Natural Alopecia & Hair Loss Treatment Options
What is Alopecia?
Everyday, in the healthy scalp, a certain number of hairs reach the end of their existence, and fall out, being replaced by new hairs. Each follicle produces many hairs in the course of a lifetime, but sometimes the hairs become gradually finer and the hair producing quality of the follicle finally fails. Baldness or loss of hair is referred to as Alopecia and may be temporary or permanent.
Alopecia Totalis means loss of all the scalp hair. When the hair falls out in patches, it is termed Alopecia Areata. Alopecia Universalis means loss of all body hair.
Why does hair loss affect men more than women?
Hair loss affects men far more than women (male pattern baldness comprises 90% of hair loss cases) as it depends on the influence of the male hormone testosterone. It tends to be a feature of aging - starting with a receding at the temples or forehead, in a circle on the crown of the head, or at the back of the head - which gradually progresses (though rarely ending in total baldness). In male pattern hair loss, testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair follicles to spend longer in a resting phase than in a growing cycle, however hair continues to fall out. Up to 86 % of men in the U.S. will experience some pattern balding. Heredity also plays a role.
Alopecia in Women...
Women sometimes have the same type of hair loss, but it is not usually as severe - baldness may extend until only a sparse growth remains across the crown - and usually occurs after menopause. In addition, most women lose some hair two or three months after having a baby because hormonal changes during pregnancy prevent normal hair loss. An abortion or discontinuing the oral contraceptive pill may also cause hair loss.
Some factors that can promote hair loss and alopecia are...
Poor circulation, acute illness, local or systemic disease, surgery, radiation, skin disease, sudden weight loss, iron deficiency, diabetes, thyroid disease, drugs such as those used in chemotherapy, antibiotics such as penicillin/sulfonamides/mycin, the hyperthyroid drug carbimazole, the anticoagulant drug heparin, stress, poor diet, vitamin deficiency, and pregnancy.
Getting a Hair Analysis...
It is a good idea, if you suffer from hair loss, that you get an elemental hair analysis done. Heavy metals can accumulate in the body from environmental, occupational or recreational factors and one excretion route is the hair. Intoxication by heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium causes hair loss.
Healthy hair is dependant upon good nutrition..
Healthy hair is dependant upon blood quality and circulation, which in turn are dependant upon nutrition. A well-balanced diet is important to maintaining healthy hair, although hereditary greying and balding cannot be completely prevented by nutritional means.
B complex Vitamins
The B complex vitamins are important for the health and growth of hair. In particular B5 regenerates and restores lustre and colour, and may prevent hair loss and greying of hair. Folic acid is involved in growth generally. Choose a shampoo and conditioner that contains Biotin, and this nutrient used internally may slow hair loss, promote healthy hair and prevent greying and baldness. Inositol is a component of cell membranes and helps Zinc absorption and thus is useful in hair loss also. Vitamin B2 promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails. PABA is for greying hair and protects hair follicles, preventing hair loss and premature greying.
Hair is composed primarily of protein. A deficiency of protein in the diet can result in a temporary change of hair colour and texture, resulting in dull, thin, dry hair. If the protein deficiency is corrected, the hair will return to its normal condition. You can increase your daily protein intake with eggs, fish, chicken or lean beef, or alternatively, you may use protein shakes or bars to supplement your diet.
Kelp, Zinc and more
Kelp supplies some required minerals for proper hair growth. It may be taken as a seaweed in the daily diet, as a supplement in tablet form, or as a condiment on food and in cooking. Zinc stimulates hair growth by enhancing immune function - restoring hair to those with alopecia totalis. Copper works with Zinc to aid in hair growth. Silica keeps hair looking shiny and sleek.
Vitamins A, C & E
A Vitamin A deficiency may cause hair (and skin) to become dry and rough. Vitamin C improves scalp circulation, is involved with collagen synthesis, improves immunity, and helps the excretion of heavy metals. Vitamin E improves circulation to the scalp, which increases oxygen uptake - improving health and growth of the hair.
EFAs and more
Thymus glandular is used to stimulate immune function and improve the functioning capacity of glands. Essential Fatty Acid's are used to improve hair texture - prevents dry, brittle hair. Coenzyme Q10 improves scalp circulation by reducing blood viscosity and fibrogen levels, thus increasing tissue oxygenation. Dimethyl Glycine (DMG) is good for circulation to the scalp, increasing oxygen uptake by the tissues. L-cysteine is a component of hair and is used therapeutically for weak hair - improves the quality, texture, and growth of hair. L-methionine helps prevent hair from falling out. MSM is a biologically active form of organic sulphur found in all living organisms, and, is important in the formation of strong connective tissues such as keratin - hair and nails.
Tissue Salts and Minerals
Tissue salts may be helpful to balance mineral status. Kali sulph indications are: falling out hair; bald spots; much scaling of the scalp, moist and sticky; dandruff. Silica signs are: impoverished condition of the hair; lack lustre. It is a valuable hair conditioner. Nat mur is for dandruff and falling out hair, while Kali phos is for loss of hair when due to nervous causes. Calc phos is for loss of hair when due to defective nutrition. Combination K contains the tissue salts Kali sulph, Nat mur, and Silica.
