As part of the body’s renewal process, most of us lose 50 to 100 hairs every day. The average rate of growth is approximately 1⁄2 inch per month. Interestingly, hair grows fastest in the summer, as heat and friction speed up growth. Conversely, it grows slower in the cold and the winter months. More rapid hair loss begins in both sexes by age ﬁfty and tends to accelerate once people reach their ﬁfties. A human adult body has an average of 5 million hairs, with 100,000 to 150,000 of those located on the scalp.
Since most of us also grow new strands to replace the ones that have been shed, there’s usually no reason to worry about a few stray hairs that come out with a good brushing or that swirl down the drain after a shower. Hair loss poses a potential prob- lem only if it leads to noticeable thinning or balding, and even then, it is often a nor- mal part of life.
Genetics and hormones determine the most common reasons for hair loss. Male pattern baldness is characterized by a receding hairline and loss of hair, especially on the crown of the head. By age forty, two-thirds of Caucasian men are noticeably bald. Female pattern baldness is characterized by a general thinning of the hair all over the head and a moderate loss of hair on the crown or the hairline. It also occurs between the ages of thirty and forty and often becomes more apparent during and after menopause. About 50 percent of children with a balding parent of either sex will inherit the dominant baldness gene.
Besides age and genetics, the main culprit in balding appears to be an overabun- dance or overactivity of the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) within the hair follicle. DHT is a derivative of testosterone and is driven by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which is produced in the prostate, the adrenal glands, and the scalp. The activity of this enzyme tends to increase as people, especially men, age. It also causes the hair follicle to degrade, and it shortens the growth phase. Some follicles die, but most shrink and produce weaker hairs that become thinner, many to the point where
they fall out from daily activities. Another important hormone is progesterone. Menopausal women commonly ﬁnd improvement with the use of natural progesterone for excessive hair loss.
Other physiological factors might cause hair loss. Recently, a group of Japanese researchers reported a correlation between excessive sebum in the scalp and hair loss. Excessive sebum, often accompanying thinning hair, is attributed to an enlargement of the sebaceous gland. The researchers believe that excessive sebum causes a high level of 5-alpha reductase and pore clogging, thus malnutrition of the hair root. Animal fat in the diet is believed to increase sebum production. Medical researchers in Asia also believe that hair loss is caused mainly by an insufﬁcient blood supply to the scalp.
The effects of stress can be a cause of hair loss and thinning in both men and women. Generally, this type of hair loss or thinning is reversible once the levels of stress have calmed down or the person has dealt with the stress sufﬁciently.
Other reasons for hair loss and thinning may include strict dieting (the loss is due to malnutrition), heavy metal toxicity (e.g., arsenic), chemotherapy, and severe illness. Several different nutrient deﬁciencies can contribute to hair loss, brittleness, or thin- ning. When it comes to hair loss, the most common in women is iron deﬁciency. You will need a blood test by your doctor to see if this is occurring.
Genetic Baldness . . . or Medication?
If you experience thinning or receding hair, chances are that you’re seeing the ﬁrst signs of genetic pattern baldness. Before you come to a conclusion, however, you should run a check of any medications you might be taking. Many phar- maceutical medications cause hair loss, such as the following:
cloﬁbrate (Atromid-S) and gemﬁbrozil
levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa) Ulcer drugs:
cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), and famotidine (Pepcid)
Coumarin and heparin
Agents for gout:
allopurinol (Loporin, Zyloprim) Antiarthritics:
penicillamine, auranoﬁn (Ridaura),
indomethacin (i\Indocin), naproxen (Naprosyn), sulindac (Clinoril), and methotrexate (Folex)
Drugs derived from vitamin A:
isotretinoin (Accutane) and etretinate
(Tegison) Anticonvulsants for epilepsy:
trimethadione (Tridione) Antidepressants:
Beta-blocker drugs for high blood pressure:
atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard), propranolol (Inderal), and timolol (Blocadren)
carbimazole, iodine, thiocyanate, thiouracil
Blood thinners, male hormones (anabolic steroids), and chemotherapeutic agents
It is common for women who are going through menopause to experi- ence hair loss and thinning. This is due No matter whether you have a temporary or permanent condition, many comple- mentary therapies exist that can help you improve your hair and scalp health. While they can’t completely reverse permanent baldness, many treatments can encourage small but signiﬁcant regrowth.
