In this post I highlight the different possible underlying causes of hair loss. This is a post written from my experience as a registered naturopath and my knowledge of natural, holistic medicine. I will continue with a follow up on this post with natural options for treating hair loss next.
*Disclaimer – All content provided by Sage Intuition is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about your health, please consult your doctor or another suitably qualified healthcare professional.
What Causes Hair Loss?
First of all, let’s talk about typical hair loss. Losing hair is a normal part of life, we naturally shed hair throughout the day. On average we lose around 90 scalp hair strands per day. However, there is continual growth of hair from the scalp as part of the hair life cycle.
Each hair follicle goes through a growth cycle: active growth, the regressive phase and the resting phase. In active growth, hair can grow around 2.5mm per week and this phase can last weeks or years. In the regressive phase the hair matrix cells die, preventing further growth. The resting phase lasts for 1-3 months, and after the cycle begins again. The hair follicle regenerates and begins to produce new hair, and shedding the old hair.
Abnormal or excessive hair loss is when the amount of hair loss is exceeding hair growth. It can become noticeable and a cause for concern. There are several different causes of hair loss which I will outline below.
It is important to listen to our body. If we are noticing a lot more hair in our brush than usual or our hair seems thinner, this could be a sign of hair loss. Our body is telling us that something isn’t quite right. There may be an underlying cause which requires investigating and treating.
I also want to share that I have personally experienced serious hair loss. I understand that it can be a sensitive topic and can really affect confidence and self esteem. It is reassuring to know however, that there are effective options available for treating this issue naturally.
Stay tuned, in my next post I will outline my holistic recommendations for treating hair loss naturally.
For now, let’s continue on with discussing the different underlying causes of hair loss.
Different Underlying Causes of Hair Loss
The endocrine system looks after the hormones in our body. Chronic stress, poor nutrition, sleep issues and more can all upset the delicate balance of our hormones.
The health issues outlined below are possible underlying causes for excessive hair loss.
But don’t automatically assume that your hair loss is caused by these conditions. It is always advised to seek testing and professional advice. This is the best way to determine the true cause of hair loss in any situation.
Thyroid imbalances are so common today. Both under and over-active thyroid function can result in hair loss.
There are many different symptoms that are also associated with thyroid imbalances, not just hair loss. However, hair loss can be a key sign. Especially if it is a significant amount all of a sudden.
Remember, hair loss in thyroid issues will be diffuse. This means the hair is evenly thinning all over the scalp. Your hair may also be quite dry and brittle or breaks easily.
If you suspect thyroid imbalances could be contributing to your hair loss, please seek out a healthcare professional for advice.
As a naturopath, I look to why thyroid issues are occurring in the first place. Usually stress and gut health play a big role in thyroid function. These areas will be the focus for any holistic health recommendations.
Thankfully, hair will regrow easily once any possible thyroid issues have been resolved. If you are interested in more posts on thyroid disease I am happy to write on this subject. Let me know in the comments below.
In my personal experience after having my son, I developed postpartum thyroiditis. This is a condition that develops in women after they give birth, where the thyroid becomes inflamed.
Postpartum thyroiditis is a complex condition that isn’t well known. I will be sure to write on this topic because I know many women will be unknowingly experiencing this issue.
For me, I had noticed over the course of several weeks that my hair was shedding very fast. Initially, I put this down to normal postpartum hair loss that happens with breastfeeding.
But at one point I got scared and wondered if it would ever stop. I had thick hair before, and now it was noticeably thinner. I saw my doctor who sent me off for blood tests which showed thyroid disease.
It was devastating at the time, but I was grateful to have a clear answer for why my hair loss was happening. I was able to treat my thyroid issue completely naturally with dietary changes and herbal medicine.
I did this with the support and oversight of my specialist doctors at the hospital. They were pleased that my natural methods gave me successful results. And thankfully my hair has grown in again.
PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Hair loss can also be due to a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS.
This is a hormonal condition that affects women. It is characterised by irregular periods and an excess of male (androgen) hormones. When there is an excess of male hormones circulating in the body, it can cause thinning hair in women. This is also known as androgenic alopecia.
Hair loss due to PCOS may have a distinctive triangle pattern. The midline of the front of the scalp begins thinning, and spreads to the sides of the scalp. PCOS also has many key symptoms so if you have been experiencing hair loss along with menstrual irregularities, please see your health care professional.
Herbal medicine, dietary and lifestyle changes can work wonders for helping issues like PCOS. Hair growth will return once the underlying causes are identified and treated.
Nutrition and Gut Health
Let’s briefly discuss how nutrition and gut health can impact hair loss.
It’s fairly straight forward. In times of famine, disease, extreme stress or malnourishment the body simply won’t be prioritising hair growth and renewal.
If we are under-eating our daily energy requirements due to a restrictive diet, we may experience hair loss. There are certain nutrients essential for healthy hair. Without these nutrients, hair loss is more likely to occur:
- Essential fatty acids
- Vitamin B12
“You are what you digest” has now been changed to “you are what you absorb”!
The small intestine is where nutrients from our digested food is absorbed. Many factors can negatively impact the small intestine.
If the small intestine is damaged, we may not be absorbing our food and nutrients properly. This could then lead to nutrient deficiencies and be a possible underlying cause of hair loss.
For example, gluten can be a trigger food for many people. There is gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease which are commonly seen today. In coeliac disease, the small intestine is damaged when gluten is consumed, which then impairs nutrient absorption.
Again, as soon as the underlying cause of hair loss is identified, a treatment plan can be put into place. For clients with poor nutrient absorption, a gut healing protocol and dietary changes can be really beneficial.
We have covered a range of possible underlying causes of hair loss. There are many different reasons why hair loss could be happening.
This is why is important to seek a professional opinion. A healthcare professional will look at your symptoms of hair loss against other symptoms you may be experiencing to determine the true cause.
If you have been experiencing hair loss and want help, get in touch today. I offer holistic health consultations for New Zealand based clients.
My consultations are comprehensive and you receive a uniquely created treatment plan. I work with you to achieve your health goals.
Get in touch today to book your free discovery call. I discuss how my services as a registered naturopath and medical herbalist can help you with your health. I also offer distance reiki sessions to clients worldwide.