Advanced Hair? No Need. Emed Gets to the Root of Hair Loss…
Getting to the Root of Hair Loss
Hair is in a constant cycle of growth, rest and renewal. It is completely normal to lose some hair each day.
However, when hair loss is premature and severe it can be a significant source of stress.
A surefire way to dent a man’s ego is to point out that he is thinning on top.
‘Male pattern baldness’ is usually seen as a loss of hair at the top of the head.
It is basically due to a genetic predisposition (thank you very much mum and dad) and a hormonal imbalance of androgens.
Androgen sensitive hair follicles are usually located at the top of the scalp whilst androgen insensitive follicles are located at the back and the sides.
This is what gives men that horse-shoe pattern of hair, and tempts them to try the rarely successful comb over.
Although somewhat of a taboo subject, ‘female diffuse baldness’ is also extremely prevalent.
In 2009 estimates asserted that 1 in 4 American women are affected with female pattern baldness, and about 55% of Australian women will experience it in their lifetime.
The combination of genetic susceptibility, with hormonal imbalances, stress or effects of certain drugs can be responsible for baldness in women.
Quick science lesson – The How’s and Why’s
Hereditary (genetic) hair loss in men and women is known as androgenetic hair loss.
Androgenetic hair loss is caused by a genetic predisposition for certain hair follicles to produce an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.
This enzyme combines with testosterone in the follicle and transforms in into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This is the same potent form of testosterone that we deem responsible for prostate enlargement.
DHT accumulation shrinks and eventually shuts down the hair follicle.
Women do not have as much 5 alpha reductase or testosterone as men, which is why female pattern baldness usually progresses more slowly, but they have higher levels of the enzyme aromatase (especially at their frontal hairline).
The aromatase enzyme in women may help to explain why the presentation of female hair loss is different than in males, particularly with respect to the preservation of the frontal hairline.
Autoimmune link to losing hair
Another form of hair loss is known as Alopecia Areata.
This is an autoimmune T cell mediated chronic inflammatory disease that affects the hair follicle and results in baldness in both men and women.
Has Shane Warne Got The Answers?
Medical Science is now offering many different ways for people to keep their hair for longer.
Some claim to be able to keep you from going bald at all (Advanced Hair Studios have repeatedly gotten in trouble by the Advertising Standards Authority for inferring they can cure baldness in their Shane Warne ads).
Medical Treatment – A Run Down of the Usual Suspects
Surgical treatment involving hair transplantation first become popular in the 1950s.
Originally large plugs of hair were used and often led to unnatural looking results.
Nowadays, very small plugs of skin are used, containing 1 to 5 hairs each. The results are much better – but this treatment is hugely expensive and not appropriate for everyone.
There are also possible complications of a hair transplant including infection, bleeding, scarring and of course, unsatisfactory cosmetic results.
Non surgical treatments include lotions and tablets.
Minoxidil lotion has been available in Australia since the 1970s. A number of different brands are available over-the-counter from pharmacies without a prescription – most of us have heard of ‘Rogaine’.
Adverse reactions include irritation of the skin, itching, contact dermatitis and dryness of the scalp or flaking.
Funnily, this ingredient is used in internal hypertensive medication and we are warned to tell our doctor if we are on any blood pressure drugs while using Minoxidil lotion – makes you wonder how much you are absorbing through your skin and what else this drug could be affecting?
Finasteride is the active ingredient in the hair loss treatment Propecia. Propecia has been available in Australia since the late 1990s via a prescription from your doctor.
Propecia blocks the 5-alpha reductase enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. By doing this, it lowers the concentration of DHT in the bloodstream and helps reduce the hormone from reaching hair follicles that are genetically programmed to be sensitive to DHT, helping to slow or stop hair loss.
The only problem with this is that the side effects of this super strong drug are quite scary.
Because Propecia affects male hormones, it can also cause breast growth and tenderness and testicular pain. Some men who have taken Propecia have experienced mental effects, brain fog and depression, as well as sexual side effects including low libido, erectile dysfunction and decreased arousal.
Although Propecia’s manufacturer, Merck, says that these side effects will stop once the men stop taking the drug, some Propecia users have found that isn’t so.
In fact, a study of 71 men who took Propecia revealed that over 90% of them had sexual side effects, and that those side effects continued even years after discontinuing the medicine.
Spironolactone tablets have been widely used to treat high blood pressure and fluid retention in Australia since the 1960s. As Spironolactone can block the effect of androgen hormones, Doctors often prescribe it to women for hair loss.
The side effects of spironolactone (you may recognise it as aldactone) are many. They include headache, fatigue, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, weakness, nausea, indigestion, dry mouth, vomiting, impotence and reduced libido just to name a few.
Spironolactone also increases your risk of blood clots.
Cyproterone acetate also works to block androgens and was developed in the 1960s. It is also a weak progestogen and is used as part of some oral contraceptives (like Diane 35). Doctors prescribe this tablet for women with hair loss.
