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Hair loss has been a bane on both men and women since time immemorial. Normally, the human scalp sheds about 50 to 100 hair strands every day. But when there is a dramatic increase in hair fall frequency and when hair falls in clumps, proper care should be addressed to prevent balding.
Even though it is considered harmless, nobody likes to witness their hair thinning. The emotional need of men and women to recover hair growth has fueled a billion dollar cosmetic hair growth industry ranging from shampoos, conditioners, leave-on hair growth serums, sprays and transplants.
These often come with a hefty price tag. While hair transplants are the surest way to seemingly increase the appearance of hair, not everyone can afford a session. In order to slow down and halt the process of hair loss, the kind of hair loss and the main causes must be determined first in order to implement any kind of remedy.
Oils for Hair Growth
Natural plant and animal oils can be applied topically and taken internally to reduce the incidence of hair loss. It is best to use cold-pressed (virgin or extra virgin) and organic variants to make sure that the effective enzymes are still intact. Because the skin does not easily absorb plant oils, it is recommended to massage them to the scalp for a few minutes to push them deeper into the skin and stimulate the hair follicles.
Extra virgin coconut oil is the favorite hair growth oil among men and women because it’s affordable and effective. It is especially efficient when baldness is due to an autoimmune disease like alopecia areata, universalis and totalis.
These health conditions are strongly linked to the presence of Helicobacter Pylori on the scalp. The medium chain fatty acids in virgin coconut oil eliminate H.Pylori, therefore improving the appearance of baldness.
Extra virgin coconut oil is also rich in lauric acid and caprylic acid which regulates the levels of DHT on the scalp when it is applied topically.
It specifically inhibits 5-alpha reductase from reacting with testosterone to make DHT. Besides from the excess levels of DHT in men with MPB, a bacterium called propionbacterium also contributes to the inactivity of the hair follicles.
The high lauric acid content of extra virgin coconut oil prevents the growth of propionbacterium. Extra virgin coconut oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and also antiandrogenic effects when it comes to treating hair loss.
The benefits of extra virgin coconut oil for hair loss are magnified when used together with cold-pressed emu oil. Emu oil has been proven to carry anything that is mixed with it deeper into the skin. In fact, emu oil can penetrate the skin up until the blood vessels, muscles and cartilages. Emu oil is actually used to treat arthritis and sore muscles. The cold-pressed variant has a nutty scent.
Make sure to get USDA-certified organic virgin coconut oil to avoid chemically-treated coconut oil. To get the best benefits of extra virgin coconut oil, it is recommended to leave a 50/50 mixture of emu oil and extra virgin coconut oil on the scalp overnight until results are visible. Anecdotal entries and study subjects show a growth of viable hair within 2 months.
Argan oil is perhaps the most expensive plant oil. It is packed with vitamin E, biotin, niacin and fatty acids which gives it its antibacterial properties just like extra virgin coconut oil.
Argan oil helps with alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and male and female pattern baldness. It also strengthens fine and brittle hair and prevents hair fall due to dry scalp. However, be wary about the circulation of fake and adulterated argan oil. Make sure to get a bottle that is certified organic.
Jojoba oil has the chemical structure that is most similar to the human skin and scalp sebum. It is a good alternative for people whose skin does not agree well with virgin coconut oil.
Castor oil is used cosmetically to regrow overplucked eyebrows. It has a high content of ricinoleic acid which prevents fungal and bacterial growth on the scalp. Because castor oil is very vicious and thick, it is best mixed with other oils for hair growth in a 50/50 solution. For bald patches, simply massage pure castor oil unto it.
Rosemary oil is best used as an essential oil mixed with other hair growth oils. 2 drops of rosemary essential oil should be added to 1 ounce of carrier hair growth oil. It can be mixed with Lavender and Thyme essential oil. Rosemary oil is also used but it is relatively less potent than rosemary essential oil.
Before argan oil was popular, extra virgin olive oil was the choice for scalp and hair nourishment, as we covered in our dandruff article. Extra virgin olive oil for hair growth limits the presence of DHT in the hair follicles. Just like extra virgin coconut oil, it has antibacterial properties.
When one’s nutritional intake is low in linoleic acid, hair loss and scaling of the skin happens. Extra virgin olive oil works by keeping the human scalp healthy and moisturized. Extra virgin olive oil is composed of 80% oleic acid. When used in excess, oleic acid can clog pores
Storage for Oil
Remember to keep the oils away from direct sunlight because the UV radiation will cause the oil to become rancid. If possible, transfer them to dark glass containers or store them in a cool, dry and dark place.
Although plastic containers are convenient, they leak chemical into the oil overtime. Lastly, remember that these oils will not last forever. Each of them naturally has an expiration date. Always write the date when you brought your oils.
Why Consider Natural Oils for Hair Growth
In order to achieve a renewed hair growth, only the best oils for hair growth must be used, or alternatively one of the many popular home remedies. The most common commercial products and chemicals used for hair growth are minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia). Because these are chemicals, they usually present a certain degree of side effects.
