How to Stop Hair Loss With Natural Remedies

Three Methods:Identifying Causes of Hair LossTreating Hair Loss with Natural ApproachesTrying More-Conventional Hair Loss Treatments

Hair growth is divided into three cycles—the growth phase, the transitional phase, and the resting phase.[1] Each hair follicle can be in a different stage of the growth cycle as compared to nearby hair follicles. Scalp hair grows about 1 centimeter (0.4 in) every month for about 3-5 years, stops for about 2-4 months, and is shed during the resting phase.[2] A wide array of difference causes (such as the person’s age, genetics, nutritional status, health, and environmental factors) can all disrupt the hair growth cycle and lead to increased hair loss. By identifying the cause of your hair loss, you can then take advantage of natural remedies to potentially stop hair loss.

Method 1
Identifying Causes of Hair Loss

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    Look into genetic factors. Hair loss (known as alopecia) can be based on genetic factors (male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness). These are both known as androgenic alopecia because both are dependent on levels of the hormone androgen, which is responsible for hair on the scalp, face, chest, underarms, and genital regions.[3]
    • In men, the hair loss occurs at the front of hairline and on the top of the head (the “bald spot”).
    • In women, hair is thinned all over the scalp, but more at the top of the head. Women usually don’t get bald spots.[4]
    • Androgenic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss.[5]
    • Though far less common, congenital hypotrichosis is a group of genetic conditions with little or no hair growth.[6] These may be due to single or multiple gene defects.
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    Examine recent events and stress levels. Environmental causes can lead to what’s known as telogen effluvium (TE), which is the second leading cause of hair loss.[7] The telogen phase is the resting phase of hair growth. If, for any reason, the number of hair follicles in the active, growth phase drops, TE can result, and a person would notice more shedding, usually by noting more hair than usual in a comb or brush. You might also notice more hair loss during bathing or on a bath towel. TE can develop in three ways:[8]
    • An environmental “insult” stuns or shocks the hair follicles, and they stop growing. This type of TE is usually temporary as long as the triggering event is temporary, and normal hair growth returns within 6-12 months.
    • If the environmental “insult” is more persistent, more and more hair follicles enter the resting state, and there will be a slow, but constant loss of hair.
    • A third type of TE may or may not be due to an environmental stressor. In this type, the hair follicles go through shorter hair-growth cycles. The result is thin scalp hair and shedding short hairs, which are very thin.
    • The environmental stressors can be many. Some short-term stressors include postpartum alopecia (after giving birth), physical trauma (an accident, a fall, or a broken leg, for instance), vaccinations, crash dieting, or medications, especially antidepressants. More persistent environmental stressors that may lead to more persistent TE include nutritional deficiencies (iron, zinc, B-vitamins, lysine) and chronic stress.
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    Consider chemical interactions that affect the growth phase of your hair. Anagen effluvium is a rapid form of hair loss due to an interruption in the anagen (or growth phase) of your hair.[9] The most common causes are cancer chemotherapy and poisonings (such as heavy metal poisoning). Once chemotherapy ends, or when the poisoning has been treated, hair growth returns, though not always as before. Some people experience a change in hair color or type—changing to curly from straight or vice versa.[10]
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    Consider autoimmune and/or inflammatory conditions. Alopecia areata (AA) is believed to be an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the hair follicles. Hair loss can be sudden and most often happens on the scalp in patches.[11] If the entire scalp is affected, it is called alopecia totalis. If the entire body is affected, it is called alopecia universalis. If it is limited to the beard area in men, it is termed alopecia barbae. Different forms of AA are seen in men, women, and children. AA may go into a spontaneous remission, or it can be persistent.
    • Conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (Lupus or SLE), discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) and sarcoidosis are other autoimmune conditions that can lead to hair loss.[12]
    • Folliculitis and seborrheic dermatitis are two examples of inflammatory skin conditions that can cause hair loss.[13] If you notice any overly dry skin or red, acne-like rashes around the site of the hair loss, then contact your doctor for a diagnosis.
    • Many of these conditions can lead to scarring alopecia, which occurs when scar tissue results in irreversible destruction of hair follicles.[14] This can be the result of a chronic disease (SLE) or various forms of folliculitis.
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    Try to diagnose any infections. Certain viral, bacterial, and fungal infections (such as HIV, late-stage syphilis, and ringworm, respectively) can also lead to hair loss.[15] When ringworm (a group of common fungal infections with no actual worms involved) occurs on the scalp, it results in patchy hair loss called tinea capitis.[16]
    • There are a number of fungal organisms that can cause tinea capitis, including Microsporum audouini, Trichophyton tonsurans (especially in Latin American countries), Trichophyton schoenleinii, Trichophyton megnini (Southern Europe and Africa), and Trichophyton violaceum (Middle East).[17]
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    Read medication labels closely for hair loss as a side effect. Drugs such as antidepressants, acne medications, anticoagulants (blood thinners), anticonvulsants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta-blockers used in glaucoma or heart disease, anti-fungals, anti-gout medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, and medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease, ulcers, and thyroid disease may all have hair loss as a side effect.[18]
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    Consider other conditions and diseases that can result in hair loss. If you suffer from muscular disorders (muscular dystrophy) or glandular conditions such as hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid), hypothyroid (underactive thyroid), either low or high adrenal function, or diseases of the pituitary gland, then you may also experience hair loss as a result.[19]
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    Note if your hair style can contribute to hair loss. Certain hairstyles (tight pigtails and corn rows, for instance) and chemical or physical treatments (curling irons, perms, hot oil treatments, hair color products) can encourage hair loss.[20] Keratin-treated hair (also known as Brazilian Blowout or Brazilian Keratin Treatment) has been reported to cause hair loss because of the presence of formaldehyde-like chemicals in the products.[21]
    • In August 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the producers of many such products citing both safety and labeling violations.[22]

