- 1 Section A
- 2 Causation to the Loss and-or Thinning of Hair
- 3 Toxemia
- 4 Imbalanced and Altered Hormones
- 5 Chronic Stress
- 6 Autoimmune Disorders
- 7 Poor Sleep
- 8 Senescence & Oxidation
- 9 Acid and Leaky Gut, the Microbiome and Nutritional Deficiencies
- 10 Eyebrow loss (superciliary madarosis) and Eyelash Thinning
- 11 Section B
- 12 Natural Techniques for Luscious & Thick Hair
- 13 Nutritional Excellence
- 14 Quality Water
- 15 Topical application
- 16 Castor Oil
- 17 Olive Oil
- 18 Coconut Oil
- 19 Fenugreek
- 20 Aloe vera
- 22 Volatile Essential oils
- 23 Conclusion
- 24 Education Videos
- 25 Reference and Precision Notes
Holistic and Happiness Medicine is also concerned with Natural Beauty. In this blog-article, i will first review causation, what thins hair and leads to hair loss and other hair issues. (Section A) In a second section, i will examine a few natural and holistic techniques that have been shown to promote lush and abundant hair growth. (Section B)
Causation to the Loss and-or Thinning of Hair
Losing hair is part of the Life process as all eukaryotic (i.e. human) cells die and renew within a given amount of time. In this perspective, healthy individuals can lose 50 to 150 hairs a day depending on their genes and lifestyle. However, when there is too much loss and not enough hair replenishment, too much graying and other changing hair signs, there may be underlying health problems that affects other physiological processes and a healthy lifespan.
While chronic stress, toxemia, malnutrition and hormonal imbalance have predominantly affected men, more and more women are now also experiencing hair loss.
“Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a clinical problem that is becoming more common in women. Female alopecia with androgen increase is called female androgenetic alopecia (FAGA) and without androgen increase is called female pattern hair loss”. (Source)
Below, a few causes that not only can precipitate hair thinning, brittle hair, dandruff, premature graying and hair loss, (all symptoms), but that indicate both deviation from a holistic and happy lifestyle and the gestation of more serious underlying health issues.
Toxins that affect hair and general health not only come from air, water, soil and industrial pollution, but they especially come from the very personal and beauty care products that are shelved in most stores. Because of a lack of safe and efficient regulation and given the greed-based profit-motive system, most ingredients in these products are actually toxic chemicals that damage hair follicles and leach into the bloodstream causing further toxicity and body damage. Healthy hair depends on blood and lymph circulation as well as on optimal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
Some of the most toxic beauty supply ingredients include sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene and polyethylene glycol, and parabens (methylparabens). For example, sodium lauryl sulfate is linked to eczema, dry and irritated skin, hair loss, urinary tract infections, and cancer (Source A and B) Polyethylene glycol is a petroleum based product that has been linked to cancer (Sourc). Parabens are known estrogen mimickers that can lead to estrogen dominance and cause many symptoms such as PMS, uterine fibroids, and breast cancer. (Source A and B) And BPA and other toxin laden plastic ingredients further contributes in toxic load. (1)
Some toxic cancer chemotherapy drugs can also cause hair loss, which affects all body hair. Along with the loss of scalp hair, people undergoing chemotherapy also commonly lose their eyebrows and eyelashes. Chemotherapy drugs that frequently cause hair loss include paclitaxel, 5-fluorouracil, carboplatin, cisplatin, actinomycin-D, bleomycin, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, altretamine, etoposide, docetaxel and doxorubicin. Hair loss typically begins 2 to 3 weeks after the start of chemotherapy. Depending on the toxic load and follicle damages, hair can regrows in the weeks to months following completion of cyto-toxic chemo treatment.
Imbalanced and Altered Hormones
Hormones play a large role in the process of hair growth. One of the body’s master hormones is the thyroid. When this endocrine gland is out of synch with homeostasis, it can cause hair to become fragile and result in excessive hair loss. This may be caused by a condition known as hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid one manifestation of which is called Hashimoto disease. People with this condition have a thyroid that does not synthesize enough hormones, as a result, their metabolism is slower and hair becomes dry, fine, weak and easily damaged, the texture of which gets eroded. This occurs not only for the scalp, but also for all of the body’s hair growth. Thinning of the eyebrows and eyelashes for example can be a late sign of hypothyroidism. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include chronic fatigue, weakness, constipation, weight problems and skin dryness
For women, hair loss can occur during times of pregnancy. After the pregnancy period, many lose large amounts of hair in short periods of time. This hormone-driven process called telogen effluvium. Pregnancy also can cause shifts in the production of oil-producing glands. Once normally straight hair may become wavy and previously dry hair may not be oily. Changes are temporary as they only occur during pregnancy return to normal following childbirth.
