Archive for the ‘Emotional Wellbeing & Your Skin’ category

Hormones and Hair Loss

February 15, 2012

Losing your hair? 

Losing your hair may not be just down to "growing older"

Before I started my skincare company – Celgenics – I worked with many women to address their hormone problems. One of the questions that was frequently asked is why do women often start losing their hair as they get older, especially in their late 40’s and 50’s?

There  are many causes of hair loss but one of the most common and often undiagnosed causes in this age bracket is a low functioning thyroid.  As women age their thyroid function tends to decline and unfortunately the time of peri-menopause and menopause is when women really need good thyroid function.

Low thyroid function is an underlying problem for many women and quite commonly it’s never picked up until she reaches peri-menopause when her energy drops to the floor and she feels she’s literally dragging herself around.

The relationship of thinning hair to thyroid function is that every single cell in your body is dependent on having adequate thyroid hormone levels.  The thyroid gland produces 2 major hormones, thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) and they work to help the cells  produce energy, otherwise known as ATP [adenosine triphosphate].  The thyroid gland secretes about 1 teaspoon of thyroid hormone [thyroxine] over a  year  and even though that’s a tiny amount, if the balance of T4 and T3 is wrong,  then a wide range of symptoms can develop: Hair loss, brittle nails, cold hands and feet, constipation, dry skin, high cholesterol, poor memory, puffy eyes, weight gain, to list just a few.

Unfortunately, it appears that hypothyroidism [as it’s known clinically] is frequently undiagnosed.

The conventional approach to diagnosing low thyroid function has been to measure TSH [thyroid stimulating hormone].  If the TSH test comes back raised, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made.  If the result is normal then it’s usually assumed that there’s no problem with the thyroid.

Unfortunately this test doesn’t take into account the levels of T4 and T3 which can give a much more precise picture of thyroid health.  If you think your thyroid is low, then it’s worth getting a comprehensive thyroid screen carried out which will measure T4 , T3 as well as antibodies which may indicate an auto immune condition such as Graves disease or Hashimoto’s.

Physical signs of low thyroid are very dry skin, hair loss, dry and hard skin on the heels, loss of the outer third of the eyebrow.

Conventional treatment relies mainly on using Thyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroxine.  Another approach is to use a dessicated glandular thyroid product;  Armour is a common one in the UK but requires a prescription by a GP.  Another approach is to work with a nutritional therapist and use glandular products that have had thyroid hormones removed but work by supporting your thyroid to produce more T4 and T3.  Many people find that homeopathic thyroid support works well.

Glandular products are usually derived from porcine thyroid so may not be appropriate for some religious groups, however, there are certainly other options to try.

Once the thyroid is properly supported, all those symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, hard skin on the heels, weight gain can be resolved!   It really can turn peoples’ lives around.

If you suspect your thyroid is low, there are foods that prevent the conversion of T4 to T3 so you could try cutting them down or taking them out of your diet to see if it makes a difference.

Believe it not, cruciferous vegetables which we’re all told to eat, can prevent the conversion of T4 to T3.

These are things like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  The other food which lots of people are eating nowadays is non fermented Soy! Foods like soy milk, soy cheese, tofu etc all fall into this category.

Other factors associated with poor conversion include chronic illness, fasting, heavy metal toxicity, poor adrenal function, high stress levels, fasting and cigarettes to name but a few.

SUMMARY

If you have any of the symptoms listed and they don’t respond to changes in diet, rest, more sleep, less stress etc, it’s a good idea to get a comprehensive thyroid test done which includes testing T4 and T3.

Bear in mind that the conventional test measure thyroid hormones in the blood whereas the hormones are actually doing their work within the cells.

Work with a doctor who is prepared to look at your symptoms from a holistic view point or find a nutritional therapist/naturopath who can arrange for you to have the appropriate lab tests and can suggest glandular products to take.

Correcting your low functioning thyroid can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of life.

