How I Restored My Hair Loss
My Hair is Falling, My Hair is Falling….
Right before my sixty-third birthday, I noticed my hair was falling out all over the place. I swept up handfuls of hair, rescued globs of tangled masses from clogging my drains, and brushed it off me like a shedding Border collie. My dermatologist called it an “effluvium”—in Latin, the act of flowing. She said that sudden hair loss could be due to any number of problems.
Hormonal changes (estrogen and thyroid), genetic predispositions, hair follicle damage (we women are the masters of that with our flat irons and chemical treatments), as well as garden variety stress and acutely stressful events can make your hair thin, stop reproducing, and just plain fall out by the freaking handfuls.
Lupus and Alopecia are autoimmune diseases, which cause the immune system to attack healthy cells, including hair follicles. Unfortunately, these conditions are more serious than what I am addressing in this post. That said, everything you can do to nourish your body is going to help calm your immune system.
Stress was probably my issue, as I was going through a divorce at the time.
I began a campaign to grow back my hair—and over the next eighteen months, I rehabilitated my hair. Some of my methods may seem unconventional and expensive. But I would rather give up some of my indulgences and have my hair then have a closet full of new clothing and be wearing a wig!
Non-Shampoo: I quit using shampoo, which was too dehydrating for my hair. I started using WEN. There are other non-shampoos out there, so shop around and find one that works for you. I also stopped washing my hair as frequently. I work out a lot (and I’m a sweaty one), so either rinsed my hair, or used a squirt of organic hair conditioner between WEN washings.
Blow-drying: I used only the cool setting.
Hair Dye: Instead of giving up hair dye, I switched to doing it myself with a plant-based dye by Naturtint.
MSM: Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM)—an organic sulfur compound—is thought to build both collagen and keratin (that make up the structure of hair). Although there are no clinical trials proving that taking MSM improves hair health, there is also no evidence that MSM is toxic. The added bonus of taking MSM for older women is that it also helps rebuild cartilage as well as eases aches and pains caused by inflammation from working out. My orthopedic doctor had already recommended 5 grams twice a day (for my jogger knee). That’s 10 grams a day.
Low Carb/High Protein Diet: I eat around 60 grams of carb per day. Eating this way provides all the necessary building blocks to grow hair—amino acids, essential fatty acids, and micronutrients from vegetables, and pretty much eliminates junk (white stuff like sugar and bread). Veganism is probably the worst thing you can do for your hair. Red meat contains all essential amino acids (protein) as well as iron, a deficiency of which can lead to hair loss. You never want to take iron supplements without having your ferritin levels checked, as too much iron can cause iron overload leading to hemochromatosis, a heart damaging condition. Red meat also contains vitamin B-12, which is essential for hair growth. Note: I do not advocate the Paleo diet because it excludes dairy. (Eat organic only of course.)
Green Juice: I do not advocate Atkins because it excludes bales of veggies.
I have been drinking green vegetable juice for nearly 15 years—so I continued and highly recommend that to anyone who wants to improve hair and skin.
Good Fats: I upped consumption of good fats—butter, cod liver oil, coconut oil, olive oil. Butter is rich in Vitamins A, E, D, and K, lauric acid, lecithin, selenium, conjugated linoleic acid, Activator X (helps your body absorb minerals and for a healthy thyroid), cholesterol (must have for healthy cell growth). Butter also contains arachidonic acid, which acts somewhat like Minoxidil in promoting scalp vasodilation.
Cod Liver Oil: A source of omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory and can help to open the hair follicles, promoting healthy hair growth.
Bovine Gelatin: Great Lakes or Bernard Jenson NOT Knoxx, which is from poisoned animals. Bovine gelatin is collagen, so it builds connective tissue in hair, skin, and nails. You can pour some into your protein drinks or stir it into a little bit of Kombucha.
Coconut Oil: Consuming and using it as a hair conditioner. Coconut oil is a nectar of the gods for hair, containing Vitamin E, vitamin K and iron which all promote hair growth. Lauric acid in coconut oil binds protects hair roots and strands of hair from breakage. Coconut oil moisturizes hair and protects roots and hair shafts.
Olive Oil: Consuming olive oil supplies your body with building blocks for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that support healthy hair growth (oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, linolenic acid). Hair loss can be due to the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is blocked when olive oil is applied to the scalp, so I regularly massaged olive oil into my scalp.
Laser Helmet: The IGrow laser light helmet used in promoting hair growth is defined as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT). Do I look like a total geek sitting there with my helmet on? Yes. But it really helped grow back hair thicker.
Plasma Rich Platelet (PRP): Blood contains stem cells, which are growth factors that assist in tissue regeneration and healing. Although PRP injections have been used to assist in the regrowth of cartilage and for tendon repair and other sports and degenerative related injuries, injections into the scalp for hair regeneration are a new trend.
Biotin: On the advice of the doctor who performed the PRP, I began taking 10,000 mcg of biotin a day. Although you can get biotin in eggs and cucumbers, 10,000 mcg is a therapeutic dose for hair regrowth.
Stress: My divorce is final and I’m in love, and my hair is growing in. Addressing stress—including leaving a bad relationship—may be the best thing you can do for your hair.
Peace, Fun, Love.
Nancy is a novelist, memoirist, and best-selling author of numerous books of the health genre. She is a weight-loss and anti-aging expert. Like millions of women of her generation, Nancy is busy living her killer third act. She is the founder and director of Yoga for Incarcerated Women, a volunteer group that takes yoga and meditation to women serving jail and prison sentences. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her whippet, Scarlett.