Hair loss in women is most often associated with an imbalance of estrogen, progesterone & testosterone in their bodies. This can happen during times of menopause (Source) as well as under other conditions (Source) including weight problems.
Mainstream Menopausal women tend to have major hair issues. As estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, a woman may be losing more hair with thinning hair or a receding hairline along the temples and hairline. Another symptom of mainstream menopause may be an increase in facial and body hair as well. (Source) However, with aged women who live holistically, not only can they delay the onset of menopause by more than a decade, but the hormones are more fine-tuned, with fewer if any of the classical menopause symptoms like hot flashes and irritability.
The Use of birth control pills can also alter the symphony of women’s hormones whose imbalance not only generate excessive loss of weight but can also promote cancer and other diseases. When a woman lives a healthy holistic lifestyle, her hormones are balanced, rich in the right types of estrogens, that which favors a lush hair growth with thicker and silkier hair.
Another hormonal issue is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Polycystic ovary syndrome affects around 1 in every 10 women of child bearing age. (Source) PCOS results from a hormonal imbalance causing problems such as ovarian cysts, weight gain, acne, and irregular menstrual periods. Afflicted women also experience increased hair growth on the body called hirsutism, face and hair thinning. A receding hair-line on the head can also be an issue. PCOS is usually associated with general hormonal imbalance, high female testosterone and, inter alia, blood sugar imbalances. Fine-tuning hormones, improving diet and blood sugar levels, supporting liver and gut health are needed in order to control and reverse this growing pathology.
While moderate and short lived stress can be beneficial, chronic and intense physiological stress can very damaging to one’s health, including hair follicles. My own mother’s father for example had his hair turned white in just a few days of intense trauma. In this realm, stress hormones can block communication with the hair follicle resulting in melanin absorption and as a result, gray hair. (Source) Chronic physiological stress with adrenal fatigue also impacts hair health by causing vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
There are multiple diseases of autoimmunity where the body’s immune cells attack hair follicles, the most common of which is psoriasis, whose symptoms are dry, scaly and itchy rashes and patches from the build-up of skin cells. This common problem can occur on the scalp along the hairline. It can be confused with dandruff. An anti-dandruff treatment shampoo won’t treat psoriasis as its biological mechanism is different. Furthermore, psoriasis can be a symptom of the presence of another autoimmune complication such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Alopecia areata is yet another immunity disorder that results in large patches of hair loss. Alopecia areata is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system erroneously attacks the hair follicles, causing inflammation and hair loss. Any hair-bearing skin site can be affected by alopecia areata, including the eyebrows. Conventional treatment commonly involves corticosteroid injections into the site of eyebrow loss. Atopic dermatitis is a form of eczema that causes red, itchy patches of skin. Involvement of the skin around the eyes can lead to swelling, skin inflammation and loss of the eyebrow hairs, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Skin-irritating cosmetics and soaps may aggravate atopic dermatitis. The eyebrows can regrow when the condition becomes inactive.
Deep restorative sleep is essential to cellular regeneration and repair including hair cells. With prolonged insomnia or bad sleep, will will become brittle, and lose its color, strength and length. One of the mechanisms of this result is both neurological and hormonal, in that lack sleep raises one’s cortisol and weakens melatonin, two key circadian hormones while simultaneously weakening the immune cells. Individuals affected by sleep deprivation are also shown to have stronger urges for carbohydrates and junk processed foods like candy and late-night indulgences that wreak havoc on one’s health (Source). (2) This contributing factor alone can exacerbate any current vitamin and mineral deficiencies required for maintaining healthy hair.
