause. So implementing activities to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, rather then being sympathetic dominant is important. I have written a whole other blog on this topic here.