Posted tagged ‘losing hair’

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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