to the ﬂuctuating changes in many of their hormones. Nat- ural hormone-balanc- ing protocols, administered by a knowledgeable doc- tor, can reverse this hair loss. Also, low levels of thyroid hor- mone can result in hair loss in women and men of all ages. This can include thin- ning of the eyebrows. Hypothyroidism often develops around menopause or during pregnancy.
• Receding hairline
• Thinning hair
• Hormone imbalance (particularly,thyroid)
• Serious illness, especially with a high fever
• Hair that falls out in patches
• Autoimmune disorders
• Crash or fad diets
• Extremely high doses of vitamin A
• Nutritional deﬁciencies
• Heavy metal toxicity
• Poor scalp circulation
• Malabsorption, parasites
Hair loss can be caused or aggravated by poor diet. Make sure to eat varied, well-
rounded meals made from basic foods. Include plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and quality protein (such as beans, nuts, ﬁsh, and lean poultry).
Biotin promotes hair and scalp health and, in some cases, can even prevent hair loss. The best sources of biotin are nuts, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, and oats. Many of these foods are also high in B vitamins, which promote hair growth.
Iron is essential for hair growth. Take a spoonful of unsulfured blackstrap molasses every day, and include several of the following foods in your meals: green leafy veg- etables (except spinach), leeks, cashews, berries, dried fruits, and ﬁgs.
Your body needs vitamin C to absorb iron; eat citrus fruit after an iron-rich meal.
The following tests help assess possible reasons for hair loss: Hormone testing (thyroid)—saliva, blood, or urine Intestinal permeability—urine
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially iron)—blood
Heavy metal toxicity—hair or urine
Eat nuts, seeds, and avocados for vitamin E, a nutrient that keeps the scalp in good condition. Olive oil is another excellent source.
Foods containing essential fatty acids, as found in nuts (walnuts), ﬂaxseeds, and ﬁsh, are important.
Food to Avoid
Avoid foods that deplete your system of nutrients and impair circulation, such as sat- urated and hydrogenated fats, reﬁned ﬂour and sugar, and processed food.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Hair Loss
Super Prescription #1 Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
Take 320 to 400 mg daily of an 85 percent liposterolic extract.
This herb has historically been used by herbalists for hair loss in men and women. Recent research shows it to be effective for men.
Super Prescription #2 Essential fatty acids
Take a combination formula containing a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Take 4,000 mg of ﬁsh or ﬂaxseed oil and evening primrose or borage oil con-
taining 200 mg of GLA daily.
Super Prescription #3 Biotin
Take 2,000 to 3,000 mcg daily.
Super Prescription #4 Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Take 3,000 mg daily. It contains the mineral sulfur, which helps promote hair development.
Super Prescription #5 Fo Ti (Polygonum multiﬂorum or He shou-wu)
Take 500 mg three times daily. This Chinese herb is used by practitioners of Ori- ental medicine to slow or stop hair loss, although it is mainly used in formulas with other herbs.
Super Prescription #6 Silica (Silicea)
Take 500 mg twice daily. This mineral fosters hair development.
Super Prescription #7 Rosemary essential oil
Apply 3 to 5 drops per 1 ounce of shampoo daily to improve scalp circulation.
Zinc is a mineral required for hair development. Take 30 mg daily, along with 3 mg of copper.
Natural progesterone cream can be helpful for women with low levels, particularly women in menopause. See the Menopause section for proper use.
Enzymes improve the absorption of foods and nutrients. Take a full-spectrum com- plex with each meal.
