Hair has always been esthetically important in addition to the function it has in the human body; therefore, hair loss considers a big beauty issue, which affects self-esteem and mental health. It can also be a sign of a more serious health condition!
In this article, we discuss Hair Loss problem from the standpoint of Naturopathic Medicine and introduce naturopathic solutions with long-lasting results.
Why hair loss happens?
Hair has a natural life cycle in which old hairs fall daily around 50-100 strands for the new ones to grow in the same follicle, but when the rate of hair falling is greater than hair re-growth, the hair volume decreases over time. Follicles gradually lose their ability to produce new hair as well; therefore, hair strands become thinner and weaker with even less color intensity.
Hair shaft is technically a cluster of dead cells with keratin fibers that grow from hair bulb inside follicles on your scalp where melanin is giving your hair its characteristic color. Being composed of dead cells is the reason you do not feel any pain on your hair when receiving a haircut!
The hair life cycle consists of four phases, which might differ in length in each individual:
- Anagen which lasts 3 to 5 years. It is the growth phase with the rate of 1/2 an inch growth per month.
- Catagen last 10 days and it is the detachment phase when follicle is gradually detaching from blood vessels in the scalp; therefore, the absence of nutrient will cause the hair to fall.
- Telogen is the resting phase because the hair strand is not connecting to the food supply, but it is not ready yet to fall.
- Exogen is the shedding phase when the hair strand falls and follicle enters a 3 month rest period until a new hair is grown from it.
*It is worth noting that not all the hair strands on your scalp are in the same phase, otherwise they would all fall together!
Hair loss problem is usually associated with anagen phase (first phase) where due to the lack of enough nutrients the growth period becomes shorter and hair enters into shedding phase too soon. Hair regrowth problem often comes from weak follicles in producing healthy and strong new hairs over time.
If your hair loss has a higher than normal rate or has visible and unusual patterns such as bald patches, you must seek treatment immediately. The good news is that most cases of hair loss are treatable and hair re-growth is possible if you choose a qualified naturopathic doctor in Los Angeles!
There are some patterns in hair loss among patients with the most common being as follow:
Androgenetic Alopecia, which is the most common type of hair loss caused by testosterone metabolites and happens in men, but it is seen in women as well. Testosterone present in the scalp changes into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that leads to follicles shrinking in size and inhibiting growth of the hairs, which eventually results in baldness.
This only happens on top of the head because follicles on the sides and back do not have enough DHT; therefore, hair loss focus on the crown of the head.
Because the hair loss has a horseshoe pattern, it is often called pattern boldness. It is assumed that genetics play a role in this type of hair loss so it is called Hereditary-Pattern Baldness as well.
Telogen Effluvium which is the second most common type of hair loss is a condition when hair follicles are constantly resting and do not grow much due to some severe shock that body has received from a chronic disease, high fever, pregnancy and giving birth, surgery and medications such as calcium channel blockers, beta blockers and antidepressants. Chemotherapy also causes balding among cancer patients, which depends on the type and dosage of the drugs used.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies destroy hair follicles in localized circle patches mistaking them as foreign invaders!
Alopecia Totalis is a more serious version of Alopecia Areata where the whole scalp or even body loses all hair resulting in full baldness.
Cicatricial Alopecia results from skin problems where visible infections with red patches cause rapid hair loss.
Traction Alopecia is seen more in women because of the extreme styling methods such as tight hair pulling, bleaching and weaving that puts excessive pressure on the follicles and leading to detachment of the hair shaft.
Hypothyroidism is a condition resulted from the underactive thyroid gland, leads to underproduction of thyroid hormones responsible for utilization and production of nutrients specifically protein that result in hair loss.
Nutrients deficiency is often the root cause of hair loss as many vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fatty acids are needed to maintain and regrowth healthy hairs. Extreme dieting shocks the body into starvation mode when staying alive becomes the sole purpose of the system and anything that is not vital like hair maintenance and growth pause to keep the brain, heart, and digestive system working. Bad eating habits and wrong food choices also cause nutrient deficiency overtime. The more important point is the ability to digest and absorb food, which is achieved by the gut microbiome. If this community of bacteria is less than optimum you will not benefit from all the food you eat even if they are super healthy.
Among nutrients, Proteins play a major role in hair health and the amount required is extremely individualistic as muscle mass ratio and activity level demands a different amount of protein intake. Iron is a critical mineral in the body, which its deficiency leads to anemia and eventually hair loss. B vitamins are also important for hair maintenance and regrowth and because they are water-soluble, a constant supply must provide daily.
