If you are losing your hair, you may hope to discover a way to get the hair to regrow. Many before you have started out on the same quest. Today science, nutrition and naturopathy offer us more answers than our forebears on the question of hair regrowth. Chinese medicine also offers some insights that are now more widely known.
The short answer is: it depends!
Why are you losing hair?
The first thing hair regrowth depends on is what is causing the hair loss. Another key consideration is whether follicles that should be producing hair, and are not, are resting or dead. Resting follicles may reactivate with appropriate nutrient support, while follicles that have been shut down (destroyed) cannot be revived and are now “dead”.
Types and causes of hair loss
Hair loss can occur anywhere on the body that hair is present. The most common place where undesirable hair loss occurs is the head (scalp). Hair loss can occur in patches or individual strands. Eventually, small patches of hair loss can “join up” to look like universal baldness.
A common pattern for hair loss is male pattern baldness, either from the forehead back, or centre of the scalp (crown of the head) outwards. Hair loss from the forehead backwards is also referred to as a receding hair line.
Though some men can be quite embarrassed by their thinning or receding hair, many women find it very attractive in men and a sign of virility. This may be due, in part, to a common cause of hair loss: hormonal triggers. We now know that dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is metabolized from testosterone, when produced in excess, can cause follicles to shut down thereby rendering them no longer able to produce hair. Perhaps female intuition made the association between the two long before the medical world caught on!
Other causes for hair loss in both men and women include: fungal infections, pulling the hair (severe hair styles such as braiding), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, chemical exposure, stress, a shock or trauma, serious illness, certain pharmaceutical medicines, autoimmune responses, and nutrient deficiencies.
Some of these are clearly within our control.
Understanding the cause of your hair loss will help you work out your best hope for hair regrowth.
What’s normal hair loss and hair growth?
It’s normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day from the head. That is just a tiny fraction of the number of hairs we have on our heads – an estimated 100,000 hairs. Hair loss becomes a problem when we start to lose more hairs than are replaced each day. This can occur when the follicles that create the hairs start to slow down or stay longer and longer in the resting phase between releasing old hairs and starting to grow new ones. The resting phase of hair growth is a normal part of the cycle, and necessary. When the resting phase becomes prolonged nutrient therapy may be of benefit, depending on the reason the follicles are reacting in that way.
Nutrients for hair regrowth
Important nutrients for maintaining the health of the hair, skin and nails and encouraging hair regrowth include: silica, zinc, biotin, copper, Vitamin C and manganese, among others. An ingredient in Chinese herb Fallopia multiflora has also been found to be of assistance.
It may be necessary to work with a naturopath, doctor or Chinese medicine practitioner to work out the cause and remedy for your hair loss. Supplementation that fails to trigger hair regrowth will help make the remaining hair look shinier, stronger and improve its colour. These outcomes may not be the primary aim of your regime but are very nice additional benefits of your increased focus on hair health.
Katherine West is a health freak and freelance writer who in 2003 studied for a Diploma of Nutrition. She is also into yoga and pilates.