Hair Loss: What you can do about it - The Borneo Post - NH/16/16

In this age of great emphasis on youth and beauty, hair loss has become a major concern. Over the years, quacks and charlatans have made money touting the virtues of hair-growth remedies. At the present time, there is no cure for baldness where the follicles have died. Dead follicles cannot be brought back to life.

Some sort of baldness (alopecia) affects 65 percents of the total male population. Some women experience thinning of the hair as they age, but bladness in women is rare.

The so-called male pattern baldness is in most cases heredity. A history of male baldness on either side of the family predisposes one to hair loss. Sometimes baldness occurs at an early age. Twelve percent of all 25-year-olds stiffer from noticeable baldness, and the incidence increases with age; 37 percent by age 35, 45 percent by age 45 and 65 percent by age 65. The thinning starts on the vertex, or top of the head, and the hairline recedes on both sides of the forehead.  Can some hair loss be delayed, prevented or reversed? In some cases, it can, depending on the cause.

Lars Engstrand, M.D., a university professor in Stockholm, Sweden observed that blood circulation in men's scalps was impaired more often than in women. His theory is that the membrane called the galea, which covers the crown of the head, is thicker in men than in women. As the male ages, this membrane becomes thicker and less elastic, causing pressure on the blood vessels beneath it. The result is inadequate circulation to the vessels that feed the hair follicles. In time, the follicles deprived of essential nutrients, die. It is thought the thickening of the galea is related to stimulation by the male sex hormone.

Dr J.H. Burns of Oxford, England did extensive research and found that smoking constricts the blood vessels and slows circulation. In this way, smoking may contribute to hair loss. Caffeine also constricts the blood vessels. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, and a number of soft drinks. Switching to non-caffeinated beverages, preferably herb teas and raw fruit juices will benefit the circulation.

Hair grows out of bulb-like follicles imbedded under the skin. The average scalp has 100,000 follicles. Normally we lose 80 to 100 hairs per day. When the loss exceeds this amount over a period of several weeks, it is wise to seek medical help. A complete physical examination, including a comprehensive nutritional evaluation is advisable since hair loss is often related to nutritional deficiencies.

It has also been shown that persons whose diets are low in iron or have absorption problems may lose their hair. Sixty-five percent of the functioning iron is found in the hemoglobin, the principal component of red blood cells. Hemoglobin acts as a carrier of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. Tissues deprived of oxygen die.

Although some of our processed foods are fortified with iron, it is not in the form most easily absorbed. It's best to eat a nutritious diet of lean meat, fish, legumes, dried fruit, whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables.

If intestinal absorption is impaired, taking digestive enzymes is indicated. Take iron supplements only under the supervision of a nutritionist or doctor. Taking vitamin C along with the -iron enhances its absorption.

Zinc deficiency has been found to be the culprit in many cases of hair loss. In food processing and refining, zinc is lost and not replaced. For example, whole-wheat flour contains almost 4 times the zinc found in processed white flour. Canning destroys 40 percent of the zinc in spinach and over 80 percent in tomatoes.

A change of diet, to one composed of natural, unprocessed foods will supply zinc. Nuts, seeds, seafood and whole grain products are good sources of zinc. If zinc supplements are necessary, have a nutritionist or doctor recommend the dosage.

The B-vitamins (there are 11 of them) play an important role in maintaining the health and beauty of the hair. These vitamins are not stored in the body, so adequate amounts must be ingested daily. Some of the B-vitamins are synthesized in the intestines by the bacteria that normally inhabit that area. Antibiotics and anti-infective taken over a period of time will kill off normal, along with harmful bacteria, so a vitamin B deficiency may develop. If it is absolutely necessary to take these drugs, it is advisable to take a B-complex preparation along with yogurt or buttermilk, which contain lactobacillus acidophilus, the bacteria normally present in the colon.

