When we think of hair loss we often think of balding men who have lost their hair through specific genes, women who have lost hair after childbirth or ladies going through menopause. However, one we may not associate with hair loss but is actually one of the major triggers is stress.
Stress can relate to many situations. This includes childbirth, hormonal changes, emotional stresses, surgery, nutritional deficiencies (weakened defence against oxidative stress) and illnesses such as covid, which has become very common over the last 12 months.
The hair has 3 phases, Anagen: the active growth of the hair follicle, Catagen: the transitional phase which lasts 2-3 weeks where the hair growth stops, and Telogen: where the hair rests before shedding and the development of new hair begins.
When recovering from a fever or illness such as coronavirus, the stress can be so impactful that it negatively affects the hair cycle by prematurely pushing the hair from the growth phase (anagen) into the shedding phase (telogen). Noticeably thinning hair is generally found two to three months later and may last from 6-9 months. This is often referred to as Telogen Effluvium.
It’s also thought that during times of stress, our tissues become more acidic increasing their need for essential minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc, which may be drawn out from the hair follicles to buffer the acidity. The impact stress can have on our digestive system may result in the prevention of nutrient absorption, decreased immunity and reduced ability to synthesise important nutrients such as B vitamins.
If losing hair results in bald patches, this may be related to alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition. This is the result of the anagen phase being prematurely pushed into the catagen phase, signalling the end of the active growth of the hair. It is thought that this does not destroy the hair follicle, so the hair follicle still has the full ability to regenerate and continue cycling. However, the difficulty here is the development beyond the anagen phase, which seems to be the phase under attack from the immune system.
Other important factors which may result in hair loss include postpartum hormonal changes such as a decrease in oestrogen, low protein intake, heavy metal ingestions, excess testosterone/DHT, metabolic stress, hypothyroidism and certain medications.
Since stress is a major trigger for hair loss, how do we overcome the loss of our hair, without it exacerbating our stress levels even further? The psychosocial effects of hair loss and the lack of self-confidence can be difficult to deal with, so we have included some supplements below that may support you.
Hair is composed of a protein-like substance called keratin and requires a balanced diet for proper nourishment. Planet Paleo Bone Broth contains 8g of protein per cup, along with essential minerals such as glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, calcium and magnesium. It also contains 8000mg of collagen to supports gut integrity, immune function, minimise inflammation and support optimal absorption of nutrients, key for healthy hair and general wellbeing. This can be very easily added to soups, stews, sauces or just drank completely on its own.
Many of you can probably relate to the impact that stress can have on the digestive system. Between the gut and the brain, there is a bi-directional communication pathway called the microbiota-gut-brain axis. During times of stress, gut microbes can communicate to the central nervous system and trigger responses such as digestive discomfort, nervousness and low mood. Probiotics are living bacteria that when ingested can exert powerful benefits. There are many studies to support the effects on the immune system, improved tight junctions to allow for absorption of food, management of stress levels and mood improvement.
An excellent complex by Pure Encapsulations focusing heavily on supporting the Secretory IgA (SIgA) which serves as the first line of defense in the digestive system. Found in this complex is zinc and vitamin D which plays an important role in immune modulation, NAC which supports the production of our master antioxidant glutathione, vitamin C to encourage the natural production of collagen and additional antioxidants for protection of the hair follicles against oxidative damage and stress.
Reishi mushroom is one of the most powerful fungi to support the immune system. Studies have shown Reishi to increase intestinal integrity which is key for nutrient absorption and to reduce overall inflammatory responses. Reishi also supports blood circulation in the scalp with powerful antioxidant benefits, enhancing nutrient levels in the blood. Reishi also supports blood sugar balance which is important for minimising inflammation and protecting the hair follicles.
An expertly blended product by Pure Encapsulations, to support hair growth, glowing skin and strong nails. Containing vitamin C, zinc and silica which are integral collagen and keratin cofactors that are very important for the structure and growth of new hair.
Therapeutic dose of biotin that has been heavily studied for promoting hair growth, and reinforcing the keratin structure of both hair and nails. Additional antioxidant support with CoQ10 and grape seed extract to support hair growth and protect the hair follicle. Hair, Skin & Nails Ultra also contains extra collagen to further support the digestive system, immune response and absorption of all nutrients.
A really beautiful blend of adaptogenic herbs which are known to be helpful in managing stress levels, soothing the nervous system and supporting the adrenal glands to balance cortisol levels. Included in this blend is ashwagandha which has been used for years in Ayurvedic medicine to support immunity and minimise inflammation, rhodiola to balance stress response and minimise anxiety, green oat to support calmness, magnesium for relaxation and a few other lovely herbs to support circulation, clarity and general wellbeing.
A powerful dose of brilliant phytonutrients, proteins and botanicals to support immune function, digestive system and nervous system. Rich in B vitamins that are important for producing red blood cells and carrying oxygen to the hair follicles to allow for the generation of new hair. And also magnesium which is important for creating protein, cell division and minimising stress. Highly bioavailable food sources including alages, greens and vitamin C rich fruits, that your body will absorb, utilise and feel great for having.
Other important nutrients include iron which is essential for carrying oxygen to the cells and boosting circulation, however iron should only be supplemented if levels are low.
For thyroid support, please come in and speak to one of our fully trained members of staff who can advise you on supplementation. And lastly, for anyone who is losing hair due to excess testosterone/DHT, there are other beneficial options such as saw palmetto, which works to reduce the conversion of testosterone to DHT. However, please do speak to a member of our team so we can guide you in the right direction, and double-check there are no interactions with any medications.
If you'd like to speak to one of our Nutritional Therapy Team for individual advice please contact us. We recommend personalised one-to-one consultations to discuss the detail of your personal situation, and to allow for a full and personalised plan to be tailored to you. For more details on Nutritional Therapy click here.
Sarah-Lou is a Nutritional Therapist at Therapy Organics, providing expert qualified advice in one-to-one consultations, and offering advice in the shop.See more Articles by Sarah-Lou
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