Hair Loss – Cause, Prevention and Treatment

The adult scalp contains about 100,000 hair follicles. Everyday the scalp loses about 100 hairs and they will grow back in 5-6 weeks. Starting at age 40, the levels of by-product prolactin of testosterone of men increases, stimulating the production of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase that causes the conversion of testosterone to gihydro-testosterones DHT causing our hair to grow back thinner or not grown back at all. This causes an androgenic alopecia hair loss problem, since DHT shrinks the follicles causing hair thins and hair receding at the forehead, crown and temple for men and thins over the entire scalp for women. What causes hair loss.

1. The Causes of Hair Loss

a) Aging
Human aging is the biological process that is unavoidable but controllable with healthy diet with complex carbohydrates, green foods, garlic, onion, water and juices that will help to decrease the aging process in some degree. It also helps to reduce the amount of DHT produced in our body, result in postponing hair loss to our scalp.

b) Mineral deficiency
Minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, chromium, iodine, zinc, and magnesium are necessary to maintain healthy hair growth. Mineral deficiency will reduce the chance to regulate the blood circulation that promotes healthy hair growth and thyroid hormones that prevent dry hair and hair loss as well as defects in hair color. Too much iron is toxic to your body. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any mineral supplement.

c) Oxygen deficiency
Oxygen deficiency in your blood weakens the hair follicles, leading to dryness of the scalp and hair loss. Uncontrolled diet that is high in saturated fat causes cholesterol building up in your arteries resulting in less oxygen in your blood stream. Also cigarette smoking and second hand smoke reduces the blood flow and increases the blood clotting activity of cells which would clog the blood flow and damage arteries causing oxygen deficiency and results in weaken of the hair follicles.

d) Side affects of medication taken
Some medications contains elements that might cause hair loss such as lithium, warfarin, heparin, and amphetamines. When hair loss is a side effect of a medication, hair growth usually returns to normal once the drug is stopped.

e) Genetic hair loss
Hair loss is due to heredity. It is passed down from generation to generation. Genetic hair loss appears predominately in men, but may also appear in a few select women.

2. Food to Avoid

Foods that can cause hair loss and diminish hair growth.

a) Saturated and Trans fat
Foods such as meat, poultry, and fried foods contain high saturated fat. Foods such as margarine, cheese, and butter contain high amounts of trans fat. These foods cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries and small veins in your scalp resulting in less oxygen being delivered to the cell in your body, including the cells on the follicles.

b) Foods that contain Aspartame and Monosodium Glutamate
Monosodium Glutamate contain chemicals that causes weight gain, increased appetite and also causes various kinds of health problems such as hair loss.
Aspartame contains toxic chemicals that make you gain weight, increases hunger and causes medical problems like migraines and poor blood circulation.

c) Smoking
As we mentioned in the previous article, smoking can reduce blood flow to the scalp causing hardening in the arteries, limit blood flow and make hair loss worse.

d) Artificial Color
Artifiicial color contains chemical compounds that take their toll on the body’s natural balance.
Specific foods to avoid include colored drinks, color-coated candies, gummy and chewy candies, and many colored cereals.

e) Preservatives
These are potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys that cause hair loss and prevent hair growth as we mentioned in the article “Hair loss part IV–regrow hair with Chinese herbs”.

f) Food Packaging
Polyvinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, and it’s often used as plastic food wrap. It is toxic with high amounts causing damage to the kidney and liver resulting in hair loss.

g) Salt
Eating too much salt can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure that cause less oxygen to be delivered to the body’s cells including cells in your scalp in result of losing hair.

3. Hair Loss Prevention and Treatment

I. Here are some important minerals that may help to prevent hair loss and promote hair re-growth:

a) Iron
Iron is involved in the oxygenation of your body’s red blood cells. It is essential for normal hair growth and maintaining healthy hair. If the amount of iron can not be replaced with food intake, iron deficiency will cause hair loss because of oxygen deficiency.

b) Zinc
It helps to secrete the scalp with much needed oil and avoid dandruff that may cause hair loss.

c) Copper
Study shows that these tripeptide complexes may actually be able to regrow hair, even in patients with total hair loss due to alopecia. Healthy tissue concentrations of copper lie between 1. 7 and 3. 5 milligrams. Everything else will cause hair loss.

