Alopecia is the disease of hair loss. Many people associate hair with a purely aesthetic quality and feel beautiful or handsome due to its presence, but the hair, just like our nails or eyes, signifies the overall health of the body. As such, when our hair starts to fall out in clumps, even in young adults, an autoimmune disease is likely at play, which causes the body to attack itself.
Men and women may suffer from hair loss prematurely. It also often happens in different ways dependent upon gender and its cause. For men, hair loss may indicate the loss of the hormone testosterone.
In women, hair loss may be due to estrogen dominancy or other hormonal imbalances that often accompany menopause. In the youthful, hair loss can indicate additional, serious health conditions. Minimally, the immune system is not working as it should when hair loss is consistent and prolonged.
3 Phases of Hair Growth
To understand why the body starts to shed hair, it is important to understand how it grows hair.
- The first phase is called Anagen – it can last up to 6 years. This is when our hair first starts to grow from our hair follicles.
- The next phase of hair growth is called Catogen. This phase lasts approximately 1 to 2 weeks.
- The final stage is called the resting stage or Telogen. This can last up to 4 months before hair starts a natural cycle of re-growth.
Our hair grows an average of a half inch to an inch every month. Just like cells in our bodies, hair is constantly replacing itself. Our hair is also very telling of our overall health as it can be lab-tested for toxins which will show up from exposure years prior!
Aside from pregnancy, chemotherapy, or an iron deficient, loss of hair can indicate an underlying imbalance in the body. It can also indicate high toxicity levels which have not been cleared from the body – thus harming the immune system and possibly causing an auto-immune disease. Hair loss ensues!
Causes of Hair Loss
There are many causes of hair loss, but some you may not have imagined.
- As mentioned, hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause hair loss.
- Emotional trauma (divorce, death, financial loss, etc.)
- Chemotherapy causes cells to attack themselves and turns off healthy immunity in our bodies, thus creating hair loss.
- Certain pharmaceutical medications can cause hair loss. These include medications given for heart disease, acne, depression, gout, high blood pressure, attention deficit, and weight loss.
- Many people (a large majority of them women) with autoimmune diseases suffer hair loss.
- Genetic sensitivities to certain environmental toxins – some are born with a sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone or DHT, the testosterone derivative that acts on hair follicles to kill them.
- Thyroid conditions
- Major illnesses
- A poor diet
- Major life changes that cause high stress
- Traction alopecia – when hair follicles become damaged from always being pulled tight in a ponytail or another hair accessory.
Alopecia Treatment Options
Allopathic Remedies for Alopecia
Allopathic medicine offers many treatments for hair loss. They range from expensive and invasive to practical and include medications, surgery, laser therapy, and wigs or hairpieces.
These methods aim to either slow hair loss, jump-start hair growth or simply hide that your hair is falling out.
Some of the drugs prescribed for hair loss dampen the immune system and attempt to reduce inflammation, but do not cure the underlying problem that is causing the immune system to go awry.
In the case of surgery, a doctor will remove tiny pieces of skin from other parts of the scalp, each containing a few hairs and “implant” them on the places where hair loss has occurred. You will also likely be asked to take a drug which inhibits the immune system to prevent the new hair implants from falling out. This method can also be very costly and painful, running about $8-$10 per tiny hair graft, with a total cost of up to $15,000 to replace male pattern balding and other large-batch hair loss.
Natural Cures for Alopecia
Natural cures for alopecia aim to rid the body of toxins, boost the immune system, get rid of inflammation, and stop hair loss naturally by promoting overall health in the body.
Lifestyle Changes for Alopecia
Among the natural cures for hair loss are herbs and foods which promote hair growth and prevent alopecia.
Here are the foods you should concentrate on adding to your diet:
- Only purchase organic foods. Genetically Modified (GM) fruits and vegetables grown with herbicides and pesticides are known to affect the endocrine system. This in turn, affects the hormones and can cause hair loss.
- Pumpkin seed correct a zinc deficiency. Zinc is an important mineral we need in our bodies. Without it, we may lose hair prematurely. These tiny seeds also prevent hypothyroidism which can contribute to hair loss.
- Add vegetarian forms of Omega 3 fatty acids. Though these healthy fats all also found in cold water fish like cod and salmon, increasingly fish have high levels of mercury, growth hormones, and antibiotics which are not good for our health. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in things like hemp seeds, camelina oil, and flax seed, just to name a few.
