Hair loss is particularly prevalent in our modern society. People are nutrient deficient due to the standard american diet, many are dealing with gut health issues, and others have hormonal imbalances. There are several different types of hair loss, but the majority of hair loss cases have a similar root cause and a similar approach to addressing it. I get a lot of questions about hair loss from people, so I’m addressing the most frequently asked questions below. No matter the type of hair loss you’re experiencing, read on for more information on how you can start to address it.
Why does hair loss happen out of nowhere?
Hair loss is always coming from somewhere and it’s due to an imbalance in your system. The imbalance is always connected to inflammation (unless you’re pulling it out yourself!), which wreaks havoc on your body. So, the key to reversing hair loss is to figure out where the inflammation is coming from, why you’re experiencing it, and determine how to reverse it.
My story: I was eating a diet that wasn’t working for me. At the time, I was a vegan with very little thoughts about food other than it not making a big impact on the environment or animals. My diet was high in caffeine, carbs, processed food, and alcohol, with very little focus on protein or quality. When I switched to an unprocessed paleo diet after 10 years of being meat-free, I began noticing reversal of my alopecia areata spots within six weeks.
Are standard hair loss treatments effective?
Standard hair loss treatments typically involve topical remedies like steroid injections, shampoos, and creams that are supposed to stimulate hair growth. Occasionally these will work temporarily, but it has been my experience with myself and my clients that this method is ineffective long-term, if at all.
That’s because standard hair loss treatments are not designed to get to the root of what caused your hair loss to begin with. The root of all disease, and hair loss, is inflammation, so it’s important to determine where that inflammation is coming from. If you’re just masking the symptoms that make you uncomfortable with a fancy shampoo, you’re not addressing a potentially life threatening problem that will manifest in other ways if ignored.
Don’t let that terrify you, though! I hear from women all the time who are experiencing hair loss and just haven’t known what avenues to take in order to get to a root cause.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you don’t know where to start:
- Am I eating a well balanced diet with adequate amounts of healthy fats, carbs, and protein?
- Are most of my meals made out of fresh meat, veggies, and properly prepared grains and legumes?
- Have I done an elimination diet to determine potential food sensitivities?
- Am I getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals through my diet, and digesting them properly?
- Am I having daily bowel movements that are solid, one inch in diameter and I don’t have to strain to expel them?
- Do I get 8-10 hours of sleep each night?
- Do I have adequate amounts of energy to get through the day?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with some inflammation that could be contributing to your hair loss. You can easily address the above issues on your own or by working with a nutritionist. Note: if you are postpartum, hair loss is normal and will grow back.
My story: When I first realized I had alopecia areata, I went on an elimination diet to remove all potentially inflammatory foods, and then reintroduced them one at a time. What I discovered is that I’m highly sensitive to corn, soy, grains, and legumes. Removing these items from my diet, in addition to focusing on sleep and stress management, reduced my body’s inflammatory response. My hair began to grow back approximately 6 weeks after starting the protocol.
Unfortunately, in 2017, I moved into a new home and my hair started falling out again. This time, instead of random bald patches around my head, I was experiencing male pattern balding. I worked with my doctor for three years to find a root cause (we tried to tackle non-budging estrogen dominance and candida), but my hair loss never subsided, even when I was feeling pretty good.
That’s because I hadn’t gotten to the root cause.
Which holistic hair loss treatments work?
I would caution anyone on using a topical remedy to solve an internal issue like hair loss. It’s a bandaid approach to healing and bandaids fall off.
The #1 best thing you can do to start healing your hair loss is create a strong food foundation. Meaning, you’re eating an anti-inflammatory diet most of the time. If you’re not sure where to start with diet, I recommend you begin by cutting out foods that people are commonly sensitive to like soy, dairy, gluten, corn and eggs, then avoiding highly inflammatory foods like processed sugar and refined vegetable oils. This meal plan is free of all those things!
If you’ve already got the food part down, keep reading.
- Do a proper elimination diet (like AIP or Whole 30) to see if you’re experiencing any food sensitivities that are leading to inflammation.
- Make sure you have enough vitamin D and iron as deficiencies in either are known to cause hair loss.
- Have your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels tested to see if they are out of balance. Too much or too little of these sex hormones can lead to hair loss.
- Get a full thyroid panel done. Low thyroid is one of the most prominent causes of hair loss in women.
- Test for environmental toxins like mycotoxins and heavy metals, then detox if needed. Toxins can cause a myriad of issues in the body which can lead to hair loss.
- Look for other co-infections like SIBO, candida, lyme disease, h-pylori, and parasites.
How much hair loss is normal?
This really varies on a case to case basis because of bio-individuality. That means that no one person’s body is alike, and we will all lose hair in various amounts. If you feel like your hair loss has increased recently or you’re noticing thinning, it’s not in your head (yes, punny..).
Many people experiencing hair loss will be dismissed by those around them. You know your body best and if your spidey-senses are telling you you’re losing too much, then you’re right. Find a functional doctor or nutritionist who can help you explore what’s going on.
I’ve improved my diet and take supplements, why isn’t my hair loss subsiding?
If you hair loss hasn’t subsided then you haven’t gotten to the root of your inflammation and imbalances! It can be really frustrating when you’re doing all the things and still don’t notice a difference. There is ALWAYS a reason for your symptoms, though. Keep peeling back the layers.
My story: After drastically changing my diet and treating gut dysbiosis I was still losing my hair in male pattern balding. The functional nurse practitioner I had been working with for four years eventually said “it just takes time for your body to rebalance,” but my spidey senses told me she was wrong. I had access to my own expensive testing as an NTP that she didn’t feel comfortable running, so I decided to bite the bullet, spend the money, and peel back the layers of hair loss myself. It turned out I was spot on. Not only was I struggling with heavy metal toxicity, I was also dealing with mold illness. After doing a thorough detox, my body was able to rebalance and my hair began growing back again!
How long should it take to experience regrowth?
In both my personal and professional experience, if you’re on the right track you should begin noticing hair regrowth in at least 6-12 weeks. In some cases, scarring will occur, which makes it impossible for hair to grow back. It’s important to address root causes sooner, rather than later, to prevent this from happening.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to take a partner on this, I’m currently accepting 1:1 clients. You can apply to work with me here.
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Have you experienced hair loss? Let me know in the comments of this blog post. I’m curious to know if you had one of the root causes listed or if you experienced it for any other reason!