A typical adult has a hair count of about 100 000, and sheds an average of 50 – 100 hairs every day. Under normal circumstances, new hair grows to replace those that are shed, hence maintaining a full head of hair at all times. When hair loss becomes excessive, it can become a concern for many people. While it is definitely not a life-threatening condition, the self-esteem and self-image of those who suffer from hair loss can take a big blow.
Fortunately, not all types of hair loss lead to permanent baldness. Temporary hair loss could be caused by several factors; some common ones include: illness, hormonal imbalance, medications, medical treatments, poor nutrition, surgery, pregnancy and childbirth. Depending on the nature and cause of the baldness, the correct treatment may help to improve the chances of growing back your hair.
The following are a number of natural treatments that have proved useful to reduce hair loss and restore hair growth.
Consume sufficient protein in the diet. Protein deficiency is one of the main causes of hair loss and thinning. Protein is vital for tissue repair and growth; it is the basic substance used to "replace" old or dead cells. Next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in our body.
The building blocks of protein are amino acids. When you consume protein, your digestive system breaks it down into amino acids. Different amino acids are required for the construction of different body tissue, antibodies, hormones, enzymes, and blood cells. L-Cysteine and L-Methionine, found in high amounts in egg yolks, are the amino acids that form keratin, the protein structure of hair.
Studies have shown that supplementing with these amino acids may prevent hair loss (Trüeb 2010), and increase the thickness of the hair shaft. In fact, these amino acids have been found to increase hair growth by up to two-fold.
While a well-balanced diet is important, there are certain nutrients that are especially crucial for healthy hair growth. A deficiency of these nutrients may contribute to hair loss. If you are losing a large amount of hair, increase these nutrients in your diet:
B-complex, especially biotin: Egg yolks, milk, meat, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, saltwater fish, and whole grains
Vitamin A: Broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, fish liver oil, yellow squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, peaches, and cantaloupes
Vitamin C: Camu camu, citrus fruits, green vegetables, and berries
Zinc: Pumpkin seeds, oysters, and nuts
Silica: Cucumber and oats
Iron: Seaweed, parsley, tofu, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Tuna, salmon, and flaxseed
Aromatherapy has been found to help reduce the incidence of thinning hair, hair loss and bald spots. (Hay et al 1998) Certain essential oils like ylang ylang, roman chamomile, rosemary, lemon, lavender, grapefruit, and bay have properties that help stimulate the scalp and encourage the growth of new healthy hair.
You may wish to try this blend:
Massage the mixture into your scalp for at least two minutes, then wrap with a warm towel to help your scalp absorb the oils.
Just as a good body massage can help to relieve aches and pain by bringing oxygen-rich blood to damaged, stiff muscles, a good scalp massage can help improve hair growth by increasing blood flow to your hair follicles. As mentioned previously, the effects can be further enhanced by using the right combination of essential oils.
To combating hair loss and stimulate new hair growth, give yourself a three minute head massage daily. Ensure that you use your fingertips as opposed to your nails. This helps to prevent traction alopecia or hair loss due to friction.
Written by Tiffany Wee, Nutritionist at Verita Advanced Wellness © 2012 Verita Advanced Wellness. This article has been published with the permission and courtesy of Verita Advanced Wellness, a partner of Great Eastern Live Great Programme.
Hay IC, Jamieson M, Ormerod AD. (1998), Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata. Archives of Dermatology,134(11):1349-52.
Treb, R. M. (2010), Systematic approach to hair loss in women. JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft, 8: 284–297. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2010.07261.