Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in these newsletters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nutristart Vitamin Company.
In acknowledgement of the re-issuing of my book on hair loss (previously titled “Hair Loss Prevention” now called “Healthy Body, Healthy Hair”, by Ken Peters and Nick Waddell) from Apple Publishing, I shall devote this article to the subject.
When consulting with someone concerned about hair loss, the first thing I suggest is that they read the book, not simply to drive the sales up, but because the subject is so complex that it cannot be covered in a simple discussion, nor in a 3 page newsletter. A deficiency in any one vitamin, mineral or fatty acid can be contributory, as can be the issue of simply choosing the wrong shampoo and conditioner. To me the main issue is dietary. For example too much salt, protein or sugar can all be problematic, as can other dietary indiscretions. By looking at the overview offered in such a book, we can piece together the issues that relate to each individual and find their dietary, nutritional and lifestyle choices that are linked to poor hair health. Nonetheless, there are some basics that can be covered, and that is what we will do here.
First off, I would like to announce that I know how to cure baldness (in men). In fact the secret was discovered following WorldWar1: castration. Unfortunately such a cure tends to remove the need for hair, as the sex drive then ceases. And let’s be honest here: the only reason we are obsessed with hair is that it is a secondary sexual attribute. It indicates the health and vitality that are benchmarks of attractiveness. This discovery that balding men accidentally castrated by war wounds would thereafter grow back their head-hair, did lead us to the current theory about the cause of male pattern baldness (which relates to a degree to women as well.)
Castration leads to almost total depletion of testosterone in the body, and we now believe that a breakdown byproduct of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone is responsible for male pattern baldness. Interestingly, it is also responsible for benign prostate hypertrophy, the common male complaint related to swollen prostate and getting up at night to urinate. So it stands to reason that the products used to treat a swollen prostate would generally also be good for hair loss. These are substances used to prevent the breakdown of testosterone into DHT and include saw palmetto, pygeum and nettle root. Likewise drugs that are used to treat prostate inflammation are also now being marketed for hair loss.
Now, what about women? Well, by the time a woman is reaching menopause she can find herself in the same boat as a man (only without a prostate). As her ovaries decline in their production of estrogen, leading to many symptoms associated with menopause, the relative amount of testosterone in her blood proportionally increases. In fact as a man ages his testosterone declines and his estrogen elevates, so that an aging hetero-couple has a hormonal profile that hasn’t been that close since early childhood.
But why is the testosterone breaking down? This problem seems to be found mainly in the western world, and in those who adopt our eating patterns. We know that cholesterol is used to make sex hormones and that the body produces 70% of it’s own cholesterol. So why would a, slightly, higher cholesterol level than the rest of the world (since we can only add 30% from our diets) cause Westerners to have more hair loss. Well, studies have shown that meat raises testosterone, unlike other plant-based protein sources, and the West is unprecedented in the amount of meat that it consumes.
And the meat is from unhealthy stressed animals. Some countries like to torture their dogs before they kill them because they like the extra adrenaline in the meat (hey, don’t blame me: I’m vegetarian. As far as I’m concerned they are all tortured one way or another in factory farming and I would no more eat a cow than your dog). And stress and adrenaline seems to be the second part of the puzzle. Stress produces anabolic hormones in both men and women adding more testosterone to the mix. The problem with stress in our culture is that it is continuous. Whereas our ancestors, and animals, produce these hormones only when in a “flight-or-fight” situation, we are under constant low-level stress in a city environment. From the buzz of machines in the job-place to the sirens sounding throughout the day and night, we are constantly stressed by modern living. Watching the News, resenting the job, arguing with the spouse, fighting traffic, etc, add up to being on an I.V. adrenaline drip for most of our lives.
This might be a good time to mention that NutriStart has just released the revised version of EnergyStart, our adrenal support product. Rebuilding the exhausted adrenal glands, with herbs known as adaptogens, serves to lower cortisol levels and to balance out the sex hormones. Healthy adrenals are less likely to over-react to stress and so will produce less harmful amounts of these anabolic hormones. The ensuing lower cortisol levels means less abdominal fat storage, and higher DHEA production means a woman can naturally get her estrogen back up to a healthy level, compensating for the declining function of the ovaries.
What about younger people? Hair loss seems to be getting more common amongst the younger as well. Years ago scientists in Finland came out with the announcement that declining fertility rates around the world were partially linked to commercial shampoos. The toxins in these chemical soups were so bad that they were compromising immunity and fertility (and these two are intimately related.) Think in terms of hypothermia. During this process (of freezing to death) the body pulls blood back from the extremities to protect the heart and brain. In life if the body is overburdened by toxins and/or undernourished, it stops wasting resources on the least important bodily functions, and that starts at hair and skin, and ends up at immunity and fertility.
In fact alopecia areatea, which involves total loss of all body hair, is considered to be an autoimmune condition, revealing at least a link between immune function and hair. I have a suspicion that blood type may have something to do with this condition. As regular readers of this newsletter are aware, I believe the blood type diet to be related to a number of diseases that are considered to be auto-immune (See: Newsletter #3: Arthritis and The Blood Type Diet). This is because the “lectins” from common foods trigger an anti-body response when they get into the bloodstream, and this seemingly auto-immune response could be from something as simple as too much chicken in the diet (but only for certain blood types, for another blood type it could be lentils, etc.)
The other problem with shampoos is that they can irritate and inflame the scalp, and as the skin swells it chokes off the follicles, impeding the growth of the hair. Even in a health food store, most of the shampoos contain irritating detergents (such as sodium lauryl sulfate) and chemical preservatives. Imagine just how bad more commercial shampoos are, especially cheap ones. Also ask yourself how long humans have been taking hot, chlorine-laced, detergent-riddled showers daily. Aside from stripping off our natural oils we are also damaging our acid-mantle, which is the skin’s equivalent of the friendly flora in the intestinal tract. This acid-mantle is maintained by proper skin pH, and is a first line of defense against invasive bacteria. One current approach to hair loss does include anti-microbial shampoos (or the topical use of colloidal silver) based on the idea that bacterial or fungus living on the scalp can contribute to such problems. Rinsing with diluted apple cider vinegar or 3% hydrogen peroxide can help maintain the proper skin pH for sustaining your acid mantle. Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap also claims to do this.
The only simple thing I have to offer the concerned client is the silica solution. Sometimes a good amount of hair loss is simply caused by the hair shaft breaking. This can be a byproduct of the aforementioned damaging shampoos or simply caused by a lack of silica in the body. In either case, one examines the fallen hairs from a brush or pillow and checks to see if there is a white root attached or not. If a fair amount of the hair has not fallen from the scalp but rather has snapped off, then taking a good silica supplement will prevent this from occurring, and as well will thicken the hair shaft. The best choices seem to be silica derived from horsetail or bamboo, or orthosilicic acid. Silica has the added benefit of preserving and rebuilding bone density and keeping your skin and arteries elastic.
And, gentlemen, if we must go bald, let us go graciously, not with the comb-over, but as Bruce Willis taught us, with the buzz-cut. It’s practical, hip and even a little bit sexy. Thank you Bruce.
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