by Joel Lopez, MD, CNS
Why is it that we’re seeing younger people getting hair loss at such an early age? Is it just a genetic issue or does it have to do with environmental factors as well? I believe that it’s due to both. Genetic causes of chronic degenerative disease is only about 3-4%, compared to greater than 90% due to environmental causes.
There’s a lot we can do to prevent or even reverse hair loss. We have to know the factors that lead to this condition. One, there’s the issue of poor circulation. Our hair needs to be nourished. Poor circulation means less nutrients going to the hair follicles. What causes poor circulation? Dietary factors such as intake of trans-fats or hydrogenated oils as well as calcium build-up along the arterial lining can do that. Poor nutrition also leads to hair loss. Where do you think our hair comes from? It comes from our food. Hair is primarily protein. Therefore, an adequate intake of amino acids should lead to a full head of hair. But, it’s not just that. An adequate amount of certain vitamins, minerals and glycosaminoglycans are also needed for healthy hair. Nutritious food should contain adequate nutrients. However, this is not always true because certain produce, esp. ones that are produced through commercial, chemical farming are nutritionally deficient. Produce farmed bio-dynamically and not just organically, should contain adequate amounts of nutrients to help our body renew itself (and that includes the hair).
What about personal products that damage the hair or hair follicles? There’s a substance in hair gels or products that could actually clog the hair follicles and cause them to ultimately die. The one implicated the most is a chemical called PVP coplymer, a petrochemical product. Avoid this at all costs. There are other chemicals that could cause damage to cells in general such as pthalates and sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate. Just notice how more companies are touting that they don’t contain these products.
Another cause of hair loss is hormonal imbalance. Undiagnosed thyroid issues could cause hair loss. A testosterone metabolite called DHT could cause hair loss, thus the popularity of synthetic DHT blockers such as Propecia or Avodart. A more natural way to influence testosterone metabolism is through the use of zinc supplements (which by the way is a very common nutritional deficiency). Other natural DHT blockers include saw palmetto, lycopene (from tomatoes), pygeum and stinging nettle. Low testosterone levels in men as well as low estrogen levels in women could also lead to hair loss. Isolated HGH deficiency could cause regeneration and repair to slow down as we age. That means, less production of new tissue, including our hair.
What do you do to improve HGH levels? Besides exercise, there are amino acids that stimulate HGH release from the pituitary. The most effective one for people over the age of 40 is L-glutamine. Goji berries has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to stimulate HGH release from the pituitary. Otherwise, a peptide called HGHRH (analogue) could also be used. I found this as effective as HGH, with less side effects.
What are other natural remedies that could stimulate hair growth? An Ayurvedic treatment includes the use of neem hair oil. Traditional Chinese medicine may recommend fo-ti pr he she wou. Essential oils that stimulate hair growth include therapeutic-grade peppermint, cedarwood, rosemary, lavender, thyme and sandalwood. Minoxidil works for some people but it does work better combined with substances such as retin-A, aldactone, progesterone, azelaic acid, copper peptides, SOD, and copper-zinc binding peptides.
Procedures one should consider before the last resort (hair transplant) include the use of low level laser therapy and the use of a micro-dermaroller. Consult with your holistic health care practitioner before incorporating any of the above suggestions.