Ever drawn a brush through your hair and been alarmed at the number of hairs that came out with it? Or maybe you’ve been in the shower, in the middle of washing your hair, when an uncharacteristically large clump comes out, all tangled up in your hand. Certainly, it’s a cause for some distress, and some people may even panic.
Research has shown that 1 in 3 women will struggle with hair loss, or experience reduced hair volume, at some point during their lives. Of course, aging men have well-known battles with hair loss too. According to the American Hair Loss Association, two thirds of men over the age of 35 will suffer from some appreciable hair loss, and that number climbs to 85% by the time men are 50.
Some hair loss is natural. For example, it’s completely normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs every day. It’s also normal to experience increased hair loss after a stressful event, like the end of a pregnancy, a marital break-up, or a death in the family. In those instances, the amount of hair lost can be up to ten times the normal amount, and will occur roughly three months after the stressful event, at the end of the hair’s natural life span. (Yes, hair has a life span too!)
But what about abnormal hair loss? First off, let’s dispel some myths. Hair loss can’t be prevented by washing your hair less frequently. In fact, if a dirty, oily scalp isn’t regularly cleaned, it can lead to dandruff and inflammation which can actually exacerbate hair loss. Also, tightly worn hairstyles, like ponytails, or tight-fitting hats may be uncomfortable, but haven’t generally been shown to increase hair loss either.
The most common cause of hair loss is a hormone imbalance. This is one reason why many women experience some hair loss after giving birth, when their hormones suddenly go into free-fall. Androgens are the most common culprit for hair loss. These hormones, which are in highest concentration in men, are not very hair friendly, and can shorten the hair growth cycle and cause hair to fall out when levels become abnormally high.
Subconsciously, we all recognize this link between high testosterone and hair loss. In a 2012 study from the University of Pennsylvania, both men and women considered bald men to be larger, stronger, smarter, more powerful, more successful, and more dominant than men who still had hair. It seems now that all the hand-wringing men have gone through over the ages was completely unnecessary. They may actually gain status by losing their hair.
For women, of course, the picture is completely different. Our health, strength and sex appeal is still strongly associated with the length and luxuriousness of our hair, so any amount of hair loss is of deep concern. In this case, higher than normal androgen levels are the most common cause of hair loss too. Sufferers of conditions like PCOS, which is strongly associated with an abnormally elevated androgen level, will need to balance their hormones and reduce their androgen level so that hair can be retained.
The best way to balance hormones is to cleanse the liver of any congested bile so that it can function more optimally again. Since the liver is the organ which metabolizes and excretes hormones from the body, ensuring optimal liver functioning is essential for maintaining balanced hormones. In fact, the main reason that stress causes hair to fall out is likely the increase in the hormone cortisol, which is always accompanied by an increase in androgens. When levels of androgens are increased, they can over-stimulate hair follicles and cause hair to fall out.
Other hormonal conditions, like hyper- or hypothyroidism, can also cause hair loss, and since the liver is the organ which converts T4 to the active form of T3, sub-optimal liver functioning is implicated in thyroid problems too.
If you are currently struggling with some form of hair loss, you should consider using our products to improve the health of your liver so that hormone balance can be restored. Supplementing with some vitamins and minerals may also help to combat hair loss. Vitamins B12, D, and the minerals zinc and iron have also been linked to hair loss, although these deficiencies tend only to aggravate an existing problem, and are typically not the main cause. Contact us for more information.
About the author: Rebecca Wong has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.