Inspired by your questions that beautifully flow in, hair loss is one of those that pops up frequently. You might be shocked to learn that around 40% of women experience some type of hair loss and it seems to be on the rise. I’ve spoken about post-pill hair loss here before, but over the years I’ve come to see a whole host of reasons women are finding more hair on their brush than on their head, not necessarily related to the pill.
The real trick to fixing the problem is to decipher the driver – that is what’s actually causing the hair to fall or recede. In fact, this goes not only for loss of hair but for all health concerns, establishing the root cause rather than treating symptoms really is the only way to successfully treat your health issues. There can be a few reasons why you may find your hair falling out and it makes sense to find the crux of the problem before proceeding with any type of treatment. I find this is a common reason why people dismiss natural therapies – because they begin to implement a treatment that isn’t actually suitable for their own diagnosis because they can easily access herbal formulas and supplements. It’s important to remember that what works for your best friends, cousin’s neighbour may not actually be useful for you because you are not her (or him).
Hair loss can be associated with high androgens like we see in Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome which can also pave the way for insulin resistance. However, insulin resistance isn’t only observed alongside PCOS but also for those with weight problems, diabetes and some cancers. The issues with too much insulin roaming around in your blood stream is that it signals the ovaries to make more androgens and also drives your liver a little crazy. With this, it begins to produce less sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHGB) and since SHGB binds to testosterone to make sure it’s behaving, with less of this available, testosterone begins to misbehave. Eventually this leads to excess testosterone roaming about like an pack of thugs, causing trouble and robbing you of your golden ringlets.
Putting PCOS aside, you might be keen to learn that more commonly low iron, poor thyroid function, hormone imbalance (high oestrogen/low progesterone) and insulin resistance are the key offenders behind you losing your gorgeous locks. Now you see, it becomes really important to understand the why. What’s the driver of the hair loss rather than simply treating hair loss alone (especially topically).
So how can you find the culprit? It’s all about investigation and looking into the nature of your constitution. As a TCM practitioner, I dive right into getting answers based on signs, symptoms and cross checking this with pulse, tongue and test results (yes we read the body via tongue and pulse – it tells us so much!) What can be useful too (and something you can begin to get curious about) is looking at your full blood panel or a saliva test to see what’s misbehaving. I’m keen to help you understand that a little better.
Here’s what you’re looking for;
Testosterone levels – high levels may be an indication of PCOS (alongside a few other key symptoms like missing periods and cysts present on the ovaries) therefore I’d recommend following the protocol in my ecourse Debunking PCOS. You can manage (and sometimes transition from) PCOS under the right diet and lifestyle – it’s more so what you do day to day that counts.
Blood Count – check for poor immune function or if anaemia is an issue. If so, the gut is where you would begin your treatment focus (and most often we all need a little support in this area).
Thyroid hormones – remember, you want your TSH to be around 1. Depending on the reporting lab, the reference ranges for TSH will vary. If your TSH is higher than 1, there’s nothing to worry about but this is certainly where you would action a diet and lifestyle change. Of course I’ve got a course for that too! Debunking your Thyroid is here.
Antinuclear antibodies – any presence of these may be an indication of an autoimmune condition which is driving the hair loss. I also talk a lot about this in Debunking your Thyroid and how you can move your body into remission from conditions like Hashimotos (even Endometriosis is now considered autoimmune).
Cortisol – high cortisol is mostly an indication of high stress. Stress acts on the gut just like antibiotics, medications, the pill and poor diet. Need to get a grip on stress? Debunking Stress discusses this too!
Ferritin – check out where your levels are at. Low ferritin can also come with other symptoms like palpitations and tiredness. Supplementing iron as well as working on the gut is a great start.
Fasting insulin and glucose – as we’ve learnt, insulin resistance can play a big role. If you find this to be the reason, taking a similar approach to PCOS is a great start. Remember PCOS when all is said and done is simply hormone imbalance.
That leaves me with one more thing and possibly what I am finding to be more prevalent – low progesterone! When our hormones are out of balance, it can show up in many ways. Progesterone is your feel good hormone and whilst it may not actually be the culprit of your hair loss, it’s the knock on effects of other hormones that begins to affect it’s presence (or lack of).
When progesterone is thriving, you feel amazing. But when stronger influences begin to have an overbearing effect, progesterone can shy away to maintain a homeostatic environment. For example, high cortisol levels will directly impact progesterone since cortisol is designed to come along and rescue us from danger. Cortisol and progesterone utilise the same receptor sites in your body to get their jobs done and cortisol being super bossy will always pull rank, meaning progesterone isn’t able to preform due to cortisol overbearing nature. This can also happen where we see to much oestrogen. Excess oestrogen means progesterone has a tough time competing.
Many women have recently asked about progesterone cream as a means to treat hair loss. Whilst it isn’t necessarily incorrect, it’s not a long term solution – stop taking the progesterone and your more than likely in the same position you started (unless you address the root cause at the same time).
The beauty in balancing hormones isn’t just gorgeous hair, it extends to almost every corner of our life. Your periods become a dream, they are regular, you’re light (weight is steady), you are nice to be around, you sleep well and you feel great!
So you see, it’s all about rebalancing your body and leading it back to an optimal state. There isn’t a magic potion for that, but rather adapting specific diet and lifestyle habits to suit what your body needs in any given moment. When you can really hone in of the problem, you can treat the issue head on. After all, treating symptoms alone will only ever have you chasing your tail.
Perhaps you’ve worked out the driver of your health condition (not limited to hair loss) and you’re ready to shout it from the roof tops. Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.
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