The adult scalp contains about 100,000 hair follicles. Everyday the scalp loses about 100 hairs and they will grow back in 5-6 weeks. Starting at age 40, the levels of by-product prolactin of testosterone of men increases, stimulating the production of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase that causes the conversion of testosterone to gihydro-testosterones DHT causing our hair to grow back thinner or not grown back at all. This causes an androgenic alopecia hair loss problem, since DHT shrinks the follicles causing hair thins and hair receding at the forehead, crown and temple for men and thins over the entire scalp for women. What causes hair loss.
1. The Causes of Hair Loss
Human aging is the biological process that is unavoidable but controllable with healthy diet with complex carbohydrates, green foods, garlic, onion, water and juices that will help to decrease the aging process in some degree. It also helps to reduce the amount of DHT produced in our body, result in postponing hair loss to our scalp.
b) Mineral deficiency
Minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, chromium, iodine, zinc, and magnesium are necessary to maintain healthy hair growth. Mineral deficiency will reduce the chance to regulate the blood circulation that promotes healthy hair growth and thyroid hormones that prevent dry hair and hair loss as well as defects in hair color. Too much iron is toxic to your body. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any mineral supplement.
c) Oxygen deficiency
Oxygen deficiency in your blood weakens the hair follicles, leading to dryness of the scalp and hair loss. Uncontrolled diet that is high in saturated fat causes cholesterol building up in your arteries resulting in less oxygen in your blood stream. Also cigarette smoking and second hand smoke reduces the blood flow and increases the blood clotting activity of cells which would clog the blood flow and damage arteries causing oxygen deficiency and results in weaken of the hair follicles.
d) Side affects of medication taken
Some medications contains elements that might cause hair loss such as lithium, warfarin, heparin, and amphetamines. When hair loss is a side effect of a medication, hair growth usually returns to normal once the drug is stopped.
e) Genetic hair loss
Hair loss is due to heredity. It is passed down from generation to generation. Genetic hair loss appears predominately in men, but may also appear in a few select women.
2. Food to Avoid
Foods that can cause hair loss and diminish hair growth.
a) Saturated and Trans fat
Foods such as meat, poultry, and fried foods contain high saturated fat. Foods such as margarine, cheese, and butter contain high amounts of trans fat. These foods cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries and small veins in your scalp resulting in less oxygen being delivered to the cell in your body, including the cells on the follicles.
b) Foods that contain Aspartame and Monosodium Glutamate
Monosodium Glutamate contain chemicals that causes weight gain, increased appetite and also causes various kinds of health problems such as hair loss.
Aspartame contains toxic chemicals that make you gain weight, increases hunger and causes medical problems like migraines and poor blood circulation.
As we mentioned in the previous article, smoking can reduce blood flow to the scalp causing hardening in the arteries, limit blood flow and make hair loss worse.
d) Artificial Color
Artifiicial color contains chemical compounds that take their toll on the body’s natural balance.
Specific foods to avoid include colored drinks, color-coated candies, gummy and chewy candies, and many colored cereals.
These are potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys that cause hair loss and prevent hair growth as we mentioned in the article “Hair loss part IV–regrow hair with Chinese herbs”.
f) Food Packaging
Polyvinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, and it’s often used as plastic food wrap. It is toxic with high amounts causing damage to the kidney and liver resulting in hair loss.
Eating too much salt can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure that cause less oxygen to be delivered to the body’s cells including cells in your scalp in result of losing hair.
3. Hair Loss Prevention and Treatment
I. Here are some important minerals that may help to prevent hair loss and promote hair re-growth:
Iron is involved in the oxygenation of your body’s red blood cells. It is essential for normal hair growth and maintaining healthy hair. If the amount of iron can not be replaced with food intake, iron deficiency will cause hair loss because of oxygen deficiency.
It helps to secrete the scalp with much needed oil and avoid dandruff that may cause hair loss.