Women reportedly have poor reaction to finasteride because it works by lowering the levels of DHT. Because most women have low levels of DHT to start with, finasteride does little or nothing to improve hair loss by working on the DHT levels.
Moreover, men who used hair growth products with finasteride experience a decrease in DHT which leads to hampered sex drive and mood swings, among others. Minoxidil, on the other hand, is an FDA approved medication that is included in many commercial shampoos and conditioners for hair growth, like Provillus. It will increase hair growth by around 25%. However, the effects will be gone once minoxidil is stopped.
Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed for alopecia totalis and areata. They can be taken orally, injected or applied topically. Because corticosteroids are steroid hormones, their chemical makeup interferes with the body’s functions. They also cannot be taken long-term. Also, they can interfere with certain kind of medication being taken. Patients taking corticosteroids for hair loss experience altered mental states, hallucination and depression.
Most Common Kinds of Hair Loss
1. Telogen Effluvium
The hair follicle is forced to stay longer in the telogen phase or resting phase of the hair. Telogen phase normally lasts 2 months before the hair enters anagen phase or growing phase again, which typically lasts for 2 years. 85% of scalp hair is in the growing phase. People suffering from telogen effluvium experience a diffused kind of hair loss in which they do not lose all the hairs in the scalp. The hair line also does not recede. Because hair follicles are simply prolonged in the telogen phase, this condition is fully reversible and relatively easier to remedy.
2. Anagen Effluvium
Anagen effluvium happens when someone takes drugs or medications that stop rapid cell proliferation. The hair follicles stop growing and nourishing hair, causing them to shed in clumps. This can be experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. When the treatment is stopped, hair will start to grow back.
3. Alopecia Totalis
All hair in the head is completely shed in alopecia totalis. It can happen to both sexes regardless of age.
4. Alopecia Universalis
Alopecia universalis happens when hair is loss all over the body, including the armpit and pubic hair. Lashes and eyebrows will gradually thin as well. It is a type of autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles. There is currently no available kind of standard treatment of alopecia universalis.
5. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata happens when hair is loss in patches from some parts of the body, including the scalp and beard. Hair loss will appear in oval or circular patterns with distinct edges. This condition can also be experienced by children. This happens when the hair follicles is attacked by the body’s own immune system. Hair will be pulled easily in swatches. The affected scalp may be painful but not scarred. This condition is hereditary
The Causes of Hair Loss
The main causes of hair loss in men and women are mainly genes, age and hormones. In men, it is primarily due to natural male pattern baldness (MPB). MPB usually starts at the age of 30, but some men experience the onset of hair loss at the age of 21.
The hair follicles become hypersensitive to a male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a more powerful form of testosterone that results when testosterone is combined with 5-alpha reductase. This hormone sometimes gets accumulated in the hair follicles.
DHT causes the hair follicles to gradually shrink. However, the final solution for hair loss in men does not translate to reduction or elimination of DHT. Because DHT is a much more potent male androgen, it contributes to an adequate sex drive and healthy prostate development. Moreover, DHT contributes to muscle development in men.
In fact, in Stephen Harrod Buhner’s The Natural Testosterone Plan, a number of weight lifters were given testosterone with 5-alpha reductase blockers during their muscle-building programs.
The result was decreased muscle development, despite the addition of testosterone. Therefore, men who notice a sudden thinning of hair should get blood tests to determine their hormonal levels. Men undergoing hormone replacement therapies (HRT) sometimes report hair loss due to the medications.
When MPB occurs, hair loss happens in patterned distributions, meaning that certain spots and patches on the scalp gradually lose hair. Female pattern alopecia usually happens in diffused distribution, where the hair thins all over the scalp.
Just like in men, DHT contributes to hair loss in women. However, women have two female hormones that counteract the effects of DHT, namely estradiol and estrone. Moreover, women have less DHT. As a result, the hair line in women often remains intact as hair thins all over the scalp.
Hair loss can also happen due to medications and certain health conditions. Women are more prone to hair loss due to medical conditions than men. However, hair loss induced by medications and other health conditions should not be confused with hair loss caused by female alopecia.
Diffused hair loss can be caused by the following health conditions:
- Menopause and any kind of gynecological and obstetric conditions.
- Right after surgical procedures. Anesthesia may cause temporary hair loss.
- Emotional problems. Depression.
- Nutritional deficiency caused by anorexia, bulimia and malabsorption of nutrients (can be due to intestinal parasites).
- Thyroid problems
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in which the ovaries tend to produce an abnormal level of androgens.
- Chronic stress and lack of sleep. These trigger sudden hormonal imbalance.
Certain medications make the hair shift to a resting stage called telogen phase. As a result, the scalp will rapidly shed more hair and take longer to regrow these hairs. This condition is called telogen effluvium. It can also be caused by health conditions such as hypothyroidism, anemia, malnutrition and events like childbirth. Moreover, it is caused by medications such as:
- Anti depressants
- Oral contraceptives
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anti-coagulants (blood thinners)
- Medications for high blood pressure (hypertension), gout, seizure and thyroid problems.