Your Doctor Recommended 13 Steps To Reverse Hair Loss
We age and our hair thins. Does it have to be this way? Maybe not – here are 13 steps to reverse hair loss.
A LOT of things begin to change as we age, but possibly none are as evident as thinning hair, the great march to baldness.
Raging inflammation and soaring blood sugar may be happening inside our bodies as we get older – and to some extent, both increase with age – but no one can see that. What is evident is that once splendid lion’s mane sheds, follicle after follicle till it approximates the tresses of a mole rat.
Frankly, I’m unhappy about my hirsuteness, or lack thereof. I’m in a wrestling match with Male Pattern Baldness (“MPB”) and it’s trying to pin me to the mat and scrape away the last visage of my peacock plumage.
What to do?
Well, if we understand the causes of MPB and, more generally — androgenic alopecia — responsible for about 95% of hair loss — then perhaps we can root around to find the cure.
Spoiler Alert: There is no known cure, per se, as in dunk your head in that vat of herb-infused potion and tomorrow you’ll have full, lustrous head of hair.
That said, there are things you can do, at least 13, which I’ll address in a moment, but first, let’s touch on why androgenic alopecia happens.
Thanks to the National Library of Medicine’s Genetics Home Reference, we know this about androgenic alopecia:
- For men, the hair loss beginning above both temples, and progressively the hairline recedes to form a characteristic “M” shape. Hair also thins near the top of the head, often progressing to partial or complete baldness; whereas for women the hair becomes thinner all over the head, the hairline does not recede, and (happily) rarely leads to baldness.
- For men, it’s associated with several medical conditions such as coronary heart disease and enlargement of the prostate, prostate cancer, disorders of insulin resistance (such as diabetes and obesity), and high blood pressure (hypertension); whereas in women, this form of hair loss is associated with an increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), characterized by a hormonal imbalance that can lead to irregular menstruation, acne, excess hair elsewhere on the body (hirsutism), and weight gain.
But what’s the culprit?
Turns out, mainly, it’s hormonal.
Hormone Dysfunction Can Cause Hair Thinning and Baldness
If you think about it, that hormones play a part in hair thinning and baldness makes a heap of sense, because a lot the dysfunction and imbalances experienced as we age stems from hormone disharmony:
- In our early twenties, Human Growth Hormone declines. (Here’s how to boost it.)
- DHEA levels step down from twenty onward. (More on DHEA.)
- For men in their mid thirties, the decline in testosterone slopes down faster. (Pump it up naturally.)
- For women in their mid thirties, the heretofore constant ratio of estrogen to progesterone begins to widen and keeps widening until their mid-fifties. (Read this.)
- Thyroid, cortisol and insulin functions become more compromised as we grey.
Hair doesn’t escape the vagaries of hormonal disruption. In this case, it’s a potent androgenic hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
With alopecia, enzymes involved in steroid metabolism called “5-alpha reductase” are involved with the conversion of testosterone to DHT. High DHT levels produces hair follicle damage, causing progressive thinness as the follicle goes into dormancy. At this point, there is complete hair loss at the follicle.
You may have head of DHT. It’s often discussed as an issue associated with prostate issues, and is thereby associated with men, but DHT can affect androgenic alopecia in women as well.
Dr. Bernard Arocha says that men can have a genetically predisposed sensitivity to DHT. About 5% of the serum testosterone in most men is converted to DHT by that 5-alpha reductase enzyme. To those with the inherited sensitivity, DHT acts like a toxin on the hair follicles along the temples and mid-anterior scalp, undermining the absorption of nutrients and causing progressive miniaturization, which is when the growth phase of the follicles is shortened.
High DHT levels produces damage among the hair follicles. This causes the hair to thin until the follicle goes into dormancy. At this point, there is complete hair loss at the follicle.
Normal hair loss is not noticeable because the amount lost is a small fraction of the total, but for men with DHT sensitivity, gradually the growth phases of the hair follicles become so short that they grow only very fine, almost colorless hair until the miniaturization is complete and they produce none at all.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of the popular Dr. Oz TV show, focuses on three potential issues when it comes to women patients experiencing hair loss, two of which are hormonal: thyroid and blood sugar. (The third is iron levels, which we’ll get to.)
In an article he penned called, The Plan to Reverse Hair Loss, Dr. Oz writes that:
- The thyroid is the centerpiece of your metabolism, and if underactive (Hypothyroidism), the metabolism slows down and the hair loss accelerates.
- Elevated blood glucose is indicative that insulin resistance is present in the body, a prediabetic condition that disrupts hormonal balance. When this happens, you can often feel more tired, gain belly fat, and your hair may become thinner. What’s more, this hormonal shift increases inflammation in the body, further accelerating hair loss.
At this point, what we’ve covered is that thinning hair/baldness (androgenic alopecia and MBP) is caused and/or influenced by genetic factors and hormone imbalances, such as DHT (too much), Thyroid (too little) and Insulin (too much).
Up next is a look at a mix of solutions that address these root causes of thinning hair and balding.