Stress of any kind, physical, mental or emotional can cause the body to release too much adrenal hormones that put the body in defensive mode instead of resting and repairing; therefore, maintenance and re-growth of hairs become unnecessary to deal with the stressor. If staying in this state for too long, rapid hair loss and delayed hair growth will happen.
How Naturopathic Medicine treats hair loss?
Naturopathic medicine is holistic and preventative by nature; therefore, a good hair and skin hygiene, sufficient diet and nutrients, balanced activity and exercise, good night sleep and an overall healthy lifestyle are always on top of the recommendations.
Some homeopathic treatments such as herbal therapy might be advised according to your unique circumstances.
For the hair that is already falling, there are natural and non invasive treatments offered by integrative medicine centers:
PRP stands for Platelet Rich Plasma and is a naturopathic therapy that applies your blood to your scalp to initiate hair regrowth to improve you aesthetically.
Plasma is the liquid section of the blood. It is mostly made of water and proteins to perform a medium-like role for white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets to freely move inside the body. Platelets or Thrombocytes are blood clotting cells that contain growth factors, which are responsible for main phases of cell creation, repair, and healing.
PRP is the same plasma, but with 10 times more concentrated platelets which turn it to a more potent agent due to the amount of proteins and growth factors present in concentration.
PRP is incorporated for hair restoration specifically in Androgenetic Alopecia or pattern baldness, which responds positively to this therapy because PRP decreases the inflammation that has caused the hair loss in the first place.
For hair loss treatment, the plasma with more concentration is directly injected into your hair follicles. The procedure has minimal discomfort; therefore, you will not need any numbing or recovery after therapy.
After first injection session, you need to receive additional injections once a month for a total of three months before transitioning to a once every three to six months schedule. In the first few months of injections, you will notice reduction in hair loss until improvement in thickness or eventual re-growth of your hair is observed.
Vitamin Injection is a naturopathic therapy to provide your body with essential vitamins fast. It’s not an alternative for a healthy diet and lifestyle but it helps to replenish nutritional deficiencies, which is the root cause of all physical and mental symptoms.
The vitamin shot bypasses the digestive tract and pushes directly into cells and tissues. It takes a few hours for nutrients to be absorbed in the digestive system; therefore, by bypassing this root, the vitamin injection has an immediate therapeutic impact. Considering the amounts present in a vitamin shot are higher than normal, any nutritional deficiencies will be solved immediately, which makes you feel nurtured and nourished resulting in elimination of hair loss and initiation of hair regrowth.
B vitamins group, antioxidant, vitamin D, high doses of vitamin C, MIC and CoQ10 are among the most common vitamins in injection therapy, which are all essential for hair maintenance and regrowth.
Intravenous therapy (IV) is a naturopathic solution to infuse essential nutrients into your vein in high doses to overcome nutritional deficiencies.
IV therapy is equal to a multivitamin and mineral pill in mega doses, which bypasses your GI tract to directly enter your bloodstream to absorb quickly. Vitamins and minerals compete for absorption in your digestive system and because some minerals like calcium are stronger, they will always dominate other vitamins leading to deficiency. Bypassing digestive tract gives all vitamins and minerals equal opportunity to absorb.
Electrolytes, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, amino acids, carnitine, glutathione, ALA, poly MVA, Phosphatidylcholine, NAD and chelating agents are the most frequently infused compounds for hair loss and hair regrowth purpose.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a naturopathic treatment to replace hormones that are lower than normal in your body in order to restore balance in your body, mind and life and eliminate excessive hair loss and initiate hair regrowth.
Your body produces many hormones throughout your life that fluctuate during a normal day and also has critical periods in your life such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause or andropause. All these stressful periods disturb hair life cycle, which leads to rapid hair loss or lack of hair regrowth.
Bioidentical hormones such as HGH, cortisol, DHEA, thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are often affected by life circumstances and require replacement.
How do Naturopathic treatments perform?
At your first visit, your naturopathic doctor will examine your hair and scalp in order to identify your hair loss pattern and any possible infections. Your current lifestyle will be discussed along with any recent changes in your diet and supplements with any pre-existing condition that might cause thinning hair. If necessary, specialty lab tests are ordered to make sure the best naturopathic treatment is selected for your unique hair loss.
All available options are discussed and according to your wishes, we will move forward with a detailed plan until your hair loss is managed and your hair regrowth is visibly observed.
We also provide you with comprehensive instructions on how to clean and treat your hair and scalp at home and outdoor before and after treatment.