Ask the Expert by Lori K. Baker
Scratching your head wondering where it all went? A local expert discusses remedies for thinning hair.
THE MANE TOPIC
first, the good news: Some hair loss is normal. The scalp typically sheds about 100 hairs a day and sprouts 100 new ones. And not the not-so-good news: Sometimes this natural process goes awry, leaving embarrassing bald spots or thinning hair.
So it's no wonder that we spend about $1.5 billion a year trying to salvage our locks, with everything from Rogaine to hair transplants. But are there any natural alternatives? William Gaunitz, owner of Natural Hair Growth Centers of Arizona, believes there are. Here's his advice on how to manage our manes:
Q: What's normal hair loss, and what's not?
Gaunitz: The hair on our head grows from follicles distributed evenly beneath the scalp. Each follicle repeatedly processes and sheds up to six hairs. If you have noticeable hair loss, you might have a problem, such as androgenetic alopecia, commonly called pattern baldness, which affect 30 to 40 percent of women and men. Not only is the hair growth cycle shortened, but the new hairs that replace the old ones are shorter and finer.
Q: What steps can you take if you suspect pattern baldness?
Gaunitz: For men, avoid anything that increased testosterone. That includes read meat or sugar, which raises insulin, which in turn increases testosterone and DHT, or dihydrotestosterone. In men who carry a certain combination of genes, DHT speeds up hair loss on the scalp. Women should limit soy products, which increase estrogen.
Q: So you believe diet plays a role in hair loss?
Gaunitz: Yes. Diet can be effective in stopping hair loss in many cases, but not necessarily in regrowing it. I'd recommend lots of salads, fruits and vegetables and lean meats, such as hormone-free chicken and fish high in fats, such as salmon. Your diet should have enough essential fatty acids. One important polynsaturated fat, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), blocks DHT. GLA can be found in borage oil, evening primrose oil, and black currants. The human body also manufactures its own supply of GLA from linolenic acid, which is abundant in vegetable oil and meats.
Q: Are there any topical treatments that can help stop hair loss?
Gaunitz: I'd recommend using a dandruff shampoo with 1 percent zinc pyrithione, which reduces scalp inflammation. One study shows that people who used it for 26 weeks grew six times more hair then they had using normal shampoo. I also advise that people stay away from hair products containing propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulphates, and sodium laureth sulphates.
Q: What about Rogaine and Propecia?
Gaunitz: Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) are two products approved by the FDA to grow hair. Either can help, but neither produces miraculous results. The hair that does grow back tends to be thin and wispy. Before you consider these products, consult your physician.
Q: What else can be done to regrow hair?
Gaunitz: We use crown laster therapy, which, in conjunction with other therapies, can actually regrow up to seven years of lost hair.