Senescence & Oxidation
With aging, especially non holistic aging, hair tends to become thin and brittle essentially because it loses messaging molecules, nutritional inputs, hormones and elasticity. When this happens, hair loss and dryer hair can increase, if only because oil glands decrease in size as they age reducing the output of oil produced. (Source) Furthermore, depending on skin pigmentation and to a certain extent, on genes, gray hairs may turn up sooner than normal. The statistics in mainstream America shows that around 50% of people will have a significant amount of gray hairs on their heads by the time they reach 50 years of age. Showing signs of losing hair pigmentation and going gray can generally be associated with your age, depending on ethnic origins. (3)
Acid and Leaky Gut, the Microbiome and Nutritional Deficiencies
Both low stomach acid and leaky gut are leading causes of nutritional deficiencies including trace minerals, protein and other key vitamins and minerals. Low biotin (a water soluble B Vitamin) levels especially for example are associated with alopecia. (4) (Source A and B)
As for low stomach hydrochloric acid, this condition slows digestion and inhibits proper nutrient absorption by allowing undigested food particles to remain in the gut. When the intestinal walls become porous (i.e. intestinal permeability or leaky gut), there is both malabsorption of nutrients and inflammatory autoimmune disorders which ensue. (5)
Nutritional malabsorption and physico-psychological stressors on the digestive tract decrease the ability of microvilli (hair-like projections) to better absorb nutrients while one’s intestinal bacteria (microtiota and microbiome) will get out of whack and lose its diversity and integrity, which is another cause of hair problems and serious diseases. (Source)
Eyebrow loss (superciliary madarosis) and Eyelash Thinning
Eyebrow loss, also known as superciliary madarosis, can occur with a variety of medical conditions. Madarosis can affect one or both eyebrows with partial or complete hair loss. Infections, chronic skin disorders, hormone disturbances, autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies and medications are among the many medical reasons for eyebrow loss and eyelash thinning. In most cases, identification and treatment of the underlying condition leads to regrowth of the eyebrows and eyelashes. Permanent eyebrow loss can occur with disorders and toxic drugs that permanently damage the hair follicles. Often, an underactive thyroid can cause loss of eyebrow hair, particularly in the outer third.
Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy, is an infection of the skin and nerves caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. The disease often affects the skin of the eyebrow region, leading to loss of sensation and permanent loss of the eyebrow hairs. This disease can also affect eyelashes. There are numerous other rare and uncommon causes of eyebrow hair loss, including vitamin A toxicity, nutritional disorders and other dermatological disorders.
Excessive plucking of unwanted eyebrow hairs can also be causative of eyebrow thinning and loss. While a little plucking can spur the follicle stem cells to regrew new hair, too much can permanently damage the hair follicle. Dandruff can also spread to the eyebrows, it can cause the hairs to fall out. This isn’t a direct effect. The problem is that the dandruff leads to inflammation and scarchig the itchy inflammed area promotes even more the loss of eyebrow hair. In addition, a skin growth, even a benign one (like a non-cancerous mole) in the area of the eyebrow can cause hair to be pushed out.
And as i mentioned above, severe stressors, including surgery, high fever, toxic lifestyle and emotional trauma can mess with hormonal homeostasis and promote loss of eyebrow and eyelash hairs, the main indication of which reflect a general weakness, nutritional deficiencies, lack of vitality, of what the Chinese medicine calls the “Chi”.
Natural Techniques for Luscious & Thick Hair
There are different techniques to promote silky and thick hair on the scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes, from light therapy, to topical oil spreads, relaxation techniques, drugs and, among others, nutrition. I will be spending more time on nutrition given its importance.
One of the best approaches is an organic whole-food mostly plant-based nutrition regimen composed of a rainbow of fruits and nutrient-densed vegetables, lots of fibers to feed the microbiota, anti-inflammatory super- foods, probiotics (fermented foods and beverages) and healthy fats, all of which can improve hormonal integrity and gut motility while enhancing dietary intake of key compounds like folate, biotin and zinc.
First off, one shoud focus on the three critical nutrients for healthy hair: silica, zinc, & biotin. These minerals are found in many plants. Silica helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals more effectively. It is critical for healthy hair as we age and can be found in cucumbers, celery, sprouts and bell peppers. Zinc is also critical role in the formation of important hormones and enzymes, but this mineral’s assimilation can be hindered when there is too many lectins and phytic acids in one’s diet. (6) (Source) In effect, heavy intake of dietary phytates (phytic acid) present in many un-soaked grains, legumes, & nuts can be promote zinc deficiencies. When zinc deficiency gets to a certain level, an increase in a chemical messenger called Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-a) is activated, at whic point the immune system can attack healthy tissues in the body such as hair. (Source) It’s better to take zinc via food though, because heavy doses of zinc supplementation can reverse the process and cause accelerated hair loss. Biotin (Vitamin B7) is commonly referred to as vitamin H (for hair) because of its importance in producing healthy hair. Junk and processed foods, excessive alcohol, egg whites, as well as antibiotic usage can deplete the body’s biotin levels. (Source)
Adequate protein is also needed, if only because keratin is the protein that makes up hair. Poor protein intake can cause brittle, easily broken hair that is hard to grow. It’s possible to get enough good protein from plant sources, including single celled algae like spirulina and chlorella, but one should monitor vitamin B-12, as the gut bacteria of many modern vegans have stopped making this vitamin, which is important for proper protein assimilation and to stop or hinder the greying of hair. Small wild fish within the context of a Mediterranean diet can also help and is much better than standard conventional diets,whether it be for hair growth or health in general.
