Natural Ways to Maintain Healthy Hair
Patients come to me every week complaining of excessive hair loss. When young, hair usually retains its pigment and fullness. However, with age, the pigment is lost, the hair follicles become gray over time, thinning of the hair occurs. Many people would like to keep thick hair, but, unfortunately, this desire is not always achievable, and this is due to various life circumstances, stresses, failures, imbalances and poor health.
There are three stages of hair growth:
At any given time, 90% of the hair follicles are in the active growth or anagen phase. If a disturbance occurs early during the anagen phase, the hair quickly enters the telogen phase, resulting in accelerated or premature hair loss.
I have seen this happen in women who have just had a baby. I have seen this type of alopecia in patients with a chronic disease, and sometimes in those who have experienced some other stressful event. Hair loss is common in those undergoing cancer treatment because hair follicles are most affected during the anagen phase.
Hormonal disruptions can be caused by many different reasons. People who are overweight and have a poor diet are at risk of developing hormonal imbalances such as those listed below, leading to premature hair loss.
A common cause of thyroid disease is either an iodine deficiency or an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Both causes can increase the risk of hair loss.
Blood sugar spikes
Insulin is a hormone released when sugar or simple carbohydrates (which break down into sugar) are consumed. A person whose diet is high in sugar and carbohydrates usually has higher, above-normal levels of insulin. Reviewing your diet and reaching your optimal weight can help you avoid these deviations.
Abnormal testosterone levels
Being overweight, having diabetes, or taking medications for chronic pain can contribute to low testosterone levels. As a result, hair loss may begin. Women also have increased testosterone, especially against the background of elevated insulin levels (from excess sugar). These reasons often lead to hair loss.
The risk of premature hair loss increases due to estrogen imbalance. Women who are overweight or obese are at increased risk because adipose tissue releases extra estrogen, which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle and overall hormones.
Premature hair loss is often accompanied by digestive problems. Those who suffer from Leaky Gut Syndrome often have impaired absorption of essential vitamins and minerals. Typical signs of leaky gut syndrome include bloating and bowel disorders such as frequent diarrhea.
However, the formation of gases in the gastrointestinal tract leads to the vital activity of intestinal bacteria when they eat certain foods. The most common intolerance causes are wheat products (i.e. gluten), dairy products (lactose, casein), corn (corn syrup, maltodextrin), soy and certain cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts). In addition to eliminating food intolerances from the diet, normalizing bowel function by taking digestive enzymes and probiotics can help.
Chronic diarrhea can also be caused by common trigger foods that can lead to intestinal imbalances. Treating a leaky gut will help improve the absorption of important nutrients. And in this case, digestive enzymes and probiotics will also be useful.
Vitamins and Minerals Helpful for Hair Loss
To prevent premature hair loss and poor nail growth, it is advised to take biotin. Biotin is a B-vitamin. Although I have seen it help some patients, some researchers believe that its effectiveness has not been proven. However, according to a study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Trichology, 38% of women with alopecia were found to be deficient in biotin.
Collagen supplements contain many different amino acids needed for hair growth and good for skin, tendons, and bones. Such supplements are a good option for those who want to be guaranteed to receive amino acids in the right amount. Recommended dosage: as indicated on the label.
However, iron deficiency can occur in both women and men, especially when the loss of iron is the result of an impaired digestive system. According to a study published in Skin Physiology and Pharmacology, low iron levels also increase the risk of everyday hair loss. It is important that the cause of iron deficiency is determined by a doctor, after which iron supplementation should be considered. Taking iron along with vitamin C helps increase nutrient absorption. Consult your doctor before taking.
Nearly four out of five people worldwide, including my own patients in sunny Southern California, are deficient in vitamin D. Low blood levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of many diseases and symptoms, from weak bones and muscle pain to various types of cancer. It’s no secret that normal blood levels of vitamin D are also important for healthy skin and hair. Studies show that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of developing alopecia areata, and supplementation may reduce the severity of already developed alopecia (according to a study published in Clinical and Experimental Medicine).
People who suffer from regular hair loss due to telogen effluvium, the most common cause of hair loss, should have their zinc levels measured, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal Of Drugs in Dermatology. If zinc levels are low, consider taking a multivitamin or a separate zinc supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acids
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that essential fatty acids play an important role in preventing hair loss. In animal studies, scientists have come to similar conclusions.
Adaptogens Helpful in Hair Loss
Rhodiola and ashwagandha are two common adaptogens that may also be helpful. It is likely through this mechanism that adaptogens help prevent hair loss as well.
Essential oils for hair loss
Perhaps one of the most famous and popular essential oils, lavender oil has been used by peoples of different countries for thousands of years. The earliest reference to the use of lavender oil comes from the cultures of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. This popular essential oil has many healing properties. When applied topically to the scalp, lavender oil can stimulate hair growth.
A 2015 study compared rosemary with FDA-approved minoxidil (Rogaine). The results were similar: rosemary, when applied topically to the scalp, improved hair growth, just as the drug did. However, it took six months to see hair growth, so patience is required when treating alopecia.