d) B vitamins
The deficiency of B vitamins (especially B6, B3, B5 and folic acid) in your diet may lead to hair loss.

e) Biotin
Biotin works as an anti aging agent and helps to produce keratin in preventing gray hair and hair loss.
Sources of biotin are: whole grains, egg yolks, liver, rice and milk.

f) Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for over-all good health. It’s also beneficial to hair follicles, as it keeps the hair root lubricated. Too much vitamin A might result in hair loss.

g) Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that aids effective circulation in the scalp due to increased oxygen uptake in blood, therefore it plays an important role in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss.

h) CQ-10
Coenzyme Q10 (CQ-10) is an essential vitamin that provides our body with the nutrients needed to grow healthy hair. They also promote overall vitality, and contribute to beautiful skin and strong nails.

II. Here are some daily foods that might help to prevent hair loss and promote hair re-growth

1. Yogurt and soy
Yogurt and soy contain high amounts of protein that is needed to maintain hair growth. Study shows that soy protein reinforces hair and stimulates its growth.

2. Dark green vegetable
Dark green vegetable contains high amounts of iron that are needed to restore oxygen levels in the blood stream as well as nurturing the body’s cells.

3. Whole grain products
Whole grain contains zinc which is needed to maintain healthy hair. Zinc deficiency can lead to dry hair and oily skin.

4. Essential fatty acid
Essential fatty acid can be found abundant in cold water fish. It helps to maintain healthy cholesterol and reduce triglyceride in result of increasing circulation of blood flow in our body.

6. Nut and seed
Nuts and seeds are fatty foods which are typically the best sources of vitamin E, an immune enhancing antioxidant and nerve protector. Deficiency of vitamin E can lead to skin disorders, dry hair and loss of hair.

7. Carrots
Carrots contain high amounts of vitamin A. It is an antioxidant that helps produce healthy sebum in the scalp. Having too much vitamin A can lead to hair loss.
There are many other foods that help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, such as fruits, egg, spinach, and broccoli.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking large amounts of the above foods. There may be side effects, such as overdoses of vitamin A in carrot might result in hair loss.

III. Traditionally, herbs have been around for over thousands of years and offer much success to prevent or cure diseases well before the discovery of western medicine. Here are some herbs thathave been proven in treating hair loss and promoting hair growth

a) Shikakai
Acacia Concinna is a small shrub-like tree that grows in India. It’s pod-like fruit is collected, dried and then grounded into a fine powder. It is used to cleanse hair, and is known to promote hair growth and get rid of dandruff. Due to these benefits, this powder was named shikakai which means “fruit for the hair”.

b) Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract is a very strong antioxidant that some use as a supplement or remedy to various conditions. It contains high levels of vitamin E and essential fatty acids that are essential for maintaining hair growth and preventing hair loss.

c) Kirin Brewery new discovery
Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido working with Kirin Brewery has discovered a unique property of an extract of hops that can help to activate the melanocyte cells that generate hair pigment.

d) Saw palmetto
As we mentioned in another article, Saw palmetto is the number one choice for men. Saw palmetto helps to block the formation of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that causes the conversion of testosterone to DHT that causes hair loss.

e) Basil extract
Basil Extract from the natural flowers of the basil plant, works to quickly soothe and calm skin of the scalp.

f) Pumpkin Seed
Pumpkin seeds help to block DHT, which is responsible for genetic hair loss. This common seed is loaded with zinc and magnesium that have the ability to block enzymes which yield DHT causing damage to follicles and resulting in hair loss.

g) Buddleja Davidii Extract
Buddleja Davidii extract contain active ingredients protecting the skin against toxic radicals. It can also help reduce skin aging and protect the skin against the damage caused from stresses and toxins.

h) Green Tea
Green tea contains the chemical globulin that helps to reduce levels of free testosterone, so that it cannot be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicle.
Be sure to talk to your doctor or dermatologist before taking any herb supplement.

