EP 9 : Losing Your Hair As You Age

In this episode, we discuss:

  • 1/3 of women experience hair loss (0.49)
  • Hair growth phases (1.42)
  • How thyroid hormones affect hair loss (3.21)
  • Inflammation related to hair loss (5.52)
  • How the aging process and genetics play a part (8:05)
  • PRP and Exosomes to accelerate hair growth (12.26Hi, this is Dr. Jenny Sechler and welcome to the Art and Science of Defying Aging. Today’s episode is about losing our hair as we age.  Are you one of the many women who are losing your hair? Do you have a friend who’s losing their hair? It’s very alarming and somewhat un settling, but I’m seeing more and more women who come into my clinic who are having gut issues, hormone problems, low energy and fatigue that at the end of our time together, they say, Oh yeah, I’m losing my hair can you help me? I can’t tell you how many times I hear that in a week. It’s almost like losing their hair as an afterthought, but I know it’s so, so important to every woman, but tends to get downplayed because they don’t know what to do about it.  About one third of women experience hair loss, or alopecia at some point in their lives.

    (00:49):As women enter into peri-menopause and go through menopause or about two thirds will suffer some hair, thinning and or  hair loss, where hair loss can be devastating and embarrassing can have a huge impact on woman’s emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Now, generally we all do shed hair daily, but when the cycle becomes interrupted for various reasons, we start to notice hair thinning in her loss. And again, we shed about 50 to 100 hairs every day over the normal hair growth cycle. So when the hair starts to exceeds this pattern, then women experienced what is referred to as female pattern baldness for Androgenic alopecia. I’m just going to briefly walk through the  three phases of  hair phases. The first phase is called the anagen phase where the growing phase, it typically lasts about two to eight years,  this phase generally refers to almost 90% of the hair on your head.  

    The catagen phase or transition phase is (01:42) the time that your hair follicles shrink and  can take about two or three weeks. The telogen phase or the resting phase can take about two to four months, when this phase ends the hair falls out. So what does this really mean? Well, most women eventually developed some degree of female pattern or hair baldness. The process can start at any time particularly  in our stressful world. I’m seeing more and more younger women. Women are noticing hair thinning or  hair loss, and these cycles tend to become interrupted. I often think of our gut like a garden and we need to keep it in  balance as it affects everything else that we do. I recently read that the scalp and hair growth was also like a garden, I liked that analogy as I had never thought of that before but your hair growth is dependent on what’s going on beneath your scalp.

    (02:29):That can cause problems and interfere with normal hair growth. So let’s move on to actually what may be causing this hair thinning  and  hair loss. 

    Let’s discuss some of the underlying root causes. The first one is hormones. I just talked about the importance of hormones in a  previous  podcast as they play such a big part in our lives. 

    Our hormones are like chemical messengers that regulate and support us as we age but  we don’t think about it. They also affect the growth of our hair. So  hormones like our estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. As they change with age and we experienced peri-menopause and eventually menopause our hormones are significantly different than they were in our thirties.  And unfortunately, now I’m even seeing women in their thirties and then early forties that are noticing some major differences in their hair as their hormones are a big part of the picture.

  • (03:21):Along with your sex hormones, our thyroid hormones are also crucial to support healthy hair. I like to think of the thyroid like our gas pedal, and we all want more energy, right? So we try to press down on that gas pedal to create energy, but having a healthy thyroid is also essential for hair growth. I think one of the poorly acknowledged hormones that also contribute to our hair  is our cortisol  also referred to as our stress hormones. We have two adrenal glands that sit on top of our kidneys are about pea size and their function is to handle all the stress in our lives. Do you have stress in your life? I know I do.  These stress glands get tired. And then that 24 hour cortisol pattern becomes an issue  that goes too high or sometimes even goes too low, or it’s a mixed pattern. So I often think about like our adrenal glands, like our gas tank, and you need a full tank of gas in order to have a healthy thyroid in order to press down on that gas pedal.

    (04:22):So  the thyroid and adrenal glands are very intimately related. They can support each other or they can even sabotage each other if they’re not balanced. So we often see a common pattern. The thyroid tends to be over-treated and they can often backfire and leave people  in  a state of frustration and still losing their hair. And the reason is because not all the hormones were looked at or supported together. As I just mentioned about our stress and our cortisol with our recent pandemic, it’s really increased our levels of stress. And it’s negatively impacting women’s health and  hair loss because over time, those chemical messengers that are released when we’re stressed, it can push their body into a state that can almost push your hair follicles over the edge into the resting phase. Until over time, your hair starts to fall out, then increases our stress even more. Another part of the stress is auto-immunity. It seems more and more people, specifically women are being told they have Hashimoto’s.  Basically in a nutshell, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune issue, which means that your own immune system is mistakenly attacking your own thyroid. And you actually can affect your hair follicles negatively over time, producing more hair loss. Hashimoto’s can we dealt with, it’s not a death sentence and one of my favorite resources is Izabella Wentz. She’s got some great books that talk about how to manage and support your thyroid and Hashimoto’s

    (05:52):Another issue I think that gets overlooked and seems unrelated to hair loss, but it’s actually very important is inflammation. I talked about this in an earlier podcast too. Now inflammation is the number one accelerator of rapid aging. There’s a blood test thats called hs CRP that can identify the level of systemic inflammation in your body. It can tell us if inflammation is part of your root cost to your hair loss and any other problems within your body. Now, the reasons for systemic inflammation are many, but just to mention a few, it can just can be toxins or inability to take in things and release them  every day or  really eliminate them through our poop, through our pee through our breathing and through our skin. Other problems tied to inflammation can be hidden infections, a poor diet and lack of sleep. Just to name a few.