Because the body’s vital tissue and organs take a higher priority than hair, one should eat an adequate amount of healthy food, in particular lots of vitamin C as ascorbic deficiency can leave hair dry and dull. Other vitamins including A, B, C, D and E as well as minerals such as magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium are also important for healthy hair. Consuming blood sugar stabilizing nutrients like cinnamon and minerals like chromium and vanadium can be helpful as well. Organic black pepper has a good amount of chromium, and this spice can be coupled with turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory root-plant that will also promote a healthy body and luscious hair.
Another important hair mineral is iron. Hair loss accompanies the symptoms of fatigue and dizziness caused by an iron deficiency. (7) (Source) When the body becomes anemic from iron deficiency, oxygen is used to support vital life processes rather than maintaining the health of the hair on your scalp. Plant-based iron is usually superior to animal-based iron. (See the Intitute’s clinical nutrition workshop and its ebook for details)
Quality fats are also important for the production of hormones, brain, skin and hair cells, the best of which are the omega 3’s that can be found in avocado, walnuts, purslane and flax seeds as well as wild fish and omega 9’s, which is high in olives as well as in extra virgin olive oil. Most nuts and seeds like sunflower and pumpkin seeds are also excellent sources of healthy fat and all the more so that they also contain key hair minerals like selenium and zinc. The medium chain triglycerides of coconuts and coconut oil is also an excellent fat. These good fats enforce moisture protection in the skin and hair to maintain shine and youth. Key fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are also better absorbed with dietary fat consumption. A deficiency in fat and fat soluble nutrients can cause splitting hairs as well as a dry and flaky scalp. (8) (Source)
Water accounts for an estimated 75% to 80 of our body. Dehydration can result in a variety of health problems, from joint issues to hair follicles, so drinking pure healthy water free from toxins, fluoride and chlorine is important. Spring water is the best. If unavailable, water filtered via reversed osmosis is also good provided the diet is rich in electrolytes.
Soda beverages and too much caffeinated products should also be avoided as these tend to act as diuretics, that which promotes dehydration. Drink herbal teas in healthy water and electrolyte rich coconut water or organic fermented beverages in moderation are also healthy.
Depending on one’s size, tasks, climate and food intake, drinking from 4 to 8 glasses of water should be sufficient to correctly irrigate the “soil” of hair follicles. Adding some organic lemon or organic apple cider vinegar in drinking water will improve micronutrient intake and gut health.
Top: Before and after 4 to 6 weeks of organic, cold press, pure castor oil and couple drops of key volatile essential oils (mixed in the carrier oil) on eyebrows and eyelashes. When applying any volatile essential oils or mixture with carrier oil that contains essential oils, great care must be exerted in order not to irritate the eyes. The eyes do have multiple natural defense mechanisms against irritants, but no need to risk injury.
One of the top oils I recommend for hair, eyebrow and especially eyelash is castor oil. Thank to castor oil’s ricinoleic acid, the synthesis of prostaglandin E2 and E3 receptors is stimulated. This activation is present not only in the intrauterine lining and intestines, but they are also housed in hair follicles. (9) This common receptor orchestration are expressed on this common and shared pathway, thanks to which castor oil is able to promote physiological process as different as labor contractions, intestinal motility and hair follicles activation.
For the eyelids and eyelashes, night application appears to be the best. Spreading organic and pure quality cold press haxane free castor oil with a cotton swab on eyelashes for all night can significantly thicken and multiply them if this treatment is done from 4 to 6 weeks, and all the more so that couple drops of key essential oils are mixed in. (See below) Castor oil is also rich in many minerals and nutrients that help to nurture eyebrows and eyelashes.
Another oil which is excellent for your hair is olive oil—which I have discussed extensively in this post. Olive oil fights inflammation, which is awesome for dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. It is also antimicrobial, so it may help to fight whatever infection is causing the loss of your eyebrow hairs.