IV. Traditionally Chinese herbs have been around for over 4000 years and have offered much success to prevent or cure diseases well before the discovery of western medicine. Hair loss is directly linked to kidney deficiency syndrome in Chinese traditional medicine. People with hair loss problems especially in their early life may have a weak Kidney. Here are some Chinese herbs that have been proven in treating hair loss and promoting hair growth

a) Dong Quai
Traditionally, Chinese woman used Dong Quai to restore blood cells and increase the circulation of oxygen in the bloodstream to cells after period. Dong Quai contains phytoestrogen that helps to block the androgen receptor site in result of blocking the conversion of testerone to DHT, therefore reducing the chance of hair loss due to aging.

b) Ginseng
Ginseng is said to have the power of rejuvenating and energizing the body. It also helps to stimulate circulation of oxygen in our bloodstream to the cells of our body as well as the cells in our scalp.

c) Shou wu (polygonum)
Shou Wu is a polygonum multiflorum plant. It is now being used in conjuncture with other herbals, as an active ingredient in shampoos and orally administered to prevent hair loss as well as aiding the restoration of roots and production of new hair.

d) Psoralea seeds
Study shows that psoralea extract and exposure to ultra violet light will help to restore hair loss and promote hair regrowth with a 33% success rate.

e) Mulberry
Chinese herbalists believe that mulberry is an excellent tonic for the kidney, liver and blood that provides more oxygen in the bloodstream as well as small blood vessels in the scalp.

f) Chinese Yam
Numerous successful studies have been performed in examining the benefits of the Chinese yam. Chinese yam can help to nourish the liver, kidney and blood in result of preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth.

g) Green tea
Green tea containing catechins inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into hair-unfriendly DHT. So drinking great tea everyday is an effective treatment for male pattern baldness.

h) Chinese foxblove root
Chinese foxblove root contains cornus, the chemical that help to nurture the kidney, liver and blood in result of promoting hair growth.

i) Wolf berry
One of the natural superfoods has been used in traditional Chinese cooking. Wolf berry helps to eliminate toxins in the body in result of better function of the kidney, liver and blood that help to promote hair growth.

Chinese medicine believes that the benefit of nourishing the kidney and blood tonic helps for healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.

V. Here are some prescription and over the counter drugs that might help prevent further hair loss and promote hair growth.

1. Minoxidil
Minoxidil is an over the counter drug and is a spray or lotion that you put directly on your scalp twice a day. It is available without a prescription. It is believed to work by affecting potassium- regulating mechanisms in the hair follicle. Study shows that it helps to slow and stop hair loss and regrow new hair with over 60 % success rate. Be sure talk to your doctor or dermatologist before taking minoxidil. It might cause rash to some patients.

2. Finasteride
Finastteride is an oral prescription medication. Finasteride is a synthetic hormone that halts hair loss and stimulates new hair growth. It is a medication that selectively inhibits the activity of an enzyme that converts the “male hormone” testosterone into a form that is active in hair follicles.

3. Rogaine
Rogaine is a clear alcohol-based solution and should be applied to a person’s thinning area with it’s supplied dropper or spray twice a day. It helps about 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women to grow back moderate amounts of hair very gradually, mostly on the very top of the head. They must keep using Rogaine indefinitely to keep the new hair.

4. Retin-A
Retin-A is only available by prescription in the US. In the right doses and when combined with Minoxidil it can be a hair growth stimulator. Studies shows that Retin- A can result in moderate hair growth in some patients.

5. Proscar
Proscar contains the same active ingredient finasteride. Proscar has the effect of lowering the hormone DHT, which interacts with bald vulnerable hair follicles and causes hair loss. By reducing the DHT in the patient’s body the finasteride in the Proscar proved to slow and even stop or reverse hair loss in many men.

Social Stigma of Hair Loss in Women

Have you noticed a gradual and progressive increase in the number of hairs lost when combing or brushing? Perhaps after months or years of vain denial, you have realized that the mirror does not lie, visible thinning has occurred. You’re not alone if you’re experiencing breakage, increased hair shedding or significant hair loss.

Many women may cover it up with wigs, hair extensions, hats or scarves. Others choose one of the several approved medications or surgical procedures that are available to treat baldness.

Excessive hair loss or balding is mistakenly perceived as a strictly something that happens to men although women actually make up to forty percent of American hair loss sufferers. In America, one in four, or over 30 million women will seek solutions and treatment for hair loss annually.

