Do you look in the mirror and see patches of scalp that your hair once covered? It’s a more common experience than many women like to admit. We tend to associate hair loss and balding with men, but there are a number of issues that can contribute to hair loss in women as well. While it’s normal to lose 50 to 150 hairs a day, if you start to lose more than that, your hair follicles won’t be able to keep up. Eventually, you’ll start to notice bald patches or a receding hairline.
Hair loss in women can be due to the interplay of a variety of factors, so if you start to notice thinning or patchiness and can’t point to a clear trigger, such as a new medication, a hormonal issue like pregnancy, or a period of acute stress, you’ll need to take a comprehensive approach to address many possible causes at once. Unfortunately, trying to tackle one issue at a time may not work — and you’ll continue to lose hair as you experiment. Some of the culprits that could be teaming up against you include female androgenetic alopecia, nutritional deficiencies (such as an iron deficiency), and an endocrine disorder (such as a thyroid imbalance). The good news is that there are several inexpensive, simple natural remedies that can make a difference over time.
Many of these remedies aren’t glamorous, but if you neglect them, you can almost guarantee your hair won’t be glamourous either. They include reducing stress, getting sufficient sleep, and eating a non-inflammatory diet. Let’s talk about dietary changes first.
Avoiding processed foods and foods that have been heavily sprayed with chemicals is a good place to start. Many chemicals act as endocrine disruptors, encouraging hair loss and a cascade of other health issues. Whenever possible, choose natural and organic foods, not foods that were made in a lab or sprayed with something made in a lab.
Next, make sure that you’re getting a good variety of those natural foods to ensure your diet is well-balanced and not creating a nutritional deficiency. I recommend following a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil. Wild fish and olive oil are particularly important for protecting your hair, as they supply omega-3 essential fatty acids, which your body must get from food. These fatty acids help stimulate hair growth, and there is some evidence that they can even help balance the hormones that contribute to androgenetic alopecia. A study of balding men found that taking fish oil supplements contributed to hair growth in previously bald areas and decreased overall thinning, and I believe that women can get similar results. Incorporating fish and olive oil into your diet is a great choice.
I also recommend adding spirulina and seeds (like flax, chia, hemp and pumpkin, which are high in zinc) to your Mediterranean diet. You should also make green tea your caffeinated beverage of choice.
I know, I know. I talk about green tea a lot. But green teahas been shown to stop the conversion of healthy testosterone (yes, women do – and should – produce testosterone too) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with hair loss. Green tea is also generally anti-inflammatory, which is good for your overall health, not just your hair.
In a mouse study published in Journal of the National Medical Association, mice that were losing their hair were treated with either a polyphenol compound extracted from dehydrated green tea or a placebo for six months. In the group receiving the green tea treatment, 33% of the mice experienced significant hair regrowth over the course of the experiment, while none of the control mice did. This study can serve as a reminder not only that green tea can be quite beneficial but also that not all treatments will work for everyone. I wouldn’t want to waste six months on green tea alone just to find that it wasn’t helping my hair (even if it was helping the rest of my body). Remember, it’s best tomake these lifestyle and diet changes all at once to create synergy and improve your odds of striking the combination that works for your body.
A deficiency of vitamin D is another common culprit in hair loss. These days, most of us are vigilant about protecting our skin when we’re outside, which is wise, but unless we’re careful to eat the right foods or take the right supplement, we
can end up with a vitamin D deficiency. Research recently published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that this deficiency is associated with alopecia areata and that a down-regulation of the vitamin D receptor in hair follicles can lead to reduced hair growth. Another study, in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, linked vitamin D to alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and female pattern hair loss. Downregulation of the vitamin D receptors was also associated with an increase in inflammation in the participants – another reminder of why making other anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes can benefit your hair growth. While you should include vitamin D-rich foods, such as milk, eggs, mushrooms, and fatty fish (there they are again!), in your diet, your best bet to ensure your levels are high enough to benefit your hair is to take a vitamin D3 supplement.
