Updated: May 11, 2020
I don’t usually curse, but WTF …
I don’t want to seem vain; I am actually known for being plain Jane and not too concerned with the way I look, but my hair loss was starting to impact my self confidence.
I would love to tell you that hair loss is an easy fix or tell you to buy that wonderful shampoo that your girlfriend is raving about and that all is going to be ok. But there are so many different causes of hair loss that we can’t be naive about it. Nor should you turn a blind eye and dismiss your clogged shower.
Identifying the cause of hair loss is extremely important as it is a sign of deeper hormonal imbalances.
My kids and my husband make fun that I used to shed more than the dog -embarrassing, to say the least, but it is something I had to deal with all my life. Thank God I was born with a big mane so I still have hair on my head, but I know how disheartening it is to literally see your hair going down the drain.
Yep, I know I sound like a broken record, but the truth is, until you know what is causing it, you will not find a permanent solution, no matter what your fave hair pal says.
There are a lot at play when dealing with hair loss. Like everything else, it is stress related (What isn’t?), but the type of stressor is the piece to solving the puzzle.
Contrary to what you may think, stress can come in many forms. It’s not just dealing with work, buying a house, cramming for exams or being a caretaker. Stress can also be hitting the gym a little too hard, undereating or eating foods that you are sensitive to, and not sleeping your best.
Here are a few common issues that I see in my practice:
Our nutrition is where we get the building blocks that make up a strand of hair. It’s also where the micronutrients and antioxidants come from to fuel our hair, build cells and protect the follicles from damaging inflammation. If our nutrition isn’t on point, it can spell trouble for our lovely locks. Truth be told, it’s not just what you eat that matters. It really comes down to how your body absorbs the nutrients from those foods. Without a smoothly running digestive system, even a perfectly balanced diet will pass through us underutilized.
The hair growth process is very sensitive to fluctuations in our hormone levels. It’s not just the sex hormones, like testosterone, estrogen, either. It can also be the hormones produced by our thyroid or adrenal glands. Even though there are numerous ways our hormone balance can be disrupted, regardless of what’s behind the changes, it all impacts our hair growth.
The inflammatory hair loss type is most often associated with food sensitivities or allergies, exposure to toxins like mold, heavy metals, or chemicals, or autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata. At a high level, inflammation distorts the hair’s growth phase and leads to more hair loss.
Digging deeper into inflammation, many women find that their sources of inflammation have also cost their bodies nutrients that are critical for hair growth.
Wow, overwhelming? A little bit, but let's tame that hair loss progression once and for all so we can go back to “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…”
The best way to do it is to test, not guess! Therefore, in the end I will give you a list of Lab markers you can ask your doctor to start your investigation!
And hold your horses, I also listed some of my go to supplements for reclaiming your mane in style.
PATTERNS OF HAIR LOSS - A FEW CLUES
Hair Thinning - I usually think of thyroid here. It points to hormonal imbalances
Top of the head - more of sex/stress hormone picture: testosterone, progesterone, cortisol or estrogen imbalances
Patches - cortisol imbalances, B vitamins deficiencies, zinc deficiency or heavy metal exposure
All over baldness - poor circulation and/or deficiency in protein, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, silicon or zinc
Total body hair loss - DHEA, blood sugar dysregulation or circulation issues
Again, I am not going to leave you hanging. I really think you MUST investigate the causes of your hair loss. But here are a few things that you can do to bring back your Rapunzel locks.
B complex - Find a good quality supplement that contains B12 and folate (NOT folic acid).
Adaptogen Herbs - I am all about my adaptogens! Think of them as thermostats, they regulate when things get too high or too low. Like your stress hormones! Look for a product that contains Rhodiola, ashwagandha and licorice root (caution: DO NOT use licorice root if you have high blood pressure!)
Saw Palmetto - I would prefer to test and see where you are at, but you could try and see if it works for you. Saw Palmetto helps prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which causes hair loss.
Iron - Again, I would not supplement with iron unless we know the markers of your ferritin or if you have iron deficiency anemia. I suggest eating organ meats, especially liver instead. I honestly feel an instant boost of energy whenever I take my organ meat capsules.
