The emotional impact of hair loss is significant and should not be underestimated. I can certainly relate. When I was younger I had significant hair loss in my twenties which I talk about in my first book Joyous Health. I wasn't losing hair in chunks but rather my hair was dramatically thinning.
It wasn't overnight but once I addressed the root cause including hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiency and I also stopped colour-treating my hair - my hair grew back thick and healthy.
Hair grows about half in inch per month (6 inches per year) so patience is key.
It took about three months to notice a modest change and 6 months to notice a significant difference. Keep in mind, hair growth at half an inch per month is just an average which means you may be perfectly healthy and just have slower growth than that. You will notice slower hair growth if you have curly hair, but you already knew that :)
Know that you lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day as part of normal shedding. If you don't brush your hair at least once per day then it may seem like you're losing more hair when you wash it because they will all fall out at once. Don't be alarmed, but do brush your hair regularly (twice daily) as it supports healthy hair growth by stimulating circulation of the scalp. When you stimulate circulation this brings nutrition to your hair follicles.
In this article, we are going to look at some common causes of hair loss/thinning plus natural solutions to combat those causes.
Causes + Solutions for Hair Loss
Not surprisingly, stress is one of the main causes of hair loss. One of the reasons why hair loss or thinning hair occurs as a result of stress is because when cortisol (stress hormone) levels are elevated it accelerates the degradation of important skin elements, namely hyaluronan and proteoglycans (components of hair follicles) by approximately 40%. Why does this matter? Because hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) is essential to reduce inflammation and help form new blood vessels - both essential for healthy skin and healthy hair follicles.
Stress hormones also alter the hair growth phases and elevated cortisol has been shown in animal studies to inhibit new hair growth and extend the resting phase of hair.
And finally, stress impacts digestion. When digestion is altered this impacts the absorption of nutrients.
Practice stress management strategies daily. You may not be able to control the stress in your life, but you can control your reaction to stress.
Both poor diet and stress (it's a nutrient-hog) can lead to nutritional deficiencies which impact hair health. Your nutritional status plays an integral role in your whole body health and hair loss is a symptom of poor nutrition. These are some of the nutrients that support healthy hair.
Most North Americans are eating the Standard American Diet full of processed foods, refined carbohydrates and severely lack adequate nutrition. While I do not recommend you start supplementing with each of these nutrients because you'll be popping more pills than eating food, look to your diet and fill it with lots of variety and nourishing foods. Food first before supplementation, always.
Solution: If you suspect you may have a nutritional deficiency speak with your natural healthcare practitioner or a functional medicine doctor or certified nutritionist who can help you.
As I just reviewed in the previous point, stress causes nutritional depletion and a diet high in processed foods and low in whole foods causes wide-ranging nutritional deficiencies. A poor diet is a very common and overlooked cause of hair loss and hair thinning. This is very evident in eating disorders when not enough nutrition is being consumed and hair loss is common. Of course, an eating disorder is an extreme case of a diet lacking in nutrients, but most North Americans are eating far too much sugar, salt and bad fats.
Solution: I have endless inspiration for eating a joyous meal full of nourishing and delicious ingredients! There are hundreds of free recipes to support healthy hair right here, as well as my three cookbooks: The Joyous Cookbook, Joyous Detox and Joyous Health.
Harsh Hair Products
The conventional hair care industry is a chemical cesspool. Companies are concerned more about the efficacy of their products with little care or knowledge about how certain chemicals may be impacting your overall health. There are many ingredients in hair care products that could be both potentially harmful to your overall health and most certainly not promoting healthy hair. Some ingredients to watch out for:
Solution: Check out the Joyous Health Hair care lineup. We never use any harsh detergents or any harmful ingredients. Instead, we use organic rosemary essential oil and lavender.
Hormones are chemical messengers of your body. They are produced by the endocrine system and send messages throughout your body to regulate many physiological processes including hair growth. Here are some examples of how hormones influence hair growth.
Solution: You can get blood work done by your physician but also consider working with a natural healthcare practitioner (such as an ND or nutritionist) who can do a comprehensive assessment of your hormones. The Dutch Test is a good place to start but you'll need a practitioner to order the test and assess the results for you. Note: I do not do one-on-ones or offer this service. Once you know what you're dealing with then you can make a plan of action. I would first recommend assessing your diet. A great place to start is the Joyous Detox - my cookbook of whole-foods based recipes that are detox friendly and will support your liver in detoxification. Food is a very powerful tool - but really the tip of the iceberg.
Thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism impact hair growth. When T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones) are disrupted it affects the development of hair at the root. Hair falls out easily, sometimes in chunks and may not be replaced by new hair growth. This is commonly seen when part of the eyebrow falls out from the outside of the eye. It is essential to rule out any thyroid dysfunction when hair loss or hair thinning is happening.
Solution: Get full bloodwork done on your thyroid function. Make sure you have a full thyroid panel done including TSH, free T3, free T4, and thyroid antibodies to assess thyroid gland function. All should be completed to properly diagnose a thyroid condition that may result in excessive hair loss.
I know this is a lot of information to take in but I truly hope it gives you some good guidance or a starting point on getting to the root cause of your hair loss.
Wishing you joyous health,