Female Hair Loss – You Have Options
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on April 8, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
If you’re worried about losing your hair, you’re not alone. For most women, hair loss is much deeper than vanity or self-consciousness. The condition of your hair reflects what’s going on inside your body.
In fact, your hair, skin, and fingernails are the first areas to show signs of illness and nutritional deficiencies. The strata of cells in a single strand of hair offers a look at what you’ve put in your body over the last three to six months.
Just beneath the follicle and root of the hair are your body’s major systems – circulatory, endocrine, and central nervous system. That’s why many holistic health care providers look at the quality and quantity of a patient’s hair to assess the overall quality of her health.
What causes hair loss in women?
Hair loss is different for women than men. Although unique to each individual, it can often depend on many factors:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Stress – emotional or physical
- Kidney or Liver problems
- Nutritional deficiencies – typically iron or vitamin A
- Immune system problems
- Thyroid disorder
- Allergic reactions
The good news is, once the cause has been identified, many women respond very well to treatment.
While a certain amount of everyday hair loss is normal, loss of more than 100 strands a day is considered excessive. Your health care provider can help identify the cause of your hair loss.
Types of female hair loss
Most often, the cause of scalp hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia. It’s a genetic sensitivity to the effects of male hormones (androgens) on scalp follicles. However, the patterns affect women differently than men. Females typically experience patterns involving overall thinning, with more noticeable thinning at the back or near the front of the scalp.
Women can also suffer from non-pattern causes of hair loss. Typically, these are one of the following conditions:
- Alopecia areata – thought to be an autoimmune disorder causing patchy hair loss with islands of remaining hair.
- Triangular alopecia – temporal area hair loss, sometimes appears in childhood.
- Scarring alopecia – hair loss due to scarring of the scalp. This condition often occurs as a result of tight braiding or “corn-rowing” of hair. Also associated with inflammation of the hair follicles, this condition can occur in post-menopausal women.
- Telogen effluvium – a sudden shift of more hairs than usual into shedding phase. This condition often occurs after a major emotional stress, but can also be related to the hormonal imbalances or nutritional deficiencies mentioned above.
- Trichotillomania – a result of compulsive hair pulling. Treatment for this condition involves psychological evaluation to determine the reason for the pulling.
Only your health care provider can determine which form of hair loss you’re experiencing. Then you can begin taking the steps to correct it.
What can you do?
If you suffer from mild to moderate hair loss, take an inventory of your healthy verses unhealthy habits. With that information, you’ll be able to move forward with a holistic approach to healing your body:
- Honestly assess your stress level and your ability to cope with it. If you feel you’re under too much stress, see what you can eliminate from your life. Make time to do something that relaxes or rejuvenates you at least once a week.
- Avoid or reduce the dietary causes of hair loss, by eating a balanced diet of protein-rich foods. Limit refined sugar and simple carbohydrates.
- Consider herbal supplements. Positive results have been found with some of the following hair loss supplements:
- Eliminate vitamin deficiencies by adding a daily multivitamin with vitamins B, C and E. Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc are also essential nutrients for healthy hair.
- Other alternative treatments include scalp massage, acupuncture, and gentle endocrine support for naturally rebalancing hormones.
– Saw Palmetto reduces DHT levels in the bloodstream and stops cells from absorbing DHT.
– Polygoni Multiflori nourishes the Liver, Kidney, and Blood, which in turn nourish your hair and promote hair growth.
– Fructus Psoraleae increases circulation, improving the flow of nutrients to your scalp. Many studies have shown it helps promote hair re-growth.
– Ecliptae Prostratae is used in Eastern medicine to help prevent premature graying and to promote overall hair health.
Because the condition of your hair reflects the condition of your health, it’s important to pay attention to the normal patterns of your hair growth. Taking these steps toward healthier hair will naturally result in a healthier life. You’ll be nurturing your hair from the inside out.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan