Getting to the Root Cause of Hair Loss
Your hair is an important part of your appearance, so it can be devastating when you lose it, especially without knowing why. Rest assured knowing that by solving the underlying cause, hair loss can be reversed.
Hair loss, or alopecia, is a recurrent concern in our practice for both men and women. From an aesthetic standpoint, hair loss can be troubling, affecting confidence and self-esteem. Beyond just looks, it could indicate an underlying issue. While in some cases, hair loss may be a normal physiologic response by the body, excessive hair loss is a medical concern that needs to be evaluated. The literature shows that hair loss is more common in northern Europe during the fall season and to a lesser extent in the spring, suggesting that there might be a season for an individual to normally shed, and this is likely due to daylight/sunlight exposure and its impact on hormonal balance.
So what causes hair loss?
While genetic predisposition plays a role, this type of hair loss is more common in men and it presents as bi-temporal (affecting both temples) recession that preserves the hair line, whereas in women it presents with more of a diffuse thinning of the crown. In many instances, though, health issues are the root of the problem. When corrected, the hair loss can often be reversed.
Three of the most common types of hair loss include:
• Telogem Effluvium (TE): This refers to widespread, non-scarring hair loss that starts abruptly and is usually due to a reactive response to stress, sudden dietary changes, medications, or hormonal imbalances. Full recovery is likely spontaneous within six months.
• Anagen Effluvium: This refers to diffuse hair loss that happens more quickly than TE and is frequently seen in patients who undergo chemotherapy, experience toxin exposure or poisoning, causing them to shed all of their hair.
• Alopecia Areata: This is the most common, caused when the immune system starts to attack the hair follicles, seen as bald patches on the scalp. Alopecia Totalis is the hair loss of every part in the body.
Most of the hair loss seen in our practice is the Telogem Effluvium type. The most common causes that we see are:
• Low Thyroid Function: The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 need to be balanced. If you are on T4 treatment only, switching to desiccated thyroid which has both T3 and T4 is the best solution. Avoid gluten and foods causing allergies or intolerances which will help prevent an autoimmune response that potentially decreases the utilization of thyroid hormones, a condition known as autoimmune thyroiditis.
• Hormonal Imbalance: Excess androgen is the most common hormone imbalance that causes hair loss. PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is associated with alopecia and male pattern hair loss in women, due to too much DHT (dihidrotestosterone). This can be corrected by balancing hormones and taking saw palmetto, stinging nettle and zinc.
• Adrenal Health: Poor adrenal function decreases the body’s ability to properly utilize thyroid and sex hormones. You can support your adrenals by making lifestyle changes to minimize stress exposure, getting a good night’s sleep, eating a clean diet, avoiding pesticides and genetically modified foods, taking vitamins B and C regularly and using a sauna regularly to detox. Bioidentical cortisol is used to promote adrenal health, as well as adaptogenic over-the-counter herbs such as Rhodiola, Ashwagandha and Panax Ginseng.
• Nutritional Deficiencies: Iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and insufficient protein intake contribute to hair loss. Be sure to increase your dietary intake of green, leafy vegetables, Brazil nuts, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish and take a B complex daily. Hotze Vitamins has a Hair, Skin and Nail Formula that can help, too. For a complete assessment of your individual nutritional needs, additional testing for members and non-members is available through the Wellness Center.
• Medications: Birth control pills, antidepressants, blood pressure medications (ace inhibitors and beta blockers), anticonvulsants, too much Vitamin A, gout medications, and acid reducers cause hair loss.
• Yeast Overgrowth disturbs the intestinal flora. This fungal infestation causes inflammation and compromises iron and the absorption of many other nutrients.
If you have concerns about hair loss, take our symptom checker quiz to find out if hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance or yeast overgrowth could be the root cause.