Natural ways to halt hair loss
Are you among the 50 million Americans (more or less) whose hair is thinning or long gone? Both men and women can experience the phenomenon, and the causes may be surprising—hair loss is not always hereditary. Poor diet, alcohol, stress, hormone imbalance, allergic reactions, infections, and medical treatments are just a few of the myriad culprits. That’s good news, because it means you can reverse the situation or prevent it entirely! And even if baldness is in your genes, preventive care can stem the tide.
Before you spend money on highly touted remedies that may not work, explore the primary building blocks of hair: nutrition, vitamins, and minerals.
According to integrative medicine pioneer Martha Howard, MD, protein encourages hair growth, and most Americans simply don’t get enough. The minimum serving you need each day is equal to the size of your palm. So running out the door in the morning with a bagel and cream cheese, and then having pasta with sauce for dinner, just doesn’t cut it. Eat well.
To increase circulation to the scalp, Howard suggests supplementing your diet with the vitamin B complex, especially biotin and B3 (niacin). Biotin is a component of egg yolks, chard, romaine lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes, but the amount you’d have to eat to get enough would be prohibitive. A daily multivitamin that contains the B complex, then, is a good choice. And add that workhorse vitamin C to your list! For best results, take 1,000-3,000 mg a day, spaced out in 500-mg doses every few hours, with 4-8 cups of water daily. “Dr. Linus Pauling did good research on vitamin C,” says Howard. “It may have been controversial, but if people were to take enough vitamin C, they would understand.”
An element that’s important to get from your diet is iron. Foods such as liver, apricots, raisins, and spinach contain enough iron to help stimulate your circulation. Last but not least, vitamins A and E are especially helpful to hair growth when accompanied by the B complex and extra C. Find vitamin E in spinach, chard, turnip and mustard greens, cayenne pepper, almonds, sunflower seeds, asparagus, and bell peppers. Excellent sources of A include eggs, kale, squash, and carrots.
Topicals are tempting too, because they’re easy and effective—and the best one is probably in your cupboard right now: vinegar. A vinegar rinse may sound like an old wives’ tale, but it’s a classic that prevents fungus and produces glossy hair. When you wash your hair, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 1–1 1/2 cups of warm water and rinse with it. Don’t rinse it out (or just pat lightly with your wet hands). The smell dissipates immediately and you’ll be pleased with the results.
Lemongrass oil, which can strengthen hair follicles, is another good topical, as is saw palmetto extract. The latter has been used for millennia to block the male hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT, converted from testosterone by the body), which, in a hereditary condition known as male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, degrades hair follicles over a period of 10 to 30 years.
When women begin losing their hair in their 40s or 50s, the cause is often the thyroid gland, according to Neal Rouzier, MD, director of the Preventive Medicine Clinics of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif., and author of How to Achieve Healthy Aging. Doctors frequently tell patients that their thyroid test results are in the normal range, he says, when they’re actually at the low end of that range.
“A woman of 60 may be in the average range for her age, but that range is not the same as it was when she was 20. Most doctors don‘t realize that the thyroid needs to be functioning optimally.”Howard agrees. Thyroid test results should never be more than 3.5, she says. If they are, and if you’re feeling cold and sluggish, a thyroid supplement is likely to help.
The thyroid gland produces two hormones, T3, and T4, the numbers referring to the number of iodine molecules in each thyroid hormone molecule. The thyroid hormones travel through the bloodstream helping cells convert oxygen and calories into energy. T3 is more active at the cellular level and is thought to be stronger, but the thyroid produces far more T4—a ratio of 4 to 1, in fact. The body needs more T3, and gets it by converting the somewhat inactive T4. When an imbalance occurs, the problems that can result include hair loss. Optimizing the thyroid with a natural supplement, in tablet or capsule form, not only improves energy, metabolism, body temperature (warmth), cholesterol level, and the condition of hair, skin, and nails, it also stops hair from falling out.
good buys (pictured left to right)
MILLCREEK BOTANICALS BIOTENE H-24 is a three-part system (Natural Scalp Masage Emulsion, Natural Conditioner, and Natural Shampoo) formulated to help hair look and feel thicker and healthier. Biotin, a component of vitamin B and a key factor in healthy hair, is combined with the hair-thickening benefits of panthenol, keratin protein, and other natural ingredients.
JASON NATURAL COSMETICS THIN-TO-THICK ENERGIZING SCALP ELIXIR purifies and energizes the scalp, frees hair follicles of debris that inhibits hair growth, and controls thinning hair and excess hair fallout with biotin, folic acid, and more.
RESERVEAGE ORGANICS KERATIN BOOSTER WITH BIOTIN & RESVERATROL provides a nourishing blend of science-backed ingredients for supporting and maintaining healthy, youthful hair, including bioactive keratin and 3,000 of mcg biotin.