     The last thing I’m going to mention the last possible root cause for hair loss issues can be simple. Nutrient deficiencies and particularly iron.  As we eat poor diets, we’re on the run we decrease the nutrient rich foods we take in.  Those foods that we eat tend to be poorly absorbed then preventing us from having good energy and ultimately affecting our hair.  

    (07:18):It’s very subtle, but there are many issues that lie within the gut itself that can affect hair loss. And I’m going to mention just a few of these problems. Things like low hydrochloric acid that comes from the stomach and when it becomes blocked or low, it can cause infections like H pylori or  a protein digestion absorption issue , which then can relate to poor hair growth. Hydrochloric acid is very important to digest proteins and protect yourselves again from infections. Other issues in the gut can be a lack of digestive enzymes,  and leaky gut. All of these things can ultimately affect absorption of your food that actually supports healthy hair.

    (08:05):Now we can’t stop the aging process. We can’t change our genetics. However we realize now that we can have much more control over the expression of our genetics and we can influence how we age by implementing healthy lifestyle strategies, better food choices, and using some supplements. So we can do things like keep your inflammation down. If you get your lab test and find you have a high hs CRP or systemic inflammation, things like taking vitamin D,  using some proteolytic, enzymes, ensuring healthy sleep patterns can all cut down on that inflammation. 

    They’re actually hair friendly nutrients and vitamin D is one of them. Other hair friendly nutrients can be vitamin C and  omega-3 fatty acids. And just to ensure that you’re probably digesting your proteins well I encourage a trial of supplementation  with hydrochloric acid, Apple cider vinegar, and or digestive enzymes and liver support.  So supporting your gut with probiotics will support the  good guys and the bad guys.   We want both. We just want them to be balanced.

    (09:13):Assess your hormone levels and take the necessary steps to balance and support your hormones. 

    (09:16):Simply ruling out that we don’t have any hidden infections or having any nutrient deficiencies by some specialized functional medicine lab testing can   help you to rule out  that this is not part of the hair loss issue. 

    Check in with your diet. An easy way to improve your diet is to eat the rainbow, ensure that you’re eating or adding more colors of vegetables to your diet. Every week I started a new habit. I go to Sprouts, one of my favorite health food stores. Once a week, I try to put in my cart, at least two vegetables that perhaps I didn’t have last week or things that I wouldn’t normally pick out. I tried things like rutabaga or leeks. So the following week I can take pride in saying, you know what? I added two more things in the rainbow. It may seem simple. And it is, it just takes a little forethought to realize that you are now expanding your foods. The rainbow in your gut is seeing an increased diversity, which helps your microbiome, which ultimately can help and promote healthy hair.  

    (10:25):As with all areas of our life, be aware of your stresses and strive to find a balance. We’re never going to get rid of our stress, but we can have good tools in our tool bag to handle our stress. So it doesn’t overwhelm us and get the best of us. Now  sleep is your friend. I hear people so often talking about how little sleep they get, their kids,  their work that keep them up. It’s the only time they can stay in the house and be  quiet. While I understand all these issues, the key really is to help you understand the importance of sleep at night, between the hours of 11:00 PM and 2:00 AM your body’s almost getting like double hours of sleep because that’s the time your body’s rejuvenating and healing. So if you don’t allow your body to take this time, things would become very difficult for you and your body never will properly heal.

    (11:25):So sometimes I challenged my clients. If they go to bed like at  midnight or one o’clock in the morning, it seems unreasonable to say, Oh, you have to be in bed by 11. So we work on some strategies and we try to set a goal for about 30 minutes to an hour earlier. And even if sometimes people go to bed an hour earlier, they take a book with them and say, well, there’s no way I can possibly go to sleep. I understand. But by taking a book, your body starts to relax and hopefully you’re going to reach the deeper phases of sleep and just get better quality sleep over time. 

    So all these tools I just mentioned are very important, but they also take some time. So there are a couple other options you have if you want to accelerate your hair growth. So I offer women these options while we’re working on your hormones and your gut and  enhancing your ability to detoxify. There are two other things that we can use. And the first option  is called PRP which stands for platelet rich plasma.

    (12:26):We draw your blood. And basically in simple terms, we spin it down and we take the growth factors from that. And then we inject that into your scalp that can provide some very good hair growth.

     Another  accelerated option is called exosomes and exosomes are basically a part of a Stem cell. And what they do is they actually stimulate hair growth. They’re like messengers that talk to your cells  to promote regeneration and  growth. Now I used to do a lot more PRP. You had to do a sequence of treatments, but it actually brought some pretty good results, but exosomes seemed to be even more over the top. Typically on average, women only would need one treatment. So while we’re working on your hormones, improving your gut, your diet and your sleep, we can accelerate hair growth by using exosomes. And the end result is a happier, more  confident woman who is  regrowing hair.

     So if you’re a woman or have a friend with hair loss, know  the hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent with some investigating and possibly some PRP or even exosomes hair growth can be  restored.  You can feel confident that again, with a full head of hair. So look into some of these underlying root causes we mentioned earlier, check out exosomes. You can reach out to me through my website@ myagingscore.com if you have any questions.

     So thanks for listening and see you next time.


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