Treating Hair Loss Naturally with Functional Medicine

Hair loss is an extremely common condition that affects 50% of men and women at some point in their lives. It can have a major impact on self-esteem and quality of life. In ARTICLE i WILL discuss the wide range of potential causes of hair loss and how it can be treated successfully using a functional medicine approach.

The Prevalence and Impact of Hair Loss

It’s a common knowledge how widespread hair loss is, occurring in 50% of both men and women. Unfortunately, standard medical care often fails to provide solutions. Doctors frequently tell patients that hair loss is just a natural part of aging or that the only option is Rogaine or hair transplants.

However, identifying and addressing the root causes of hair loss through functional medicine can lead to significant regrowth and improvements for many patients.

Key Causes of Hair Loss

There is the range of potential causes that she considers from a functional perspective when a patient presents with hair loss:

  • Hormonal imbalances – Notably high testosterone, DHEA, and insulin resistance associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is often driven by excess sugar and refined carb intake.
  • Thyroid issues – Thyroid disease affects up to 20% of women and 10% of men. Key clues are thinning hair and loss of the outer third of eyebrows.
  • Poor nutrition – Common deficiencies include low iron stores, low protein intake, low amino acids, and inadequate biotin.
  • Gut problems – Gluten sensitivity can spark autoimmune alopecia areata. Leaky gut and impaired digestion interfere with protein and nutrient absorption.
  • Toxins – Environmental toxins like BPAs can contribute to insulin resistance and hormone disruption.

A Functional Medicine Approach to Diagnosis

The functional medicine approach to hair loss is contracted with the limited testing and oversight that occurs in conventional practice. Key elements include:

  • Checking a panel of hormones related to PCOS – testosterone, DHEA, FSH, LH
  • Running advanced thyroid labs like free T3, free T4, and thyroid antibodies. Not just TSH.
  • Assessing amino acid levels to identify protein and nutrient deficiencies
  • Testing serum ferritin and full iron studies, not just CBC
  • Considering less common contributors like gluten reactions, gut permeability, environmental toxin exposures

This comprehensive testing provides the data needed to get to the root of what is provoking hair loss for each individual.

By removing sources of excess insulin stimulation in the diet (sugars, refined carbs, high glycemic foods) and supporting blood sugar regulation, the patient’s hormone levels normalize.

Advanced testing also revealed high levels of the toxin BPA, which is known to directly promote insulin resistance. Minimizing BPA exposures from plastics, receipts, and other sources provided additional benefit.

Integrative Treatment Approach

In addition to the dietary changes targeted to the individual’s root causes, some functional medicine interventions support hair regrowth:

  • Amino acid supplements – Amino acids provide building blocks for hair growth and offset deficiencies.
  • Thyroid support – This may include thyroid medication or functional treatments to reduce autoimmunity against the thyroid.
  • Gut healing – Repairing leaky gut and digestion problems enables better absorption of nutrients.
  • Nutrient supplementation – Targeted use of iron, biotin, vitamin D, selenium and other supplements.
  • Toxin elimination – Removing exposures to endocrine disruptors like BPA and heavy metals.

The Power of Finding and Fixing Underlying Causes

Think about the power of applying functional medicine to diagnose and resolve the distinct factors driving hair loss in each person. While thinning hair is often dismissed as normal, getting to the root of contributing hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, thyroid dysfunction, autoimmunity and toxicity provides an opportunity for dramatic improvement without side effects.

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