Laurie Lynch, ND
"Hair loss affects about 35 million men ... in the
United States alone. Approximately "40% of
men have noticeable hair loss by age 35 and 65% by
age 60" (.hairlosslearningcenter)
. "However, the statistics with younger men losing
their hair, and at a much quicker rate are high.
Three in ten 30 year olds, and half of 50 year
olds are quite bald. In its extreme form, some
males start to thin at the age of sixteen and are
almost entirely bald by the time they reach their
early twenties" (london-centre-trichology) .
"Today more women than ever are experiencing hair
loss -- and the causes may be quite different that
what causes balding in men...
According to the American Academy of Dermatology,
it's a growing problem, affecting some 30 million
women in the United States -- with some forms of
loss occurring at earlier ages, (as young as 15 or
16) and being seen in
dermatologists, "it's normal for a person to shed
about 50 to 100 hairs a day",
But with about 100,000
hairs in the scalp, most
people don't even notice. "As people age their rate
of hair growth decreases. A hair disorder is
evident when hair loss is out of proportion to the
normal cycle of hair growth lasts for 2 to 6
years. Each hair grows approximately 1 centimeter
(less than half an inch) per month during this
phase. About 90 percent of the hair on your scalp
is growing at any one time. About 10 percent of
the hair on your scalp, at any one time, is in a
resting phase. After 2 to 3 months, the resting
hair falls out and new hair starts to grow in its
"The resting phase is called telogen.
This phase typically lasts three to four months.
At the end of the resting phase, the hair strand
falls out and a new one begins to grow in its
place. Once a hair is shed, the growth stage
"Hair loss may lead
to baldness when the rate of shedding exceeds the
rate of regrowth, when new hair is thinner than
the hair shed or when hair comes out in patches"
As hair loss progresses, the hair gradually
changes from long, thick, coarse, pigmented hair
to fine, unpigmented vellus sprouts as the
follicles shrink or die. Most will shrink to the
size they were at birth and produce weaker hairs.
With a steadily shorter growing cycle, more hairs
are shed, and the remaining hairs become thinner
until they are too fine to survive daily wear and
Main Types Of Hair
hair loss (known as Androgenetic Alopecia, or
as female or male pattern baldness is the
most common type of hair loss. Pattern hair
loss affects an estimated 40 million men and
20 million women. "Some estimates
indicate that about 50 percent of all people
over the age of 45 have androgenetic alopecia
to some degree", according to Amy McMichael,
M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at
Wake Forest University School of Medicine in
Male and female
pattern baldness differs in the pattern of hair
loss. Male pattern baldness usually begins in the
early 20s. Males are more strongly affected than
females and often get completely bald. It starts
in the front, crown and sides of the hairline.
The hair on the crown of the head begins to thin
with a horse-shoe pattern of hair around the sides
of the head. Any remaining hair in the balding
areas becomes thinner and grows at a slower rate.
baldness usually begins about age 30, becomes
noticeable around age 40, and more noticeable
after menopause, and affects the crown and front
of the head, but the hairline does not recede.
hair loss is usually an overall thinning rather
than a bald area on top of the head, though women
may have a receding hairline, too.
In some people with a genetic
predisposition to hair loss, hormones
called androgens interfere with this natural
process. According to dermatologist Michael Reed,
MD, "Androgen hormones include
androsteinedione, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) --
all of which are made in men's bodies in large
amounts, and in women's bodies in small amounts.
In those who are genetically susceptible, when
testosterone comes in contact with enzymes
residing in the hair cell, it is converted into
the more potent androgen DHT, which then binds
with receptors deep within the hair follicle. ...Over time, an excess build-up [of DHT]
in the follicle causes it to begin shrinking,
which in turn alters the natural resting and
growth phases of the hair," Some of the
follicles eventually die, while others are
rendered incapable of producing or maintaining
healthy hair growth. There is evidence that many
other types of enzymes, as well as hormone
receptors and blockers, may be at work in women
Alopecia Areata is a
sudden loss of hair in round irregular patches,
where the scalp is not visibly inflamed. This type
of hair loss occurs in individuals who have no
obvious skin disorders or serious disease..
