There are few things so immediately distressing to people as losing their hair. For women, for whom it is far less acceptable to be bald, it can be seen as a life-shattering calamity from which they will never recover. But much more important than aesthetics are the health implications of hair loss. It may well be that your body is flagging up an underlying health problem which, when resolved, would result in the baldness being reversed. According to our bodies, our hair and nails are not vital to survival.
We may feel that life is not worth living without wreaths of curls and gleaming talons, but they are some of the first things to be jettisoned if the body does not have enough resources to go round. Consider the example of someone who severely restricts their eating pattern, perhaps due to an eating disorder. They will eventually start to lose hair as the body diverts the small supply of available nutrients to vital areas such as the heart and the brain.
There are many possible reasons for hair loss, so here is a brief outline of possible causes and solutions.
Childbirth. Whilst pregnant, hair that would normally have been shed stays put, due to different hormone levels. When hormone levels drop after childbirth, large amounts of hair may suddenly be lost. This will rectify itself naturally after a period of several months, provided that sufficient nutrient levels are present, so don’t starve yourself slim again.
Aborting or miscarrying a baby may have a similar effect, and again this situation should right itself naturally. The stress accompanying such an event may, however, cause another type of hair loss, as discussed next.
Stress uses up valuable nutrients such as the B vitamins, a lack of which will have a knock-on effect on hair growth. Stress also causes scalp tension, which tightens the follicles and may cause shedding, and which restricts the amount of oxygen and other nutrients being delivered to the scalp in the bloodstream. Solutions would be to use gentle head massage, get plenty of fresh air and exercise to stimulate your circulatory system, and to address the stress itself with Stress Relief Daytime.
If the causes of stress cannot be avoided, use fresh herb tincture complexes containing Passiflora, Valerian or Hypericum to calm your nervous system. Take a vitamin B complex if you think the stress will be long term. Remember that when we are stressed our digestive systems don’t work so well, so try to relax when eating, and chew your food thoroughly.
Diet is very important for hair growth. Without the B vitamins and sufficient iron, zinc and protein, hair growth may be less than ideal. If you have suffered from an eating disorder or frequently follow strict diets, or eat junk food regularly, bear in mind that this will affect your hair growth. If you are on antacids, they may adversely affect your ability to digest protein. There are several good multi-nutrients in health stores that provide those nutrients specifically needed for good hair production, so check them out – and improve your eating habits! Remember that it takes about three to four months for changes to take place in the appearance of your hair, as the new hairs have to grow long enough to make a difference.
Becoming vegan or vegetarian. This may be a factor if the change is sudden. The body takes time to get used to picking up zinc and iron from plant rather than animal sources. Supplements might again be an option initially.
Sugar. Some recent studies have linked male-pattern baldness (seen in both men and women) with a lowered ability to tolerate sugar. This ‘pre-diabetic’ condition has been labelled ‘Syndrome X’ and the answer is to avoid refined sugar and treat your taste buds to fresh and dried fruit instead.
A lack of silica may also be a problem. Silica is necessary for the rebuilding of all connective tissue, including hair, skin and nails. Taking a supplement containing Silica for three to four months will improve hair thickness, skin tone and elasticity and nail strength. A preparation containing urtica, calcium from nettles and silica may be used to speed up hair growth. It works quickly and also strengthens brittle nails by improving the way the body absorbs calcium.
Thyroid imbalances. Both over and underfunctioning of the thyroid gland can contribute to hair loss. Check with your doctor and consider having acupuncture to help rebalance your thyroid.
Kidneys. In Chinese medicine, the health of the kidneys is connected to the health of the hair. Keep your kidneys in shape by drinking plenty of still water and avoiding salt and caffeine, especially if you have frequent lower backache, fluid retention, puffy eyes and also dark circles under your eyes. A fresh herb complex containing Solidago (golden rod)can be taken for two months to tone the kidneys if you feel this may be a problem area for you.
Liver. The liver stores iron, vital for hair growth. Give your liver a two month cleanse and tone with a fresh herb tincture containing Milk Thistle, Cynara and Dandelion.
Hormone imbalance. There are two main factors that may be involved.
- Some women find that as their oestrogen levels fall during the menopause, their hair condition worsens and their hair may become thin. A preparation containing urtica, calcium from nettles and silica or silica alone will help, and the herb Black Cohosh can boost oestrogen levels, so long as no other hormonal treatment is being taken.
- Women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) type symptoms may be suffering from overexposure to male hormones, which induce male-pattern baldness. Saw Palmetto may help both men and women in this situation.
With so many factors to take into account, you may find it difficult to decide what is affecting you. It is made additionally complicated by the fact that not all people respond the same way to the same factors: some women may have umpteen children without losing hair; some may slim strenuously without any loss of locks. Others may have more drastic reactions. Visit a nutritional therapist or herbalist to discuss your case fully, and take the simple steps of improving your eating and drinking habits, supplementing the basic nutrients and dealing with stress to start you off on the road to improved health and hair.