Alopecia, Hair Loss and our Functional Medicine Approach

12

April, 2024

Losing hair…in extreme amounts? It might mean Alopecia. 

Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease that attacks the hair follicle.

The disease causes hair loss on the scalp, face, and sometimes other body areas, like under the arms or on the legs. People with alopecia areata most often lose hair in circular, coin-sized patches on the scalp, but in more severe cases, they may lose all of their hair.

Men and women are affected equally, but most commonly occurring in children and young adults. 

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Alopecia Areata is a non scarring hair loss. This means that the follicle is intact and regrowth is possible, although not guaranteed. Areas of non scarring hair loss that range from single oval patches to multiple patches that can become confluent.

Relapses are common; about 1/3 of cases achieve long lasting remission.

Fun Facts:

  • Hair serves no crucial function in modern humans…But it DOES have a huge impact on self esteem
  • People have an average of 5 million hairs on their body
  • The hair on our head grows on average of 6 inches a year
  • We normally shed 25-100 hairs a day from our scalp.  The longer your hair, the more hair it will LOOK LIKE when it falls out.
  • Hair loss affects about 50% of people during their lifetime
  • Alopecia definition: the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body that typically grow hair.

The Treatment?

Conventional medicine recommends cortisone injections, topical cortisone application, or topical immunotherapy.

Functional medicine treats Alopecia by investigating the autoimmune response and prioritizing a healthy gut, since most of our immune cells “live” there! We also test levels of toxicity and nutrient levels as well.

Something to keep in mind when treating Alopecia:

  • There is a lag in what you are seeing – current shedding of hair  – the trigger happened months ago
  • It takes A VERY LONG TIME to treat hair loss-you must have patience
  • It is very emotionally taxing for those suffering with hair loss
  • Hair follicles have a robust blood supply.  Good circulation is vital for hair growth and hair health.
  • Hair growth requires A LOT of nutrients.

We might run these labs to help evaluate hair loss: CBC, Iron, Ferritin, full thyroid panel, vitamin D, zinc.  

A stool analysis can also be helpful when determining the health of the gut and adressing the inflammation from the autoimmunity.

Lifestyle Tactics:

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Nutrients required for optimal hair growth include: adequate protein, iron, biotin, vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc, selenium. 

Any nutritional deficiencies place a person at a higher risk for hair loss.

Vegans and vegetarians are more susceptible due to lack of iron, vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Top Foods could include: organic meats, fish, eggs, green leafy veggies, red, yellow and orange veggies like peppers, carrots and tomatoes, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and more.

Eat the rainbow – these will help calm inflammation and provide the nutrients needed for hair growth!

Keep in mind to minimize processed ingredients like gluten, dairy, sugar and artificial ingredients that don’t provide ANY nutrients and take AWAY from our health – not what we want!

Also note that certain medications have side effects that leave individuals more susceptible for hair loss. Some of the medications are:  H2 blockers, anti eleptics, anti hypertensives, prolonged antibiotic use.

 

If you’re curious to learn how to manage your hair loss (or know someone that needs support), please reach out to our office for a complimentary call!

Contact us at whisperhealthnow@gmail.com