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Male Alopecia

November 7, 2017

The month of November is male awareness month, also known as Movember. Time for all men to grow their amazing mustaches and raise awareness for all male health issues! With this in mind we would like to address the topic of male pattern baldness also known as androgenic alopecia, which is a condition that affects men both physically and emotionally.

According to the American Hair loss Association, Male pattern baldness accounts for more than 95% of hair loss in men. Male pattern baldness is also known as Androgenic alopecia. Which is described as hair loss due to hereditary factors. By the age of thirty-five two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of hair loss, and by the age of fifty approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair. What is even more shocking is that approximately twenty five percent of men who suffer with male pattern baldness begin to experience this loss before they reach the age of twenty-one.
– 2004-2010 American Hair Loss Association

Male pattern baldness is characterized by a receding hairline, thinning crown, and in some cases can include the temples and mid-anterior scalp. The hair loss eventually progresses to involve the entire top of the scalp creating what is known as the “ horseshoe” pattern.

Let’s discuss Some of the causes of male pattern baldness…

 

DHT

Androgenic alopecia is the genetic inheritance that affects hair follicles making them sensitive to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). A rise in DHT leads to miniaturization and decreased lifespan of each hair follicle. Thus there is a decrease in hair quantity.

Testosterone is converted to DHT when it comes in contact with the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which is found in the hair follicle’s oil glands, prostate gland, testes, and adrenal glands. As a result these areas are affected the most by DHT.

 

Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the front of the neck. It is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones known as T4 (thyroxine) and T3(triiodothyronine). T4 is converted into T3 in multiple organs that include l iver, gut, skeletal muscle, brain and the thyroid gland itself. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone that impacts every cell in the body, including the hair follicles. Therefore, abnormal levels of thyroid hormone if left untreated can result in hair changes. With excess thyroid hormone, the hair on your scalp can become fine, with thinning hair all over. With too little thyroid hormone, there can be hair loss, not just on the scalp, but also anywhere on the body. As a result monitoring thyroid hormones along with addressing their imbalances can help reverse hair loss.

 

Insulin Sensitivity

Insulin is produced by the pancreas as a normal response to glucose (sugar) being released into the blood as a result of the digestion of carbohydrates. Insulin’s job is to move glucose from the blood into the cells where it can be used for energy.

Insulin resistance occurs when the cells don’t respond well to insulin and therefore do not absorb glucose properly. As a result, more glucose remains in the blood, causing high blood sugar levels. To compensate for the high sugar levels the body continues to produce more insulin, causing a rise in insulin levels, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Now you may be asking how is this linked to hair loss?

Elevated levels of insulin have shown to decrease the synthesis of SHBG. SHBG stands for Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. The role of SHBG is to bind to androgens (e.g: testosterone, DHT) preventing them from binding to androgen receptors. High levels of SHBG means there will be less DHT available to bind to hair follicles receptors that can lead to hair loss. In other words, if high levels of insulin decrease the synthesis of SHBG, there will be greater amounts of free DHT to attach to hair follicle receptors that leads to hair loss.

The good news is that there are many ways to monitor and reduce insulin levels that not only improve hair growth, but also make one healthier. One of the most important factors to consider is diet. Reducing foods high in carbohydrates and sugar will result in a more stable blood sugar and therefore reduce the insulin levels. Another way to decrease insulin levels is through exercise. High intensity workouts have shown to have great effects in blood sugar regulation.

 

Stress

Many of us experience some level of stress on a daily basis. Stress is not always bad and can be categorized as eustress or distress. Eustress is not defined by the stressor type, but by how one perceives that stressor. Eustress usually relates to the positive response one has to a stressor usually in the form of hope, achievement, meaning, personal growth, increased performance, and is usually short lasting. Distress on the other hand relates to emotions of anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction, irritability, depression, decreased performance and can be short or long term. Due to the fast paced society we live in, many experience a greater amount of distress for extended periods of time.

How does stress relate to hair loss?

Cortisol is a hormone made by the adrenal glands which are located above the kidneys. Cortisol helps the body turn fat and sugar into energy. It is secreted as a response to stress, commonly known as the fight or flight response. This is a physiological response that occurs during a harmful event, attack or threat to survival. During this reaction cortisol is released, causing an increase in heart rate, redirecting blood to the major muscle groups, slowing digestion and supplying the body with great amounts of energy and strength. The system of fight or flight was designed to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger. Nowadays this system is triggered by different daily stressors such as work responsibilities or sitting in traffic. Once the stressor is gone, the system was designed to return to a relaxed state. However, due to the nature of the stress many remain in chronic stress states. These extended periods of stress cause an abnormal lasting high cortisol level. The adrenal glands, thus become overworked with maintaining these high cortisol levels and eventually become fatigued. Adrenal fatigue affects all hormones created in the adrenal glands. Therefore, leads to a deficiency in hormones that are essential for hair growth.

 

Diet & Digestion

Proper digestion is essential for adequate nutrient absorption. If stomach acid is low, proteins can not be digested efficiently. If we are deficient in amino acids (building blocks of proteins) our bodies will utilize the proteins available to support essential organs such as the heart, brain and intestines. As a result of this shortage there will not be enough proteins for hair and nail formation.

In addition, stomach acid is also essential in proper iron absorption. The vast majority of Iron in our body is found in red blood cells in the form of Hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is essential for transferring oxygen into tissues and organs. When one has iron deficiency the available iron is used to provide oxygen to the vital organs and tissues while excluding the non-vital tissues such as the scalp and hair follicles.

Along with proper digestion is making sure one gets an adequate supply of nutrients. Examples of foods to avoid:

  • Trans fatty acids which increase inflammation in the body and as a result increase production of DHT. Therefore, staying away from hydrogenated oils such as corn oil, vegetable oil and margarine is recommended.
  • Foods high in sugar content in order to maintain balanced blood sugar levels.
  • Alcohol can increase inflammation. Excessive alcohol use can lower iron and zinc levels which are both essential for healthy hair growth.

Examples of foods and supplements to incorporate:

  • Organic foods free of chemicals. Many of these chemicals, such as pesticides, cause endocrine disruption and lead to hormone imbalances.
  • Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc, which is necessary for proper thyroid function and healthy hair.
  • Green tea aids with detoxification and contains antioxidants that promote hair growth.
  • Chia, flax and hemp seeds are high in fiber and contain healthy fats that can help aid with hair growth and scalp health.
  • Saw palmetto is a natural 5-alpha reductase (the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT) blocker that can greatly improve hair growth.
  • Ashwagandha is an adpatogenic herb that can help your body adapt and deal with stress, in addition to reducing cortisol and balancing hormone levels, which also helps support healthy hair growth.
  • B-Complex vitamins aid in healthy stress management. Biotin helps thicken your hair and vitamin B5 supports your adrenal glands.
  • Zinc is essential in hair growth, in addition to skin, nails, and supporting gut health.

Hair loss can affect various aspects of an individual’s life. It can affect their self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, as well as their professional lives. Here at Bloom Natural Health, we have a holistic approach to health. Our goal is to find the root causes, imbalances and nutrient deficiencies that can play a role in individualized care. Taking a comprehensive intake and history along proper lab testing that can include hormone, micronutrient, food allergy and Iron panels amongst others, can help create an individualized treatment plan for your specific concerns. We hope to see you here at Bloom! Have a wonderful Movember!

– Dr. Anayibe Ramos, ND.





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