First of all, don’t panic! Hair loss or hair shedding is consistent within the hair growth cycle and it is normal to lose some scalp hair each day. The average human scalp has roughly 100,000 to 150,000 individual hairs and the normal hair growth cycle results in the loosening or shedding of about 100 to 150 hairs on a daily basis. New hair growth then emerges from these same previous dormant hair follicles, growing at the average rate of about half an inch per month.

Hair is composed of two separate parts: the follicle and the hair shaft. The follicle lies below the scalp and produces the hair strands that we see growing out of our head. The follicle is alive, however the hair strand is simply composed of dead cells that have no regenerative ability.

For most people, 90% of our scalp hair is always in a to six year growth phase (anagen) while the remaining 10% is in a dormant period (telogen), which lasts about three months. When the dormant period ends the hair is shed; these are the worrisome hairs we obsess over in our comb, hairbrush, on our pillow or down the shower drain. Relax, some hair loss is perfectly normal.

Baldness or Alopecia happens when the normal pattern of hair growth is disrupted. The normal pattern of human hair growth is growing, resting, shedding and growing again. If the growth pattern is out of balance, hair does not grow back as readily as it falls out. A family history of androgenetic alopecia increases your risk of balding. Heredity also affects the age at which you begin to lose hair and the development, pattern and extent of your baldness.

What concerns us is not these normally shed hairs, but the noticeable thinning we confront in the mirror. For a woman, thick, vibrant hair is our crowning glory, our vanity visible. A luxuriant full mane epitomizes the beauty of a woman and is integrally woven into our self image. Our culture strongly identifies femininity with a thick, silky head of hair. Throughout recorded history, images of shining, full bodied hair are associated with female beauty, youth, desirability and good health. Society unfairly identifies dry, lack luster and thinning hair with old age, sickness and poverty.

A dramatic decrease in self esteem is evident in women when their hair begins to fall out. Hair shedding is not physically painful, however it often causes severe emotional distress. We obsess over our thin tresses as we battle depression and self loathing. Women frequently become introverted and withdraw from the world. We avoid intimate contact and make futile attempts to disguise the quality and quantity of our hair.

Hair loss is especially injurious to those who have professions or careers where physical appearance plays a significant role. A young woman is especially vulnerable to the stigma of balding. Not until we are confronted with the loss of our hair do we fully realize how essential hair is to our overall person.

A woman’s hair is at its thickest by age 20. Once we pass 20, however, our hair gradually begins to thin, shedding more than the normal 100-150 hairs a day. With aging, hair strands hold less pigment and become smaller so that what was once the luxuriant and thick hair of our youth becomes thin, fine and lighter in color. For even the elderly woman, significant hair loss can threaten self image. A woman’s sense of sexuality and femininity as well as her establish place in family and society are often undermined by hair loss.

It is hardly surprising when a man starts balding. By the age of thirty-five about 25 percent of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss and about 75 percent are either bald or have a balding pattern by age 60.

In men, hair loss is often perceived as a sign of virility, a demonstrable sign that his male hormones are functioning at maximum capacity. To project strength and masculinity, men often choose to shave their heads.

Although many men are quite dismayed by a receding hairline, research indicates that the psychological pain of hair loss does not affect men as adversely as it impacts women. What makes coping with hair loss so difficult is the frightening lack of control, the feeling of the inability to do anything to make our hair stop falling out.

Causes Of Hair Loss In Women

As we age, women face a multitude of changes and challenges: wrinkles, a widening waist, cellulite deposits and thickening ankles. It does not seem fair that for many of us hair loss is yet another blow to our self esteem.

Female pattern baldness or Androgenetic Alopecia is the most common type of hair loss in women and is genetic in nature. This type of female balding is caused by the chemical Dihydrotestosterone or DHT which builds up around the air follicle and over time destroys both the hair shaft and the hair follicle. Pregnancy or the onset of menopause may cause a fluctuation in the production of estrogen. Lacking sufficient estrogen to produce testosterone-blocking enzymes, testosterone is then converted to DHT on the scalp. The result is a shorter hair growth cycle, finer hair and excessive hair loss from shedding and breakage. Some women experience an increase in hair loss several months after delivering a baby.

