I was talking with a friend the other day who said she is experiencing hair loss, and that it is very disappointing to her because it appears to be getting worse. She was leaning on me for advice because she said, “I can’t look in the mirror anymore.”
She has tried all the expensive shampoos, and color treatments, she has asked her doctor, and she has finally retreated to the reality of losing her hair, when she is still a very pretty woman in her mid 70’s. Basically, she’s given up hope for restoration.
Within minutes I was able to discern the problem for her, and arm her with information to regrow her hair.
Today’s article is to help you too. I’d like to show you some more possible causes for your own hair loss in case you’ve given up hope yourself. It’s not always because of advancing age, although that is one obvious reason.
An estimated 100 hairs are shed every day! That’s hard to believe, but it’s true. If you’re not growing new hairs, the hair loss becomes more evident. So hair loss and hair growth are two different things. You can’t stop the shedding, that’s natural, but you do have some control over new hair growth. You also have a little control over factors that lead to excessive hair shedding, maybe not stem cells but certainly other factors. The stem cell theory is brand new!
Stem cell studies suggest that the 1.5 grams of “dead material” that we shed daily (about 500 million cells) is replaced by new stem cells, and our stem cells are compromised, and lower in number as we age. The see-saw of hair growth to hair shedding tilts in favor of hair loss with higher age. But as you will soon see, my article will show what else accelerates the hair loss.
My point is that it’s not always about a reduction in hormones due to menopause, although that is another obvious reason. There are many common reasons that physicians can find and help you with. I’m not dealing with the easy, obvious reasons for hair loss today. I want to tackle the harder, overlooked causes.
I think millions of you reading this today will benefit. At the end of the day, I feel like this: If you can’t figure out the root cause of the hair loss, you are never going to solve it! So I want to help you determine the root cause because hair is important to many people. The loss of it makes people avoid looking in the mirror.
1. Statin Use Can Lead to Unanticipated Hair Loss
People with elevated cholesterol sometimes take statin medications such as atorvastatin to help improve their ratios. A well-documented side effect of this category of medications is reduced production of thyroid hormone. And that leads to hair loss. This was exactly the problem with my friend the other day… she told me she had been on a statin drug for about 2 or 3 years, and that’s when her problem began. Statins, through their drug mugging effect, lead to reduced hair growth and extra shedding.
The Fix for Statin-induced Hair Loss
Since you can’t discontinue your medication, the fix for this problem is simple. I’d suggest you talk to your physician and get a prescription for Cytomel® or Compounded T3 timed release, or the generic drug “Liothyronine” which is a biologically active form of thyroid hormone. All of these require a prescription. You could also try a good thyroid supplement to support thyroid hormone synthesis. You may also want to look into one particular mineral called selenium.
Selenium supplementation all by itself may be useful because statins are a drug mugger of selenium, and without that mineral, you could become hypothyroid. For that matter, coffee is a drug mugger of iron and magnesium which also leads to hypothyroidism. You can watch my short VIDEO about that.
I’m not recommending all of the above options, I’m just giving you choices to consider. Work with your physician to determine what is best with you.
2. COVID Infection May Increase Hair Loss
Aside from lingering issues like inability to smell properly, C*V1D can cause hair loss. A Lancet STUDY showed that 22% of hospitalized patients reported hair loss 6 months later. It’s from increased hair shedding. We know that tremendous stress on the body leads to hair loss, and the hair loss occurs months later. So it may be a combination of stress from hospitalization, as well as something that the virus itself does to the body. Either way, this is a consideration for many people today who have had the respiratory illness, and now suddenly have wads of hair falling out. I would think it is temporary.
The Fix for Infection-induced Hair Loss
The fix here would be time and probiotics. Time will allow your body to reduce all those stress chemicals that you had during illness. The probiotics have the ability to counteract hair loss by supporting your body in a unique way – more specifically they can help manage new hair growth and support the health of your hair follicles which enable faster hair growth.
Certainly, other factors may be involved like antibody formation to one’s own hair follicles, but that has yet to be teased out. It may very well also cause “telogen effluvium” which I will discuss next.
3. Antibiotics and Antifungal Medications Increase Risk of Hair Loss
Many people today are treating themselves for mold illness or other infections such as Lyme disease, H. pylori, SIBO, or even acne. The medications that “kill” organisms are well known to cause hair loss, and this begins about 2 to 4 months into drug therapy. It’s often overlooked by doctors who have one goal in mind, that is to cure your infection.
But the hair loss can be profound and frightening to the patient, so I’m listing this category of medications so you understand what is happening and can take action. Itraconazole therapy is widely known to cause hair loss, and the first case study I could find was from 1986. It’s no secret, but the importance of this medication and similar ones for serious illness cannot be dismissed, nor can they be discontinued if they are for a life-threatening systemic infection.
The antibiotics and antifungals can interfere with your normal cycle of hair growth. The term for this is called “Telogen effluvium” which causes the hair roots to be forced into a resting state. Telogen hair shedding is a condition can be acute or chronic and with medications, I would guess it’s chronic until discontinuation of the offending agent. After that it may take 6 months to a year to regrow.
