DR. WRIGHT: If stomach acid is low, protein isn’t efficiently digested – and hair and nails are made up of… protein! If we are deficient in protein, our bodies know that we can live without hair or nail proteins, but we can’t survive without heart muscle proteins or other important body proteins. So if we are short in supply of protein, the hair or nails are the first to go.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
Hair multiplication. Similar to the idea of cloning, this treatment involves taking out donor cells from the hair follicles and then growing and multiplying them in a laboratory. Once sufficient samples have been multiplied, these hair cells are then injected into the bald patches to stimulate hair growth. As a relatively new treatment, hair cloning is still in its research phase.
Aloe vera. Aloe vera is one of the most traditional and common natural hair loss treatments. It is known to possess enzymes that promote hair growth and a healthy scalp by regulating the hair and scalp's pH level. Known as a hair miracle, it is also used to treat other hair/scalp conditions like scalp itchiness, scalp redness, and inflammation. It also helps in minimizing dandruff and making the hair shinier and stronger.
The scalp contains a natural oil called sebum, which helps keep the skin lubricated. Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands. Sometimes these glands work overtime and produce too much oil, leading to a greasy scalp. Greasy hair can look dull, limp, and lifeless, and it may be more difficult to manage. To treat greasy hair, try washing with a gentle shampoo that is specially formulated to control sebum.
According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, hair health is tied to two things: kidney energy and the blood, which nourish the hair. The solution: acupuncture and Chinese herbs. While there isn't a lot of hard science to back this up, Maureen Conant, a TCM practitioner at Full Bloom Acupuncture in Seattle, says that she's seen women's hair stop falling out and then gradually regenerate after a few months of weekly treatments.
A good daily multivitamin containing zinc, vitamin B, folate, iron, and calcium is a reasonable choice, although there is no good evidence that vitamins have any meaningful benefit in alopecia. Newer studies suggest that vitamin D may be somewhat helpful and worth considering. Specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies like iron or vitamin B12 may be diagnosed by blood tests and treated.
Vigorous styling and hair treatments over the years can cause your hair to fall out. Examples of extreme styling include tight braids, hair weaves or corn rows as well as chemical relaxers to straighten your hair, hot-oil treatments or any kind of harsh chemical or high heat. Because these practices can actually affect the hair root, your hair might not grow back.
Alopecia areata. This condition, called patchy hair loss, is the opposite of pattern baldness. Whereas in the former, thinning hair follows a pattern, alopecia areata is marked by smooth and bald patches anywhere on the scalp. The bald patches are circular, and can be as small as a pencil eraser or as big as a quarter. It begins with one or two spots that multiply on other parts of the head. The condition is caused by an autoimmune disease where the antibodies mistake the hair as the "enemy" and start attacking it, resulting into hair loss.
A more temporary form of hair loss is telogen effluvium or when hair follicles get stuck in the telogen or resting phase and stop growing new hair. Telogen effluvium can occur three months after a significant medical event like childbirth, surgery, or a high fever, but can also be caused by a thyroid imbalance or iron deficiency. Certain medications like blood thinners and birth control pills are also linked to this form of hair loss.
Biotin is a very popular supplement recommended by many doctors, pharmacists, health food stores, TV shopping channels, health websites and more when it comes to hair loss. To find some of the best supplement brands for me to try in my quest for thyroid wellness, combing the internet for customer reviews of various brands has been an important part of my process. I’ve read mixed reviews about biotin. Some users love biotin and others find no improvement or they complain about adverse reactions like acne breakout. Biotin didn’t make a significant difference for me but it might work for you and some brands get incredible reviews like this one.