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Help for Healthy Hair
Written by John Austen   

If you’re balding, keep positive — look at your head as half full of hair rather than half empty of hair! Though there have been hundreds of jokes about baldness, it isn’t humorous when you start to notice that your own crowning glory is disappearing.

Called androgenic alopecia (AGA), male pattern baldness affects over half of men by age 50. If you want healthy hair, you may have to give it more than just a basic shampoo and conditioning. Like all other areas of your body, your hair needs specific vitamins and minerals. If certain nutrients are missing from your diet, dull, damaged hair or hair loss can result. Some natural shampoos and hair supplements have been shown to remedy the signs and symptoms of neglect, stress, malnutrition and effects of the environment.

Ingredients in your pantry?

Helpful ingredients include stimulating cayenne, nettle, ginger, fenugreek, aloe vera, and calming essential oils of peppermint, rosemary, sandalwood, wheat germ oil and horsetail. Stimulating ingredients work to increase blood flow to the small capillaries that feed hair roots, aiding growth and revitalizing your scalp. Precious oils and moisturizing agents protect the hair shaft while building volume, and can add manageability, shine and strength.

Hair-specific supplements have been shown to be effective to reduce hair loss, too. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) deficiencies are associated with increased sebum (oil produced by hair follicles). Increased sebum production may result in weaker hair shafts. Vitamin B2 can help reduce sebum production and also supports proper cell growth. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is important for proper blood flow to the scalp and the hair follicle and for metabolic activities in cells. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is particularly important for the health of the adrenal glands. Weak adrenal glands, leading to hormonal imbalances, may increase DHT levels. Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) may help with hair growth. Folic acid is vital for cellular activity and proper hair growth.

Hormonal balance is also related to hair strength. Those who have decreased hair-shaft thickness or hair strength have been found to have higher-than-normal concentrations of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in hair follicles. Natural plant steroids are compounds that help eliminate extra cholesterol and hormones in the body. When excess cholesterol is eliminated, it has been shown that less DHT is made. Some plant sterols (steroids) may also work to block DHT from binding to receptor sites in hair follicles. Natural plant flavonoids are known to improve the health of blood vessels. This can lead to an improved supply of blood to all parts of the body, including the scalp.

If you’re concerned about hair loss, reevaluate your diet. Add green vegetables, whole grains, essential fatty acids, and other foods rich in minerals such as zinc and selenium. For women, hormonal shifts (like perimenopause), medications (over 290 drugs cause or contribute to hair loss including antidepressants, blood-thinning agents, amphetamines, birth control pills, and hypertension drugs), stress, high doses of vitamin A, and illness are culprits. Even a severe flu can trigger it. Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, iron deficiency, diabetes and cancer can also trigger hair loss.

What is a natural hair product?

Use of ingredients derived from plants is all that companies need to call products “natural.” Many manufacturers still add harmful petrochemicals such as sodium laurel or laureth sulfate. Look for formulas that don’t contain these ingredients and avoid artificial fragrance, colouring, transfats and animal products. The most used chemicals are preservatives; without them products only last a few weeks. Contact the company to see what the preservative is derived from.

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