Susan Biali, MD
If your hair isn't happy, pay attention! Dry frizzy hair, hair that lacks shine, is thin or sheds, an oily scalp or brittle strands that break are all signs of poor health. If your hair is gradually thinning, you may have an under-functioning thyroid or iron deficiency anemia.
If your hair isn't happy, pay attention! Dry frizzy hair, hair that lacks shine, is thin or sheds, an oily scalp or brittle strands that break are all signs of poor health.
If your hair is gradually thinning, you may have an under-functioning thyroid or iron deficiency anemia. If your hair is thinning prominently at the back of your crown, it may represent a hormonal imbalance. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, in which the ovaries produce too much male hormone, is one example. If the thinning is rapid and accompanied by significant facial and body hair growth, there could be a more serious problem.
Medications such as Accutane and the birth control pill can also cause hair loss and thinning. Stopping the pill can result in sudden but temporary shedding and pregnancy or menopause may have a similar effect.
Good nutrition is the key to thick, shiny hair. If your hair is thin to begin with, have faith because eating properly can make an impact on its quality.
Feed Your Head
When I was in residency and suffering from stress, lack of sleep and a shockingly poor diet, my hair became increasingly thin, dull and lifeless. When I resolved to eat properly, the changes in my hair were amazing! It's essential to eat lots of good quality protein to provide the building blocks for strong hair.
Iron deficiency anemia is a known cause of hair loss, so the answer is to consume foods with sufficient amounts of iron, associated with more rapid hair growth. Have your doctor check your blood level of ferritin and for anemia. Sources of iron include meats, fish, spinach and legumes. If you get your iron from vegetarian sources, be sure to consume vitamin C with every meal to enhance its absorption.
Essential fatty acids seem to benefit every organ of the body and can do wonderful things for hair. Flax oil, for example, has been shown to decrease dandruff, balance an oily scalp and keep hair soft and shiny. These fatty acids are found in fish, flax, nuts and seeds and are critical components of your diet.
Other important nutrients include beta-carotene from orange vegetables and fruits and green leafy vegetables, and the B-complex vitamins plentiful in whole grains.
Silica is a mineral that has been used for centuries for its beneficial effects on hair, skin and nails. Foods rich in silica include millet and rolled oats. Another source is the horsetail plant infused as a tea (but don't eat it the fresh herb is too abrasive). Supplementary silica is available as vegetal silica in capsule or powder form.
I avoid commercial shampoos that have chemicals on their ingredient list. Instead, I buy my sulphate-free shampoo at a natural health store and have been delighted with the results. I look for certain ingredients like rosemary, which conditions the hair shaft, and juniper to help heal scalp disorders. Camomile is also great for bringing out the hair's natural highlights.
Stinging nettle is excellent for developing beautiful hair, as it builds the blood by supplying it with calcium and other minerals that nourish the hair.
Finally, try to get a good sleep every night. Aim for eight hours. And get to bed early, as the hours before midnight are the most restorative. Exercise regularly and vigorously to increase blood flow to your scalp and facilitate oxygen delivery to your follicles. Since stress hormones act to constrict your blood vessels and decrease the ability of your body to nourish your scalp, try to minimize stress through relaxation, quiet times and just plain fun!
Good Oils, Great Hair!
Most people try and remove the oil from their hair. That's the worst thing to do. Your hair needs the essential fats and acids found in essential oils to make it healthy and luxurious. Healthy hair is just a drop away.
Here are some sure-fire recipes to give you the hair everybody envies.
Lavender and rosemary do more than just smell good: they make your hair silky and shiny too. After washing your hair, add a few drops of rosemary and lavender to your hairbrush. Brush your hair from the scalp to the ends. It's a great way to stimulate scalp circulation and it feels nice too!
If your scalp's itchy and flaky, rosemary, tea tree and cedar oils help. Combine a drop of each in two tablespoons of olive oil. Pour onto the crown of your head and massage outwards. Leave in your hair for one hour and then rinse.
Dry, damaged hair can make the best hairstyle look bad. Clary sage, cedar oil, geranium, lavender and rosemary can smooth the hair follicle. Combine a drop of each in two tablespoons of olive oil. Pour onto the crown of your head and massage outwards. Leave in your hair for one hour and then rinse.
Finally, if your hair is falling out, clary sage, cedar oil, geranium, lavender and rosemary can help get to the root of the problem. Mix with two tablespoons of olive oil and massage into the scalp. Wait one hour and then shampoo.