Apple Cider Vinegar - 1 to 2 teaspoons in a bit of water before meals. ACV helps to raise stomach acid, which will allow you to absorb more nutrients from your food (Then again, it would be great to know how your gut health is, poor nutrient absorption can wreck a havoc on your body even if you are eating a squeaky clean diet. You are not only what you eat, but what you can absorb!)
Pumpkin Seeds - A great source of zinc that also helps prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT.
Essential Fatty Acids - Found in fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines. EFA’s help reduce inflammation. I eat sardines at least once a week (even if you do not like it, just suck it up girl!) and also supplement with it. Chia Seeds and walnuts are also a great source. You can check my coconut chia pudding recipe.
Freshly ground flax seeds - they increase SHBG, which then bind to excess hormones. Go for 2 tablespoons a day. Do not buy it ground since it is almost always rancid. Just buy organic whole flax seeds and grind it on a coffee grinder or use a magic bullet blender. Keep it in the fridge for freshness.
HOMEOPATHIC TISSUE SALTS: Schussler SILICA 6X - Silicon Dioxide. A very inexpensive remedies. Silica Strengthens connective tissue, bones, teeth and promotes hair growth (excellent for hair falling and hair loss),as a bonus is great for breaking/weak nails, hangnails
EXERCISE - I do not mean over train since exercise is also a stressor in the body, so be reasonable, it may not be the time to run marathons! I suggest doing yoga, walking, hiking, swimming and moderate strength training. The idea is to increase circulation, reduce stress and balance blood sugar.
MEDITATION - By now, you probably know that meditation is good for you. But I get it that not everybody feels like doing it. All I can say is that maybe your idea of what meditation is needs to be revisited. It is easier than you think and the impact of it on health, stress and overall life cannot be overemphasized. The days that I do not meditate, I can feel that I just do not have what it takes to deal with stress. On the days that I meditate, I simply feel invincible.
RECOMMENDED BLOOD MARKERS FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION
Here are a few blood markers that can help identify the root cause of hair loss. On my practice I use other functional Labs as well, but those you can ask your doctor for.
COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT (CBC) and Ferritin - Both tests screen for iron deficiency which is a common cause of hair loss.
COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL (CMP) - It gives you a baseline on liver and kidney function. It shows how your electrolytes are doing.
COMPLETE THYROID PANEL - TSH, total T4 and T3, free T4 and T3, reverse T3, anti TPO and Anti Thyroglobulin Antibodies. Those could show if thyroid hormones are at play here.
ANTINUCLEAR ANTIBODIES (ANA), Celiac Panel or Cyrex Array 5 - Those tests screen for autoimmunity. I have seen many cases of autoimmune being revealed when we were simply trying to figure out hair loss.
Hs - CRP - HIGH SENSITIVITY C- reactive protein - It checks for inflammation.
TOTAL & FREE Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) - Testosterone can cause women to lose hair. These markers are most commonly associated with male pattern baldness, but high testosterone may be a sign of hormonal imbalance in women as well.
FSH, LH, ESTROGEN, PROGESTERONE - Imbalances on those sex hormones may cause not only hair loss but also PMS and irregular and/or heavy periods.
SEX HORMONE BINDING GLOBULIN (SHBG) - This protein grabs excess hormones. If it is low, it may be a sign that your free testosterone may be elevated as a result.
FASTING INSULIN, FASTING GLUCOSE, HEMOGLOBIN A1C- Those markers screen for diabetes. Blood sugar dysregulation impacts hormonal balance and impacts circulation to your scalp.
CORTISOL AND DHEA-S - These are our stress hormones. When cortisol is high, most likely as a response to some form of stress, it may cause hair loss. (i like to look at a Dutch Test here as well)
HEAVY METAL TEST - This is often overlooked but can have significant impact in our health in general and also may be the root cause of your hair loss. Silver fillings, exposure to chemicals, paint, dyes. Eating non-organic foods? Maybe heavy metals accumulation may be driving your hair loss.
If you feel that you need some individual attention to deal with this feel free to apply for a complimentary Discovery Call to see how can I help you with your hair concerns.
apply for a 30 minute complimentary Consultation Here.
Isabela Fortes is a
Board Certified Holistic Health Expert, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher Level II
Certified Yoga Therapist
She teaches and work with clients in Southern California and Virtually anywhere in the world.
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