Method 2
Treating Hair Loss with Natural Approaches

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    See your doctor. While you may seek a natural remedy to stop losing your hair, diagnosing the exact cause of your hair loss should be the first step. If nothing else, you should get a checkup to ensure that the hair loss isn’t a symptom of a more harmful disease or condition.
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    Eat foods that are complete proteins. Hair is primarily protein, and strong, healthy hair comes from “the inside.” Make sure you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein. You should try for a variety of sources of complete protein, which contain all the essential amino acids (protein building blocks). Here is a list of some foods that are complete proteins:[23]
    • Eggs
    • Dairy products
    • Quinoa (this high-fiber food also has high levels of iron, magnesium, and manganese
    • Buckwheat
    • Hemp seed (also contains high levels of magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium)
    • Chia seeds (also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids)
    • Soy products (including tofu, tempeh, and natto)
    • A combination of rice and beans (rich in methionine and lysine, respectively, so together, they form a complete protein)
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    Eat foods rich in B vitamins. You should also ensure that you eat a diet high in B-complex vitamins. Your body needs B vitamins to promote healthy hair follicles and healthy hair growth. These foods include:[24]
    • Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, parsley, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, and beet greens
    • Other vegetables, including broccoli, beets, turnips, and bell peppers
    • Legumes, such as lentils
    • Calf and beef liver and fortified grains, which are rich in vitamin B12
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    Add more iron to your diet. The only mineral that has been proven to be connected to hair loss is iron.[25] Increasing iron in your diet may reduce hair loss. However, consult your doctor before adding iron supplements to your daily regimen to ensure you don’t take in too much of the mineral. Foods high in iron include:
    • Eggs
    • Red meat (go for grass-fed beef or buffalo, which are higher in omega-3 fats as well)
    • Dark, leafy green vegetables
    • Beans and lentils
    • Liver
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    Add more zinc to your diet. While low zinc has been implicated in hair loss, it is still not known if zinc deficiencies play a primary or secondary role in hair loss.[26] Foods high in zinc include:
    • Seafood and shellfish
    • Spinach
    • Pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds
    • Various nuts
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    Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids used on the scalp have been shown to increase the numbers of hair strands.[27] Increasing the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet may be useful for hair loss. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in:
    • Varieties of fish, including salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and bass
    • Eggs
    • Flaxseed oil
    • Soybeans
    • Chia seeds
    • Walnuts
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    Avoid shampooing too often. Frequent shampooing can strip hair of natural oils. Frequent shampooing doesn’t really cause hair loss, but if you are stripping the oils from your hair, it can make the hair more fragile and likely to break. Many professionals advise their clients not to shampoo daily, but instead recommend 2-3 times a week.[28]
    • Avoid shampoos that are loaded with chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), parabens, and ammonium chloride, especially if you have thin, fragile, or treated hair.
    • Also, remember not to “over condition” your hair. Conditioners can weigh down the roots of the hair and damage the hair follicles. Use a conditioner 1-2 times a week and avoid using conditioner on the scalp.[29]
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    Avoid damaging hairstyling techniques. When brushing or combing your hair, be gentle and don’t get “over-vigorous.” Use a wide-toothed comb to untangle your hair, especially when wet, to avoid pulling out your roots and breaking the hair strands.