The next supplement you should consider is biotin, a B-complex vitamin that helps with the metabolic reactions that support healthy skin and hair. The International Journal of Trichology linked biotin deficiency to hair loss, finding that 38% of women complaining of this issue were suffering from such a deficiency. Egg yolks, oatmeal, mushrooms, spinach, and dairy products are good sources of biotin, or you can also get biotin in supplement form. Try Healthy Hair & Nails – and yes, you’ll likely get longer, stronger nails as a side benefit.
Next up is silicon. We may associate silicon with technology, but it’s actually a natural element. In fact, it’s the second most abundant element on Earth (following oxygen) and the third most abundant trace element in our bodies (and no, not because most of us are permanently attached to our cell phones). Silicon not only slows hair loss but can also make hair stronger and shinier, and various studies have linked increased concentrations in the blood with less-fragile hair and nails. Plant-based foods are an excellent source of silicon, though the bioavailability of this element is greater in some sources than others. One of the most readily available forms of silicon is actually found in drinking water and other beverages (including beer, though I would be hesitant to call beer a beauty aid!). In a study of 48 participants with thinning hair, those who received a bioavailable form of silicon, often used in supplements, had stronger, thicker hair at the end of the 9-month study compared to those who received a placebo, indicating that silicon was affecting the structure of the hair itself. Healthy Hair & Nails contains silicon as well, so it’s an easy way to check two boxes at once.
If you’ve noticed that your hair isn’t as thick or as strong as it once was, or that it’s coming out in your brush or comb, it’s not too late to turn back the clock. And if your nails are starting to weaken, do yourself a favor and try this combination. Take five capsules a day. If it’s going to work for you, you will see the hair loss completely stop within one-to-two months. Once you see that it has stopped, you can reduce the dose to what is needed to keep it healthy and strong. That often amounts to only one-to-two capsules a day.
What’s more, you’ll likely find that your whole body benefits from the anti-inflammatory ingredients in this supplement.
If this approach doesn’t help, meet with an endocrinologist to see if your hormones need support. Your thyroid is especially likely to be the culprit, so you may need to experiment with thyroid supplementation even if your test results appear to be in the normal range. Find a doctor who is willing to work with you until you find a solution. You can order Healthy Hair & Nails by calling 800-791-3395. Be sure to use special offer code WH8318 when you order.
One Herb Can Restore Hormone Balance and Boost Your Energy
Life is stressful. That’s why I talk a lot about adaptogens. Simply put, adaptogens help you “adapt” to the daily stresses of life by boosting your energy levels, helping you fight off diseases, and helping to keep your adrenal glands in balance. Adaptogens are natural substances like herbs and plants, and many have been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
One such adaptogen is called maca root, which has been particularly popular in the Andes region of Peru and other parts of South America for over 3,000 years. Maca is actually a cruciferous vegetable and can look like a cross between a radish and a turnip. Maca comes in a variety of colors, particularly yellow, purple, and black, and unlike many other cruciferous vegetables, has a mild, pleasant, nutty taste.
We’d never think of using broccoli or Brussels sprouts as currency, but the ancient Peruvians valued maca highly enough to trade with it. Incan warriors even made sure they ate a hearty meal of maca before battle. At one point, maca was held in such high regard that it was restricted to royalty — much to the dismay, I’m sure, of the commoners who could have used the benefits of maca in their labors!
Fortunately, these days you don’t need to have royal blood to enjoy maca. But it could help you feel like royalty! Maca has a wide variety of applications, and many of its medicinal uses have been confirmed by scientific research, but I’d like to focus on just two of its benefits for now: its ability to promote natural energy and hormonal balance.
These two issues are top of mind for many of my patients, who are often looking for natural options. I’m happy to report that maca delivers. Because it’s full of antioxidants, it fights inflammation and disease throughout the body, both of which can of course sap your natural energy. But maca goes further by actually boosting energy. Unlike caffeine, maca typically doesn’t give consumers a shaky, jittery feeling, even though it can boost energy quickly and help you feel more awake and driven. Clinical trials confirm anecdotal evidence about maca, indicating that it can boost both energy levels and overall stamina, meaning that you can keep that energetic feeling going throughout your day.
While the exact mechanism by which maca boosts energy is still unknown, many researchers believe that maca works by helping keep blood sugar steady and your adrenal glands healthy. We have all experienced the crash that comes after a sugar high or a cortisol spike, and maca will help you avoid those extreme ups and downs. This stability, in turn, can also help you maintain a positive mood and make better food choices, keeping weight in check as well.