Olive oil is something I recommend for scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes, not only because it helps hair to grow, but also because it has no toxic side effects, contrarily from the prescribed hair growth products. It also works great to moisturize one’s locks and improves their appearance and texture. For the eyebrows and eyelashes, use of cotton swab before bedtim is good. The next morning, rinse. Adding essential oils is a plus
Another excellent natural moisturizer which can help to boost hair growth is coconut oil. Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E and has plenty of iron as well, both of which are great for human hair. Procedure: Warm it up and Rub the coconut oil gently into scalp, eyelashes or eyebrows. leave over night if possible. Rinse off the coconut oil with warm water and mild soap the next day
These seeds also contain lecithin and nicotinic acid and may assist in repairing damage to one’s hair follicles. How is this done ? First, drop seeds inside a bowl of wter. Let it sit for at least five hours. Next, after the seeds are thoroughly soaked, remove them from the water. Third, grind the seeds into a thick paste. Thereafter, adding some liquid coconut oil to the mixture to soften it up even more. Use as much as needed with a cotton stick, either on eyebrows or eyelashes and leave on for the night. Wash in morning. To be done eveyday. In four to six weeks, eyebrows and eyelashes noticeably thicker.
This gel is a mainstay in the beauty world because it is an efficient moisturizer which is rich in antioxidants. It’s also antibacterial. Additionally, aloe vera can reduce redness on the skin as well as inflammation. Oftentimes, conditions like dermatitis won’t just cause patchy hair loss in eyebrows, it will make those patches stand out by highlighting them with red, irritated inflamed skin.
Furthermore, Aloe will zap any infection which may be responsible for hair loss while nourishing the hair follicles. The procedure is simple. Once one find good quality organic aloe vera plant gel, one needs to rult it into your eyebrows and-or eyelids where the lashes are. Next, waiting for half an hour or so and then rising it out with warm water.
To these oils could be added imu oil, argan oil, almond oil and jojoba oils.
Volatile Essential oils
The scientific literature distinquishes among four different essential oils for safe and efficient hair growth. They are lavander, cedar wood, rosemary and peppermint essential oils. Of all these four, i first recommend peppermint oil for hair growth. It is backed by impressive clinical research. Moreover, it has been shown to be better than conventional medicine’s Rogaine hair growth drug. (Source) It’s mechanism appears to be hinged on the IGF-1 pathway during the anagen growth phase.
“Of the 4 experimental groups, PEO (Peppermint Oil Group) group showed the most prominent hair growth effects; a significant increase in dermal thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth. ALP activity and IGF-1 expression also significantly increased in PEO group. Body weight gain and food efficiency were not significantly different between groups. These results suggest that PEO induces a rapid anagen stage and could be used for a practical agent for hair growth without change of body weight gain and food efficiency”. (10) (Source)
Peppermint oil fights inflammation as well as infections. It can also improve blood circulation, drawing important nutrients to your hair follicles. It acts as a moisturizer, and it is also soothing on irritated skin. This means that if the hair issue is connecting to itching, then the peppermint oil will counteract the inflammation and provide soothing relief while stimulating hair re-growth. (11)
To use it, i propose two modalities. First, dilute a few drops into a carrier oil like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, but not more than 2 percent. Second, use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap. This is perfect to use on one’s eyebrows since it is a gentle product containing only natural ingredients and not expensive. Then, once on eyebrow, hair or eyelashes, leave on for at least a few minutes before washing it out. Caution that solution does not get into the eye.
To be safe, it may be wise to first try one drop of peppermint essential oil in carrier oil on the cheek or arm skin to make sure the skin is not allergic to essential oils. The lotion should be shaked to make sure the essential oil is mixed in. If there is no allergy, then from one drop we can go to 2 drops and then 3 drops. After a few days of using peppermint essential oil, rosemary essential oil would be the next most powerful hair promoting substance to use.
There are many other ways to promote hair growth than those mentioned in the blog, from acupuncture, hydrotherapy, hair and follicle gland massage, combinational remedies, exercises, breathing modalities, correct posture and other techniques. In conventional medicine, prescription minoxidil is the gold standard for hair growth. Because experimentation has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that peppermint essential oil is at least as efficient as minoxidil and has none of its toxic side effects, it is reasonable to recommend this volatile essential oil, mixed in with a carrier oil like castor oil, extra virgin olive oil or organic coconut oil, but in small quantities. Concomitantly, nourishing the hair via good quality food and herbs should be planned in combination with living a stressed reduced holistic lifestyle in a peaceful geographic zone that is relatively free from pollution and dirty electricity.
Christian Joubert (HMI director)