    • This also includes avoiding heat styling tools. Let your hair air dry.
    • Avoid dyeing, chemically straightening, perming, or bleaching your hair.
    • Avoid extensions, weaves, and tight hairstyles that can lead to hair loss.
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    Massage essential oils into your scalp. You can massage oils into your scalp to help improve hair growth. These can nourish the hair follicles, increase blood flow to your scalp and promote relaxation.[30] Oils you can use include coconut oil, argan oil, emu oil, castor oil, and almond oil.[31]
    • Pour a quarter-sized amount of oil into the center of your palm, and use your fingertips to apply it around your scalp. Then massage the oil into your entire scalp. You can do this for 5-10 minutes once a week or more often if you prefer.
    • To further reduce stress add 1-2 drops of essential lavender oil to two ounces of oil. Lavender has also been shown to increase hair growth.[32] To promote healing and hair growth, try 1-2 drops of calendula oil in two ounces of oil.[33]
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    Add other herbs to your essential oil mix. There are a variety of other herbs that have shown positive results. You can try adding some of the following to your essential oil mix:
    • Serenoa repens (saw palmetto), Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh), Urtica dioica (nettles), and Pygeum africanum (African prune) contain 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors similar to those found in finasteride, which is a hair loss treatment. There have been some positive results in small clinical trials using these herbs topically on the scalp.[34]
    • Green tea increased hair regrowth in one study in rats and has been used traditionally as a rinse to increase hair growth.[35] Green tea also has 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor activity similar to that found in finasteride.[36]
    • Anti-inflammatory herbs, including onion and garlic, licorice root, panax ginseng, and ginkgo biloba have been used traditionally to reduce inflammation and promote hair growth.[37] Licorice root also inhibits androgen activity and may be useful for both male and female pattern baldness.[38] Onion juice has been tested and stimulated hair growth in both men and women as well.[39] Rinse well after using the onion juice, and use the onion juice only once a week.[40]
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    Manage stress. Since chronic stress is a major cause of telogen effluvium (see above), try techniques to help manage the stress in your life. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following “emergency” stress relievers:[41]
    • Count to ten before speaking
    • Take 3-5 deep breaths
    • Handle stressful situations later when possible
    • Go for a walk
    • Admit when you’ve made a mistake, and don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry
    • Avoid the stress of running late by setting your watch 5-10 minutes ahead
    • Break big problems down into smaller, manageable parts
    • Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving
    • Try smelling a rose, hugging a loved one, or smiling at your neighbor
    • Consider meditation or prayer to break the negative cycle
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    Try progressive muscle relaxation. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests progressive muscle relaxation to help reduce stress. Start with your feet and lower legs and first tighten them as much as possible for roughly thirty seconds before slowly releasing the tension. Move on to your upper legs and repeat, Move onto your hands and lower arms, upper arms and shoulders, and finally your stomach and abdominal muscles. Repeat daily.[42]
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    Take a mental vacation. Another technique suggested by the APA is taking a mental vacation. Take a few deep breaths, relax, and close your eyes. Imagine the most beautiful place you have ever been. Try to experience that place as fully as you can, smelling the smells, feeling a breeze, hearing the sounds, etc. Repeat daily.[43]