Natural ways to support healthy hair growth...
External massage with herbs
Massage the scalp with Fenugreek, Ginger, or Cayenne pepper - this will stimulate circulation locally. Dilute these herbs with a carrier oil i.e. avocado or jojoba, and be careful with the more pungent herbs. Do not get any in your eyes. Apple cider vinegar has been used, with good reports, as a hair rinse. Sage tea has been used internally and applied topically to the scalp to aid hair growth. Burdock tea taken internally on a regular basis may also promote hair growth. Drinking Nettle tea, which is rich in minerals, may help to cleanse the system and encourage hair growth. Ligustrum seems to slow greying and Fo-ti has been used in China to keep the hair black.
Internally simulating the circulation is also helpful. Herbs such as Rosemary, Garlic, Ginger, and Ginkgo are good choices for this. It is well documented that Saw Palmetto inhibits the action of 5-alpha-reductase and reduces the binding of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is an extra potent form of testosterone that can cause male pattern baldness and benign prostate enlargement. It is the herb of choice in male pattern baldness and in any instance where excess androgens are a problem. Stress is a contributor to hair loss through reduction of circulation and depletion of nutrients. Kava is an excellent herb to aid with anxiety and stress. It is not sedating and may actually enhance your concentration and focus.
Homeopathic Remedies for Hair Loss
Homoeopathy, in conjunction with nutritional and herbal support, may be useful. Lycopodium 6c is indicated for hair loss after childbirth, while Phosphoric acid 6c is indicated for hair loss after grief, and with exhaustion. Aurum is for hair loss with headaches and boils breaking out on the scalp. Arnica is given for hair loss starting after injury. Selenium is given for a painful scalp and loss of body hair along with hair on the head. Sepia 6c is for hair loss related to menopause and childbirth.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has shown benefits as well. Lavender, Rosemary, Sage, Cedarwood, Patchouli, Ylang ylang, or Peppermint essential oils may be added to mild unfragranced shampoo, or massaged into scalp in a base carrier oil such as Jojoba oil. For topical application, 5-10 drops of essential oil in 20 ml of carrier oil would be an appropriate blend.
Other Nutritional and Herbal support for Alopecia includes:
Multipower - A high potency multivitamin and mineral supplement to boost possible insufficiencies from either an inadequate diet or increased individual requirements.
Vitamin B 100 - The B vitamins are utilised in almost all parts of the body. They are essential for maintaining healthy nerves, skin, hair, eyes, liver, mouth and good muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. They play a supporting role for the immune system. Deficiencies may occur through stress, illness, surgery, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. This product contains optimal doses of all the B vitamins.
Maxi-Hair - A dietary supplement to nourish hair, nails and skin. Contains natural ingredients such as MSM, Canola oil (a natural source of the unsaturated fatty acids, linoleic and oleic acid), as well as horsetail grass, a natural source of Silica.
Multivital - A "whole body tonic" containing 15 specialised herbs, chosen for their potential to provide whole body balance and harmony. Provides stamina and endurance, aids digestion, helps maintain circulation to the extremities, it is a liver tonic, beneficial during periods of stress and mild anxiety. Contains antioxidant herbs.
Jason's Thin-to-Thick Range - consists of shampoo, conditioner, and an elixir designed specifically to unblock the hair follicles to allow optimal hair growth to occur.
Essential Fatty Acids - Omega 3, 6, 9 are essential for general health as the body cannot manufacture them. They are beneficial for hormonal balance and will aid hair growth regardless of the cause.
Some interesting points on Hair Loss...
- Remember that it is normal to lose 50-150 hairs a day. If large amounts of hair are lost, see a physician. Do not use a brush or a fine tooth comb. Over-brushing is not a good idea, since it will promote hair loss more quickly. Good hygiene is also important for healthy hair. This includes brushing the hair properly and washing it with a mild natural shampoo. Be careful of using products that are not natural on the hair - allergic reactions to chemicals added to these products occur frequently. Alternate all-natural hair products.
- Exposure to wind and sun may cause early greying and cause brittle, broken hair.
- Apple cider, used as a rinse, may help hair grow. Lie down on a slant board for 15 minutes a day to allow the blood to reach the scalp. Some people do headstands but these should be done with caution and will not be appropriate, or safe, for everyone. Massage the scalp daily.
- Taking large doses of Vitamin A (100,000 IU or more daily) over long periods can trigger hair loss, but stopping the Vitamin A will reverse the problem. Often the hair grows back when the cause is corrected.
- The drug Rogaine, which contains minoxidil (used to grow hair on the scalp), may cause heart changes if used for long periods of time, report researchers at the University of Toronto. Although this drug does result in hair growth, the amount varies from person to person, the quality of the hair is usually poor and hair growth ceases when use of the drug is stopped. It stimulates the follicles to regrow hair. Younger men who are just beginning to lose hair, or lose it in spots, are helped more readily than those who have receding hairlines The cost of this prolonged drug program may be prohibitive. There is also a testosterone compound salve, i.e. cypionate, when applied topically to the scalp can slow or even halt male pattern baldness by preventing the formation of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
- Hypothyroidism is often the cause of hair loss. See your natural healthcare practitioner for an accurate diagnosis.
- Hair transplants are an alternative.