Getting to the Bottom of Hair Loss
At MopTop, we have an “open door” policy and invite you to ask ANY questions you have about hair, and we respond to them all.
Most questions are individualized about the application of products or which products are best for different hair textures, but a frequent topic of great interest has been hair loss and how to stem the tide.
This issue has become more pervasive among women, and it’s one that really matters because our hair deeply affects how we feel about ourselves.
Hair loss could be a symptom of an underlying condition and getting to the bottom of it may take time. I am not an expert on hair loss, so I reached out to Dr. Joyce Stroud, D.O., of Southlake Family Medicine for an informed and balanced perspective. Following is information Dr. Stroud provided to consider if you have experienced hair loss, but this should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician for health-related issues that may concern you.
Hair Loss and Thyroid: What Your Hair Could Be Telling You
There are many things that affect hair loss. The thyroid gland plays an important role. There are nine main factors to look at if you are experiencing hair loss.
Optimal Thyroid Treatment
Most cells require thyroid for proper function and that includes hair follicles. There are many forms of thyroid hormones, but T4 and T3 are the most important. If your thyroid is functioning properly, your body will convert T4 to T3. T3 is metabolically more active and is needed in hair growth. If the body is under stress, T4 will not convert to T3 easily. Most people take levothyroxine as a thyroid replacement. Levothyroxine contains only T4. There are other natural thyroid replacements that contain both T3 and T4. If you have a thyroid problem, you should have a complete panel done including TSH, free T4, free T3, T3 reverse and thyroid antibody testing.
Low Ferritin (iron stores in the body)
This is also a test that is important to have if you have hair loss or thyroid problems. Ferritin is needed in the growing phase in the hair follicle. Adequate levels of iron are needed for proper thyroid functioning. Iron supplements in the plant forms are needed for best absorption and least amount of side effects, as iron can cause constipation problems.
Low Stomach Acid
If the stomach acid is low naturally or you induce this from taking antacids, you cannot process protein efficiently which is needed for hair growth. Also stomach acid is needed to absorb iron, B12, folate, and many other nutrients such as calcium. A large glass of water with a half of a real lemon twice a day can help improve the acidity of your stomach.
Drug-Induced Hair Loss
The wrong type of thyroid medication, birth control pills, acne medications, anti-depressants, cholesterol lowering drugs, and steroids (to name a few) all can induce hair loss.
Nutrient deficiencies can come from medications, low stomach acid, poor diet, large bowel overgrowth with yeast, and abnormal bacteria. Taking a good multiple vitamin that is not synthetic and is plant-based is necessary for you. Make sure the multi-vitamin has the usual necessary vitamins, but also Iodine, B12, Magnesium, selenium and zinc. Anyone with a thyroid problem needs about 5000 IU’s of Vitamin D3 per day. A blood level of over 50 ng/ml is needed for optimum health.
Sex Hormone Imbalance
Sex hormone imbalances are common through most women’s reproductive lives. Many women are estrogen-dominant which is from too much estrogen related to progesterone. High or low testosterone affects the hair as well. Estrogen affects thyroid binding globulin, which affects how much thyroid you can get into the cell.
Blood Glucose Imbalance
Blood glucose imbalance affects thyroid and hair growth. Carbohydrates in the form of flour, sugar, pasta and rice cause great fluctuations in your blood glucose and insulin levels. High insulin causes your calories to be taken up by the cell quickly and can cause weight gain, mood changes and hormones. Blood glucose affects the conversion of T4 to T3. Many people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s, which is an auto immune disorder. People do much better on a gluten-free food plan.
Hair Loss Supplements
Supplements that have proven to help the most in general are Omega 3 fish oils (2000mg a day) and Gamma Linolenic acid in the form of evening primrose oil (500mg twice a day). Diindolylmethane (100mg a day) helps prevent conversion of your testosterone to DHT, which is the pathway that causes male-pattern baldness. Biotin (1000-2000 mcg per day) is another good supplement. Knowing the cause of your hair problem will help direct which supplements will help the most.
Your adrenal glands are small organs located above your kidneys. Your adrenal glands respond to your body stressors and there are pathways from your adrenal glands to your brain. Chronic stress can disrupt these pathways and can affect the correct response of cortisol release by the adrenal glands. Cortisol release is supposed to be high in the morning and slowly decrease throughout the day so you can go to sleep. Cortisol testing is best done 4 times a day though saliva testing. Low cortisol can mimic hypothyroidism and vice versa so it’s good to look at your adrenal function if you’re still feeling fatigued and have hair loss after your thyroid has been corrected or ruled out as a cause. Great fluctuations of your cortisol can affect your hair as well.