Method 3
Trying More-Conventional Hair Loss Treatments

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    Try 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. The main drug treatment for men’s hair loss are the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors Proscar and Propecia, which are trade names for finasteride. 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are anti-androgens and block their activity on hair follicles to prevent male and female pattern baldness.[44]
    • 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors used to treat men are less often used for women because of adverse effects of lowering androgen levels in women. The drugs are never prescribed to women hoping to become pregnant due to adverse effects to the fetus.
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    Try minoxidil. Another drug used to increase hair growth is minoxidil (Loniten, Vitadil-2A), which was originally prescribed to lower blood pressure. Minoxidil is generally less effective than finasteride, but it can be applied directly to the areas of hair loss.[45]
    • 2% minoxidil is more commonly prescribed to women because it can be applied to the areas of hair loss and has fewer side effects. In fact, it appears that minoxidil works better for more women than men.[46] Many dermatologists also use 5% topical Minoxidil off-label for hair loss in women as it works better with fuller hair than 2% topical Minoxidil.
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    Try hormone replacement therapy for hair loss in women. In women, hormone replacement therapy with estrogen and progestin can be helpful (progestin is the synthetic form of progesterone). In Europe, a synthetic estrogen, ethinyloestradiol is combined with cyproterone acetate to treat women’s alopecia. This is not available in the U.S. But the safest form of bioidentical hormone replacement is bioidentical estrogen and progesterone through a naturopath.[47]
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    Use non-surgical hair replacement. For non-surgical hair replacement (wigs, extensions, weaves, hairpieces, and toupees), most professionals recommend carefully looking at what is available. One recent survey indicated that over 70% of people were unhappy with the service provided by hair replacement salons.[48]
    • Hair replacements are based on a support of polymers, meshes, or a combination of the two. There are differences in cost, comfort, look, feel and how they are attached. The hair can be natural human hair, animal hair, or synthetic fibers.
    • They can be semi-permanently attached with an adhesive or by weaving it into natural hair, but this is not often recommended because you cannot properly clean the scalp underneath unless it it professionally removed and then reattached. Since this should be done at least every 5-7 days, it can be costly and time-consuming.
    • Using the semi-permanently attached hair replacement means you will need to get two replacements—one to wear while the other is being maintained.[49]
    • Other recommended methods of attachment include double-sided tape or metal clips. In this case, home care and maintenance is all that is required.
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    Look into surgical hair replacement. At this time, the only type of surgical hair replacement recommended by the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA) is harvesting your own androgen-resistant hair. This hair is then transplanted into the areas of hair loss. Getting hair transplants from donors would necessitate lifelong anti-rejection medications, which is too risky.[50]

Sources and Citations

  1. Paus R. Principles of hair cycle control. J Dermatol 1998; 25: 793–802.
  2. Buffoli,BA., Guanziroli, E.,Rezzani,R., Rodella, LF.The human hair: from anatomy to physiology. Intl J Dermatol ., Rinaldi, F. Labanca, M.,Sorbellini,E, Trink, 2013. 1-9.
  3. Krause K, Foitzik K. Biology of the hair follicle: the basics. Semin Cutan Med Surg 2006; 25: 2–10.

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Article Info

Categories: Hair Loss and Scalp Conditions