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Health Protocols

Hair Loss

Introduction

Half of men experience some degree of hair loss by the time they turn 50. Forty percent of women are affected by age 70 (Stough 2005; Levy 2013; Qi 2014; Hawit 2008).

“Pattern” hair loss is the most common cause of hair loss in both genders. In genetically susceptible individuals, the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, contributes to pattern hair loss (Qi 2014; Santos 2015; Mayo Clinic 2015). An autoimmune condition called alopecia areata is another relatively common cause of hair loss, affecting about 2% of people at some point during their lives (Stough 2005; Levy 2013; Qi 2014; Hawit 2008). Other less common causes of hair loss include some medications, severe trauma or stress, and nutritional deficiencies.

Two medications are available to treat pattern hair loss: minoxidil (Rogaine) for men and women as an over-the-counter topical treatment, and finasteride (Propecia), an oral prescription drug for men that blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Unfortunately, neither of these medications is remarkably effective, and both have side effects (Mayo Clinic 2015; Levy 2013).

Surgical hair restoration is an effective but expensive and invasive option for both men and women with long-term hair loss (Levy 2013; Stough 2005). For people undergoing chemotherapy—one of the most common medical causes of hair loss—scalp cooling can help maintain hair density (Shin 2015).

Intriguing new scientific findings are uncovering the next generation of therapies to combat hair loss. For instance, several trials have found that injecting platelet-rich plasma into the scalp can safely increase hair density (Ferneini 2016; Singh 2016). And the recent discovery that stem cells in hair follicles regulate hair growth has led to new avenues of research that may yield more promising treatments (Santos 2015).

In addition to a healthy diet (Lin 2016), a number of integrative interventions, including solubilized keratin (Beer 2014), essential fatty acids (Le Floc'h 2015), zinc (Karashima 2012), and saw palmetto extract (Murugusundram 2009; Rossi 2012) may prevent hair loss and promote healthy hair growth.

In this protocol, you will learn about different types of hair loss and their causes. Conventional as well as novel and emerging treatment strategies will be reviewed, and several integrative interventions that may help promote healthy hair growth will be examined.