Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thinning Hair: The causes and how to address it

Thinning hair is a topic that I haven't really touched on in the past.  Lately, I've been in communication with a few lovely ladies who seem to be dealing with this unfortunate circumstance.  So I figure that now would be as good time as any to address this issue.  I myself experienced thin/thinning hair about a year and a half ago, and believe me, it was not fun.  I remember not being able to proudly wear my hair down without feeling self conscious about the way may hair looked. Now that I'm on the other side, I feel compelled to help others in their quest for thick, healthy hair.

The thing about thinning hair is that there are a multitude of factors that contribute to it.  Thin hair is a result of something.  Our job is to seek out and identify what's causing the result. If the cause isn't clear, trying to solve the problem may prove to be pointless.  Finding out the true cause may take some work on your end, but if you are serious about making a change, this will be well worth your while.

Conducting a Root Cause Analysis is key in situations like this.  This is pretty much the process of "peeling the onion" so to speak to find out what really lies beneath the surface.  One of the best techniques I've heard of so far, for conducting a root cause analysis is asking "why" three to five times until you get the most powerful answer.  For example, in my case it would go something like this"

Q: "Why is my hair thinning?" 
A:  Because my hair has been shedding like crazy

Q: "Why is my hair shedding some much?"
A:  Because every time I comb or detangle, I lose a lot of hairs

Q:  "Why am I losing so much hairs when I comb or detangle?"
A:  Because my hair follicle isn't strong

Q: "Why are my hair follicles weak?"
A: Probably because my scalp is unhealthy

The example was a simplistic version of the exchange I had with myself. The actual process took a lot more contemplation before I realized the correlation between my scalp health and my shedding.  Since we're on the subject of scalp health.  If there's anyone out there who has dry/itchy scalp please take a moment to check out these pictures as an example of the impact that can have on the thickness of our hair.  I changed my habits immediately upon viewing these pics.  What I learned from the reviewing those pictures is that the opening on the scalp where the hair grows can actually be blocked off. Once blocked, the hair suffocates which retards growth.  Your scalp is the "soil" from where your hair grows, make sure it's as healthy as possible.

Stress management
The impact of stress on our hair is huge! For those who don't believe me, take a look at the hair of a President at the moment he is elected then take a gander again two-four years into his term.  The difference is like night and day.  Most obviously we see it in the greys that seem to take over in just a few short years.  Hair fall is another result of stress.  I have an unproven theory as to why this could happen.  Remember my post on promoting growth during winter months?   In it I talked about increasing blood flow as a key to growth.  When we are under a lot of stress we are in a state of anxiety, worry, sadness etc.  These types of emotions can considered "fear" related emotions.  I'm using the word fear because it's the opposite of faith/joy/growth.  As we constantly operate in a state that resembles fear, the body begins to conserve and restrict blood flow to the most important areas of the body (like your internal organs). In a state of fear, our body also provides blood flow to the legs in anticipation of the need for "flight."

With all this constriction going on, our scalp suffers, receiving less blood flow than normal. Before you know it, our hair begins to fall out.  Also when we're stressed, we usually don't eat healthy so our blood flow contains fewer nutrients. We also tend to remain more sedentary which further minimizes circulation. Add this all together and you have the recipe for thinning hair.  If you think you are the sufferer of stress related hair loss, you have to take action to shift your state to one where you experiencing joy.  This creates a level of openness all over.  When you are in an open, relaxed state, things start to flow again. Not just inside but in your external world as well.  If you don't know where to start, beginning by taking daily walks while breathing in some fresh oxygen as deeply as you can.

Over processing
Thee biggest issue most women who relax tend face is an unhealthy scalp and thin hair.  I think the biggest factor in this is over processing when we relax.  Over processing could mean using a relaxer strength that is too much or relaxing the hair too frequently.  I remember the days when I would touch up every 6-8 weeks with a super strength formula.  This meant I would relax my hair anywhere from 7-9 times a year!  Now that I'm stretching and using a milder formula, I relax between 2-4 times a year.  You can guarantee that, not only is my hair thicker than in the past, but my scalp suffers less from not having the relaxer massaged into it a bunch of times throughout the year.  Over processing is the equivalent of boiling pasta until it's all soft and mushy vs. boiling it al dente.  My hair is the thickest it's ever been because I've left some life in my hair and I give all the credit to the fact that I'm under processing my hair.

With aging comes change.  Our skin changes, our bodies change, our hair changes.  Thinning hair is one of the signs of aging.  This means that we have to fight against the normal effects of getting older.  If we conducted a quick root cause analysis of what happens when we age, one of the causes could be the loss of nutrients and our body's inability to absorb nutrition from our food at the same levels as our younger years.  For example, when I was researching from my silica blog post,  I remember reading somewhere that our natural levels of silica deplete rapidly with age.   Most if not all of our nutritional stores diminish over time.  And of course, our bodies then prioritize and decide where to allocate the nutrition it receives.  If you suspect that your thinning hair age related, then your next course of action is to combat this with all the strength and might that you have. If I were facing aging related hair loss, I would take time to identify the biggest gaps between what's happening in our bodies when we're younger vs. what happens when we age.  Then I would systematically seek out ways to close those gaps.  Basically, I would try to mimic youth as much as I could through lifestyle changes.  I'd focus intensely on increasing the level of circulation throughout my body, I'd buy the highest quality supplements available for greater absorption,  (women studied who took the most absorbable form of silica were able to enjoy thicker hair in six months time), I'd eliminate high inflammatory foods that create excess free radicals and eat the most nutritious foods I could find,  I'd study those individuals who seem to reverse the signs of aging and incorporate their practices into mine. Basically, I would tell my body that it's young again with my actions and watch my hair respond accordingly.

