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Both men and women can be affected by hair loss which can be caused by many different things. It is vital, through lab testing, to assess and determine the root cause of your hair loss, because from there Dr Smith may be able to effectively treat and in some cases reverse your hair loss. Although a certain amount of hair loss occurs naturally with aging, it’s a concern that should be taken seriously, particularly in women, due to the major impact it has on self-esteem.
What Causes Hair Loss
Some of the causes may include but are not limited to:
Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance
An immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine's lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia, and can lead to serious complications.
Hair loss can be one of the early symptoms of Hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body.
Deficiencies of any essential nutrient can cause hair loss. Dr Smith can assess nutrient levels and determine adjustments to diet and diet supplementation. Additionally protein malnutrition will cause hair loss.
Common deficiencies include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- EFAs - Essential Fatty Acids
Drug-Induced Hair Loss
Pharmaceutical drugs have been known to cause hair loss.
Some of the most common are:
- Anticoagulants (Coumadin, heparin)
- Antidepressants (Prozac, lithium)
- Antiepileptics (Valproic acid, Dilantin)
- Cardiovascular drugs (ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers)
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Endocrine drugs (Clomid, danazol)
- Gout medications (Colchicine, allopurinol)
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen, naproxen)
- Ulcer medications (Zantac, tagamet)
The primary and most well-known androgen is testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and androstenedione are less known generally, but are of equal importance in male development. Later in life DHT can contribute to male balding. Although androgens are described as male sex hormones, both males and females have them to varying degrees, as is also true of estrogens.
Female hair loss can be androgen-related and is referred to a “female pattern hair loss”. There are a number of reasons why a woman may be affected by androgen-related hair loss. Genetics, excess androgen production due to aging, insulin resistance, diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and low antioxidant status are all associated with female pattern hair loss. There are excellent botanical treatments to address this once this has been established with blood work as a problem.
Autoimmune disorders: Alopecia - (Medical Term for Baldness)
Alopecia areata is a condition that causes a person's hair to fall out. It is an autoimmune disease which means that the person's immune system is attacking their own body. In this case, their actual hair follicles. When this happens, the person's hair begins to fall out, often in clumps the size and shape of a quarter. The extent of the hair loss varies; in some cases, it is only in a few spots. In others, the hair loss can be more pronounced.
Genetics can play a role in autoimmune conditions including alopecia areata, along with other unknown triggers. Alopecia areata is an unpredictable disease. In some people, hair grows back but falls out again later. In others, hair grows back and remains. Each case is unique and is hard to predict. Naturopathic doctors have a lot of herbs which play a vital role in stabilizing autoimmune disease - so this is the direction Dr. Smith would be going in this type of hair loss. There are various autoimmune diseases that will cause hair loss.
Can Stress Really Cause Hair loss?
YES. Stress can deplete us of vital vitamins and minerals many of which correlate to hair loss. Stress can also deplete the adrenal glands that manage our stress physiology, so our capacity to handle stress goes down which makes the stress response worse. High stress can also throw us into an autoimmune state.
Three types of hair loss that can be associated with high stress levels are:
Telogen effluvium. In telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um), significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. Within a few months, affected hairs might fall out suddenly when simply combing or washing your hair.
Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling can be a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration.
Alopecia areata. A variety of factors are thought to cause alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh), possibly including severe stress. With alopecia areata, the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles — causing hair loss.
Stress and hair loss don't have to be permanent. If you get your stress under control, your hair might grow back - but there is no guarantee that it will unfortunately.
If you notice sudden hair loss or more than usual hair loss when combing or washing your hair, talk to your doctor or naturopathic doctor. Sudden hair loss can signal an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.
Treatment of Hair Loss
Treatment depends entirely on what is causing the hair loss. Dr Smith takes an individualized approach to treatments and will perform tests to determine the cause.
Once the root issue (no pun intended) is determined, hair loss can be addressed using naturopathic medicine by:
- Improving nutrient (iron or any others which are low) intake AND absorption
- Enhancing production and function of thyroid hormones, estrogen or progesterone LINK TO BHRT
- Lowering excess testosterone, DHEAs and/or DHT
- Stress reduction techniques and adrenal gland support to allow healthy adaptation to stress
- Address food sensitivities in the case of autoimmune hair loss and use appropriate herbs