13 Steps To Reverse Hair Loss
These 13 steps are recommended by Dr. Josh Axe, Dr. Memhet Oz and Dr. Andrew Weil.
Dr. Axe speaks about his six steps, or “secrets for reversing hair loss and balancing hormones” right here in this video:
What he said was this, the first six of the 13 steps to reverse hair loss:
- Saw Palmetto is an herb that’s been shown to block DHT. Supplement with 1500mg per day.
- Adaptogenic Herbs help your body adapt and deal with stress, balance hormones and reduce cortisol levels (also known as the aging hormone). Ashwaganda and Rhodiola are two of the adaptogenic herbs that help stop and reverse hair loss, but better than that, they can help to substantially reduce systemic stress. Take 500mg of each per day. (Read about Ashwaganda here.)
- Pumpkin Seed Oil is packed with zinc, which has been shown to stop hair loss. Supplement with 1 tablespoon per day. Dr. Axe didn’t mention it, but in one particular study researchers found that 44% of the group taking pumpkin seed oil slightly or moderately improved hair growth, while 51% were unchanged. This was an excellent result given that in the placebo group, 28% had increased baldness and 64% were unchanged, while only 7.7% were slightly or moderately improved in hair growth. You may also be interested in an informative article about how pumpkin seed oil may grow hair posted on HairLossRevolution’s site entitled, Is Pumpkin Seed Oil an Effective Hair Loss Treatment.
- B-Complex Vitamins – Biotin helps thicken your hair naturally and Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) supports your adrenal glands.
- Zinc boosts your immune system and repairs your gut.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oil) reduce inflammation and balance hormones. Buy the highest quality fish oil you can afford. (I use Carlson’s)
Note: You can overdo it with zinc, so make sure that the total zinc ingested from pumpkin seed oil and the zinc supplements do not exceed the Mayo Clinic’s daily recommendations shown here as they relate to age, gender, physical condition and objective.
We continue with Dr. Oz’s hair growing recommendations, 7 thru 11 of the 13 steps to reverse hair loss:
- Eat foods that reduce inflammation and improve glucose levels. Start by removing inflammatory foods such as simple carbohydrates, added sugar, alcohol and dairy. (Check out the Anti-inflammatory Food Pyramid.) Then improve glucose levels with a low-glycemic diet high in fiber, healthy fats and protein – all of which slows the digestion and absorption of the food consumed, resulting in a decrease in the rise of glucose and insulin after meals. At each meal, choose protein-rich foods like fish or beans, and balance that with foods rich in fiber, such as vegetables, beans and whole grains such as brown rice.
- Iron is critical for hair health, and iron deficiency is a very common cause of hair loss in women. Iron is a mineral you can over consume, so consider asking your doctor to do a full iron panel if hair loss is one of your concerns.
- Biotin is known as the hair vitamin, and as such, helps strengthen hair so it is less likely to break or fall off. You can get enough biotin to strengthen your hair with just two eggs a day. In addition, eggs are a good source of protein to help balance hormones and blood glucose.
- Vitamin D, a deficiency of which is linked to many health issues, including hair loss. It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin”) over the winter months – particularly if you’re a person of color — so consider supplementation. (Read 30 reasons to take it.)
- Minoxidil, an over-the-counter treatment that can be placed on the scalp in the thinning areas of the hair twice a day. It works directly at the hair follicle, and it’s proven to promote hair growth. This can start working immediately for people as they work to uncover the underlying imbalances in their body. It is generally recommended to give minoxidil four months to work. If you do not see any change within those four months, you can stop it and look for other therapies. (Kirkland brand is the least expensive that I’ve found.)
Finally to the avuncular Dr. Andrew Weil, who has a lot to say about eating to reduce inflammation, but adds just one noteworthy additional entrant to our list of 13 steps, number 13:
- Black-Currant Oil pressed from black currant seeds. This is a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that may help lessen a variety of symptoms, including those associated with:
- Autoimmune disorders (including lupus, eczema, and psoriasis)
- Hair problems including dryness, brittleness, thinning, or splitting
- Nail problems such as weak or brittle nails
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Inflammatory disorders
Available as gel caps, look for capsules containing at least 45 mg of GLA. Avoid topical oil preparations. Adults can take 500 mg, twice per day, and children should take half this amount.
Frequent readers and Subscribers know that I often conclude a blog post with a summary called “Your Takeaway”, but this time it’s “ours”, because I’m included.
I’m included because, as mentioned, I’m wrestling with this thinning hair thing myself, and although I routinely do most of the 13 recommendations listed above, there are a few that are prominently missing in my phantom Hair Building Protocol; namely:
- Saw Palmetto;
- Pumpkin Seed Extract; and
- Black Current Oil.
(Click any of the above images for more information.)
My intention is to add them to my ever-increasing list of supplements. I’ll let you know what happens.
For the rest of you, I recommend that you scan the list of 13 steps to reverse hair loss and choose those that you are most willing to do. Could be that it’s just one single lonely one thing. OK, do that one, and once it’s a habit, add another. And so on.
I toast your glorious mane!
P.S. Thirteen not enough? Read New Study: Bimatoprost Can Grow Hair On Your Head!