Stimulation and Growth
Remember our friend, Sanford Bennett who at the age of 72 looked healthier and more vibrant than he did at 50?  Along with a more youthful body, he created "thicker, more luxurious hair" simply by increasing the amount of circulation to his hair follicles through a special scalp massage pulling  technique.  Sanford claimed this technique would increase circulation and strengthen the muscles of the scalp and blood vessels that feed our hair follicles.  I just read a pretty interesting article in which a study was done of men in Japan suffering from male pattern baldness.   What these men all had in common was that their level of circulation to the scalp was 2.6 times lower than the control group.  In the article, several methods are discussed that can impact circulations levels and hair growth. The one method, which interests me the most is, hyperbaric oxygen (hbo) treatment.  This is a treatment in which the participant receive 100% nourishing oxygen to their cells.  The benefits of hbo have been geared to faster healing of injuries and scars but many notice an increase in hair growth as well.  Last year my husband introduced the hyperbaric chamber to me while he was searching videos on YouTube.  He shared that this oxygen treatment helped athletes recover from their injuries sooner and all I was thinking was "I wonder if all this pure oxygen can help with hair growth?"  I guess my theory wasn't far off but, because of the costs, I haven't had a chance to experiment. We even went as far as to contact local practitioners who offered the service but we never followed through with it.  I wasn't gonna leave well enough alone so I searched for an alternative.  Check out this site which explains a simple breathing technique that mimics some of the benefits of hyperbaric chambers. 

Nutritional Supplementation
A focus on proper nutrition is critical whenever one is dealing with thinning hair.  Increasing blood flow is half the battle, we also need to ensure the blood flooding the scalp is nutrient rich.  I was truly inspired today when I read this blog post showing actual pics of a woman's hair turning from grey to her natural hair color simply by incorporating green juices into her diet.  Juicing is powerful because the nutrients come in a form that doesn't need digesting.  The good stuff is ready for immediate assimilation!  Another option I would incorporate is adding to my hair diet with a cocktail of supplements that support healthy strong hair.  Biotin, silica, omega-3s would be very high on my list along with MSM, seaweed, and a liquid multivitamin for optimal absorption.  Even the tea I drink would promote healthy hair.  Green foods would be a daily practice because of the amount of nourishment contained in them.   A while back I set the intention of wanting my hair to appear so lush and healthy that people could attribute my mane to my healthy eating without even asking me about it.  I wanted my hair to represent the manifestation of my healthy lifestyle.  My goal is to have Kenya Moore, amazon-looking hair and eating in the healthiest way possible is how I will make it happen.

Finally, one of the most important things needed to address thinning hair is patience.  If you choose to incorporate any of the tips shared here, they aren't going to happen open night. Instead, let them represent long-term shift in your lifestyle.  Set a lofty intention and your actions will adjust accordingly.  Be persistent in giving gratitude for your hair and be grateful to the new hairs that will come into your life.  Find comfort in the fact that nothing is permanent and recognize the power you have to create the head of hair that you desire.

  1. Hello Nadege,
    Thank you for this post. The details and information you share is very helpful. I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. This was a great post, but I have a question. My edges are very short, and I mean really short. I always get this curly bit of hair/ new growth at the front of my head that is short. I think the word for it is'picky'. My hair line isn't receding but the only hair I ever have there is a curly bit of new growth. It's as if all the hair just disappears, even though it isn't really breaking. Any tips?

  3. Great Post!! I have an appointment with my dermatologist this week,and had similar questions about my scalp! Very Informative

  4. Thx to you, it's very informative, my hair is thin, and i need patience at all
    @ Adri: maybe it's a congenital alopecia, n u should see a dermatologist...

  5. I've been using MN since my last touch up on February 1st. My hair is growing like 1.5 inches per month...... Unfortunately I have noticed that my hair is shedding like crazy after about 7 weeks post!. And I'm saying this because I naturally maybe shed 2-3 hairs a day. Now it's like 30 per day, maybe even more! I heard that you are supposed to loose between 60-100 per day, but this shedding I'm experiencing just doesn't sit well with me. I'm going to get some garlic supplements. If nothing changes I end my stretch in 2 weeks @ 12 weeks post

  6. This post is very informative and includes nice points that will help you getting you hair more healthy and shiny..

  7. hair loss/thinning could also be a symptom of hypothyroidism. if you have this and/or any of the following: dry skin, cold hands/feet, midsection weight gain, you should see a naturopath or other doctor who is experienced w/treating thyroid disorders naturally (bioidentically). my hair and skin looks much better now that my hormones are fixed. hope this helps someone. kelly

  8. Truly professional, Exactly what i was looking for. Will bookmark this blog for future posts . Cheers:) Source: thinning hair treatment

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