This post also appears at the Purely Primal Skincare blog!
You can’t just treat fine, broken hair from the outside.
When it comes to hair loss or breakage-prone hair, it’s most important to look first at the INSIDE – the health of your body and your digestive system.
Weak, brittle hair can be a sign of both clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism, so it’s important to see a qualified practitioner to have thyroid function tested if you suspect something’s going on with this incredibly important, metabolism-regulating gland. Autoimmune disease, gluten intolerance, and certain nutrient deficiencies may be to blame as well, so ditching wheat, processed foods, and processed oils is a must.
If you’ve already got those bases covered, evaluate your digestive health from all angles: are you overly stressed, sleeping too little, not eating enough protein or carbohydrate, or working yourself to the brink of breakdown? These are all bodily stressors that affect our metabolic health AND gut health; and if metabolism is sluggish and the gut isn’t healthy, nutrients may have trouble getting where they need to go.
Additionally, high-stress lifestyles demand more nutrients from the body and can deplete these nutrients quickly and easily – and some of these nutrients, including B vitamins and zinc, are critical for healthy hair.
Other nutrients that are absolutely critical for healthy hair? Healthy carbohydrate, which helps fuel healthy metabolism by providing sufficiency signals to the brain and thyroid; complete protein to help build the hair’s structure; vitamins A and D (which work with zinc in the body to build tissues); and omega fatty acids (the kind we get from salmon, sardines and oysters – which are also rich in zinc). We talk about sources for this kind of nutrition in the Purely Primal Skincare Guide. But while these are critical, without healthy digestion, again – they won’t get where they need to go.
So the steps to addressing weak or breakable hair naturally, for me, would go as follows: first, de-stress the lifestyle. Whether that means removing tasks, people or responsibilities that are causing problems OR accumulating coping mechanisms to deal with non-negotiable stress is up to you (we can’t all walk away from the sources of stress in our lives, I know). Then, evaluate whether this has improved digestion, and at the same time, make sure the diet is rich in healthy carbs and protein (and, as always, healthy unprocessed fats).
If digestion hasn’t improved, look deeper into what might be causing problems with digestive function. The Purely Primal Skincare Guide takes readers through every major digestive organ, how it should function, and how things can go wrong; and it gives strategies for addressing each one.
Finally, look at the body and hair care routine. Remember, of course, that while what you do from the outside will help, it can only build on what you do from the INSIDE! Different people have success with different regimens, so while we can’t tell you what hair care routine will certainly work for YOU, we CAN give you recommendations and ideas to evaluate.
It’s best to use products that nourish the hair without being so heavy that they make the hair appear limp. A few drops of Rose Hip Seed oil as a scalp treatment can be really nourishing without being too weighty. The Burdock & Neem shampoo from 100 Percent Pure may help stimulate the scalp and the Shea Moisture line can help protect the hair shaft naturally. We also like Just Natural’s line, which includes hair loss products.
Finally, one of our favorite holistic supplements for the hair is Gaia Herb’s Hair, Skin and Nail support. Remember, hair takes some time to grow – so be patient!
Unfortunately, this is NOT a question with an easy, clear answer. Many factors contribute to hair breakage and loss, including nutrition, digestion, heredity, hormonal shifts, stress, metabolic problems, gluten intolerance, and autoimmune disease. A qualified practitioner will help you work through these possibilities to find answers!
Listen on Apple Listen on Spotify #441: Ann Swanson is the author of the NEW book Meditation for the Real World. A former chronic pain