- Sip on green tea. This amazing drink is not only a cancer preventative, but it may also prevent genetically-based alopecia by stopping the conversion of testosterone into DHT. It is also a powerful yet gentle way to detox the body of toxins which contribute to inflammation and immune disorders.
- Use caffeine moderately. Caffeine can over-stimulate the adrenals in a world where these sensitive organs are already often overstressed by our hectic lifestyles. When used moderately, caffeine can inhibit the creation of DHT in the body, preventing hair loss.
Foods to Avoid for Alopecia
These are foods you should avoid to prevent hair loss:
- Steer clear of soy – especially GM soy. It is known as an endocrine disruptor (phytoestrogen) as it mimics estrogen in the body and can cause imbalances which lead to hair loss.
- Get rid of trans fats. Trans fats are man-made fats that cannot by metabolized by the body properly. They add to our toxic burden, and increase inflammation which leads to alopecia, among many other diseases.
- Ditch refined sugar. Sugar not only creates a cycle of addiction akin to heroine-fixation, but also throws our hormones out of whack, causes insulin resistance, inflammation, and an increase in DHT – all of which lead to hair loss.
- Drink less alcohol. A glass of wine once in a while won’t hurt you, but if you drink alcohol regularly, you are increasing inflammation in the body and causing stress to your liver – one of the primary organs of detoxification.
- Stay away from convenience and processed foods. Anything that is highly processed contains chemical food additives, MSG, unhealthy fats, fake and refined sugars, and chemically based color which are meant to make nutritionless, lifeless food taste palatable. These chemicals also contribute to the toxic burden your body has to get rid of, and causes inflammation.
Herbal Remedies for Alopecia
Herbs that reduce inflammation, balance the pH, and boost immunity to prevent hair loss include:
- Indian gooseberry (massaged into the scalp or taken orally)
- Licorice root
- Rosemary oil (high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds) can help reduce bald patches. Best used with carrier oi like jojoba or coconut oil
- Lavender and cedar oils can also be used with a carrier oil and rubbed into bald patches on the scalp
- Iron – helps to oxygenate the hair follicles
- B Vitamins (helpful for lowering stress which can contribute to hair loss)
- Saw palmetto berry (Serenoa repens), typically used for an enlarged prostate is also excellent for treating baldness.
- Silicic acid (silica) to help maintain the integrity of blood vessel walls for good circulation in the hair follicles. Good sources are unrefined oats and other whole-grain cereals.
Chinese Traditional Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners will typically utilize acupuncture, moxibustion, herbs, and Qi gong to purify the blood. Hair loss is directly related to the health of the blood in TCM. When we are subjected to a lot of stress, have poor diets and our organs are overly toxic, they may have a difficult time cleaning our blood and getting the oxygen and nutrients our cells needs to them. TCM will aim to purify the blood and oxygenate it to improve circulation near the hair follicles.
Many companies offer alopecia cures in the form of herbal supplements. While taking supplements such as catalase is not helpful, since the problem is from within, some supplements which help regulate toxin levels in the body have proved to be very useful overtime. You can try a herbal medicine called Activiz. Various reports over the past years have suggested a lot of improvement with them, usually seen around 3-4 months down the treatment. While some patients reports, reduction in hairfall, others report thin hairs falling off and new thick hair coming in place of it, and some report regrowth in areas where hair was completely gone. Since the results vary case to case and are not quantifiable, it is a subjective treatment. But definitely worth a shot. This is subjective and there has been no study to support this claim.
There are many products that claim to cure hair loss completely. Each product has their own explanation of how it works. However, out of all those explanations, none of them are accurate. Lets take an example of Biotin. It is all over the internet that taking biotin supplements or applying directly on the area is beneficial for hair loss. However, all these reports are vague in nature. Even the before after videos and photos are not reliable and do not offer insight on other factors related to hair loss. Biotin as a supplement is present in the body, reduction of the same does not cause hair loss – there is no scientific data to prove that. Taking the supplement externally will not help, since the body cannot digest and process the existing biotin in the body. So the supplements comes out as it goes in. Many companies take advantage of the unknown consumer and advertise a before and after promising results with biotin. However, over 80% results report that biotin is not beneficial in anyway. Another popular remedy advertised is catalase. For some reason, this minute chemical in the body is advertised as the main culprit for hair loss. There has been no study to prove the same. We highly recommend following a healthy diet, reducing stress and toxins from the body and doing exercise everyday to regulate hair fall. Using chemicals can have various side effects – using a natural alternative is far safer.
Do let us know whatever works for you best so that we can write it here and have our readers benefitted from it.