Despite the prevalent attitude that women don't (and shouldn't) lose hair, it is more common than many of us think. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, androgenic alopecia or hereditary hair loss-the most common type-affects approximately 30 million women (and 50 million men) in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, you can inherit a tendency to lose hair from your father, your mother or both parents. But for women with the diagnosis isn't always so simple. Hormonal shifts, nutritional deficiencies, certain medications, stress, and major illnesses can also be the culprits.
Finding the cause
When a woman experiences significant hair loss, the first thing to look at is hormonal shifts. Has she just had a baby? Is she perimenopausaul? Because shifts in levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone affect hair growth and anything that upsets the balance of those hormones can trigger fallout.
In fact, the primary instigators in hereditary hair loss are hormones. Between the ages of 12 and 40, an increased sensitivity to androgens, a family of hormones that include testosterone, begins to cause hair follicles to shrink and deteriorate. Hair grows in thinner and eventually stops growing altogether. For women, the loss isn't usually as great as it is in men because women produce less testosterone.
If hormones don't explain the shedding other factors may be present. Has the women had any surgeries or major illnesses or has she's been crash dieting? When the body is under significant stress, the hair shifts into a resting phase to help conserve resources. The metabolism slows down, the hair starts to fall out and it doesn't grow back as quickly. Even something as simple as a high fever or a severe bout of the flu can trigger the resting phase, and some people may even notice hair loss as long as three months after such an event.
Even women who feel they have reasonably healthy diets sometimes face nutrition-related hair loss. Inadequate protein is a really common factor. Many women who have shunned meats but don't replace their protein intake with other available sources. They often pass up protein sources such as nuts and cheese because of the high calorie content. As a result, these women often become dependent on carbohydrates. Women who suffer from protein related hair loss often experience other symptoms such as lowered immunity, fatigue, and blood sugar imbalances.
In rare cases, a hair-loss problem is more elusive and possibly more serious. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, iron deficiency, diabetes, and lupus can all trigger hair loss. Medications can also contribute to hair loss. Most women aren't aware that more than 290 drugs are known to cause or contribute to hair loss, including some antidepressants, blood thinning agents, amphetamines, birth control pills, and drugs that treat hypertension. One natural supplement-vitamin A-also contributes to hair loss, but only when taken at ten times the recommended amount for an extended period of time.
Treating hair loss
There are a number of natural therapies to address the underlying causes of hair loss. Diet is where you should start. Of primary importance is adequate amounts of protein which, for a moderately active female would be 4 to 6 ounces of protein-rich foods per meal. Fish, poultry, and vegetable sources are better than beef and pork because of the latter's saturated-fat content. Take essential-fatty-supplements, such as flaxseed, evening primrose. Avoid cod-liver oil as to many sources are rancid and they act like a free radicals which can cause cellular damage.
Particular vitamins and minerals can also stimulate hair growth and help treat the underlying causes of hair loss such as stress. So take a good food source multivitamin containing the B vitamins biotin, B6, and B12; zinc; and selenium. Because of the levels of these vitamins and minerals in multivitamins are sometimes inadequate, you may add 10mg biotin, 50 to 150 mg B6, 1,000 mcg B12, and 30 to 60 mg zinc, along with 2 to 4 mg copper and 200 mcg selenium.
If the underlying cause is hormonal try phytoestrogens, progesterone-stimulating herbs or herbs that regulate the menstrual cycle such as Progesterone Cream with Phytoestrogens, Soy Isoflavones, and Chaste Tree.
Because certain hairstyles and styling products can damage hair, we recommend avoiding perming, dyeing, wearing tight hats, and pulling hair too tight over the scalp (in clips or elastic bands). Use hypoallergenic hair products to avoid irritating ingredients.
For Beth, whose hair loss was related to perimenopausal hormonal shifts, and her hair returned fully with the use of Progesterone Cream with Phytoestrogens. We encourage you to have patience. Once you address the underlying cause, it's likely your hair will return, if not in full then at least to some degree. It may take as little as four weeks or as long as six months to see regrowth and hair may have a different texture when it growns back after menopausal shifts but, it will grow back.
Tips for healthier hair
- Eat well and avoid crash diets. A balanced diet along with a high quality vitamin is one of the most important ingredients for healthy hair.
- Chemicals in perms and some dyes can be rough on your hair in the long run, so use them as little as possible. Consider natural hair dyes and styles that complement your hair type.
- Protect your hair from the elements by using products that contain natural sunscreens, such as wild pansy and coffee extracts.
- After swimming in a pool, take extra-good care of your hair by washing and conditioning it thoroughly because chlorine is extremely damaging to the hair and scalp.
- If you believe your hair loss is from hormonal shifts most women do well using Progesterone Cream with Phytoestrogens.
Natural Alternative for Hair Loss
EstroCare PhytoEstrogen Cream
Thinning hair or hair loss in menopausal women is often due to a drop in estrogen in comparison to testosterone, which may not decrease at the same rate. The result is a net excess of testosterone, contributing to hair loss on the head and hair growth in unwanted areas.
The good news is that menopausal hair loss due to falling estrogen levels can be restored naturally and safely with phytoestrogens.
Progesterone Cream with PhytoEstrogens
PhytoBalance Menopause Formula
See-Menopause Hair Loss-Condition Treatments