Are you losing your hair?
Why are you losing your hair?
- Do you suffer from hair loss?
- Is your hair thinning with each year and you don’t know why?
Hopefully, what I’m about to share will make a lot of sense because a stable datum is this:
It’s NOT normal to lose one’s hair and you deserve to figure out the cause.
Traditional medicine will go to the thyroid first, but there are many other potential causes that must be addressed.
Hair loss is an extremely common complaint I hear from patients. Men and women alike are troubled with it, but it’s definitely more common in women.
How common is hair thinning?
For women who reach the age of 30, 30% of them complain of hair thinning. In women who reach the age of 50, 50% of them are troubled with thinning hair. With these statistics, it’s clear that:
- this is a common problem,
- we need to understand it better, and
- we need to figure out how to truly resolve it’s the root cause
Hormonal imbalances of testosterone, insulin, or the thyroid gland are commonly to blame for hair loss. These can be evaluated through blood testing. But there are nuances of the tests you must know about.
The hormone testosterone is converted into DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, which can bind to receptors in your scalp’s follicles, shrinking them to the degree that healthy hair cannot survive. The condition is called androgenic alopecia (basically it means hormonal hair loss) and it’s known to affect 30% of women.
If your part is getting wider or your hair is noticeably thinning, this could be the cause.
Women with high testosterone levels can be affected by this condition, but so too can women with “normal” levels.
Hormones require a delicate balance. If you are a woman with normal testosterone levels but low levels of estrogen, as an example, this could be enough to create an excess androgen (male hormone) ratio and hair loss may result.
Women with this imbalance don’t only notice it in their hair. They may have:
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- irregular periods
- ovarian cysts
- blood sugar instability
- weight gain
About a quarter of women with PCOS also have androgenic alopecia
Such hair loss can revert once the root cause, in this case hormonal imbalance, is normalized.
In our practice discovering diminished estrogen levels is no longer something relegated to the woman in her peri-menopausal or menopausal years. Young women in their mid-20s are experiencing insufficient estrogen levels and I believe this is part of the problem with escalating hair thinning.
One of the first things traditional doctors will evaluate when hair is thinning, or becoming more dry and brittle, is the thyroid. Yet many patients who come in complaining of hair loss have had their thyroid evaluated and been told it seems perfectly fine.
Is your thyroid really fine?
The body prioritizes its functions, and aesthetics aside, how much hair you have is not nearly as important to your body as to how your bowels are functioning, what your energy level is, and whether you’re staying warm or feeling too cold. The thyroid function addresses all of these areas.
In the hierarchy of things, therefore, if you’re giving the body some extra thyroid hormone in the way of a medication, or if it appears to be functioning “okay” on its own, if that function is not truly optimal, your hair volume will be at the low end of the totem pole of priorities, and therefore suffer.
[Note: Levothyroxine is a common thyroid medication that can cause hair loss as a side effect. Discuss this with your doctor.]
If you haven’t had a full comprehensive panel of your thyroid, your doctor could be missing less an optimal function of the gland. Too often, a superficial evaluation of the thyroid is performed on blood testing, leaving out important markers that can show malfunction.
Did your last thyroid panel measure this?
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid antibodies
If all these levels of your thyroid weren’t addressed, you did not receive a thorough blood panel and a malfunction could have been missed.
Many doctors fail to evaluate for the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (thyroid antibody test) because they feel there is no treatment for it.
This is untrue and we have reversed and/or stabilized many patients with this autoimmune condition.
The adrenal glands are your stress glands and they work closely with your thyroid.
Periods of high stress are often associated with hair loss. Cortisol levels elevate with stress and are a hormone associated with hair loss.
Less than optimally functioning adrenal glands can put stress on the thyroid and vice versa. Therefore, adrenal evaluation should also occur in the presence of thinning hair.
