What causes thinning hair and hair loss in women?

This is something that seems to come up fairly often in my practice, so I wanted to share a few of my thoughts. This isn’t an exhaustive list of the causes of hair loss and just thinning, but will hopefully shed some light on the subject and perhaps help you to look at it in a different way.

One thing I think about is iron deficiency. This is especially true for women who are still menstruating and even more true for those with really heavy periods. The test you want to have run is your ferritin level. This is a simple blood test that any lab will do. Ferritin is basically your store of iron and will be depleted long before any of your other numbers change, even your actual iron levels. To treat this you would obviously take iron, just make sure to have your levels monitored regularly because too much iron is detrimental to your health.

The next thing I think of is hypothyroidism. A blood test to look at your thyroid, usually a TSH, will help you to know that nothing is seriously wrong with your thyroid, but as I talked about last week, it doesn’t tell you how well your thyroid hormones are functioning in your body. If you have other symptoms like fatigue, insomnia, constipation and others you may want to have your naturopathic doctor look more closely at your thyroid. Treatment for hypothyroidism is incredibly variable from herbal support to taking iodine to even prescribing a combination of T3 and T4, to name a few.

A third thing I consider is your ability to clear toxins from your body. By toxins, I don’t necessarily mean actual toxic chemicals that you would be exposed to in certain careers. Basic metabolic waste that every cell in your body produces can be toxic if you can’t get rid of it. It’s like not being able to take out the trash and just having it rot under your kitchen sink. Now, that’s a problem! If your body can’t “take out the trash”, there are quite a few systems that don’t work very well and one of the common side effects of this is hair loss. Things you can do to treat this are eating a clean diet full of vegetables and low on processed foods. Avoid any additives or synthetic chemicals in your food and drink lots of plain, filtered water to flush out those toxins. You can also drink a detox tea and take epsom salt baths (4 cups of salt per bath) to pull those toxins out.

Here’s to a healthier and happier head of hair!