This is a subject that is multifaceted with many emotions around it, especially for the fairer sex. Women especially often see hair loss as a loss of beauty, and they worry significantly about the problem. Marketers use this as a platform to encourage people to buy all the amazing, effective miracle ‘hair supplements’, that actually offer very limited benefit.
Hair loss patients are prepared to spend a lot of money to get their long locks back, but it may be easier said than done, if all you do is try the latest hair supplement on the market.
Causation for hair loss is multifaceted and we will discuss some of the more common factors in this blog. I will also be looking at hair loss from the perspective of Chinese medicine as they have a lot of insight into causation.
Although it is true that hair loss can be hereditary in some cases, this is not what we will be looking into.
Hormone imbalance is a biggie, and often occurs just after childbirth, as well as hormonal changes around menopause.
The basic physiology is such that when estrogen and progesterone levels drop, your hair gets thinner and hair grows more slowly; this can also lead to an increase in androgens which shrink the hair follicles and result in hair loss. It is paramount to maintain balanced hormone levels to keep a good head of hair. Since hormones are biological substances produced for the endocrine system to run the glands of the body, they are open to imbalance from external factors (pesticides, insecticides, contraceptives, plastics, heavy metals) and poor diet- as the diet provides the raw materials for hormonal production. Furthermore, estrogenic like hormones in our food and water supply can all alter hormone balance, leading to slow steady hair loss. Successful treatment needs to address these issues.
Unfortunately, mainstream medicine does not often look at these causative angles and usually cite the cause rightly, as a hormonal deficiency, with the solution being a hormone blocker such as Minoxidil, to block the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme, which would then prevent production of Di Hydro Testosterone (DHT). This approach is beneficial in the short term, not very effective and surely not curative.
I prefer the holistic approach of supporting the liver to be able to clear the exogenous hormones and cleaning up environmental toxins, so your liver is again able to produce the needed hormonal stimulants for a healthy vibrant life, where luscious hair is a byproduct of this. The use of Sabal Serrulata either in low potency or even as a tincture is effective in achieving this hormonal change. Now, if you are able to combine this with the appropriate detox remedy or homeopathic constitutional remedy the result is very effective. Hormonal dysregulation due to common pharmaceutical treatments including the use of contraceptives is more common to cause aggravation of hair loss after childbirth and after or around menopause. So common today is the combination of thyroid dysfunction and hypothyroidism as one of the major factors leading to hair loss, together with the other hormonal trigger of contraceptive use. If you are familiar with mainstream medical treatment you are not made aware of the dangers and far reaching effects of these pharmaceuticals when deciding on your treatment protocol.
Common remedies I often use can include, contraceptive detoxes and Sepia (hormone balancer around menopause or post-partum).
Stress also has a huge effect on hair loss, with raised cortisol, leading to less of a balance of estrogen and progesterone levels and a reduced strength of the hair follicle. Stress may come in several forms including physically, from nutrient deficiencies, which cause increased inflammation, for example iron deficiency anemia results in hair loss. Dieting is a huge stress and restrictive diets cause nutrient deficiencies. Rapid weight loss is also a trigger for hair loss. Consider deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, zinc, B vitamins and copper when looking into supplementation.
Emotional stress also blocks hormone function, and so much support and benefit is derived with the use of grief remedies as a start to remove the trigger. Here we can consider remedies like Nat Mur and Ignatia. If this initial process is not used, you will notice that the body tries to reboot itself and restore hormonal function, without success. My top treatment tip is to assist the patient to rebalance the hormones and restore liver function, since the liver is responsible to hormonal conversion. 70% of T3 hormone is made in the liver. Sepia is a great start for hormone balance, maybe Nat Mur, esp. if there are emotional triggers related to the hormone balance. Homeopathic hormonal detox is well received, together with herbal support.
Other physical stresses aggravating hair issues can include surgery and chronic extended diseases, which all drain the body’s reserves. Insufficient sleep prevents proper autophagy and regenerative healing in the body and should be looked into. I like to support the hormonal system with many endocrine remedies in homeopathic potency which can include Cortisol and ACTH to improve adrenal function and sleep. It also helps you to feel more energetic and calmer.
Traction alopecia which is hair loss due to physical pressure being put on the hair due to constant pulling, as in braiding the hair and tight ponytails over an extended time is also a common cause of hair loss.
Toxic burden, which has not been properly cleared by the liver can include chemo and radiation, which is supported by Cadmium Sulf and/ or Rad Brom. This needs to be cleared if you want to regain your former glory. Further hormone blockers can sabotage your journey to a full head of hair.
Obviously, you need to discover your causative factor for hair loss, and there is often more than 1 trigger, esp. if there is an emotional component. Thyroid involvement with reduced thyroid function is common, due to emotional shock.
Obviously, when I talk about restoring hair growth, I refer to protocols put in place that will allow the patient to regrow their hair and not have to be continually using medication or supplement on a continual basis. What I am trying to infer, is that we are able to kick your body into homeostasis where it is able to keep the hair growing with its own reserves.
I also look to ensure that your lifestyle factors are aligned with a healthy lifestyle, as this improves stress response and hormone balance. These lifestyle factors can include exercise, non-inflammatory diet, nutritional supplementation, proper sleep cycles, blue light blocking glasses at night to limit inappropriate cortisol response. Without the inclusion of these factors, it is seldom that you will have a long-term benefit as our stressful environment easily overcomes the body’s biological responses and the negative epigenetic switches of disease are kept on.
If there is thyroid involvement, there is also probably a sex hormone imbalance which must be addressed first. Consider checking methylation and vitamin B support with methylated B vitamins. Obvious thyroid rebalancing remedies will include liver and thyroid remedies such as Lycopodium, Thyroidium. Don’t forget to look for an emotional causation if there is thyroid dysregulation, remedies such as Staphasagria, Nat Mur and Kali Carb.
I can’t stress enough the importance of vitamin D3 between 5000iu- 10 000iu per day, I say this because most people today do not get enough sun exposure.
Take a holistic look at your hair loss problem and know that there may be several factors you still have to address to get results, but results are possible, for sure.
Chinese medicine sees hair loss from a similar perspective, in that it is mainly dysfunction with the liver and kidneys, they just use different terminology. They may say you have a liver blood deficiency, which is similar to what western medicine says when you are anemic. If you are very emotional, angry and restless, they will talk of liver fire ‘burning’ the hair and follicles. It is so important to be able to control your emotions, very similar to where we talk about emotional causes of hair loss. Emotions affect the physical functioning of the body. A deficiency of the stomach and spleen causes hair to become dry and brittle as these organs allow the body to absorb nutrition. Early greying hair is due to kidney dysfunction where the hair is not nourished. Chinese medicine uses specific herbs to rebalance these syndrome pictures and can be combined with acupuncture.