The 3 Root Causes of Hair Loss and 4 Natural Solutions
If you’ve ever brushed your hair and had a little too much come out in your brush, a few too many days in a row, you have my sympathy. I’ve been there too. “I don’t want to go bald!” I’ve heard panicking voices state in my clinic.
Me too, girl, me too.
Even if other people don’t notice, if your hair is thinner than it once was, it’s a major blow to your confidence.
In Chinese medicine, hair loss is classified as a symptom of “Blood deficiency.” The idea is that your body has 4 major Essences: Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang. Blood, and with it, Yin, becomes deficient as a result of age, childbirth, stress, not sleeping enough, or improper diet.
THE ROLE OF HORMONES and STRESS
After giving birth, your system is depleted of Blood and Qi. Blood deficiency is also the cause of post-partum depression, fatigue, and some types of constipation.
Before and during menopause, the changes of hormones often reflect Yin or Yang deficiency. Women who have not depleted their adrenal reserves (our reservoir of Yin and Yang) with relentless strife and over-work fare better through menopause. Women who have avoided the nutrient-depleting effects of birth control pills also fare better in menopause.
Even more important for hormones is the effect of stress. Not allowing ourselves a break from constant go-go-go energy or not getting enough rest at night is the worst for your health and your beauty. I’ve yet to see a case of hair loss that wasn’t a direct result of stress. For me, when my hair starts to fall out a little more than expected, it’s my sign to take things down a notch.
Of course, thyroid imbalances are another major underlying cause for hair loss. My belief about thyroid imbalances is that they’re a result of any combination of
stress - your thyroid and adrenal (stress, energy, and hormone) glands are intricately related.
mineral deficiencies - many people have iodine deficiencies and could benefit from the relaxing properties of seaweed. Ashwaganda is an herbal medicine that has protein-bound iodine and is calming in nature.
toxicity - heavy metal toxins can bind to the iodine receptor sites on your thyroid and cause malfunctioning.
systemic covert pathogenic infection - for autoimmune conditions this is where we usually start
Food remedies for healthy hair include Blood-nourishing proteins, herbs, and plants; mineral-dense vegetables; healthy fats and oils to optimize your food-based supplies of vitamin E and D.
I have won the wrath of many vegans, but I stand by what I say, which is – sometimes humans need to eat meat. I was a vegetarian for 5 years, and my chronic fatigue didn’t improve until I fulfilled my craving for red meat. Just 1 burger was all I needed :).
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN FOOD IS GOOD FOR YOU, and most of our diet should revolve around vegetables.
Everyone has different needs; and we also have different needs at different times in our life. Eating organic, hormone-free, humanely-raised meat is normal and if you feel like you need it, then eat it. Just keep it balanced with at least 75% of your diet coming from non-meat sources.
Other Blood-nourishing foods to include in your diet: yams, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, quinoa, bell peppers, saurkraut, sprouts, celery, cucumbers, bitter greens like dinosaur kale or mustard greens.
In other words, go through the produce aisle and pick a variety of what is in season. Figure out some new recipes. Get creative. I just throw things together and am constantly amazed at how easy and delicious it is to cook healthy. Another plus: vegetables are relatively inexpensive.
Blood nourishing herbs like Dang Gui, Rehmannia, and Schisandra you can get by herbal prescription from your local acupuncturist or herbalist.
Mineral-dense foods include organic root veggies (onion, potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, etc.), seaweed, and alfalfa.