Moreover, some of the most energy-sapping issues women face relate to their hormones. Particularly as women enter menopause, their declining estrogen levels can cause a number of frustrating symptoms. Prior to menopause, estrogen imbalances can cause fertility issues, irregular menstrual periods, bloating, and mood swings. Fortunately, maca can help control estrogen levels to bring your hormones into balance. A study of 34 early post-menopausal women published in the International Journal of Biomedical Science found that giving women maca twice a day for four months was far more effective than a placebo in relieving menopause symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes. The women even saw gains in their bone density, another issue of concern for women after menopause. In younger women, maca has been shown to help improve fertility, reproductive health, polycystic ovary syndrome, and symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, including excess hair growth, acne, and weight gain.
In fact, maca is such a powerful hormone balancer that it’s best not to take it if you’re already taking a hormone-altering medication to treat disease. And you should talk to your doctor before taking it if you’re currently using thyroid medication or any other hormone replacement therapy to make sure it won’t throw your treatments out of balance. Also, while maca may be able to help resolve fertility issues, if you do become pregnant, you should discontinue maca until you’re no longer pregnant or breastfeeding, as maca has not been studied extensively in pregnant women.
Nevertheless, for most women, maca proves to be an excellent source of antioxidants; nutrients like vitamin C, copper, and iron; energy; and balance. You can get maca in a variety of forms, but I recommend choosing an organic, raw source. I like to purchase maca in powder form so that I can mix it into a smoothie. I’ve included my recipe below, but feel free to experiment to see what you like best! All of the ingredients, except of course the maca and the milk, are optional, but they will give you an additional antioxidant and/or energy boost if you include them. Many of my patients have created their own blends, and they often enjoy adding a bit of stevia or other sweetener to the mix as well.
This is an easy and economical way to enjoy maca. If you like, you can also try sprinkling the powder on oatmeal or cereal. Start with no more than one tablespoon per day total, but you can work your way up to two-to-three tablespoons spread out throughout the day if you like. You can try taking one of those tablespoons before your workout to take advantage of the energy boost. Maca may not be used as currency anymore, but it can certainly make you feel like a million bucks.
This Nutrient Makes Your Skin Look Significantly More Youthful and Fights Cancer at the Same Tim
You might be surprised to hear that vitamin C can be described as a pro-oxidant, that is, a creator of oxidative stress. Here's why that's actually a good thing for your skin.
According to research published in Scientific Reports, high doses of vitamin C can indeed generate high doses of oxidative stress that can kill cells. But it seems that these effects only target cancer cells. In the published study, the researchers exposed both breast cancer and colon cancer cells to vitamin C and found that the vitamin dramatically changed their metabolic profiles. In particular, the vitamin C seemed to deplete a key component of how the cancer cells generated energy.
Vitamin C is currently being investigated as a promising cancer treatment, especially in high doses. For day-to-day use, of course, it's both safe for our normal cells and actually quite good for them, whether you use it inside or out.
A review report published last year in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology highlighted the benefits of topical vitamin C, which include antioxidative, photoprotective, antiaging, and antipigmentary effects. The review, which evaluated a number of other studies on vitamin C, found that vitamin C can help prevent skin cancer from UV radiation. And it can keep skin looking youthful by supporting the natural creation of collagen and keeping existing collagen strong and healthy.
We talk a lot about how certain nutrients can benefit the skin from both the inside and out. But it's even better to get to highlight a nutrient's ability to prevent cancer from both the inside and out. I'm sure you're vigilant about applying sunscreen to your face, but some UV radiation is bound to sneak past your defenses occasionally.
A high-quality product like the Système 41 Vitamin C Serum (800-791-3446) can add one more layer of protection and help you track down and destroy cancer cells that might show up on your skin. Of course, eating a diet high in vitamin C can contribute to a cancer-protective lifestyle as well. It's true that vitamin C can help you ward off a cold. But as it turns out, it can do so much more.
Can This Tasty Fruit Really Reduce Your Knee Pain?