The Fix for Antibiotics and Anti-fungal-induced Hair Loss
Probiotics can help for the same reason I explained earlier in this article. Probiotics have a counter effect to the intestinal damage done by the antibiotics. Looking into natural remedies may also be useful to some of you if the medications are too harsh. For example, Oil of Oregano and Enteric Coated Peppermint Oil capsules, Andrographis, and even Berberine are useful for some situations like SIBO, and Lyme, systemic mycosis and more! There are hundreds of choices when it comes to natural antimicrobials. If you can talk to your doctor about using more simple remedies, then perhaps the hair loss will not be so profound.
4. Collagen Loss is One Reason for Hair Loss
As we age, our ability to produce collagen diminishes. Because collagen protects the skin, and the layer of skin that holds the hair roots, it may help indirectly with age-related hair loss. To be clear, collagen is not really in the hair, it simply supports the hair follicle. Collagen production goes down with age, so it’s one piece of the puzzle.
The Fix for Collagen Loss
Consider collagen peptides which go on to form collagen in the body. It can support healthy beautiful skin, as well as hair since the collagen peptides help build hair proteins and strengthen skin around your hair roots.
5. Reduced Parathyroid Hormone Can Cause Hair Loss
The condition is termed “Hypoparathyroidism.” This has nothing to do with the thyroid gland, it is another set of glands that reside behind your thyroid gland, and there are four of them. The parathyroid glands regulate calcium and produce parathyroid hormone or PTH.
Symptoms of low parathyroid hormone include brittle nails, patchy hair loss, thinning eyebrows, anxiety and sometimes muscle weakness, fatigue and headaches. Most doctors do not test for the condition, but it’s quite common. So is the opposite condition called “Hyperparathyroidism” where the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH).
If you have low PTH, you will experience hair loss and you can go for years without them figuring this out!
The Fix for Low PTH Parathyroid Hormone
Test yourself by self-ordering your own blood test, or asking your doctor to test for PTH hormone, along with vitamin D, serum calcium and ionized calcium. All four of these tests is critical. You will go from there when you get your results because the treatment for low PTH is different than the treatment for high PTH. The test should be taken at the same time each week, and on the same day each week, for at least 3 weeks in a row (ie every Friday at 7:30am go to the lab).
Oftentimes, the treatment for low PTH is simple, and nutrients are used, or PTH hormone is given to restore declining levels. But either way, at least you will know if your hair loss is being driven by a problem of the parathyroid glands. There is more information in this PAPER for doctors reading this today who want to understand the mechanisms behind the PTH-driven hair loss.
A “PTH” blood test, along with the others listed above is a very simple, affordable way to evaluate any person experiencing chronic fatigue and hair loss! If left untreated, the PTH imbalance can lead to heart problems such as Left Ventricular Hypertrophy and more. The best site for information on the parathyroid gland is parathyroid.com. I’ve also written an article about calcium and PTH which may be useful and it is available HERE.
What Happens with Autoimmune Diseases
Many people suffer with autoimmune disease and do not even know it. That’s because the symptoms get treated one by one, with one medication at a time.
You have joint pain, you get celecoxib.
You have fatigue, or night sweats, you’ll be given an antidepressant or estrogen drug.
You have neuropathy, you get gabapentin.
You have a few white spots on your skin, so now you get clobetasol or betamethasone.
You get a low thyroid test, so you are put on levothyroxine.
You have dry eyes or dry cough, you’ll be given a few more drugs!
All of these symptoms could actually be autoimmune driven. In the same respective order, it would look like this:
6. You May Have Antibodies Against your Own Hair Follicles
You have joint pain, it might be Rheumatoid Arthritis.
You have neuropathy, it could be Small Fiber Neuropathy, Multiple Sclerosis or Autoimmune Neuropathy
You have fatigue, or night sweats, it may be Sarcoidosis.
You have a few white spots on your skin, you could have Vitiligo.
You have dry eyes or dry cough, you may have Sjögren’s disease.
You get a bad thyroid test, you may have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease.
My point is to make you wonder if you’ve been diagnosed properly, because if you have any one of these autoimmune disorders, you could also have antibodies against your own hair follicles. Hair loss is very common with all of the conditions above. Autoimmune illness is a very common, but overlooked cause for hair loss. Another one that comes to mind that I didn’t list above is Celiac disease. Because the gut cannot absorb all the nutrients like normal, a deficiency may occur, which then affects hair growth. Many laboratories today test for autoimmune illness.
The Fix for Autoimmune-related Hair Loss
First of all, make sure you are diagnosed properly. If you think your hair loss is being driven by an autoimmune process, you can look into new, appropriate methods of treatment. What I mean specifically, is if you are only being treated for dry eyes with a fish oil supplement, but you find out that you actually have Sjögren’s, then you can get proper treatment for the Sjögren’s and that in and of itself may slow down the hair loss. Improper treatment of an autoimmune process only allows the self-attack to continue.
So one “fix” is getting adequate, proper treatment for your specific illness and your physician will help you do that. The other fix for an autoimmune illness is to improve your diet. Nothing makes the body weaker than eating junk food, and exposing yourself to more free radicals which increase the inflammatory cytokines. So a clean, healthy, well-balanced diet is critical. Gluten and casein are two common proteins which exacerbate autoimmunity.
There are many common, but overlooked causes for hair loss. I encourage you to do more searching into the possible reasons behind your hair loss, and not to give up. As always, I would urge you to consider taking nutrients that are known to support hair growth and eating a healthy diet that excludes unhealthy oils and refined or manufactured foods. I would also encourage you to avoid excessive or harsh hair treatments which can ultimately contribute to hair loss.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.