Hair loss I consider to be a symptom of poor energy balance. In thinking about this we need to consider energy delivery mechanisms (mitochondrial, adrenal , thyroid and gut function together with diet). We must also think about how energy is wasted (immunological and emotional holes in the energy bucket). Indeed this poor balance probably explains the loss of hair which is part of the ageing process.
Indeed chemotherapy, which targets energy delivery systems, often results in hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is due to testosterone.
The starting point to treat hair loss is the Basic Package of treatment namely the Stone Age, or better still the Paleo Ketogenic, diet, nutritional supplements, good quality sleep, the right balance between work and exercise and detoxing.
The two common types of hair loss I see are diffuse loss of hair, whereby hair falls out diffusely from all over the scalp, and focal loss, where there is a very well defined area of complete baldness. Focal loss is most often caused by autoimmunity (alopecia areata). It is similar to the process of vitiligo in the skin. The latter often responds well to a combination of high dose folic acid 5 mg and B12 5,000mg sublingually or better still 500 mcg injected daily, and this would be well worth trying in alopecia areata.
Common causes of diffuse hair loss and helpful interventions
This is a very common cause of diffuse hair loss. Typically, the outer third of the eyebrows are often lost. See Hypothyroidism.
Almost any micronutrient deficiency could present with hair loss. This is because the manufacture of hair is a very energy dependent, micronutrient dependent process. An obvious illustration of this can be seen in people having radiotherapy or chemotherapy for cancer, in which case the hair cells are easily damaged and sufferers lose their hair.
Micronutrient deficiency can occur because of poor quality diet, but people eating a stoneage, or paleo ketogenic, diet and taking my standard recommendations for nutritional supplements can avoid most deficiencies. See Nutritional Supplements and Stone Age Diet. In fact, more often I now prescribe the ketogenic diet - please see Ketogenic diet - the practical details and My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds.
Hypochlorhydria and lack of pancreatic enzymes (tested for with "Pancreatic elastate" test - not currently available) will mean that food is inefficiently digested and absorbed. Trace elements in particular need an acid environment for optimum absorption and lack of this acid is a common cause of iron deficiency anaemia. Iron is carried in the blood by a carrier protein called ferritin and low levels of ferritin can certainly result in hair loss. Tea drinking can cause mineral deficiency because tea chelates trace elements. If somebody’s hair goes grey at a young age, this is typical of B12 deficiency and possible pernicious anaemia. Interestingly, copper deficiency can present with Menkes kinky hair syndrome, where the hair is unusually kinked.
Infections in the scalp
This is usually obvious because the skin is roughened or eczematous. The commonest reasons for this are yeast infections, which can be got rid of by dint of doing a low carbohydrate diet combined with antifungals such as Griseofulvin, Lamisil, the conazole range of drugs, or even topical ketoconazole (Nizoral shampoo).
In structure, hair is very similar to connective tissue needed to make joints in the body. All the raw materials for this are present in my Joint mix, namely glucosamine, boron and organic silica. Indeed, the best source of organic silica in UK is in horsetail – so named because of its beneficial effects on the tails of horses.
Topical vasodilators, which improve blood flow to the scalp, are of proven benefit in hair loss. The one best known is Minoxidil, but it is rather expensive. The problem is that one has to use them constantly, even once the hair is grown, otherwise the hair simply falls out again.
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