Trichology and Hair Loss
by Jennifer McCowan
Losing your hair is a very stressful, traumatic, and often embarrassing situation. I understand, because I have lost my own hair. This experience fueled my need to help others with their hair loss, so after 23 years of being a stylist, I retired from behind the chair and began a new career in Trichology, which is the science of hair and scalp disorders. Trichologists help those suffering with issues such as hair loss (alopecia), dry and oily dandruff, and hair shaft disorders. It is a holistic field which uses a wholistic, non-invasive approach to hair loss and other scalp and hair concerns by trying to get to the root of the issue, subsequently benefitting the body as a whole. Saskatchewan’s first trichological centre, Hope Hair Recovery, can evaluate your medical history, lifestyle, and environment and try to get to the root of the problem, in addition to addressing the symptoms.
By the time we notice that our hair is thinning, 50 percent is already gone. But the good news is, it takes five to seven years to lose the hair permanently, unless there is scarring involved. All too often our hair is an indicator of what is happening in our lives (stress, autoimmune issues, genetics, and medication, for example), or it is a sign that there may be an underlying issue (vitamin or mineral deficiencies, health concerns such as thyroid issues, or other imbalances in the body).
Many factors can affect our hair, beginning with stress. Nowadays, life is so hectic that we are constantly chasing the clock, and with enough stress our body releases cortisol, and cortisol causes an inflammatory reaction in the body, protecting our vital organs. We call this the fight or flight mode. Inflammation creates a host of issues in the body, but when there is inflammation in the scalp, it essentially begins to shut down the oxygen and nutrient supply for the hair, causing miniaturization of the hair shaft and also shedding.
Hormones—Throughout our life, hormones will fluctuate, and as we age, certain hormones will decrease in the body and others will become dominant. Testosterone is the hormone which contributes to hair loss. In women and in men, we call this Female and Male Pattern Hair Loss. How the hair loss occurs is different, but the effect is nearly the same.
Nutrition—Gut health, extreme or crash diets, can have a direct effect on the body's metabolism, typically resulting in hair loss. It is recommended that you eat three healthy meals per day, which include protein, vegetables, and some carbohydrates, plus small snacks in between. The cells in your hair are the fastest duplicating cells in your body and they need a steady stream of nutrition. All four food groups are essential, but if you are unable to consume all of those, there are plenty of alternatives out there. It is very important though that you get enough protein daily, as our hair is made up of mainly protein.
Heredity—Heredity, like everything else in our bodies, will typically dictate what our hair will be like. You can have hair loss from either parent, not just your mother’s father’s side. This type of hair loss is easily detected with a microscope. Some studies are now showing that 15 percent of “hereditary” hair loss is not in fact “hereditary.” The signs and symptoms are the same, however they are linking this to all of the changes in our environment and to the lack of nutrients in the soil, depleting the fruits and vegetables we eat. People are simply unable to get the same amount of nutrients as they did 50 years ago.
Medication—All of these can contribute to hair loss. Certain types of medication such as anti-depressants, thyroid, diabetes, and blood pressure medications, can have an effect on hair loss while you are adjusting to the medication. There is no need to worry; once your prescription is stable for three months, you will see your hair grow back.
Anesthetic—All different types of anesthetic can cause hair loss, whether it be local, general, or otherwise. There is typically stress surrounding these types of circumstances as well, and both can contribute to hair loss. Within three to six months following the procedure, your hair should begin to come back, so there is no need to be concerned.
Supplements—It is so important to supplement with a high quality multi-vitamin or individual supplements. If there is a deficiency in iron, zinc, copper, B12, vitamin D, among others, it is important to supplement. When you have hair loss, certain vitamins and minerals need to be at a good level (on the mean or higher), otherwise you can experience hair loss and find it difficult to restore the growth until the vitamin and mineral amounts come up again. It is not sufficient to be at the low end of normal. It is crucial for you to be middle of the scale, so be sure to ask your doctor for a printed copy of your blood tests and bring them when you see a Trichologist.
If you are concerned about your hair loss or scalp issue, Hope Hair Recovery can assist you to get back on track. Our programs are customized to suit every situation and budget in order for you to achieve the best outcome possible.
Jennifer McCowan, WTS, is a Certified Trichologist, Associate Professor for the World Trichology Society, National Hair Loss affiliate, American Hair Loss Council member, Wigs for Kids ambassador, 2020 SABEX nominee, and 2019 Woman of Distinction finalist. www.HopeHairRecovery.com, 306-203-0389, Facebook: Hope Hair Recovery, Instagram: @HopeHairRecovery, and LinkedIn: Jennifer McCowan. See display ad page 14 of the 25.6 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal.