Getting To The Root Of Your Hair Loss
Hair loss can be a devastating experience. As women, we take great pride in our hair so there is nothing more distressing than discovering that our luscious locks are shedding at what seems to be an exponential rate.
While it’s normal to lose an average of 50-100 hairs per day, if you start to notice that your hair is falling out in clumps, breaks easily, becomes patchy, or has remarkably thinned it may indicate that there is something more to the story.
So what is usually to blame?!
1. Protein. Hair is made up largely of protein. Because amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, it only makes sense that consuming enough in the diet is crucial for healthy hair. In the case of hair loss, aim for at least 1 g of protein per kg of body weight through sources such as nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, fish, and gluten free grains. Always talk to your naturopathic doctor before starting any new protein powder supplements to ensure they are right for you.
2. Thyroid. Thyroid hormones play a key role in regulating hair growth. Since both an underactive and an overactive thyroid gland can contribute to hair loss it is important to obtain the appropriate workup if thyroid disease is suspected. This includes a full thyroid panel containing TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and anti-thyroid antibodies.
3. Deficiencies. Several nutrient deficiencies are implicated in hair loss with the most common being iron (without or without anemia) among women of reproductive age. Other common deficiencies include vitamin D, zinc, essential fatty acids, and certain B vitamins. Your naturopathic doctor will determine if further testing is needed before starting you on a plan to correct them.
4. Steroid Hormones. Imbalances in the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone can develop throughout life’s stages, as in menopause or after pregnancy, and can result in hair loss as an underlying symptom. A state of androgen excess, often marked by elevated testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), or DHEA-S can also result in hair loss that presents as a diffuse thinning. Your naturopathic doctor can offer hormone testing to help determine if your hair loss is related to an underlying imbalance and can help to uncover other health conditions that may be implicated such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
5. Stress. When the body is under stress it releases excess cortisol. Large amounts of cortisol have been shown to disrupt the hair growth cycle as well as the function of the hair follicle and the balance of our reproductive hormones, ultimately contributing to hair loss. It can quickly become a vicious cycle because oftentimes the more hair that is lost, the more stress experienced! Measuring your cortisol and supporting the body in it’s ability to cope with stress is a good starting place in the treatment of stress induced hair loss.
6. Digestion. Poor digestive health is a common yet often overlooked cause of hair loss. Underlying causes may include poor diet, low stomach acid, celiac disease, intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), or a gut dysbiosis such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or candida overgrowth. Several of these concerns can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, which can further perpetuate the loss. If you present with digestive symptoms in addition to hair loss, speak to your naturopathic doctor about further testing.
Are you suffering with hair loss and want to get to the root of it (pun intended!) with a naturopathic approach? Book your appointment by clicking here.
Yours in health,
Dr. Jessica Geil, ND