Natural Solutions for Hair Loss
If you're worried about hair loss as you age, there are natural solutions you can try before you turn to fad products and chemical procedures.
Hair loss is part of life.
Both men and women tend to lose hair volume with age as a normal process. For men, hair loss is often most noticeable in the 30's, and for women, the most hair loss usually begins during menopause but is often noticed during perimenopause too, which generally starts around the age of 35.
Understanding the Hair Growth Cycle
A normal part of the hair growth cycle is shedding. At any given time, 90 percent of scalp hair is in a two to six year growth phase; ten percent is in a two to six month dormant phase.
When the dormant phase ends, hair is shed. New hair subsequently emerges from these follicles. Throughout a normal growth cycle, many hairs are shed.
Loss of 50 to even 100 hairs daily is not cause for alarm but noticeable thinning indicates significant hair loss or balding is coming. Although hair loss and balding are not a health problem to be concerned about, it can cause a degree of anxiety or emotional distress for some.
Ultimately, causes of hair loss can be a number of factors, including general ageing, genetic predisposition, thyroid imbalance, eating disorders, illness, hormonal effects of birth control pills, pregnancy, menopause and certain medications.
Understanding Hair Structure and Function
Each hair originates in a deep pouch-like structure that penetrates the dermis.
A hair root extends down into the hair follicle and widens into an indented bulb at its base. The papilla, which is the centre of hair growth, extends into the indentation that contains capillaries and nerves that supply a hair.
Newly dividing cells at the base of the hair multiply, forcing cells above them upward. Cells gradually die and harden into a hair shaft as they move upward.
A hair shaft has two layers: cuticle and cortex. The cuticle or the outer layer consists of flat, colourless, overlapping cells.
The cortex is the inner layer. Pigment and keratin, which is a tough protein, are contained in the cortex. The cortex forms the bulk of a hair shaft. Coarse hair such as scalp hair contains an additional inner core called the medulla.
Hair is lubricated by sebaceous glands located in hair follicles. Illness or stress can lessen pigment secretion and cause hair shafts to whiten. Age-related whitening is genetically determined and hair colour is determined by pigment and air spaces in the cortex and medulla. Hair colour and texture are inherited characteristics. Humans scalp hairs generally shed every two to four years while the human body hairs shed more frequently.
While you cannot change your genetics, you can control nutritional deficiencies, your lifestyle and hormones, and as such, you can control some of your hair loss. In fact, with a few simple lifestyle tweaks, you can improve your hair growth dramatically.
The Best Natural Solutions for Hair Loss
Eat to Reduce Hair Loss
Since nutritional deficiencies can cause thinning hair, one of the first natural solutions for slowing hair loss is to eat a nutrient-dense diet, rich in whole foods.
Learn more: Are You Really Vitamin or Mineral Deficient?
Certain vitamins and minerals are linked closely to hair loss in men and women. A diet rich in vitamin B12 has been shown to help prevent hair loss. Nutritional yeast is a wonderful plant-based source of B12 as are plant-based nut milks.
Vitamin D is also critical to strengthening the hair follicles, so a deficiency may cause hair loss. To ensure you're getting enough vitamin D, simply spend some time outside every day. Sunshine is still the best source of this precious vitamin! Even just 15 minutes can give our bodies all the sunshine they need to stay healthy.
Learn more: Why Sunshine Strengthens Your Immune System.
Iron helps to build healthy and strong hair so not getting enough can lead to hair loss.
Iron-rich foods to include in your diet to help reduce hair loss include:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dried apricots
Try Pulse Sacred Meal for a delicious, nutrient-dense whole food snack on-the-go.
Tip: Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron. Include a good serving of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet daily.
Vitamin E is a nutrient that is important in promoting healthy skin, healthy hair and helps to prevent anemia--which can also contribute to hair loss.
Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, beet greens, collard greens, spinach, pumpkin and red bell pepper are all great sources of vitamin E.
Natural oils in foods like olives and avocados are also great for hair growth. They contain special oils that aid in the regeneration of hair follicles and therefore, people with severe hair loss should eat these natural oils daily because they will in turn stimulate the growth of new hair.
A wholesome diet rich in silica and calcium will help reduce or prevent hair loss. Green, leafy vegetables, especially sea vegetables, are good mineral sources, and raw oats provide silica.
Since the hair is composed mostly of protein, encourage hair growth by adhering to a diet rich in protein. A diet for this purpose includes nutritional yeast and wheat germ.
Along with protein, these foods are also high in B vitamins, which--as we have already discussed--are an important nutrient for hair.
Soy proteins have been found by European studies to reinforce hair and stimulate its growth; hair growth increased by 15 percent. Tofu and soy milk are good sources of soy protein. Other good sources of protein are: beans, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and sacha inchi--a nutty seed grown in the jungles of Peru.
Silica is another important nutrient for hair health because silica therapy has been found to slow hair loss. Silica is found in the outer coverings of potatoes, green and red peppers and cucumbers. Bean sprouts are also high in silica.
If hair loss is due to thyroid dysfunction, eat more foods rich in vitamin A and iodine. Enjoy vegetables such as carrots or spinach in unrefined, cold pressed seed oils such as flax, walnut or pumpkin seed and sea salt. Eat turnips, cabbage, mustard, soy beans, peanuts, pine nuts and millet if there is a deficiency of iodine. Just be aware that too much vitamin A can cause hair loss. The RDA for vitamin A is 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women.
A little known remedy for hair loss is Diatomaceous Earth. This silica rich, naturally occurring agent has been shown to stimulate hair growth and is being recognised as an effective treatment to prevent balding.
Composed of approximately 85% silica, Diatomaceous Earth is derived from sedimentary mineral rock and the fossilised remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called "diatoms" that are formed from microscopic plant remains in the earth's surface.
A virtually taste-less, chalky-like, siliceous powder, ingest 1 tablespoon of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth to provide enough silica to support strong, healthy hair.
Lifestyle Factors and Hair Loss
Stress contributes to hair loss. To combat this, make quality sleep, relaxation and downtime a priority.
Do something that nurtures your parasympathetic nervous system--the system that helps us regenerate--for at least an hour everyday. This could include relaxing yoga, meditation, a salt bath, reading or earthing.
To nurture your downtime, remove electronic devices from your bedroom and diffuse calming essential oils around your home.
Natural DIY Treatments for Hair Loss
In addition to taking control of your diet and lifestyle to reduce hair loss, you can also try these DIY home treatments for hair loss.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil has been shown to promote healthier hair growth. To use it, combine 5 drops of rosemary essential oil into three tablespoons of coconut oil--which has also been shown to bolster hair growth and support stronger, more nourished hair.
Massage the mixture into your scalp and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, shampoo and condition as usual.
Scalp massage is a brilliant way to stimulate hair growth and reduce stress. You can massage your own scalp or have a family member or friend do it for you. For optimal results, massage for 15 to 20 minutes.
Combine with the rosemary and coconut oil treatment for even greater hair health.
Remember that hair loss is natural and not necessarily a sign of a problem, so don’t panic if you notice a reduction in your hair volume over time.
However, if you’re shedding tresses at an alarming rate, look at your diet and your lifestyle and these few effective self care tips, before turning to supplements or chemical treatments that can ultimately do more harm than good in the long run.
Tolman Self Care.