HEALTHY HAIR – A Natural Spin on Achieving Long, Lucious Locks
By Dr Laurie Teitelman, ND
First of all, what is the normal cycle of hair loss and how many hairs is ‘normal’ to lose each day?
Hair loss is often associated with aging, but keep in mind that it is normal to lose a certain number of hairs each and every day. From infancy to adulthood, hair is continually growing through these three phases: anagen (the growth phase), catagen (the shedding phase), and telogen (the resting phase). In most cases, this cycle takes about six years to complete. Of the 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles on your scalp, it can be safe to say that they are not all going through the same stage of hair growth at one particular time, which confirms that a certain amount of daily hair loss is completely normal and not a cause for concern: as soon as a hair is lost, it should regrow as the hair growth cycle repeats itself. Daily hair loss of between 50 and 100 hairs can be considered normal, but it ranges for each person. Losing close to 200 hairs per day can be considered excessive.
Many people are resorting to Propecia, Rogaine, wigs and laser surgery to address their hair loss, but all this is doing is covering up (literally!) the underlying problem in the first place. Once they discontinue the medication, will their hair fall out again? Not to mention the lengthy list of side effects people encounter from using these prescriptions, including decreased libido, rash and impotence.
Why exactly does peoples’ hair fall out?!
I have worked with many patients, women in particular, who are embarrassed of their appearance since their hair is thinning out, especially the frontal, lateral and vertex hair. They always want to know ‘why this is happening to me’, and the answer is: it’s complicated. There are a myriad of factors that can affect overall hair health, including ethnicity (does thinner or thicker hair run in the family), current state of health (regular follow ups with your health care practitioner are important to rule out various causes, help address and treat the root cause of the hair loss and monitor your progress), age (perimenopausal, menopausal hormone changes), toxin accumulation, some medications have the nasty side effect of hair loss, thyroid health, pregnancy, current iron status, as well as hair styling methods which can pull at the hair causing it to loosen and fall out; but, the way you nourish your body, your lifestyle and the way you experience stress can be some of the most important factors of healthy hair!
Is there something that I can do right now to encourage hair growth?
Yes! As you read, please try an invigorating scalp massage, which can counteract hair loss by actually encouraging hair growth! Scalp massage provides an easy-to-do approach that stimulates your hair follicles, improves scalp blood circulation and strengthens your hair. Massage your scalp using circular motions with your knuckles or finger pads, covering your entire scalp area. Performing this technique daily for five to ten minutes can help stimulate your hair to grow. An additional tip here would be to add essential oils of rosemary, lavender, sage or thyme to the scalp massage for additional increases in circulation (try adding 3 to 6 drops of essential oil to 1 tbsp. of jojoba or grapeseed oil).
I want healthy, youthful, vibrant hair. What are some natural alternatives to the conventional approaches to achieve this?
Controlling and managing your stress can make a huge impact on your hair. Try things like getting back into nature, meditating or doing yoga, deep breathing, listening to your favorite music, playing a musical instrument, laughing more and implementing better organizational skills can all help reduce stress levels. Properly performed stress reduction techniques can increase blood flow to the scalp!
Other things to keep in mind are how you treat your hair. Hair damage, such as harsh chemical dyes and coloring, straightening and perming products and the like, can cause hair loss; so be sure to choose a gentle, natural and preferably organic shampoo, conditioner and other products to help encourage healthy hair growth. Blow dry less often, don’t brush too hard and when possible, avoid using tight hairstyles including wraps and ponytails to counteract additional hair loss.
Hair loss from fungal infections can be prevented by keeping hair clean and dry, and by never sharing hats, combs or brushes with others.
Also, there are some helpful supplements that decrease inflammation and increase circulation at the scalp surface: green tea and omega-three fish oils have been successfully used to address this. Biotin is a popular B-vitamin essential for energy levels, nervous system function and proper metabolism of fats and protein, and helps maintain healthy hair, skin and muscle tissue along with other synergistic B-vitamins and vitamin C.
What can I do from a nutritional standpoint to ensure less hair loss and more hair growth?
You can start by avoiding certain foods that promote inflammation and hair loss such as saturated fats, trans fat laden pastries, dairy products and other non-organic animal products, and instead, incorporating healthier alternatives like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds, which are rich in nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and possess anti-inflammatory properties to stimulate healthy, growing hair, skin and nails. Aim for three balanced meals daily, each one to include healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and protein. Our body conserves protein by shifting hair into the resting (telogen) stage of the growth phase when not enough protein is ingested, so be sure to include lean, organic protein throughout your meals of the day. A diet rich in whole foods, particularly the outer skins of plants like potatoes, cucumbers, green and red peppers can strengthen the hair because these are rich in the mineral silica. Enjoy!
Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor
Medical Advisor for Everlast Sports Nutrition Fitline
Naturopathic Doctor at NeurOasis Wellness Center
Ultra Lite Weight Management Specialist