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Hair Loss Doesn’t Just Happen To Men — Here Are The Supplements That Can Help

hair loss

We often think of hair loss as something that only happens to older men. But the truth is, women — and women of all ages for that matter! — can experience hair loss and thinning hair that can seriously impact self-esteem and confidence. 

And unlike men — for which hair loss can be an unavoidable part of aging — hair loss in women is often something that you can improve and sometimes even reverse with a few key lifestyle changes. 

But first, let’s dive into what’s causing hair loss and thinning hair in the first place.

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FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE FOR PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD

What’s really causing hair loss and thinning hair?

As a leading functional medicine practitioner, I see female clients all the time that deal with this issue and I’m here to tell you that there is something you can do about it. Most of the time, thinning hair and hair loss in women is a sign of an underlying health issue; and almost always, that health issue is connected to hormones.

You see, your hormone systems are more complex than you could ever imagine. And when one hormone gets thrown out of balance, it can affect a ton of different aspects of your health, including the hair on your very head. One group of hormones that are particularly important for hair health are thyroid hormones, which are important for helping signal the regrowth of new hair to replace the hair we lose every day through normal shedding and breakage. 

So, what are the other causes? One of the biggest ones is stress, which is also, not surprisingly, a cause of hormone imbalance. (Remember, everything in the body is connected!) When you’re extremely stressed, your body starts to funnel all its energy and resources away from things like hormone health and hair health and towards your fight or flight response. This can take a toll on the health of your hair in a major way both directly and by exacerbating hormone issues that contribute to hair loss. (Ugh!)  

If you’ve experienced a stressful life event that causes constant stress hormone production, you may develop an autoimmune related hair health issue, like alopecia.   

What supplements will help with hair loss and thinning hair?

Now that you’re familiar with some of the common underlying health issues that can contribute to hair health issues, let’s get constructive. Luckily, there are a ton of things you can do to improve hair loss, including taking supplements that help correct nutrient deficiencies that can knock your nervous system and hormones out of balance. Here are five to try out ASAP if you’re dealing with hair loss. 

1. Biotin 

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is largely responsible for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Biotin is even referred to as “vitamin H,” which is derived from the German words “Haut” and “Haar,” which mean skin and hair. I recommend taking a mix of B vitamins — which you can find in a B-complex supplement — as they work synergistically to improve hair health and other aspects of health.  

2. Ashwagandha 

You’ve probably heard chatter about ashwagandha already. It’s extremely trendy at the moment — but it’s for a good reason! This adaptogenic herb works directly on the HPA axis, which controls your stress response and regulates your stress hormone production. 

3. Pearl 

Pear is another adaptogen. And while lesser known than ashwagandha, pearl is a great source of amino acids to help nourish hair, skin, and nails. This is thanks to an ingredient called conchiolin, which is what gives pearls their luminescence. Conchiolin has similar effects to keratin – a protein found in your skin and hair – and improves metabolism, increases circulation, and repairs damaged cells. Pearl powder has at least 30 trace minerals, along with silica which is great for supporting hair health and selenium which is very important for healthy thyroid hormones.

4. Collagen

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in your body and is found in connective tissue, including our skin and cartilage as well as nails and hair. Collagen is made up of three important amino acids (glycine, proline, and hyroxyproline) and each is produced in our body naturally but not at sufficient levels. For example, we require around 15 grams of glycine per day, but most of us only get 3 grams per day from our modern diet, so supplementation can be extremely beneficial for longer, healthier hair.

5. Holy Basil 

Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is one of my favorite adaptogens. It is also one of the best-researched herbs for hair loss! One particular study (1) showed how holy basil can be a useful treatment for hair loss problems like alopecia. In the study tulsi promoted more hair growth naturally, compared to the control group which used a medication with many potential negative side effects. Holy Bail’s strong properties are one of the reasons why I developed Holi(youth): The Calming Oceanic Adaptogen to be a key part of my clean beauty line, Agent Nateur. We formulated this powder with holy basil (as well as marine collagen and pearl) along with nutrient-dense spirulina to promote healthy hair and skin as well as calming stress which, as we've seen, can negatively impact your hair. 

Finally, another thing you can do to promote healthy hair is giving yourself regular scalp massages. Promoting circulation and blood flow to the scalp can stimulate hair follicles that may be inhibited or unhealthy. You can massage your scalp with your fingers each night and every time you wash your hair, or purchase a scalp massager. Either way, show your scalp some love every day — your hair will thank you! 

Hair loss and thinning hair can be shocking, nerve-wrecking, and frustrating. But as you can see, it’s important to stay calm! Focus on showing your nervous system and hormones some love. Thankfully, I see in my clinic all the time that getting to the root cause can restimulate hair regrowth for healthier, thicker hair.

If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.

Photo: unsplash.com

References:

  1. Vaishali Rathi, Jagdish Chandra Rathi, et al. Hair growth activity of Cicer arietinum Linn. Ocimum sanctum Linn and Cyperus rotundus Linn in Albino Rats. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2017; 6(1): 157-159 http://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2017/vol6issue1/PartC/6-1-16-396.pdf 

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BY DR. WILL COLE

Evidence-based reviewed article

Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.

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