Alopecia areata may be confined to a few areas of
the scalp and is often reversed in a few months.
According to the National Alopecia Areata
Foundation, an estimated four million men, women
and children suffer from this type of hair loss.
Alopecia is a temporary scattered hair loss at
the end of pregnancy.
a premature shedding of hair in the resting or telogen phase.
Traction or Traumatic
Alopecia refers to patchy or scattered hair loss.
Excessive hairstyling or hairstyles that pull
your hair too tightly cause traction alopecia.
If the pulling is stopped before there's
scarring of your scalp and permanent damage to
the root, hair usually grows back normally" (Mayo
is loss of hair over the entire body. If it starts
in childhood it has a poor reversal rate. If
occurring in adulthood, it may reverse and
usually occurs in children and may correct itself.
Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia.
This type of permanent hair loss occurs when
inflammation damages and scars the hair
follicle. This prevents new hair from growing
What are the
of hair loss? -
... to get at the "root" of
Imbalance is a cause of Androgenic Alopecia. The Androgen
hormones which play a role in
hair loss (due to over or under expression)
include: testosterone, androsteinedione, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Androgens are produced by the testicles and
adrenals in men, and by the ovaries and adrenal
glands in women. These hormones are important in
both sexes, but occur in different concentrations,
being much more predominant in males than in
a hormone formed by metabolism of the male hormone
testosterone or from cholesterol, causes hair
follicles to go into their resting phase"
Pearson, p. 213) In time the hair follicles
increase their production of an enzyme, 5-alpha
reductase, produced in the prostate, adrenal
glands, and the scalp, that transforms
Testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT, “the
bad Testosterone”, which influences many aspects
of manly behavior, from sex drive to aggression. DHT, which has also been implicated in prostate
problems as well as hair loss, attacks the hair
follicles at the base of the hair shaft, or at its
roots. There it creates a sticky wax-like
substance around the roots and thus constricts
their blood supply, preventing the absorption of
nutrients, and resulting in withering and falling
hair....To compound the
problem, two sebaceous glands, one on each side of
the hair follicle do not shrink as the follicle
does. These glands continue to pump out about the
same amount of Sebum oils, causing the thinning
hair to become oilier. When the hair is weakened
by DHT, the sebum oils also accumulate and harden
inside the follicles and further block normal
growth.. (Many shampoos do not thoroughly cleanse
the hair follicles of sebum oils or accumulated
DHT.) Heredity is often
thought to be the cause of male pattern baldness.
Men like to blame women for their baldness,
claiming that there is a female gene responsible,
that it is always inherited from the female side
of the family. "Genetically, hair loss can come
from either parent’s side of the family" ().
baldness is also caused by hormonal imbalance. As
the levels of the female hormone estrogen drop
after childbirth, a woman's hair may begin to
shed. Two or three months after a woman stops
taking birth control pills, her hair may also
shed, since birth control pills produce hormone
changes that mimic pregnancy. Excess estrogen can
also contribute to hair loss because it interferes
with zinc absorption which is a contributing
factor in hair loss, according to Dr. Michael
Biamonte. "Progesterone is a
female hormone that is essential for proper
thyroid function. As a result, a deficiency of
progesterone can lead to or worsen a thyroid
problem. A women suffering from hair loss should
note if it worsens or only occurs at certain times
of the menstrual cycle." (Dr. Michael Biamonte). Hormonal changes and imbalances can cause
temporary hair loss. This could be due to
pregnancy, having a baby, discontinuing birth
control pills, beginning menopause, or an
overactive or underactive thyroid gland. The
hair loss may be delayed by three months
following a hormonal change, and it'll take
another three months for new hair to grow
back. During pregnancy, it's normal to have
thicker, more luxuriant hair. It's also common
to lose more hair than normal about three
months after delivery. If a hormonal imbalance
is associated with an overproduction of
testosterone, there may be a thinning of hair
over the crown of the scalp. Correcting
hormonal imbalances may stop hair loss"
"Often these women are also suffering with
polycystic ovary syndrome, [a
common hormonal problem in women], and
sometimes their hair loss is the only obvious
sign," says Ricardo Azziz, MD, director of the
Center for Androgen-Related Disorders at the
Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles"(Bouchez).