In most instances one can safely take large amounts of the B vitamins. They are water-soluble so the body eliminates what it doesn't use. According to nutritionists, men who become bald early may have unusually high requirements for several of the B vitamins.

Persons who go on drastic reducing diets sometimes lose their hair because they do not get sufficient amounts of needed nutrients. According to Dr. Emanuel Cheraskin of Birmingham, Alabama, any adult who has daily intake of diet fewer than 2,100 to 2,400 calories a day is likely to be deficient in some of the nutrients needed to maintain good health. Yet, most reducing diets advise half that amount.

Some fad diets are not only low in calories but also low in protein. Since the hair is made of protein, this nutrient must be adequate to maintain its health. New hair growth begins several months after ingestion of proper amounts of protein.

Being overweight can also pose problems with hair loss. Dr. Cheraskin and his associates found in one of their studies that subjects only ten pounds overweight had numerous physical problems including dandruff and slowed growth of the nails and hair. A healthy person has a body working in delicate balance, but the overweight person does not.

Some medical conditions are responsible for hair loss. When the thyroid is not functioning up to par the hair becomes dry and falls out. The condition can be reversed by taking the prescribed amount of thyroid medication. Hair may fall out after a prolonged high fever. This was common when typhoid fever was prevalent. Prolonged mental and physiological stress may also contribute to loss of hair.

It is not uncommon for hair to fall out after pregnancy due to hormonal changes. The loss usually starts two to three months after delivery and may continue for several months, but it grows back. Taking a high-potency vitamin and mineral formula after delivery is advised by some doctors as this is a stressful period.

Hair loss has been reported by some people e posed to high levels of pesticides. It has also been reported as a result of myasthenia gravis, a disease affecting the transmission of impulses from nerves to muscle cells. Thinning of the lair has been associated with secondary syphilis.

Hair loss may also be a side affect of drugs. Cholesterol-lowering medication, some anti-hypertensives, anti-microbials, anticoagulants and immuno-suppressants can be culprits. Some women lose hair after discontinuing their use of oral contraceptives. This may be related to the change of hormone balance in the body, similar to pregnancy. Also the Pill can cause a loss of some of the B vitamins especially pyridoxine B6 and folic acid.

Baldness is one of the dreaded side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. However, in the last few years, some cases of hair loss have been prevented by using ice bonnet or ice cap on the head. The ice pack is placed on the patient's head for 15 minutes before and 30 minutes after an injection of the anti-cancer drug. The object is to prevent the scalp from receiving a rapid or peak absorption of the drug.

Without the icepack, 90 percent of the patients lose all of their hair. When the pack is used, about 50 percent retain all of their hair and about 25 percent retain a good portion of their hair. This is according to oncologists at American International Hospital in Zion, Illinois where attempts are made to minimize, chemotherapy side effects.

Gadgets such as brush-rollers, curlers or items that pull the hair may cause it to fall out. Pulling the hair too tightly in braids or ponytails causes
breakage around the hairline, and sometimes hair loss. So, you need to braid gently. It's best to undo the braids at bedtime.

Heated rollers, combs and blowers, when used too frequently dry and injure the hair. Brushing the hair when wet may cause it to fall out. Chemicals such as those found in bleaches, dyes and permanent wave solutions also cause hair problems.

Hot oil treatments help combat dryness and improve the health of the hair. Use any vegetable oil. Part your hair into sections and apply the oil along the parts with a cotton ball. Cover the entire scalp. Then wring out a towel in hot water and wrap it around your head and leave in place until it cools. Repeat the towel treatment seven or eight times. Then wash with a natural shampoo.

If you prefer, you can use the heat from a bonnet-type dryer. After applying the oil, cover your head and sit under the dryer for 45 minutes. Better still, you can leave the oil on overnight. Put a shower cap over your head and sleep that way.

Unfortunately, we cannot choose our parents to guarantee us heads of thick, healthy hair. However, chances for a healthy head of hair are more likely if we practice good health habits by eating properly, avoiding stress and treating our scalps kindly.