Chiva-Som’s Dr Dr Jason Culp Gives the Low-Down on Hair Health
The pressure for both men and women to flaunt a healthy mane has spawned a plethora of over-the-counter hair-care products and supplements promising quick-fix results. But although aesthetics may be front of mind for many, the state of our hair is a reflection of internal health and wellbeing. So how to restore, enhance and maintain healthy hair?
Chiva-Som’s Naturopathic Physician, Dr Jason Culp, offers some insights into maintaining optimum hair health and dealing with hair loss and thinning…
Vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as protein play a vital role in the growth and retention of hair. Iron is one of the most common deficiencies in the world and is often overlooked as a cause of hair loss. Zinc encourages direct growth, and both produce and balance key hormones for maintaining healthy hair. Vitamin H, also known as Biotin (originally named Vitamin “H” after the German words “Haar” and“Haut”, meaning hair and skin), is perhaps the most famous of vitamins taken to improve the growth and strength of hair.
Before going out and buying bottles of hair growth supplements, it is important to note that taking certain nutrients in large quantities can have negative effects to overall health. A simple routine blood test can evaluate the need for dietary supplements, as well as rule out other potential causes of hair loss. The best way to prevent nutrient deficiencies is always by eating a wholesome diet packed with organic and minimally-processed foods to provide the nutrition the body needs to build and maintain growth of healthy hair.
The function of hormones is widespread, from maintaining metabolism to preserving the health of bones, muscles, and body tissues. Among these actions are the growth-promoting effects of hormones on the hair. Optimal thyroid function is vital to health and a classic sign of low thyroid function (“hypothyroidism”) is increased hair loss, often accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, dry skin and unexplained weight gain (slowed metabolism).
Reproductive hormones including estrogen and testosterone play a major role in hair growth and a common complaint in menopause is thinning hair. Other issues of hormone loss, especially in men, can be genetic and may require a more conventional medical approach to promote hair retention (although epigenetics, the field of study on how our genes interact with the environment, may provide hope for those men inflicted by genetic hair loss). Similar to nutrient deficiencies, there are simple blood tests that can be taken to investigate the balance of specific hormones.
Stress seems to be implicated in developing many physical signs and symptoms, with hair loss being no exception. Stress plays a unique role in that chronic and repetitive stress may lead to both nutrient deficiencies and hormone imbalance, both potentially leading to increased hair loss.
An effective stress-management protocol should be built into the daily routine. This doesn’t mean living life on the meditation cushion; cultivating present-moment awareness by focusing on the breath is a simple, practical and effective way of taking a break from everyday stressors. Dr Jason suggests taking five to 10 minutes several times throughout the day, to bring awareness to the breath and mindfully observe the surroundings. Even small incremental breaks can be profound in reducing the detrimental impact of accumulated stress over time. Exercise and full-body physical movement is another effective way of releasing accumulated stress and promoting blood circulation, which will have a positive impact on growth and retention of healthy hair.
The health of the hair is a reflection of internal wellbeing, so addressing potential imbalances in nutrition, hormones and stress can promote balance in all aspects of your overall health and wellbeing.
Chiva-Som is set to reopen its doors on 1 November after the second of three six-month closure periods. November 2019 will see the full completion of the renovation.