Study shows that these tripeptide complexes may actually be able to regrow hair, even in patients with total hair loss due to alopecia. Healthy tissue concentrations of copper lie between 1. 7 and 3. 5 milligrams. Everything else will cause hair loss.
d) B vitamins
The deficiency of B vitamins (especially B6, B3, B5 and folic acid) in your diet may lead to hair loss.
Biotin works as an anti aging agent and helps to produce keratin in preventing gray hair and hair loss.
Sources of biotin are: whole grains, egg yolks, liver, rice and milk.
f) Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for over-all good health. It’s also beneficial to hair follicles, as it keeps the hair root lubricated. Too much vitamin A might result in hair loss.
g) Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that aids effective circulation in the scalp due to increased oxygen uptake in blood, therefore it plays an important role in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss.
Coenzyme Q10 (CQ-10) is an essential vitamin that provides our body with the nutrients needed to grow healthy hair. They also promote overall vitality, and contribute to beautiful skin and strong nails.
II. Here are some daily foods that might help to prevent hair loss and promote hair re-growth
1. Yogurt and soy
Yogurt and soy contain high amounts of protein that is needed to maintain hair growth. Study shows that soy protein reinforces hair and stimulates its growth.
2. Dark green vegetable
Dark green vegetable contains high amounts of iron that are needed to restore oxygen levels in the blood stream as well as nurturing the body’s cells.
3. Whole grain products
Whole grain contains zinc which is needed to maintain healthy hair. Zinc deficiency can lead to dry hair and oily skin.
4. Essential fatty acid
Essential fatty acid can be found abundant in cold water fish. It helps to maintain healthy cholesterol and reduce triglyceride in result of increasing circulation of blood flow in our body.
6. Nut and seed
Nuts and seeds are fatty foods which are typically the best sources of vitamin E, an immune enhancing antioxidant and nerve protector. Deficiency of vitamin E can lead to skin disorders, dry hair and loss of hair.
Carrots contain high amounts of vitamin A. It is an antioxidant that helps produce healthy sebum in the scalp. Having too much vitamin A can lead to hair loss.
There are many other foods that help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, such as fruits, egg, spinach, and broccoli.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking large amounts of the above foods. There may be side effects, such as overdoses of vitamin A in carrot might result in hair loss.
III. Traditionally, herbs have been around for over thousands of years and offer much success to prevent or cure diseases well before the discovery of western medicine. Here are some herbs thathave been proven in treating hair loss and promoting hair growth
Acacia Concinna is a small shrub-like tree that grows in India. It’s pod-like fruit is collected, dried and then grounded into a fine powder. It is used to cleanse hair, and is known to promote hair growth and get rid of dandruff. Due to these benefits, this powder was named shikakai which means “fruit for the hair”.
b) Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract is a very strong antioxidant that some use as a supplement or remedy to various conditions. It contains high levels of vitamin E and essential fatty acids that are essential for maintaining hair growth and preventing hair loss.
c) Kirin Brewery new discovery
Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido working with Kirin Brewery has discovered a unique property of an extract of hops that can help to activate the melanocyte cells that generate hair pigment.
d) Saw palmetto
As we mentioned in another article, Saw palmetto is the number one choice for men. Saw palmetto helps to block the formation of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that causes the conversion of testosterone to DHT that causes hair loss.
e) Basil extract
Basil Extract from the natural flowers of the basil plant, works to quickly soothe and calm skin of the scalp.
f) Pumpkin Seed
Pumpkin seeds help to block DHT, which is responsible for genetic hair loss. This common seed is loaded with zinc and magnesium that have the ability to block enzymes which yield DHT causing damage to follicles and resulting in hair loss.
g) Buddleja Davidii Extract
Buddleja Davidii extract contain active ingredients protecting the skin against toxic radicals. It can also help reduce skin aging and protect the skin against the damage caused from stresses and toxins.
h) Green Tea
Green tea contains the chemical globulin that helps to reduce levels of free testosterone, so that it cannot be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicle.