Genetics aside, there are many other reasons why women lose hair. Surgery, extreme physical or emotional stress, hormonal imbalances, chemotherapy and scalp infections are but a few. Female hair loss can also be triggered by birth control medications, certain prescription drugs or result from the use of harsh chemicals or aggressive styling that can cause permanent damage to the fragile hair follicle. Excessive hair shedding may also be symptomatic of rapid weight loss from dangerous fad-dieting or an eating disorder such as anorexia. The use of street drugs such as cocaine will also exhibit sudden and severe hair shedding.

When To Contact A Medical Professional

Reacting intensely to the physical state of our thinning hair may seem like excessive vanity, but it is not. Baldness is not usually caused by disease, but is more commonly related to heredity, aging and hormone function. However, changes in hair appearance, texture and growth patterns may indicate serious health concerns. Hair is one of the first areas, along with skin and nails, to reflect nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance and illness. It is wise to pay attention.

Women’s hair seems to be particularly sensitive to underlying medical conditions so it is important that women with undiagnosed hair loss be properly evaluated by a physician. If your thinning hair is a result of a medical condition, your doctor will treat these ailments and as a result you may experience significant growth of new hair.

Once you and your doctor have identified the cause of your hair loss you may be referred to a hair specialist or implant surgeon to learn about the treatment options available such as or hair transplant procedures to promote growth or hide loss. For some types of alopecia, hair may resume normal growth without any treatment.

A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, hydration and rest can go a long way towards preventing hair loss and maximizing the potential of your hair growth cycle.

Although medical research is on going, the following have proved beneficial in growing and maintaining a healthy head of hair.

Nutrition

Poor nutrition is often an underlying cause of hair loss as the hair is a reliable indicator of nutritional well being. Discuss with your health care provider your diet, all medications and any supplements you may be taking. Dull hair color or dry and brittle hair may be indicators of a deficiency in essential fats in the diet, oily hair may be a sign of a B vitamin deficiency.

Recent medical studies have found that a high percentage of women with thinning hair are deficient in iron and the amino acid lysine. It is difficult to obtain sufficient lysine through diet alone. Lysine is important in the transport of iron and necessary to support hair growth. Lysine is found in eggs and red meat so vegetarians needs to be aware of this potential shortfall in their diets.

The amino acids L-Cysteine and L-Methionine are believed to improve hair texture, quality and growth.

Low-fat foods that rank high in protein, low in carbohydrates, can play a vital role in sustaining healthy hair growth and aid in preventing hair loss. Important essential fatty acids for maintaining hair health are found in walnuts, sunflower seeds, sardines, spinach, soy and canola oil. Omega 3 and Omega 6 Oils protect the heart as well as your hair so include salmon in your diet on a regular basis.

Herbal Remedies Offer Hope For Hair Loss

Discuss with your nutritional advisor or medical professional the benefits of herbs. The following natural plant derivatives have properties to encourage a healthy head of hair.

Aloe
Arnica
Birch
Burdock
Catmint
Chamomile
Horsetail
Licorice
Marigold
Nettles
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Hair Care

Always choose organic natural products to avoid the chemicals and toxins found in many hair care products. Harsh chemicals may strip the natural oils from your hair and lead to breakage and poor hair growth. Dye, hair straightening and permanent solutions are highly destructive to the hair shaft and follicle as well as the delicate sebum balance of the scalp.

Be gentle with your hair. Allow hair to dry naturally rather than using a hair dryer. A natural bristle brush is helpful in preventing damage. Do not style until completely dry. Wet hair is weak hair so handle with care. Avoid or break any bad habits you may have that pull or twist the hair. Try not to constantly run your fingers through your hair, tug at the hair and avoid hair clips or rubber bands that pull at and break off the hair. Minimize the usage of mousse, gels and hair sprays. These products dry and weigh down the hair shaft and dull the natural luster of your hair.

Avoid salt and chlorinated water when swimming. If exposed, always wash the hair with cool water and an organic gentle shampoo and apply a mild conditioner. Sun worshipers should make sure that hair care products have sunscreen properties to protect hair from the damaging affects of UV rays. Remember to wear a hat to prevent sunburn of the scalp.

Healthy Lifestyle

Hair loss is traumatic, however our hair is only part of who we are. I remind myself to keep my obsession with my hair loss in perspective and be happy with all the other areas of my life that are going right and in balance. Focus on the positive, eat well, rest well and be at peace with who you are. Remember, that for some, hair grows back as mysteriously as it disappeared.