Keeping your hair healthy and lustrous, especially in the changing season can be bit of a task. Dr. Jason Culp, ND, from Chiva-Som shares here the reason for damage and hair-fall, along with advice on how you can take care of your mane.
Hair loss and thinning is a shared cosmetic concern of both men and women, clearly evident through the wide variety of hair-care products and supplements sold over-the-counter, promising to “restore healthy hair”, “hair-fall control”, etc… People may wish to flaunt a healthy mane for aesthetic reasons, but ultimately, the health of the hair is a reflection of internal health and wellbeing. When troubled with the issue of how to restore, enhance, and maintain healthy hair, there are 3 aspects of health that you should investigate before deciding on the appropriate treatment:
- NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES
Vitamin, minerals, and nutrients such as protein play a vital role in the growth and retention of hair. The mineral Iron is one of the most common deficiencies in the world and oftentimes is overlooked as a cause of hair loss. Zinc is another example of a mineral that supports hair health, both through direct growth as well as the production and balance of key hormones for maintaining healthy hair.
Vitamin H, also known as Biotin (originally named Vitamin “H” after the German words “Haar” and “Haut”, meaning hair and skin), is perhaps the most famous of vitamins taken to improve the growth and strength of hair.
Before going out and purchasing bottles of hair growth supplements, it is important to note that taking certain nutrients in large quantities can have deleterious effects to overall health. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with your physician and order simple routine blood tests that can evaluate your need for dietary supplementation, as well as rule out other potential causes of hair loss. Until then, you can help protect against nutrient deficiencies by eating a wholesome diet packed with organic and minimally-processed foods for providing the nutrition your body needs to build and maintain the growth of healthy hair.
- HORMONAL IMBALANCE
The function of hormones is widespread, from maintaining metabolism to preserving the health of bones, muscles, and various other body tissues. Among these actions is the growth-promoting effects of hormones on the hair.
Optimal thyroid function is vital to health and a classic sign of low thyroid function (termed “hypothyroidism”) is increased hair loss, oftentimes accompanied by symptoms of fatigue, dry skin, and unexplained weight gain (slowed metabolism). Also, the reproductive hormones including estrogen and testosterone, play a major role in hair growth. A common complaint in menopause, the natural period of decline in reproductive hormones for women, is thinning of the hair.
Other issues of hormone loss, especially in men, can be of genetic origin and may need to follow a more conventional medical approach to promote hair retention (although epigenetics, the field of study on how our genes interact with the environment, may provide hope for those men inflicted by genetic hair loss).
Similar to nutrient deficiencies, there are simple blood tests that can be ordered with your physician to investigate the balance of specific hormones.
Stress seems to be implicated in developing a majority of physical signs and symptoms, with hair loss being no exception. Stress plays a unique role in that chronic and repetitive stress may lead to both nutrient deficiencies AND hormone imbalance, both potentially leading to increased hair loss (as previously mentioned).
Therefore, it would be imperative to have an effective stress-management protocol built into your daily routine. This doesn’t mean that you need to live your life on the meditation cushion or inhale clouds of incense by candlelight all day. Cultivating present-moment awareness by focusing on the breath is a simple, practical and effective way of taking a break from everyday stressors. Take 5 – 10 minutes, several times throughout the day, to bring awareness to the breath and mindfully observe your surroundings. Even small incremental breaks can be profound in reducing the detrimental impact of accumulated stress over time. Exercise and full-body physical movement (of any kind) is another effective way of releasing accumulated stress and promoting blood circulation, which may have a positive impact on growth and retention of healthy hair.
Remember that the health of your hair is a reflection of internal health, so use this opportunity to address potential imbalances in nutrition, hormones, and stress in order to promote balance in all aspects of your health and wellbeing.