 

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The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

August 30, 2011

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

What’s in your skin cream? Any ideas? Thought not. The ingredients lists on cosmetics’ packaging can confuse even the most clued-up label lover. Marian Bourne who created Celgenics shares her tips on what to look out for.

What comes out of the lab isn't always good for your skin

Many products made by leading cosmetics brands contain unfathomable lists of ingredients that can be harmful to not only ourselves, but the environment around us. You need to be armed with the information on what you should be avoiding. So what are the top 10 chemicals to avoid to guarantee you’re not using highly toxic ingredients?

1. Parabens
Otherwise known as methyl, ethyl, propyl, butly (sounding rather like the registration call for a 1930s girls’ school classroom), and also hydoxy methyl benzoates. Parabens are artificial preservatives which can give a product up to seven years of shelf life. They’ve been linked to cancer, they’re neurotoxic and they have hormone-disrupting qualities which mimic oestrogen and interfere with the body’s endocrine system. This is a cluster of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into your bloodstream to regulate your body.

2. Synthetic Colours and Fragrances
Many colours in make-up and fragrances are carcinogenic – defined, this means a substance or radiation that’s an agent directly involved in causing cancer. Labelled as FD&C or D&C, these are followed by a colour and a number. Fragrances for women can contain up to 200 single ingredients. They can also cause many side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, irritation and so on. Both are found in nearly all chemical-based products and cosmetics.

3. Propylene Glycol
This is used as a moisturiser – ideally this is vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural and have virtually no toxicity.   But usually, it’s a synthetic petrochemical mix and labelled as PEG or PPG. They can often cause an allergic reaction, including dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities and could inhibit the growth of your skin cells, or cause skin irritation.

4. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate
A cheap and harsh detergent that is strong enough to degrease an engine! SLS provides the foaming and cleaning action in toothpastes, shampoos, soaps and body washes. Not surprisingly, it easily penetrates the skin and helps other chemicals to penetrate.  It’s sometimes disguised on the label as having been derived from coconut – this too can cause eye and skin irritation.

5. Formaldehyde
Labelled as diazolidinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea, these chemicals release formaldehyde – a colourless gas that is commonly used to preserve the dead that seems a strange choice for beauty products! It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs and is a known carcinogen.

6. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
Often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. They are carcinogenic and toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

7. Toluene
This is poison!  It’s harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, it’s found in many synthetic fragrances. Long-term exposure has been linked to anaemia, low blood cell count, liver/kidney damage, and it may even affect a developing foetus – so if you’re pregnant, it’s a nasty it’s very much best to avoid. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

8. Petrolatum
Commonly known as mineral oil jelly, liquid vaseline, paraffinum and baby oil!  It’s derived from petroleum products and is often mixed with paraffin oil derivatives. These products coat the skin like a plastic so your pores get clogged, and your skin can’t breathe. The ensuing build-up of toxins can lead to acne, dermatitis and photosensitivity, or rash.

9. Carincogens

Watch out for Acrylamide, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Butyl benzyl phthalate, Coal tar dyes, Green 5, Orange 7, Red 3,4,8,9,17,19,33, mineral oils and Nitrofurazone.

10. Skin Whiteners
These are a combination of the hormone cortisone and hydroquinone. Frankly, you shouldn’t see hydroquinone in any European product, because it has been banned. However, if you see it in a product on the internet, don’t be tempted, it’s carcinogenic and may pose a risk of leukemia.

There are many other ingredients to watch out for. A good rule of thumb is to look out for abbreviations e.g. (DEA) or (TEA) in brackets and chemical chain names e.g. stearalkonium chloride. New laws are due to be enforced over the next few years, which should hopefully bring a better understanding of cosmetic ingredient risks. The cosmetics industry may soon find that it has to justify everything that goes into its products – and not before time!

Do your cosmetics contain these nasties? Why not have a rummage through and let me know?