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Causes and Prevention of Hair Loss
By Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH


Hair loss for both men and women can be traumatic and even psychologically devastating. Surprisingly what many don’t know is that women account for 40% of hair loss sufferers. Causes vary but generally are either genetically based or related to hormonal imbalances or health issues. Hormonal and health reasons for hair loss include: menopause, stress-related, certain health issues (including iron deficiency and anemia, thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome), nutrient deficiencies (including lack of protein), pregnancy, and taking certain medications or medical treatments including chemotherapy. Also, certain hair styles can traumatize hair follicles, especially those that pull on the hair all of the time including hair extensions, tight pony tails, and braiding.

One of the most common reasons for hair loss tends to be related to hormonal changes and increasing levels of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). According to the Causes of Hair Loss article by the American Hair Loss Association: “Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, which is held in a hair follicle's oil glands. Scientists now believe that it's not the amount of circulating testosterone that's the problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.”

The American Hair Loss association states that even low levels of DHT can cause hair loss, even those levels I the normal range on blood tests: “The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. And certainly when those levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. Those levels can rise and still be within what doctors consider "normal" on a blood test, even though they are high enough to cause a problem. The levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even its regular levels of chemicals, including hormones,” Those with hair follicles that are sensitive to DHT tend to have more hair loss issues.

Men’s hormone levels do not need to be elevated to cause an excess of DHT, although women’s declining female hormones at menopause can cause elevated levels of DHT production (see my article on Breast & Hormonal Health for hormone balance support).

Extreme stress levels can increase of DHT production, which in turn can lead to hair loss. Longer term, high levels of stress tend to change your body’s chemistry by over working your adrenals – leading to adrenal exhaustion and an unbalanced endocrine system. It also making your body’s pH levels more acidic and raises your cortisol levels (a stress hormone), which results in the production of more adrenaline (another stress hormone) and DHT. Read more about stress and 12 stress reduction tips in this article called “How do You Experience and Deal with Stress?”

So what can you do to prevent, slow down, or reverse hair loss? In addition to going to your health care doctor or provider to rule out the genetic and health issues mentioned above, focusing on reducing stress levels, balancing your hormones and reducing the amount DHT in your system are recommended.

Healthy Hair Formula: Reduce DHT levels with Saw Palmetto and Beta-Sitosterol (phytosterol complex) that work to reduce excessive DHT levels which help to enhance the growth phase of the hair and support the hair strength and integrity. The Healthy Hair formula by Complementary Prescriptions contains both of these effective ingredients along with Pygeum to help reduce DHT levels and also PABA, Biotin, and Stinging Nettle Extract, which are known for their ability to support normal hair growth and general hair health.

Reduce your stress hormone cortisol levels by reducing stress in your life. I also suggest using New Chapter’s Holy Basil Force that helps reduce cortisol levels. Also, New Chapter’s Rhodiola Force 300 is an exalted herbal stress adaptogen and helps modulate physiologic stress reactions. And for overall nutritional stress support, I suggest New Chapter’s Perfect Calm whole-food Multivitamin.


If someone you know is experiencing thinning hair or hair loss, please share this information with them. The sooner you can identify and address the underlying reasons for your hair loss, the more likely you will be able to reverse this condition or to prevent further hair loss. As with most health issues, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Note: The content provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. You are encouraged to consult with your medical health care provider regarding any health concern or health-related condition you may have.


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