Cyproterone has a similar sinister set of side effects (say that 10 times fast!) as Spironolactone and Finasteride but also has a few bonus ones to look out for – hot flushes, insomnia, vaginal discharge, formation of breast milk, skin discolouration and liver inflammation.
So with all the treatment options out there and if the technology is so advanced, how come a cashed up mogul like Donald Trump wanders around with a dead possum on his head?
The reality is that each case of hair loss is different and there is no one size fits all approach.
Do your research to see whether a transplant is even appropriate for your type of hair loss and consider natural therapies before toying with the idea of taking dangerous pharmaceuticals for cosmetic reasons.
Unfortunately, despite many years of research, there is currently no effective means of regrowing hair from dead follicles at advanced stages of baldness.
The sooner you address any underlying triggers and give appropriate treatment, the better the results.
Other things to consider…
Thyroid Imbalance Leaving You Cold and Bald
One of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism (an under active thyroid) is hair loss.
Emed recommends regularly getting your thyroid hormone levels checked.
What if Your Pill is to Blame?
The contraceptive pill is driving a steady increase in the number of young women suffering hair loss.
Hair specialists assert that thinning hair, previously the misfortune of genetically unlucky pregnant and menopausal women, is being triggered by hormones in the pill.
The progesterone in certain pills can have a male hormonal effect on the hair.
If you are a young woman losing your hair and you are taking the oral contraceptive pill, speak to your doctor and Emed Practitioner.
The Bald Truth about Hair Extensions
Hair experts have agreed that when extensions are attached too close to the scalp or to too few strands of hair, they can put incredible tension on hair follicles in the scalp.
This then causes follicles to become inflamed and hair to fall out.
A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2009 reported that hair extensions could lead to permanent baldness and that the problem may be more common than publicised.
Did You Know?
According to recent research published in the Journal of Oncology, men who start going bald by the age of 20 are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer later in life.
By naturally addressing many of the causative factors of hair loss early on, this may therefore have a beneficial effect on prostate health.
Protect your hair with these lock-loving nutrients
Protein – Hair is made up of protein, so it is vital that you are getting enough protein in your diet.
B Vitamins – B vitamins promote good blood circulation to the scalp, improving hair strength and preventing hair loss and premature greying. Vitamins B2, B5 and B6 strengthen the hair follicle, whereas vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies have been scientifically linked to increased hair loss.
Biotin – A deficiency of biotin may be associated with hair loss, as biotin helps cross link proteins in hair and nails.
Iron – Hair loss can be the sign of an iron deficiency. Get your blood levels of iron checked regularly.
Vitamin A – Vitamin A plays a role in the production of sebum, which is secreted by the hair follicles. It is an essential nutrient for the skin and hair.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C protects the hair follicle from oxidative damage and supports connective tissue growth.
Vitamin E – This hydrates and stimulates blood circulation to the scalp.
Selenium – A deficiency in the trace mineral selenium can result in poor hair growth.
Silica – Silica is an important mineral that stimulates growth and strengthens the hair.
Zinc – Zinc is required for healthy skin, hair and nails, it also prevents tissue damage and improves immune function.
Essential Fatty Acids – Essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6 hydrate the hair follicle, preventing breakages and hair loss.
Herbs to Halt Hair Loss
Ginkgo Biloba – This herb assists in the prevention of loss of hair by increasing circulation to the head and thereby delivering nutrients to the hair follicle and stimulating hair growth.
Green Tea – Many herbalists use Green Tea to decrease the risk of adrenogenetic hair loss as it is rich in catechins that are believed to inhibit the enzyme 5 alpha reductase.
Panax Gingseng – This herb can be useful to manage stress induced hair loss as well as strengthening and nourishing hair with its circulatory stimulating properties.
Saw Palmetto – A study, published in the July issue of Advances in Therapy, revealed that a saw palmetto extract (SPE), SP-085, is as effective as the standard prescription drug ‘finasteride’ in blocking the critical enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. However, it does not have all of the terrible side effects that Finasteride does.
Stinging Nettle – This herb may also help inhibit conversion of testosterone to DHT.
Talking to your Emed Practitioner about which products would be best suited to your type of hair loss.
Some products to help balance androgens include:
What Else Can I Do?
Stay Cool and Stress Less
US researchers were looking at how stress affects the gut and realised that they could regrow hair in mice when they blocked a stress related hormone.
Stub It Out to Save Hair
A recent report from the medical journal Archives of Dermatology suggests that cigarette smoking may be linked to damaged blood supply to the hair follicle.
Look at Your DNA
By finding out your genetic profile you can tailor your hair loss treatment for a more effective outcome.
Some Perspective – Not Just The Bald and The Beautiful
It is a moment many men dread – the barber asks if they want a haircut to help disguise their bald spot.
For women, it can be equally if not more distressing to realise they are losing their hair.
The psychological effect can be really profound.
Traditionally, hair seems to represent a symbol of health, vitality, fertility and beauty – when it starts falling out it can be a reminder of our mortality.
The loss of hair may have the power to dent our self confidence, but should it change the way we are perceived by others?
No it should not.
So keep in mind folks, bald can be beautiful.