All about reversing hair loss in women:
You have Propecia, hair club for men, hair transplants and besides—you knew this was coming, didn’t you? In short, that’s the big difference.
Most of the women facing a hair loss situation that leads them to seek solutions did not expect to have to deal with it.
I’m not saying that it isn’t hard for you men. In fact, if I went bald I’d be first in line for some transplant action.
I’m just saying that if a woman in your life has hair loss, read this for her.
Even purchase some of the remedies for her because what’s written here is either scientifically proven or has quite a bit of anecdotal (word-of-mouth) success. Without further adieu, here is “all there is to know” about how to re-grow hair, ladies!
Why do women have hair-loss in the first place?
I’ll bet you’re asking yourself that question, already. I mean we are blessed with monthly menstrual periods, pregnancies, stretch marks, and a harder time losing weight. So, why can’t the guys have hair loss to themselves, right? Guys, you are only reading this for a woman in your life so don’t take offense—this is girl-talk. Well, friends, it’s something like 30 million American women (that’s right) who struggle with androgenic alopecia, meaning it’s usually related to elevated levels of DHT. DHT is a form of testosterone that can be blocked by drugs as you’ll read in a bit.
I say “usually” because many women do NOT have elevated levels of DHT (it’s easily measured) and still have the diffuse thinning of hair which is the difference between female and male hair loss. Note I’m not covering hair loss from stress, childbirth, illness, sleep deprivation, chemotherapy, birth control pills or the auto-immune disease called alopecia areata, in this article.
However, let me mention that hot styling tools, traction (tight braids and ponytails), hair dye and harsh shampoo chemicals can all add to hair loss and even cause it on their own. Of course, there are perms and extensions added into this mix too; although extensions “done correctly” can be harmless.
Specifically, this article is for the 30 million women with androgenic alopecia who groan at those hair commercials. Women-I think that, just as the models for mascara wear fake eyelashes (am I right?), the hair models have extensions. So, don’t compare yourself to them—just think of what your hair used to be like. Now, all of that said, some of the remedies I’ll discuss will work for post-chemo patients, people who lose hair to stress and other illnesses besides cancer. Let’s get to the remedies!
Medical treatments with positive studies:
Clinical studies on hair loss in women involve the concept of lowering or blocking DHT. 5% Rogaine is a topical prescription drug which comes in a cheaper generic form as well which has positive clinical studies. The potassium-sparing diuretic used by women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) called Aldactone also has positive studies.
The use of hydrocortisone scalp injections sounds “a bit much” indeed, but this practice has positive (hair-growing) clinical studies.
Medical conditions associated with hair loss:
Speaking of medical, when you start seeing your mane go down the drain (in Spain?) please do see your doctor for bloodwork and a check-up. Anemias, auto-immune disorders, silent hepatitis, kidney disease and (much more commonly) hypothyroidism can definitely cause hair loss. Unless you have inflammatory bowel disease, it is unlikely that you have B vitamin and mineral deficiences, but it’s possible and likely IF you have an inflammatory bowel disorder.
There’s something even more common than hypothyroidism which causes hair loss, and very few people are aware of it—which is rather astounding to me. Let me explain. First of all, did you know that heartburn is caused by a lack, not an excess, of stomach acid? Indeed, it’s true. I know you will have a hard time believing that, but it is true. I know you trust Dr. Mercola, and here’s his blog about it.
Do pay attention to this. If you have been treating your heartburn with common heartburn drugs like proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s) you will have gastric atrophy AND chronically low stomach acid, right? You bet, right. In fact, the PPI folks don’t have this listed as a side effect. I guess the FDA hasn’t caught up with them yet! The right way to get rid of heartburn is with digestive enzymes containing betaine, and sometimes more betaine is added. This might be all the treatment you need if heartburn or chronic PPI use is your “history.” Further, a “folk remedy” which sometimes works for low stomach acid is a TBSP of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar prior to meals instead.
Non-drug nutritional therapies with decent studies:
Vitamin D (always with vitamin K2) will help. In addition, all of the B vitamins, especially biotin will do the same. Doses as high as 5000 mg of biotin have been studied, looking for hair growth and indeed, it will possibly help! Be aware if you take the sum total of all studies, biotin gets the “press,” but you certainly need niacin (B3), B12 and the “other B’s” too. There’s no “hard evidence” for biotin over the rest of the B’s, but some women do swear by biotin. I’d go with a B-complex rather than only biotin here. Furthermore, there is also good evidence for hair-help from fish oils, curcumin, and (maybe-maybe/not) iron and zinc.
Nutritional therapies with enough anecdotal evidence to be believable:
You’ve heard of MSM for arthritis, right? Well, many women swear by it for hair re-growth. Evening primrose oil is another folk remedy gaining lots of traction too. Sometimes things don’t get studied because there’s no money in it. Always remember that when assessing “natural remedies.” There are enough people praising increasing protein intake (specifically whey protein it seems) while decreasing carbs (this makes sense-starchy carbs are inflammatory) to stimulate hair growth as well. Lastly, a proline-containing bone broth is good for skin, hair, and nails (this one I personally believe is true). I say this, knowing that there are no positive studies on oral collagen.
Natural treatments with some chatter:
I’ll reveal a few therapies some women swear by, but there are no studies. It can’t hurt! There’s hair/scalp treatment with the Ayurvedic preparation bhringraj oil. Directions for using this seem to be to massage it on the scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes to 2 hours before shampoo.
A popular “hair mask” recipe going around New York and L.A. is to take coconut oil, an egg and the contents of a good vitamin packet and mix them all together, then massage the mixture into hair and scalp 30 minutes before shampoo. I don’t know about this having hair growth effects, but it sounds like a great way to pre-condition chemically treated hair once in a while to prevent as much “mane in the drain.”
And what about hormones?
It seems that many women lose hair around menopause, but there have been no studies demonstrating adding bio-identical hormones into the mix are helpful. If you are seeing a BHRT specialist, like me, and they put you on topical testosterone, make sure you ask for a DHT check if you notice any hair loss.
My “take” on the menopause thing is there are many factors not taken into consideration. We see the hormonal imbalances causing sleep interruptions, weight gain (both cause inflammation) and more. I believe that menopause causes a bit of hypothyroidism for all, similar to what often happens (and doesn’t get caught, either!) during pregnancy.
Topical bio-identical estrogens “anecdotally” help skin, hair, and nails—or at least that’s what my patients have told me for many years. The only hormone which has been studied and determined to help with skin, hair, and nails is human growth hormone. That one does indeed thicken up hair.
What doesn’t work:
Scalp hugging devices which emit any sort of light are just ridiculous. Lasers don’t work; don’t waste your money. Markedly, anything sold in the Sharper Image catalog claiming it’s good for hair growth is patently absurd. There is also a list of things you could shop for on Amazon which just don’t work either, but here’s a hint: if I didn’t talk about it in this article, it doesn’t work.
Let’s Sum It Up:
In conclusion, I’ve given you quite a list of things and have saved you the trouble of spending your hard-earned money on junk. I don’t have to tell you about gimmicks like short hair-cuts, toppik hair thickener, and wigs; you know all of that. You can get hair transplants too! However, since most female hair issues involve the whole head, unless you have the frontal “troughs,” you will have a hard time finding proper donor sites. Learn to love hats is what a male doctor told one of my patients; I think not. Good luck and may you need a bigger brush sooner than later!