For your body to produce enough hormones, you need healthy fats:
- Coconut Oil (Ok to fry with or cook at high temperatures)
- Butter (from grass-fed cows; also OK to cook with at high temperatures)
- Whole, Organic Milk and Dairy (ideally unpasteurized)
- Olive Oil (for salad dressing or cooking at very low temperatures)
- Wheat Germ Oil (supplementing this helped grow back my hair after my 2nd baby)
- Flax Seed Oil
- Essential Oils (powerful and medical-grade if pure)
- Grapeseed Oil
- Coconut Oil (Ok to fry with or cook at high temperatures)
I have been blessed with an extremely sensitive scalp. I used to regularly burn it with toxic chemicals trying to change the color of my hair. Most shampoos caused extreme dryness and itching on my scalp. I’ve tried just about every shampoo on the market: commercial hair products in my youth, stuff from the health food store as I got older, and still troubles! I tried fancy stuff from specialty stores. I tried everything. And still I had the same problem. My scalp said “no.”
Until I ran across a brand called Morrocco Hair Method. The guy, Anthony Morrocco, a self-proclaimed “hair shaman,” worked for years in a top salon in NYC, then traveled the world learning different indigenous cultures’ hair cutting methods. He learned about treating the hair and scalp with herbs to prolong the beauty and health of the hair and scalp. He learned the ancient Brazilian method of hair cutting to strengthen, lengthen, or beautify your hair according to the phase of the moon. He created this amazing shampoo, conditioner, product, and henna line.
Be forewarned: your scalp and hair will look great after using the products, but the application process is unlike any you’ve ever experienced. The shampoos are very DRY. There are no bubbles; it's not the typical feeling you're used to from conventional shampoo.
Another thing I switched years ago is away from toxic dyes. I just use henna now. I can’t have “Heather Locklear” blonde anymore, but I’ve actually always wanted to be a redhead anyway. Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ oncologist said that her brain tumor was probably from the toxins including coal tar that were in her hair dye.
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The best topical solutions for hair-care are natural and topical treatments with oil and clay.
Internal treatments, for example, taking herbs or a food-based vitamin supplement, do help. For the cells of your scalp to receive the optimal benefit, it’s also good to put the healing stuff right up on there.
Plus, the last thing you need right now are chemicals on your scalp.
So what do we need to heal the scalp? It depends, but for most people, you’ll need to alternate between clay and oil. Clay has been used in indigenous cultures across the world for who knows how long for different purposes: to heal skin wounds, to take internally for digestive issues, and even to perform ceremonies. Bentonite clay has been shown to be anti-bacterial, and to absorb heavy metals and toxins.
Hair oiling is a technique used for over 4,000 years (another site says 5,000, so who knows) in India and Africa for promoting healthy hair and scalp. The oils flush the scalp with vitamins E and F for moisture and resilience, and some are even anti-microbial.
Using the Oil:
Before you wash your hair, put a little oil in the palm of your hand. The amount should be the size of a large coin. You can use this oil that I recommend, or just some olive, almond, coconut, grapeseed, jojoba, or sesame oil.
Massage it for a few minutes into your whole scalp. Then, brush your hair so you massage the roots of the hair and extend the oil through the entire strand.
You can leave the oil in for a few minutes, hours, or overnight with a cap on to protect your sheets. When you’re ready, wash your hair as usual. You will find your need for conditioner is much less if not altogether gone.
Using the clay:
I use this brand for clay as well. I also use their shampoos and conditioners. It’s all very natural and organic. If there’s another brand of bentonite clay or healing clay you prefer, go ahead and use it.
Mix 1-2 Tablespoons of clay with some water until you have a paste. In the shower, after shampooing, rinse your hair, then apply the paste by massaging it into your scalp. Leave it in for at least 3 minutes, and up to 10 minutes. Rinse out. You don’t need to use conditioner after this, but you can if you like. Surprisingly, the clay makes your hair very soft.
Another way I use clay to calm my scalp is with henna. Henna can be like a natural hair dye or it can also be just a non-coloring conditioning treatment. If you’re trying to get away from toxic hair care and beauty products, using a natural hair dye as opposed to a toxic, chemical-laden one is a good step.
A nice side-effect to all this natural stuff is that I think over time, as the health of your scalp and hair improve, you spend a lot less money on expensive beauty store and salon quick-fixes that leave you not-so-fixed after all.