Environmental Toxins and Pollutants such
as chlorine, inorganic minerals, rancid oils,
polluted water, radon gas, benzene,
formaldehyde, thallium compounds ( rat
poisons), and other chemicals in pesticides,
herbicides, fungicides, and cleaning products,
and even some shampoos can cause sudden and
severe hair loss. Chronic hair loss could be
caused by a slow chronic toxicity. The toxins
interfere with the nutrients and hormonal
substances that help hair growth, and some
toxins interfere with the glands or organs
that govern these nutrients. They may also
damage the hair follicle. Dirt and sebum
plugging the pores in the scalp can also
contribute to hair loss.
poisoning - lead, cadmium, mercury,
iron, aluminum , copper, manganese,
chromium, arsenic, and titanium accumulate in the body
contribute to hair loss. "Lithium and selenium
toxicity have been well documented as causative
agents in hair loss…Toxic metals usually do not
appear in a blood test unless the person is
suffering with extreme poisoning. However they
will show in the hair or finger nails if the
person is suffering with slow, long term exposure
to the metals. This is the most common type of
exposure" (Dr. Michael Biamonte). These
elemental minerals or heavy metals as they are
called are toxic if derived from the ground or
ocean, because we don't have the ability to
absorb them in that form. But if these minerals
are processed by vegetation, such as kelp, they
are then absorbable and essential for the proper
functioning and health of the body.
- Stress and Trauma
can cause constriction of blood supply and poor
nutrition to the hair and scalp. "During times of
extreme stress, the body loses large amounts of
vitamins, minerals and protein (in the form of
nitrogen) in the urine." This sudden loss of
nutrients could be a factor in hair loss. "During
times of stress cortisol levels also increase.
Cortisol is a hormone produce by the adrenal
glands. It has many important functions. However,
in excess, I believe that it can trigger hair loss
as well as bone loss" (Dr. Michael Biamonte). This
condition usually reverses once the trauma is
and life style - Poor diet and
nutrition, such as diets high in animal fat, too
much animal protein and too little vegetable
protein, too much fast food, or quick weight
loss diets, as well as mineral deficiencies such
as copper, zinc, iron, and according to Dr. David Watts,
magnesium deficiency is also commonly found in
hair loss. Vitamin deficiencies such as B
vitamins especially Biotin, and essential fatty
acids deficiencies can be a contributing cause.
According to Dr. Drake, some athletes such as
runners are at higher risk for hair loss because
they may be more likely to develop iron-deficiency
anemia These deficiencies can result from many
other sources such as coated intestinal tract,
poor digestion, chemicals, and stress. Japanese
researchers note that Japanese hair was
thick and healthy, with a small gland and little
scalp oil, until they began consuming
animal fat after World War
II. This change has led to increased height and to
hair loss. Problems with
greasy hair have often been noted six months to a
year prior to when thinning hair becomes
noticeable. Japanese researchers reported a
correlation between excessive sebum in the scalp
and hair loss. Excessive sebum often accompanying
thinning hair is attributed to an enlargement of
the sebaceous gland. They believed excessive sebum
causes high levels of 5-alpha reductase and pore
clogging, which causes malnutrition of the hair
weight loss as with "crash diets".
illness - Large amounts of hair may fall
out one to three months after a severe
loss may occur as part of an underlying
disease, such as lupus,(
or diabetes. Since hair loss may be an early
sign of a disease, it is important to find the
cause so that it can be treated"
such as lupus
erythematosus, psoriasis, or lichen planus
shock, or severe bleeding
trauma such as burns, injury, infections,
psoriasis, tumors, or x-rays, .
Excessive cold or heat - "Heating
of the scalp from hot sun, hot air, high
fever, hot curling irons, or hot combs, or
cold air can weaken follicles, resulting in
hair thinning and loss" (http://members.aol.com/hammo1/page3.htm).
Repetitive traction of the hair by pulling
over-styling and excessive brushing also can
cause hair to fall out if the hair shaft
"If you wear
pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair
rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a
type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If
the pulling is stopped before scarring of the
scalp develops, your hair will grow back
normally. However, scarring can cause
permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments
or chemicals used in permanents may cause
inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle,
which can result in scarring and hair loss"
Infections - Various infections can cause
thinning hair. The yeast living in the
intestine is normal in small amounts, but
"antibiotics, stress, high sugar diets
and other factors can cause this yeast to
overgrow out of control" (Dr. Michael Biamonte).
