Stopping Hairloss in Women

fullThis was my son and I way back in 2007.  Back when I had a fuller-head of hair and (shocker!) my natural color.  My hair wasn’t exceptionally thick or gorgeous, but it was my hair.

When I became pregnant then next year- it started.  The excessive shedding- day in and day out.  Ripping hair out of my brush, the shower drain, my vacuums belt, off my clothes…

So 6 years later I have about a third of the hair that I had here.  I’ve tried almost everything imaginable and I want to share my experiences.

I was honestly hesitant to write about this.  I tend to be a very open book of a person but this is still a ‘sore spot’ for me.  I suppose being a young woman losing her hair feels shameful.  None of my friends deal with it.  But I do notice (you know how women tend to study other women?  My eyes go right to hair!) other women out there with my problem.  I see you.  I offer up silent prayers for you.  I know you feel the same pain.  My desire to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated ultimately outweighs my self-preservation.

I am going to be very thorough.  I know that if I was reading a post about hair loss I would want every single detail!!  So I am going to write a ‘small book’ with everything I have learned and tried.

First I’ll address the common culprits-

  • stress
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • hormones

I have a fair amount of stress. I have a strong-willed son who has daily struggles with aspergers and ADHD. Some days are ‘thank you, Lord’ some are ‘Help me, Lord!’ Most days are a mix. I also have a very active and adventurous toddler who keeps me on the verge of a heart attack 😉 and the stress of my other sons daily struggle with serious skin problems. I manage my stress through my walk with Christ (prayer, bible-study, and worship soothe a frazzled heart like nothing else), good quality magnesium (citrate), essential oils, exercise, time with friends, talking with loved ones, etc.

If you are a young woman, hair loss is not normal. Other than the post-partum shedding which runs its course and then grows back. I suggest having a physical and getting your thyroid, hormones, and iron and vitamin D levels checked. Those seem to be the common culprits. I also have food intolerances which damaged my gut. If you have digestive problems and low energy you may need to cut out gluten, and possibly soy, dairy, and sugar.

I personally have had to cut out gluten, most grains, carrageenan and soy anything.  My gut is still healing.  I am building up my iron (I was anemic) and Vitamin D (they were super low) levels.  Since supplementing with them my hair loss has gone down dramatically.  I also eat  high fat, high protein diet with moderate-low carbs.  Hair is made out of protein.  If you aren’t eating enough, your hair is the first to go.  Good quality fat makes for beautiful glowing skin and shiny hair.  I eat a lot of dairy fat (butter, cheese, sour cream, half&half), coconut oil, evening primrose oil, and cod liver oil.  Other great foods for hair; pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, fruits, veggies, bone broths, and seafood.

You are probably like me and prone to inflammation.  Unfortunately, auto-immune disorders run in my family.  It may be genetic but did you know those genes can be ‘shut off’ with healthy living?  Your genes are important but do not necessarily have the final say.  You can calm down the inflammation in your body and bring you body into a state of healing and wellness.  I wrote a blog about a healthy lifestyle https://sierraschwartz.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/lean-healthy-in-2015/ check it out if you are interested!  I got to a point where I was desperate to get my health back.  I went from eating the SAD (standard American) diet to eating more of a paleo-nourishing traditions style diet.  I feel great and also like I am conquering and silencing my genes for thyroid disorder and lupus.

The most important aspect here is truly diet.  If you can get our diet right, everything else will be positively affected.

A good diet will also help with your hormones.  Eating too much ‘SAD’ food (vegetable oils, wheat, sugar) will ramp up inflammation, insulin and free androgens in your body.  It is a vicious cycle.  Keep inflammation down, keep insulin low, and your hormones will likely balance out.  We women need some androgens to stay healthy.  But if they get too high we can experience very troubling symptoms like hair loss.  Or we may have normal levels of testosterone (like me) but genetically our scalps are most sensitive to testosterone.

Did you know your scalp has androgen receptors?  It does.  When the receptors get the testosterone it causes the hair follicle to shrink and eventually stop producing hair.  You can naturally lower androgen levels.  Many doctors will prescribe birth control pills or spironolactone.  Both are ‘bandaid’ solutions that don’t address the underlying problem.  Plus they both can have serious side effects.  Plus many women experience devastating hair loss when they do stop taking the b.c. pill.  We don’t want to control our hormones artificially.  We want to support them naturally.

Supplements that I recommend which lower androgens naturally and safely (and also calm inflammation) are green tea, saw palmetto, turmeric, tart cherry, spearmint, licorice, lavender, and zinc.  Don’t take them all at once!  Use them in rotation, as part of a healthy lifestyle.  Watch your skin start to glow and your shower drain stop clogging.

You can use ‘bandaid’ products like rogaine or DHT-inhibiting shampoos.  I have.  I ultimately found that while they helped, the side effects were too much for me.  I much prefer a natural and healthy approach…

I also have some great clip-in hair extensions.  My wonderful mom treated me to them around Christmas.  We got them from a stand in the mall which was conveniently located in the food court. *eyeroll* I had quite an audience while the lady was putting them in.  One man came up and raved about how he couldn’t believe the transformation and how amazing I looked with the extensions.  Some one else said I looked years younger.  It was nice but also a hurtful reminder of how hard it is to deal with hair loss as a young woman.  So much of our identity is tied up in our looks and hair (or the absence of it) makes a big difference.

I’m not one to dwell in an on-going pity party.  I want to figure out a solution.  I feel like what I have listed is a good hunk of it.  As I learn more I will post more.

Are you a woman dealing with hair loss?  Please share your story.  Have you found anything that has helped you?

***Update***  Funny, yesterday I was actually feeling pretty down about my hair.  I recently dyed/processed my hair (I know, I know, I am a diy-er) and the shade turned out more ‘banana yellow’ than ‘honey blonde’.  Plus it is the thinnest it has ever been.  I just happened to discover this product- http://www.amazon.com/Tropic-Isle-Living-Jamaican-Castor/dp/B003COAFPQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top  via http://wellnessmama.com/35706/castor-oil-hair/

It is supposed to be a legitimate hair-growing miracle oil.  I read about ten glowing reviews and bought a bottle.  I am going to use it faithfully every night.  I’ll post results as I see them!

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