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Q&A: I’m Losing My Hair!
Q: I’m a stressed-out 31-year-old woman and I think it shows in my hair. I try to eat right and usually drink about 8 glasses of water a day. But it seems like I see more hair on my pillow, in my hairbrush, and clogging the shower drain every day. Even my hairdresser made some comments. What can I do?
A: Stress is the single most common cause of hair loss in women. If you want healthy growth to return, let stress reduction be your primary focus. Start with a careful overview of your life. Are there specific problems that need to be addressed? Something with your job, relationships, or finances? If you can pinpoint the stressors, you can then take steps toward change such as seeing a financial counselor about your credit cards or updating your resume if your job is making you miserable.
More recommendations for healthy hair:
• Reduce the pressure Perhaps the stress springs from how you react (or overreact) to situations that are just part of life, like traffic, crowds, or deadlines at work. If this is the case, set aside all electronic communication and learn a stress reduction technique you can practice regularly. Yoga, t’ai chi, or meditation can offer real balance, as can a soak in a hot bath with no interruptions.
• Walk in the sun If you read my health tips regularly, you know I recommend every woman take a brisk, 20-minute walk daily with exposure to sunlight to boost stress-buffering serotonin.
• Optimum nutrition If it could communicate, the choir of your hair would sing its dislike for junk food, processed foods, sweetened anything, and other sources of empty calories. What your hair requires to thrive is high-quality, low-fat protein such as fish, soy, and skinless chicken. You also need at minimum five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day, and ideally double that. One way to start is by making today’s recipe, Sweet and Sour Summer Squash. Take a look in left-hand column for the link.
• Supplements Take a daily multivitamin, with extra zinc for healthy hair structure, plus a daily tablespoonful of flaxseed oil mixed into your food or juice. Or you can take a flaxseed oil capsule.
• Talk to your doc If you’re overdue for a check-up, ask your doctor to test your thyroid gland. A quick at-home self test for an underfunctioning thyroid can be found here. An underactive thyroid can be responsible for dry, brittle hair and hair that grows slowly.
• Scented oil An article in a conventional medical journal showed that a hair oil containing cedar, lavender, thyme, and rosemary actually promoted healthy hair growth. The oil is available in our apothecary or can be made up by a good aromatherapist.
David Edelberg, MD