Fungal infections, ring worm, and
parasites eat our nutrients, and prevent
absorption of vitamins, minerals and proteins
necessary for hair growth.
Radiation such as ionizing radiation,
nuclear radiation, x-rays, microwave ovens,
cell phones, and ultra violet light.
Malfunctioning glands and/or organs - A common cause of
hair loss is a malfunctioning thyroid. "The
thyroid gland produces hormones that help spark
our metabolism and keep our body temperature
normal. If our body temperature drops even
slightly below what it should be, many chemical
reactions in the body either stop or slow down.
Among these chemical reactions are those involved
with hair growth and health" (Dr. Michael Biamonte).
Malfunctioning of the adrenal glands and the
pancreas, as in diabetes, can also contribute
to hair loss.
and other man-made chemicals - According to
dermatologist Dr. Lynn Drake, MD, there
are more than 300 medications that can cause hair
loss. The following are some examples of drugs
that are known to cause hair loss in some
Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as clofibrate (Atromis-S)
and gemfibrozil (Lopid), ZOCOR
Medications, :such as levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa)
* Ulcer drugs,:
such as cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac)
and famotidine (Pepcid)
such as Coumarin and Heparin
medications, such as Allopurinol (Loporin,
medications, such as penicillamine, auranofin (Ridaura),
indomethacin (i\Indocin), naproxen (Naprosyn),
sulindac (Clinoril), and methotrexate (Folex)
* Drugs derived
from vitamin-A, such as :isotretinoin (Accutane)
and etretinate (Tegison).
synthetic Vitamin A (100,000 IU or more daily
over long periods).
Anticonvulsants for epilepsy, such as
Antidepressants:and bi-polar disorder drugs, such
as tricyclics and lithium.
medications that contain amphetamines.
medication such as isotretinoin.
medications and Beta blocker drugs for high blood
pressure, :such as atenolol (Tenormin),
metoprolol (Lopressor), nadolol (Corgard),
(Inderal) and timolol (Blocadren).
* Birth control
pills, or when they are discontinued.
agents, such as carbimazole, inorganic Iodine,
* Male hormones
* Cancer drugs,
chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
"Chemicals used for dying, tinting,
bleaching, straightening or permanent waves can
cause hair to become damaged and break off "
Shampoos can also cause hair loss.
What are the
medical treatments for hair loss,
their effectiveness and their side effects?
Rogaine™ uses the
drug Minoxidil in a topical solution, with alcohol and
propylene glycol. "Minoxidil was originally
developed as a blood pressure medication to dilate blood vessels.
If you're lucky, it might slightly treat the
symptom of hair loss, however, a major cause, "the harmful DHT is
still being produced in the body and is also still
getting into the scalp and hair follicles and
causing the hair in those susceptible hair
follicles to become thinner and shorter throughout
their growing cycles." (Hair Genisis).
According to clinical
research, Minoxidil does not work effectively or
at all on the receding hair line area in the front
of the scalp where there is already noticeable
hair loss, or on the back area of the scalp, where most men
experience pattern hair loss. The hair it
grows is very fine and only on the top of the
head, and the hair may fall out again soon
after the drug is stopped. It is a very
expensive drug, ... Very little testing has
been done on its long –term effects on
women.... and may create female problems"
(Burton Goldburg Group, p.
Minoxidil contains as
much as 60% rubbing alcohol, a poison that is
absorbed into the scalp, blood stream, and brain,
and it dries the scalp, and actually weakens and damages the
hair shafts themselves, making them dry and
brittle, and inhibiting absorption into the hair follicles. The build up of sebum
oils also blocks Minoxidil from getting into the
follicles and penetrating past the sebum to the
hair root where the hair growth begins.
Since Minoxidil only dilates the blood vessels,
whatever amount eventually does reach the roots
does not remove the on-going problem of DHT
build-up and the wax-like substance around the
effects of Rogaine include:
reaction (allergic rhinitis, difficulty breathing; closing of
the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face;
and sensitivity, or hives).