We see women entering perimenopause and menopause earlier and earlier. What used to be a transition that occurred in a woman’s 50s, we see happening in the early to mid-40s. Estrogen levels drop, hormones become imbalanced and again, hair loss can result.
One of our specialties is restoring hormonal balance in both men and women. Hair loss is a result of imbalance, but so is a host of other symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, loss of concentration, diminished libido, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and more.
It’s not difficult to regain hormonal balance, regardless of your age.
Do you need help?
Contact us for a free phone consultation – call 408-733-0400.
If your scalp is too acidic, it can affect your hair volume. Overall acidity, not just in your scalp, but in your bloodstream, is a common problem in our country. It’s an unhealthy, pro-inflammatory state and moves your body toward the common degenerative diseases we suffer from, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and autoimmune disease.
An acidic state comes from the traditional American diet of excess sugar, refined carbohydrates and high animal protein.
A healthy state is one of alkalinity. In order to alkalize yourself, you need to eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes. Nuts and seeds are also healthy for increasing alkalinity.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the diet that’s good for your hair is also good for your body as a whole? It just makes sense.
Evaluating whether you are suffering from food sensitivities is important.
Food sensitivities can be tricky because they don’t always cause a digestive response. It’s a bit counterintuitive, as you would think that if a food bothered you, a digestive symptom would be a direct result. That’s not the case, and in fact, in over 85% of food sensitivity reactions, the resulting symptom is not a digestive one.
It’s not hard to discover what foods you may be reacting to; it’s something we evaluate for all our patients.
Toxins and your Immune System
Supporting your detoxification pathways is critical and involves two things:
- limiting the toxins coming into your body
- optimizing your body’s ability to detoxify those toxins present
- Do you have bacteria? parasites? Insufficient probiotics?
- Is there an abundance of heavy metals in your body?
- Do you have Lyme disease?
- Do you have a high viral load?
We want to look at the overall toxic load on your body. This is something that can and should be assessed through functional medicine testing.
Healthy detoxification pathways
Are your liver and gut effectively dealing with the toxins coming your way? A strong ability to detoxify and make harmless, the toxins we cannot avoid, is vital to overall health. A body burdened with toxins tends to have dry, brittle, lifeless hair, along with other symptoms.
The good news about toxins is that you don’t have to isolate and remove every single toxin coming your way. Identifying and removing the most acute and burdensome of them is typically adequate to lessen the burden on your body and restore balance.
Your amazing body is able to heal and repair itself. When it’s not doing so it simply means it is overtaxed. Isolating what those burdens are and removing them is what root cause medicine is all about.
Blood sugar spikes are also associated with hair loss. When your blood sugar spikes it creates high insulin, a pro-inflammatory hormone associated with diabetes and obesity.
Again it’s interesting to note that hair loss correlates with unhealthy practices that are associated with our predominant degenerative diseases. Our hair is connected with such imbalances and responds in a negative fashion along with the rest of your body.
High insulin comes from eating refined sugar and refined, processed carbohydrates, the same poor diet choices associated with acidity that we mentioned earlier.
Studies have revealed low iron as a potential cause of hair loss in women. But before you run out for any iron pills, get a blood test – specifically measure your ferritin levels. Ferritin levels indicate your iron storage capacity.
Low levels are not good, but high levels aren’t either. A level of 40-60 is the “sweet spot” for ferritin. Despite the fact that traditional testing doesn’t consider ferritin excessive until it’s over 300, research shows that anything above 100 should be taken seriously since it’s an inflammatory indicator.
Remember inflammation moves us towards degenerative disease.
[Consider reading this blog where I go into the dangers of high ferritin levels.]
Also, keep in mind if you are no longer menstruating you should not need to supplement with iron, but get your levels checked to be on the safe side.
We’ve reviewed a lot of contributing factors to hair loss. Did you see yourself in any of these areas?
The good news is that none of what we discussed is hard to correct. These are issues we see every day here at the clinic and they can be remedied.
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