Aromatherapy advice for hair loss

Firstly, we’d like to start off by saying that it’s perfectly normal to lose hair. It is thought that a person can lose anywhere between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing – although people with longer hair do tend to notice the shed hairs more as they are simply more obvious. Women typically lose more hairs per day because they are more likely to have their hair coloured or heat styled. They are also more likely to experience periods of increased hair loss during pregnancy and the menopause. With approximately 100,000 hair follicles on our heads however, the loss of 100 hairs or so, is usually nothing to worry about.

Causes of increased hair loss

If you’re noticing increased hair loss it could be as a result of stress, shock, illness (some viral infections can cause hair loss for 6-8 weeks after the infection has cleared), thyroid/pituitary imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, iron deficiency (anaemia) or cancer treatment. Excessive washing, bleaching, brushing and heat styling can also have an impact. Many types of hair loss are temporary, however some types, such as male or female pattern baldness, may be permanent, and tends to be hereditary.

If hair loss has happened during times of high stress, it is important to treat the underlying cause, rather than merely working to suppress the symptoms. This is vital to help you gain a true understanding of your bodies “dis-ease”, therefore helping you to resolve the situation, and feel better long term.

The condition of your hair, like your skin, is a real reflection of your general state of health. Therefore, a good, well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, regular fresh air and exercise, plenty of sleep and relaxation is all important.

Smoking, excess alcohol and high caffeine intake can undermine your general health, and therefore your hair growth. Chronic low-grade dehydration is also so common and can be another contributory factor in poor hair condition. Remember that caffeine has the totally opposite effect to good hydration, as it is a diuretic, and inhibits the absorption of various vitamins and minerals, as well as increasing the rate at which you excrete them! Excess coffee, tea and coke can deplete the body's iron levels, and this can cause or aggravate hair loss.

If your hair loss is sudden and you’re worried, a blood test at the doctors to check thyroid and pituitary function can be a useful first step, and to check anaemia isn't an issue.

Diet advice to help combat hair loss:

  • Hair follicles require extremely high levels of essential amino acids, so ensure your protein intake is high enough – especially if you are vegetarian or vegan. Plenty of nuts, pulses and seeds are vital.
  • Increase your intake of iron rich foods, such as dark leafy green vegetables, eggs, lean red meat especially game, offal and pulses.
  • Increase your Vitamin C levels, to ensure you can absorb the Iron properly.
  • Biotin deficiency can often be an issue with hair loss. This is a nutrient which is produced by the friendly intestinal flora in your gut. The balance of these flora can be upset if you have had anti-biotics or other strong medication. Consider a pro-biotic supplement (such as Bio-Acidophilus Forte from BioCare Ltd) to reinforce intestinal flora balance. Biotin is also found in eggs, peanut butter, oats and liver.

Aromatherapy advice to help combat hair loss:

Firstly, it’s important to note that aromatherapy oils can’t really influence the condition of the hair, because hair is a ‘dead’ substance. Hair comprises mainly of a protein called keratin – a substance that is produced in the hair follicle as the living cells die. What the oils can do however is improve the condition of the scalp, upon which the condition of the hair depends. Some essential oils can also help stimulate circulation to the base of the hair follicle, which can help to encourage growth, and others can be extremely effective in helping to reduce the impact of stress or shock if this is a contributory factor.

For shock

For a soothing soak mix 1 drop of Chamomile, 6 drops of Lavender and 2 drops of Rose in 15ml Bath Oil and add to the bath after the water has run. You can add the same essential oils to our Moisturising Cream or Lotion too, to get the oils regularly into your system. Bach Flower Remedy's Rescue Remedy can also be very helpful, and the homeopathic remedy Arnica.

For stress

Aromatherapy massage is fabulous to help relieve stress and tension. Oils such as Chamomile, Clary Sage, Black Pepper, Frankincense, Neroli, Petitgrain, Ylang Ylang and Geranium can be wonderful for massage and bathing to relieve stress and anxiety. Remember you are naturally drawn to the oils you need the most. A favourite stress-relieving massage blend of mine is: 30ml Sweet Almond oil with 2 drops Neroli and 8 drops Lavender.

Aromatherapy shampoo

Ensure you're using a mild and gentle shampoo. Add essential oils to Base Formula's SLS free Shampoo – 2 drops of  Chamomile, 3 drops of Palmarosa and 3 drops of Rosemary. Massage the scalp well during shampooing. You can also add 3 drops of Jojoba oil to each measure of shampoo, to help the condition of the scalp.

Aromatherapy hair / scalp conditioner

You can also add essential oils to our Hair Conditioner. To each measure of conditioner before application - add 4 drops of Ylang Ylang, 3 drops of Clary Sage, 3 drops of Rosemary, 2 drops of Lemon, 4 drops of Lavender, 4 drops of Jojoba oil and 4 drops of Evening Primrose oil. Massage into hair shafts and leave on for 5 minutes before rinsing.

It is important not to over wash the hair, as this can stress the scalp and strain the condition of the hair. Try and leave at least 3 days in between washes. Do not use very hot water, as this can cause dryness or greasy hair.

Remember the use of essential oils, increased water intake and improved diet will help you feel better quickly, but your hair growth condition will take anything from a few weeks to a few months to show a real improvement. Persevere, it will be worth it!

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist

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