If you suffer from knee pain, you probably know that inflammation is your worst enemy. And two conditions make inflammation run rampant in your body. The first is obesity. The second is osteoarthritis. Fortunately, a new study has identified an easy – and delicious – way to reduce inflammation if you’re obese or have arthritis.
For this study, the researchers recruited obese adults with knee osteoarthritis. They had an average BMI of 39.1 (considered obese), and their average age was 57. Obesity was increasing their inflammation and pain, making their joint function worse, and decreasing their quality of life.
The study was a randomized, double-blind cross-over trial. For the first half of the study, the participants received either a beverage made with a special ingredient or a placebo drink for 12 weeks. Then they waited for two weeks. Then they switched groups for another 12 weeks.
The researchers measured pain and quality of life according to several scales. These included the Visual Analog Scale for Pain, the Measures of Intermittent and Constant OA Pain, and the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index. The participants filled out these questionnaires at weeks 12, 14, and 26. The researchers also did blood draws to measure inflammation markers and cartilage breakdown.
After receiving the special drink, the participants reported decreases in constant, intermittent, and total pain. Their inflammatory markers also went down. And their quality of life went up.
So what was the mystery ingredient? It was strawberries! Strawberries have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. They definitely seemed to help these patients!
If you’re obese, suffering from knee pain, or both, strawberries may help you too. Try making a smoothie, slicing them over oatmeal, or adding them to a salad. Just make sure that you don’t add extra sugar to any of these. Sugar will make inflammation worse. And I think strawberries are plenty sweet on their own! During this time of year, strawberries are readily available and relatively inexpensive. Eat as many as you want. Your knees will thank you.
Q: In last month’s newsletter, you mention that antioxidant tart cherries are a “true powerhouse when it comes to fighting AGEs.” Since they are not readily available in my area, can I substitute dried tart cherries? If yes, how many should I eat each day? And what about tart cherry juice? – Sallye E., Berlin, MD
Yes, you can substitute dried tart cherries, but ideally you would soak them in water. Soak one-quarter cup of cherries in one cup of water. Put them in a jar overnight and allow them to soften. In the morning, you have two options:
(1) You can put them in the fridge. Depending on the ecology of your refrigerator, they can last up to two weeks. You can eat six to eight cherries daily. Put them on salads, use them as a snack between meals, etc. When you finish eating all of the cherries, DON'T throw the water away. Drink it. The water is filled with wonderful micronutrients.
(2) Take the soaked cherries and the water combination and put it in a blender. This is how you can essentially make your own tart cherry juice. I recommend one-quarter cup to one-half cup of the mix daily. One full cup can contain anywhere from 14-25 mg of sugar. For those of us trying to reduce sugar intake, a full eight ounces a day might be an issue.
Note: as with all food supplements it’s important to use them consistently and introduce them into your diet in a natural way.
Q. Could you please tell me what could have caused my hand to go numb. It’s been this way for a week and seems to be getting worse. – Pat A., Chesterfield, MI
There are several reasons for your hand to go numb. Compression, damage, or irritation of one of the nerves in your wrist or arm can often cause numbness. Less likely are certain health issues like carpal tunnel, diabetes, and Lyme disease that could be at the root of the issue. This isn’t something to ignore and hope it goes away. If it’s stayed around this long, I urge you to visit with your primary doctor and let him/her examine you.
Q. I’m trying to find a supplement that helps with mitochondria function and/or lengthening of the telomeres. Would you be able to help? This is for my father who is 95 years old and has no major health issues. But he does have overall weakness and has trouble walking. He’s on medication for high blood pressure and a sleep aid. I don't know if those are making him weak. – Emily G., Thousand Oaks, CA
Congratulations to your 95-year-old dad for making it to this remarkable age. There are many possibilities to help improve your father’s condition. But there’s one that’s very easy to use, doesn’t involve taking another pill, and it can help with muscle weakness and low energy. Plus it’s safe and easily absorbed. It’s Advanced Adaptogen Complex by Advanced Bionutritionals (800-791-3395). It’s a combination of very powerfully crafted adaptogenic herbs. You can read about these individual herbs by googling or looking on the Advanced Bionutritionals website. Please let us know how this goes for your father.