Be sure to talk to your doctor or dermatologist before taking any herb supplement.
IV. Traditionally Chinese herbs have been around for over 4000 years and have offered much success to prevent or cure diseases well before the discovery of western medicine. Hair loss is directly linked to kidney deficiency syndrome in Chinese traditional medicine. People with hair loss problems especially in their early life may have a weak Kidney. Here are some Chinese herbs that have been proven in treating hair loss and promoting hair growth
a) Dong Quai
Traditionally, Chinese woman used Dong Quai to restore blood cells and increase the circulation of oxygen in the bloodstream to cells after period. Dong Quai contains phytoestrogen that helps to block the androgen receptor site in result of blocking the conversion of testerone to DHT, therefore reducing the chance of hair loss due to aging.
Ginseng is said to have the power of rejuvenating and energizing the body. It also helps to stimulate circulation of oxygen in our bloodstream to the cells of our body as well as the cells in our scalp.
c) Shou wu (polygonum)
Shou Wu is a polygonum multiflorum plant. It is now being used in conjuncture with other herbals, as an active ingredient in shampoos and orally administered to prevent hair loss as well as aiding the restoration of roots and production of new hair.
d) Psoralea seeds
Study shows that psoralea extract and exposure to ultra violet light will help to restore hair loss and promote hair regrowth with a 33% success rate.
Chinese herbalists believe that mulberry is an excellent tonic for the kidney, liver and blood that provides more oxygen in the bloodstream as well as small blood vessels in the scalp.
f) Chinese Yam
Numerous successful studies have been performed in examining the benefits of the Chinese yam. Chinese yam can help to nourish the liver, kidney and blood in result of preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth.
g) Green tea
Green tea containing catechins inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into hair-unfriendly DHT. So drinking great tea everyday is an effective treatment for male pattern baldness.
h) Chinese foxblove root
Chinese foxblove root contains cornus, the chemical that help to nurture the kidney, liver and blood in result of promoting hair growth.
i) Wolf berry
One of the natural superfoods has been used in traditional Chinese cooking. Wolf berry helps to eliminate toxins in the body in result of better function of the kidney, liver and blood that help to promote hair growth.
Chinese medicine believes that the benefit of nourishing the kidney and blood tonic helps for healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.
V. Here are some prescription and over the counter drugs that might help prevent further hair loss and promote hair growth.
Minoxidil is an over the counter drug and is a spray or lotion that you put directly on your scalp twice a day. It is available without a prescription. It is believed to work by affecting potassium- regulating mechanisms in the hair follicle. Study shows that it helps to slow and stop hair loss and regrow new hair with over 60 % success rate. Be sure talk to your doctor or dermatologist before taking minoxidil. It might cause rash to some patients.
Finastteride is an oral prescription medication. Finasteride is a synthetic hormone that halts hair loss and stimulates new hair growth. It is a medication that selectively inhibits the activity of an enzyme that converts the “male hormone” testosterone into a form that is active in hair follicles.
Rogaine is a clear alcohol-based solution and should be applied to a person’s thinning area with it’s supplied dropper or spray twice a day. It helps about 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women to grow back moderate amounts of hair very gradually, mostly on the very top of the head. They must keep using Rogaine indefinitely to keep the new hair.
Retin-A is only available by prescription in the US. In the right doses and when combined with Minoxidil it can be a hair growth stimulator. Studies shows that Retin- A can result in moderate hair growth in some patients.
Proscar contains the same active ingredient finasteride. Proscar has the effect of lowering the hormone DHT, which interacts with bald vulnerable hair follicles and causes hair loss. By reducing the DHT in the patient’s body the finasteride in the Proscar proved to slow and even stop or reverse hair loss in many men.
Before taking any hair loss medication over the counter, please consult first with your doctor or dermatologist.
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Kyle J. Norton