Hair loss isn’t something only men have to deal with. Up to 40 percent of complaints about hair loss actually come from women. Seeing a little — or a lot — of extra hair in the drain can not only be very upsetting for women, it can also be a sign of an underlying imbalance in the body that needs to be addressed.
If you’ve noticed your hair falling out more than usual, read on to find out what may be causing it, and what you can do about it.
Excess of, or sensitivity to, the hormone androgen
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the number one cause of chronic, progressive hair thinning in women is androgenetic alopecia. This condition, thought to be genetic, is characterized by diffuse hair loss all over the scalp, especially on top. An excess of androgens, or “male” hormones, can cause this kind of hair loss, or it can be caused when hair follicles are overly sensitive to the androgens that naturally exist in the body. In either case, the natural solution is to balance hormones and reduce inflammation in the scalp and the body.
If an excess of androgens is the problem, cleaning up your diet by reducing sugar and refined grains and increasing your intake of veggies and healthy fats can be an enormous help. This kind of diet will also help hair loss by reducing inflammation in the body. To fight inflammation even further, try incorporating more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, walnuts, and chia seeds.
Scalp inflammation can be treated topically in the following way: Add two drops of peppermint oil, two drops of rosemary oil, and two drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil. Massage the mixture into your scalp before you go to bed. Wash as normal in the morning with a natural shampoo or apple cider vinegar.
When it comes to hair health, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of eating a balanced, clean, whole-foods diet. Although just about any deficiency or imbalance in your diet can affect your hair, five of the most influential are the vitamins A, B-complex and E, and the minerals zinc and iron. Getting enough of these in your diet can do wonders for your hair and overall health. But before you reach for the bottle of supplements, try incorporating the following foods:
Vitamin A: meat, fish, dairy, cantaloupe, carrots, apricots, and dark leafy greens
B vitamins: red meat, fish, oats, and eggs
Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, avocados, and dark leafy greens
Zinc: shellfish, red meat, a variety of seeds, chocolate, and spinach
Iron: red meat, organ meat, seeds, and dark leafy greens
Are you noticing a pattern here? Pasture-raised red meat, fish, dark leafy greens and healthy fats are all GREAT for your hair.
Don’t let the shiny, thick hair you see in advertisements fool you. Many commercial shampoos and conditioners contain products that, over time, can actually irritate your scalp and lead to thinning hair. The biggest offenders are sulfates, which have been shown to damage hair follicles in studies on rats, and sodium chloride and isopropyl alcohol, which have both been linked to dry scalp and hair loss.
The solution for this one is easy. If you haven’t already switched to an organic shampoo with gentle, natural ingredients, now is the time! Shampooing with apple cider vinegar is also a popular, cheap, and effective way to clean your scalp and refresh your locks.
There are a myriad of other reasons for hair loss in women, so if none of the aforementioned causes rings true, you may want to consider talking to a health practitioner about other possibilities. These could include thyroid imbalances, weight loss, stress, pregnancy, menopause, and autoimmune disorders.
Although having a full head of hair is partially dependent on genetics, like all things health-related the health of your hair is highly influenced by your lifestyle and environment. So, if you take the time to be healthy overall, your hair will probably follow suit!
Teresa is a freelance writer and yoga teacher currently living in Sri Lanka. She loves to write about policies, ideas, and practices that promote a healthy planet and create healthy people.