Any type of hair loss can cause major distress, for both women and men.
There are many ways to encourage better hair health, however the first step is to find out WHY you are losing hair, as finding out the cause will be the key to supporting it appropriately.
You might be questioning if it is normal to start losing your hair this early on in life – maybe it hasn’t been an issue with your parents, so why is it happening to you?
Hair loss can be caused by a variety of lifestyle-related reasons such as diet, stress and smoking, or even illnesses such as diabetes, certain medications, parasites and hormonal changes e.g. in pregnancy. Male hair loss is also usually a result of hormone imbalances.
Even if only temporary, hair loss should be taken seriously as it may be a symptom of a serious underlying health issue.
COMMON CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
Male Pattern Baldness – Androgenic Alopecia
Hair loss in men is most often caused by a combination of imbalanced male sex hormones and genetic factors, and usually follows a classic pattern of receding hair and thinning on the crown of the head. Androgenic alopecia may in part be caused by high levels of DHT (5 alpha-Dihydrotestosterone), a more potent form of testosterone. High levels of DHT at the site of hair follicles may increase hair loss and reduce new growth. Providing nutritional support to balance hormones is key, along with supplements with specific multi nutrients.
Our hormones have many roles in the body, they communicate and send messages through the blood and the body systems, playing a significant role in hair growth. (Remember what happened to your body hair during puberty?) When hormonal changes and imbalances occur as a result of certain life events or changes (such as pregnancy and childbirth) many mothers report having thick healthy hair during pregnancy which then changes suddenly when natural shedding comes all at once. Hormone balance in both men and women are important factors to assess when it comes to hair loss and research suggests both men and women with hair related issues (which includes sometimes unwanted hair growth for women) may have significantly high resistance to the hormone insulin, the hormone responsible for lowering blood glucose levels. The good news is that hair loss associated with hormone imbalances may be restored once hormones are rebalanced.
Low Thyroid Function
The thyroid gland is very important as it produces hormones essential for your metabolism, growth and development. Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) is a common cause of hair loss or thinning hair. If you suspect an underactive thyroid, first see your GP and if necessary an alternative healthcare practitioner can provide additional support. Conventional blood tests may miss some milder cases of underactive thyroid, yet these will still benefit from support. At Meraki Nutrition we offer more comprehensive functional thyroid testing, which will identify even mild cases.
If you have low iron levels in your blood (haemoglobin) and/or low stored iron (ferritin), chances are your hair will be shedding at an increased rate. Certain people are more prone to anaemia, for example women with heavy periods, vegetarians and vegans, those on certain medications and those with malabsorption issues. We recommend you have your iron levels tested to clarify whether this is the case.
Physical & Emotional Stress
Physical stress may take the form of any trauma, injury, an intense illness, or even a severe flu. Emotional stress, anxiety and tension, especially if chronic or prolonged, may also have profound effects on your body. A very stressful event can “shock” the hair cycle, causing more hair to shed. This may often happen 3-6 months after the trauma occurred. If you recognise that you are going through or have suffered an intense period of stress, it’s important to support your body through this process, nourishing it, and this will support hair regrowth.
WHAT ‘TREATMENTS’ ARE AVAILABLE?
Traditionally, topical or oral steroids and hormones, hair pieces/wigs and hair transplants are treatments people consider. However, there are some downsides to these, for instance any hair regrowth using medications or creams often halts when medications are stopped, as these are not addressing the root cause of any hormone imbalance. Always look into the side effects of hair regrowth treatment. Common side effects include; unwanted hair growth in other areas, chest pains, tiredness, breathing difficulties and low libido.
Thankfully there are many natural approaches to hair loss that can have overall health benefits – not just for hair growth. We recommend that you do your research and consider seeing a qualified functional medicine professional who can support you.
HOW CAN WE HELP WITH HAIR LOSS?
Our approach is to always establish the root cause through functional testing and to rebalance hormones through food, lifestyle changes and supplementation.
Functional DX Testing
Functional DX is a blood test that helps identify hidden health trends that aren’t identified in standard NHS blood testing. The FDX approach is to identify the root cause of symptoms, and use a functional approach to rebalance and restore health.
It assesses 81 Functional Items in the body across the 13 Body Systems, 7 Accessory Systems, 7 Macronutrient Systems, 14 Nutrient Deficiencies, and 40 Clinical Dysfunctions.
The test pinpoints imbalances, and identifies an algorithm of you as an individual and how your body is functioning. Using a test such as Functional DX allows us to create a plan that is targeted, effective and removes the guesswork as to what the best course of action is for you and your health.
If you need support with any of the above, or are interested in the Functional DX testing we offer – please get in touch with either Amy or Karen at [email protected]