As a leading functional medicine practitioner, I see female clients all the time that deal with this issue and I’m here to tell you that there is something you can do about it. Most of the time, thinning hair and hair loss in women is a sign of an underlying health issue; and almost always, that health issue is connected to hormones.
You see, your hormone systems are more complex than you could ever imagine. And when one hormone gets thrown out of balance, it can affect a ton of different aspects of your health, including the hair on your very head. One group of hormones that are particularly important for hair health are thyroid hormones, which are important for helping signal the regrowth of new hair to replace the hair we lose every day through normal shedding and breakage.
So, what are the other causes? One of the biggest ones is stress, which is also, not surprisingly, a cause of hormone imbalance. (Remember, everything in the body is connected!) When you’re extremely stressed, your body starts to funnel all its energy and resources away from things like hormone health and hair health and towards your fight or flight response. This can take a toll on the health of your hair in a major way both directly and by exacerbating hormone issues that contribute to hair loss. (Ugh!)
If you’ve experienced a stressful life event that causes constant stress hormone production, you may develop an autoimmune related hair health issue, like alopecia.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the common underlying health issues that can contribute to hair health issues, let’s get constructive. Luckily, there are a ton of things you can do to improve hair loss, including taking supplements that help correct nutrient deficiencies that can knock your nervous system and hormones out of balance. Here are five to try out ASAP if you’re dealing with hair loss.
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is largely responsible for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Biotin is even referred to as “vitamin H,” which is derived from the German words “Haut” and “Haar,” which mean skin and hair. I recommend taking a mix of B vitamins — which you can find in a B-complex supplement — as they work synergistically to improve hair health and other aspects of health.
You’ve probably heard chatter about ashwagandha already. It’s extremely trendy at the moment — but it’s for a good reason! This adaptogenic herb works directly on the HPA axis, which controls your stress response and regulates your stress hormone production.
Pear is another adaptogen. And while lesser known than ashwagandha, pearl is a great source of amino acids to help nourish hair, skin, and nails. This is thanks to an ingredient called conchiolin, which is what gives pearls their luminescence. Conchiolin has similar effects to keratin – a protein found in your skin and hair – and improves metabolism, increases circulation, and repairs damaged cells. Pearl powder has at least 30 trace minerals, along with silica which is great for supporting hair health and selenium which is very important for healthy thyroid hormones.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in your body and is found in connective tissue, including our skin and cartilage as well as nails and hair. Collagen is made up of three important amino acids (glycine, proline, and hyroxyproline) and each is produced in our body naturally but not at sufficient levels. For example, we require around 15 grams of glycine per day, but most of us only get 3 grams per day from our modern diet, so supplementation can be extremely beneficial for longer, healthier hair.
5. Holy Basil
Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil is one of my favorite adaptogens. It is also one of the best-researched herbs for hair loss! One particular study (1) showed how holy basil can be a useful treatment for hair loss problems like alopecia. In the study tulsi promoted more hair growth naturally, compared to the control group which used a medication with many potential negative side effects. Holy Bail’s strong properties are one of the reasons why I developed Holi(youth): The Calming Oceanic Adaptogen to be a key part of my clean beauty line, Agent Nateur. We formulated this powder with holy basil (as well as marine collagen and pearl) along with nutrient-dense spirulina to promote healthy hair and skin as well as calming stress which, as we’ve seen, can negatively impact your hair.
Finally, another thing you can do to promote healthy hair is giving yourself regular scalp massages. Promoting circulation and blood flow to the scalp can stimulate hair follicles that may be inhibited or unhealthy. You can massage your scalp with your fingers each night and every time you wash your hair, or purchase a scalp massager. Either way, show your scalp some love every day — your hair will thank you!
Hair loss and thinning hair can be shocking, nerve-wrecking, and frustrating. But as you can see, it’s important to stay calm! Focus on showing your nervous system and hormones some love. Thankfully, I see in my clinic all the time that getting to the root cause can restimulate hair regrowth for healthier, thicker hair.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.