* Irritant or allergic
contact dermatitis, eczema, erythema, scaling,
pruritus, acne, burning of scalp, inflammation or
soreness at root of hair, reddened skin, itching or skin rash.
Sunburn should be avoided while using minoxidil .
* Hair growth in undesirable areas...
* Minoxidil can cross the placental barrier and is
excreted into breast milk
* Dizziness, faintness, lightheadedness
* Edema, salt and water retention
* Pericardial effusion
* Cardiovascular problems, chest pain,
irregular or very fast heartbeats (tachycardia), and
angina "Despite low levels of
systemic absorption topical (2%) minoxidil has been associated with
cardiac changes" (Altruis).
* Hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth)
* Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
* Exacerbation of hair loss/alopecia - has been reported early in
the treatment. "In some women, hair
above the eyebrows and over the cheek bones may become more
prominent. This usually disappears after one year
even with continued use of minoxidil 2%. If the minoxidil is stopped the extra facial hair
usually disappears in one to six months." (www.pharmacy.ca/htfhl.shtml)
* :Visual disturbances, including
decreased visual acuity, have been reported." (Altruis).
Signs and symptoms
of too much medicine being absorbed into the body
include: Blurred vision or other changes in
vision, chest pain, decrease of sexual ability or
desire, fast or irregular heartbeat, flushing,
headache, lightheadedness, numbness or tingling of
hands, feet, or face, swelling of face, hands,
feet, or lower legs, and rapid weight gain. (keratin.com).
trials, several (eight) deaths occurred, but none
of the deaths were attributed to use of the drug: (Keratin.com)
is available with a prescription. It comes in
pills and is only for men. It may take up to 6
months before you can tell if one of these
medicines is working" (familydoctor.org).
Finasteride is not
approved for use by women.
In fact, it poses significant danger to women of
childbearing age. If you're a pregnant woman,
don't even handle crushed or broken finasteride
tablets because absorption of the drug may cause
serious birth defects in male fetuses.
Harmful side effects could include fast heart rate, headaches, impotence and decreased
libido, "bresst tenderness and enlargement,
hypersensitivity reactions including rash,
puritus, hives, and swelling of the lips
and face; and testicular pain."
(PDR p. 2069) .
Injections of cortisone into the scalp and
corticosteroid pills are sometimes prescribe
for extensive hair loss due
to alopecia areata. Ointments and creams
also can be used, but they may be less effective
than injections. "The administration of corticosteroids alters
the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins,
and lipids, as well as affecting almost all
other endocrine secretions, salt and water
balance, and a large number of enzymatic
Most frequent side effects and the most
difficult to avoid or manage could include:
* Adrenal malfunction, Cushing's
Syndrome (moon face)
* Weight gain with typical distribution, increased
* Ruptured blood vessels, bruising
* Excessive hair growth distributed
of peptic ulcers, occasionally with massive
* Sodium and fluid,
* Mental and emotional symptoms
Infections, such as fungal, tuberculosis
*. Acute interstitial pancreatitis
* Visual problems , such as cataracts,
glaucoma, papilledema, keratitis, excessive
dilation of the pupil, blurred vision, refractive
change, lens opacities, drooping upper eyelid, mycotic abscess of
the cornea (Becker).
Available as either a cream or an ointment,
anthralin is a synthetic, tarry substance that you
apply to your scalp and wash off daily. It's
typically used to treat psoriasis, but doctors can
prescribe it to treat other skin conditions.
Anthralin may stimulate new hair growth for cases
of alopecia areata. It may take up to 12 weeks for
new hair to appear. Harmful side effects
could include allergic reactions and skin
irritation, soreness, spreading of skin
leisions (PDR p. 3162).
