how to stop hair loss (or re-grow!)

We know that thyroid disease runs in families and mine is no different. My grandmother dealt with Graves’ disease for many years, along with other autoimmune conditions like Addison’s, arthritis, and alopecia. I watched her try different wigs, different diets, and different doctors over the years. I never made the connection between her health and mine until I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2007. 

While I never lost my hair with Hashimoto’s, this is one of the most common symptoms I see in my nutrition practice with female clients. I was too young to understand my grandmother’s health complications at the time they were happening, but losing hair is a major blow to women because it represents to much of our beauty and identity. It is a visible symptom that something is wrong with our health and it can range from embarrassing to devastating and that makes us vulnerable. 
The most important first step when dealing with hair loss is to identify the cause. Yes, thyroid disease gets blamed as a catch-all for hair loss, but there are almost always underlying nutritional factors that need to be addressed to stop it. 
Nutrients that are commonly low:
  • minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc, silica. Note that zinc deficiency is SUPER common, and it is very hard to get enough potassium from your daily diet even if you are eating lots of raw fruits and vegetables. I like using nutritional yeast to get extra potassium in the diet — it is naturally high potassium and tastes deliciously cheesy. Using a multi-mineral liquid drop in your water is a simple way to add minerals daily. 
  • fatty acids. Start eating quality organic/grass-fed/wild-caught animal proteins WITH the fat!, or supplement with a marine oil if necessary. Start making bone broth for the minerals and amino acids.
  • iron. Okay this one we all know but anemia can actually be caused by deficiencies in OTHER nutrients aside from iron! Don’t ever just start supplementing iron if you do not know you are in fact deficient. Iron poisoning is real, and if nothing else, excess iron causes oxidative stress and damage. Bone broth is also helpful for raising iron levels because it stimulates bone marrow formation which builds blood. Liver supplements are another way to get iron without supplementing with isolated iron which can cause people stomach problems like nausea and constipation. 
  • B vitamins. Another kind of anemia is called megaloblastic anemia which caused by B vitamin deficiency. Get your B vitamin levels checked and if they are low, use a B vitamin form that is appropriate for your gene mutations (get tested for this at Ancestry.com or 23andme.com). Generally it’s best to avoid synthetic B vitamins and take “methylated” (aka: active) forms. But keep in mind that some B vitamins, like B12 require huge amounts of potassium to be processed. So if you’re not getting enough potassium daily as it is or you are already potassium deficient, adding in B vitamins may not be a good idea until you can address the mineral deficiencies. In that case, B vitamins could actually cause more hair loss. 
Ways to stimulate new hair growth:
  • horsetail supplements. This is an herb that is used to grow back hair. Works great but will take a few months. 
  • biotin. This is a B vitamin that stimulates hair growth.
  • liver (see above regarding iron)
  • marine oil like cod liver oil, fish oil, salmon oil, krill oil, etc. (see above about fatty acids)
  • multi-mineral supplement 
  • digestive enzyme that contains Betaine plus lipase, protease, amylase. These will help you absorb more nutrients from the foods you’re eating.
  • an anti-septic herb like olive leaf extract, black walnut, Humaworm, etc. because bad gut bugs are a common cause of low iron. 
  • stop stressing and find ways to relax and stop thinking about the hair loss. Stress will only cause more hormonal changes that won’t benefit you. 
  • get your cortisol and thyroid checked and treat as necessary.
  • stop using chemical-based hygiene and beauty products.
  • stimulate liver function by adding in beets, beet kvass, bitter greens, dandelion or alfalfa tea.
  • eliminate food allergens! This is a major cause of underlying hair loss!

Remember not to just start taking all of these. You have to first identify the cause of the hair loss and then work with a practitioner to decide which options are best. 

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