Take a high-potency multivitamin daily to provide a base of the nutrients required for healthy hair.
A B-complex supplement combats the effects of stress and contains vitamins in the
B family that contribute to healthy hair. Take a 50 mg complex twice daily.
A greens formula that includes super green foods, such as chlorella, spirulina, bar- ley, and wheatgrass, provides a host of hair-healthy nutrients. Take as directed on the container.
A study in the Jour- nal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that a product con- taining saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and a plant compound called beta-sitosterol (also found in saw palmetto and other plants) may increase hair growth in men.
This study included 19 men between the ages of 23 and 64 years
who had mild to mod- erate hair loss. They were given either a placebo or a supple- ment containing 400 mg of a standardized extract of saw pal- metto and 100 mg of beta-sitosterol per day. After about ﬁve months, hair growth
in 60 percent of the men taking the herbal combination had improved, compared with their initial eval- uation. Only 11 per- cent of those receiving the placebo had any improvement.
A vitamin B12 deﬁciency may be at the root of hair loss. Take as part of a
B-complex or take 200 to 400 mcg of the sublingual form daily.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C,
12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Con- sultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Arsenicum Album is helpful when hair loss is the result of stress. The person is very fearful and restless.
Ignatia (Ignatia amara) is for hair loss that comes on with acute grief or an emo- tional trauma.
Lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) is for premature balding and graying of the hair. People who require this remedy often have digestive problems and crave sweets.
Natrum Muriaticum is for hair loss accompanied by depression, a strong salt crav- ing, and an aversion to being in the sun.
Phosphoric Acidum is for hair loss that is accompanied by fatigue and mental debil- ity. Hair loss may come after grief or sorrow. There is often a craving for carbonated beverages.
Sepia is helpful when there is a hormone imbalance–related hair loss, as seen dur- ing menopause or after using the birth control pill.
Silica (Silicea) is helpful when there has been a chronic illness, accompanied by hair loss. The hair is brittle, and the person tends to be thin, chilly, and easily fatigued.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• If you have been eating poorly or have suffered from an illness, work Stomach
36 to encourage maximum absorption of nutrients into your bloodstream.
A scalp massage will increase circulation to the head and will help hair follicles receive nutrients from the blood.
Rosemary oil will stimulate hair growth. Take a few minutes before a shampoo to rub some into your hair and scalp.
If you need to reduce stress, essential oils can help. Lavender, chamomile, jasmine, rose, and geranium all have relaxing properties, as do many others. See page 658 for more suggestions. Find a few that you enjoy and use them in baths, massages, or dif- fusers, or just hold the bottle under your nose and inhale deeply.
If you experience so much stress that your hair is falling out, you may need a thera- pist to help you cope. Hair loss is often related to shock or grief; look for a profes- sional who has experience with your particular problem.
Any of the strategies in the Exercise and Stress Reduction chapter can help you with long-term stress management. Find the therapy you like best and practice it regularly.
Bach Flower Remedies
See the chart on pages 648–650 to ﬁnd the remedy that best suits your personality and tendencies. Once you’ve chosen a remedy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
Rescue Remedy is the treatment of choice for cases of shock or panic.
If you have recently been in an accident, or if a natural disaster has brought grief to you or your family, take Rock Rose.
If you have been mourning for a long time and tend to retreat into the happier times of the past, Honeysuckle will help you come to terms with your present situation.
• Exercise increases circulation everywhere, including the scalp. Talk a walk daily.
• Be gentle to your hair. When it’s wet, use a wide-toothed comb to separate the strands, or, if possible, let your hair dry completely before combing it into place. Do not use a blow dryer, and don’t dye your hair or use bleach on it. If you want to pull your hair back, do so loosely, and use a special coated elastic that won’t grip the individual strands and pull them out.
• Sleep is essential for hair renewal and growth. Try to get eight hours a night, or more, if that’s what your body needs.