Hair transplants and scalp reduction surgery are
available to treat androgenetic alopecia when more
conservative measures have failed. During
transplantation a dermatologist or cosmetic
surgeon takes tiny plugs of skin, each containing
one to several hairs, from the back or side of
your scalp. The plugs are then implanted into the
bald sections. Several transplant sessions may be
needed, as hereditary hair loss progresses with
Scalp reduction, as the
name implies, means decreasing the area of bald
skin on your head. Your scalp and the top part of
your head may seem to have a snug fit. But the
skin can become flexible and stretched enough for
some of it to be surgically removed. After
hairless scalp is removed, the space is closed
with hair-covered scalp. Doctors can also fold
hair-bearing skin over an area of bald skin in a
scalp reduction technique called a flap. Scalp
reduction can be combined with hair
transplantation to fashion a natural-looking
hairline in those with more extensive hair loss.
Surgical procedures to
treat baldness are expensive and can be painful.
Possible risks include infection and scarring. It
will take six to eight months before the quality
of the new hair can be properly evaluated. The
anesthesia and antibiotics used in surgery can
have serious side effects.
Some anesthetics can “cause increased
cerebral-spinal pressure;… a
skeletal-muscle hypermetabolic state
leading to…malignant hyperthermia;…muscle
rigidity, tachycardia, cyanosis, …unstable
blood pressure,…hepatic dysfunction;
cardiac arrest; hypotension; respiratory
arrest; cardiac arrhythmias; hyperpyrexia;
shivering; nausea; and emesis”
(Physician’s Desk Reference, 1994).
Anesthesia has also been shown to be a
cause of fungal infections, which are an
underlying cause of most diseases, such as
glandular malfunctions, allergies and
chemical sensitivities, and cancers.
Some antibiotics used after surgery
can cause “neurotoxic reactions,… optic
nerve dysfunction, peripheral neuritis,
damage is particularly high in patients
treated with streptomycin., …ototoxicity:
Both vestibular and auditory dysfunction
can follow the administration of
streptomycin… Vestibular damage is
heralded by headache, nausea, vomiting,
and disequilibrium… early discontinuance
of the drug may permit recovery prior to
irreversible damage to the sensorineural
cells… may cause allergic type reactions
including anaphylactic symptoms and
life-threatening asthma… can cause fetal
harm… The following reactions are common:
vestibular ototoxicity (nausea, vomiting,
and vertigo); paresthesia of face; rash;
fever; urticaria (hives); angioneurotiv
edema; and eosinophilia. . Less frequent:
cochlear ototoxicity (deafness);
exfoliative dermatitis; anaphylaxis;
azotemia; leukopenia; thrombocytopenia;
pancytopenia; hemolytic anemia; muscular
weakness; and amblyopia”
(Physician’s Desk Reference, 1994).
Antibiotics also are a cause of fungal
infection which is a common cause of
cause of your hair loss and review all treatment
options, including nonsurgical ones, before
proceeding with plans for surgery.
Wigs and hairpieces
If you would like an alternative to medical
treatment for your baldness or if you don't
respond to treatment, you may want to consider
wearing a wig or hairpiece. They can be used to
cover either permanent or temporary hair loss.
Quality, natural-looking wigs and hairpieces are
What are the
alternative methods to reduce hair loss and
deep breathing, and lying on a slant board 15 minutes a day to
get blood to the scalp. Massage scalp regularly.
A Wellness Consultation with
Laurie Lynch, N.D. will provide information on
how to eliminate your specific root causes of
hail loss, and show you what foods, herbs, and
nutritional supplements, shampoos, and rinses can help the body to
regain health and regenerate new hair. Call Dr.
Lynch at The Living Well Health & Education
Center, (910) 426-515.
improvements can occur in just a few weeks, so
there is hope!" (Dr. Michael Biamonte).
* The Burton
Goldburg Group, Alternative Medicine, Future
Medicine Publishing, Inc, Puyallup, Washington,
* American Academy of
Family Physicians, 2000-2008,
Physician’s Desk Reference, 1994
* Durk Pearson
and Sandy Shaw, Life Extension, Warner Books, New
York, NY, 1982
• James F. Balch,
MD, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery
* Dr. Mary
Sheen, Fighting Hair Loss, Clearbrook, Inc.
* Hair Loss -
Conditions and Causes, 2002, Sunset Marketing,
* The Nemours
* Michael Biamonte,
Hair Loss: The Causes,
* New Hope Natural Media Online,
Bernard Becker, The Side Effects of Corticosteroids
Causes of Illness