Hair Loss: Causes and Natural Remedies for Alopecia

Alopecia, hair loss…. It can become a concern for many people, and both men and women can suffer from it.

If you want to know what the causes of hair loss can be, what nutrients your hair needs to grow well, and medicinal plants and natural remedies against hair loss, keep reading because we will tell you everything.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is the reduction or loss of hair, both specifically and generalized. Scalp abnormalities are mainly due to endogenous, that is, internal problems.

To evaluate the possibility of hair regrowth, two main types of alopecia are distinguished :

1- Scarring Alopecia , which is caused by an inflammation that destroys the follicle, either due to damage or malformation, resulting irreversible

2- Non-scarring Alopecia , in which the following can be distinguished:

  • Androgenic : common or seborrheic: whose causes are both genetic and hormonal.
  • Areata : of autoimmune origin and that produces circular areas without hair but without inflammation or scars.
  • Universal : a variant of the areata but more extensive and that affects the hairs of the whole body.
  • Fibrosing : when hair is lost in the forehead area and it grows further away from it.
  • Diffuse : produces a decrease in density due to an alteration of the capillary cycle.
  • Traumatic : caused by physical trauma, including that due to the tic of twisting the hair until it causes damage -called trichotillomania- and that produced by combing or stretching with force -called by traction.
  • Ringworm of the scalp : product of infection by dermatophytes that leads to brittle hairs and scaly plaques with inflammation and pain.

The clinical way to detect if there is an alopecia is to take about 50 hairs and study the state of the hair bulb, observing the relationship between the anagen phase (active, in which 85% of the hair is normally found) and the telogen phase (rest , in which 14% of the hair is normally found).

Empirically, the loss of about 100 hairs per day is considered normal; if it is higher, it is considered an excessive fall and may be driven by different factors.

Causes of excessive hair loss

The truth is that a central factor to prevent hair loss is to find methods that allow you to keep it healthy.

Some of the factors that can cause the fall and accelerate an excessive fall are:

  • Lack of trace elements : minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron.
  • Stress : suffering from illnesses or submitting to situations of emotional pressure.
  • Hormonal imbalances : thyroid problems lead to an alteration in the growth and health of the hair. Male hormones or androgens are the ones that contribute the most to permanent hair loss, especially testosterone; in men, it passes into DHT (dehydrotestosterone) which binds to the receptors of the hair follicles; in women, menopause and hypothyroidism produce a decrease in estrogen and an increase in testosterone. During pregnancy and childbirth there is also a hormonal alteration. In autumn, a hormonal alteration usually occurs as a result of a variation in the hours of sunshine and lower temperatures.
  • Medications : blood thinners, contraceptives, antidepressants, and those used to treat gout and blood pressure.
  • Diseases : such as lupus or diabetes, as well as some infections.
  • Humidity : sleeping with wet hair produces an excess of humidity that accelerates the death of the hair.
  • Solar radiation : above all, ultraviolet (UV) radiation attacks the hair cuticle, exposing it to external agents and generating free radicals that break the keratin bonds.

Hormones play a central role in regulating the hair cycle. The estrogens favor the production of proteins of hair, improving its structure and maintaining the regularity of the cycle.

For their part, androgens reduce the production of hair proteins, shortening the hair growth phase due to their presence in the pilosebaceous unit where, by the action of 5-alpha-reductase, testosterone is transformed into dehydrotestosterone which, when accumulated , inhibits the metabolism of the follicles.


Treat hair loss from within

Maintaining healthy hair, providing a context for proper growth and even reducing excessive loss, is related to the quantity and quality of nutrients that we incorporate into our body.

Vitamins are crucial in hair development, as their lack causes hair degeneration. To combat hair loss are necessary:

  • Vitamin B2 : acts as an antioxidant and intervenes in the metabolism of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): important in DNA repair and energy metabolism, it produces vasodilation for the release of prostaglandins D and E that increase hair growth.
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): prevents hair loss and the appearance of gray hair, also stimulating growth by supporting the adrenal glands.
  • Vitamin B6 : has been shown to reduce alopecia and improve the condition of the hair by pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine.
  • Vitamin B8 (Biotin): it is a cofactor of the carboxylase enzyme that acts in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
  • Vitamin C : increases the growth of hair follicles, improves hair health and is involved in collagen synthesis, as well as acting as an antioxidant.
  • Vitamin A (Retinol): has effects on the growth and increase of hair density, prolonging the anagen phase (growth).
  • Provitamin A (Carotenoids): acts as an anti-inflammatory and inactivates free radicals.
  • Vitamin D : produces the differentiation and proliferation of keratinocytes.
  • Vitamin E : stimulates hair growth and protects it from oxidative stress by stabilizing the cell membrane.

The balance of minerals is essential for hair to grow properly, mainly:

  • Iron : an excess is toxic, but thus also its deficit, for example during menstruation, contributes to the fragility of the hair.
  • Zinc : collaborates with the metabolization of testosterone, participates in the synthesis of keratin and protects from free radicals, which is why its deficit causes hair loss.
  • Copper : activates a large number of enzymes for the synthesis of collagen and melanin, maintaining healthy hair and its natural color. An excess in the diet can nullify zinc, damage the thyroid and generate free radicals.
  • Silica : increases the production of collagen, so that the hair does not lose elasticity.
  • Selenium : protects from UVB radiation and, its deficit produces a decrease in hair growth.
  • Magnesium : increases the effect of vitamin E, the absorption of vitamin B1 and activates the metabolism of amino acids, necessary for the synthesis of collagen.
  • Manganese : it is important in protein synthesis and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Proteins and amino acids are also important for healthy hair to grow:

  • Taurine : it is synthesized in the body from other amino acids such as methionine and cysteine ​​together with a sufficient amount of vitamin B6. It has a protective effect on the skin and hair, acting as an antioxidant and stabilizer of cell membranes, forming crucial disulfide bridges in the hair structure.
  • Arginine : constitutes hair proteins, increasing immune function.
  • L-cysteine : promotes the development of alpha-keratin, important in the formation of disulfide bridges that provides firmness, rigidity and resistance to the hair.

Therefore, some of the foods that promote hair growth , due to their importance in the nutrition of the body, are:

  • The avocado ( Persea americana ): with a good effect on dry and damaged hair.
  • Wheat germ ( Triticum spp ): it is rich in vitamins of group B and E.
  • Soy ( Glycine max ): it is rich in vitamins A, B6, B12 and C, minerals and essential amino acids.
  • Spirulina algae ( Arthrospira spp ): rich in beta-carotene and group B vitamins.
  • Watercress ( Nasturtium officinale ): if consumed regularly, it strengthens the hair.
  • Potatoes ( Solanum tuberosum ): provide essential amino acids essential for follicle growth.
  • Cereals and green legumes : recommended for proper hair growth.
  • Brewer’s yeast : 3 spoons a day of yeast make hair stronger.
  • Royal jelly : rich in pantothenic, which helps prevent hair loss.
  • Omega 3 : oils rich in omega 3 reduce inflammation and thicken the hair.

Foods that are not recommended are sugars and refined flours, processed foods, and excess alcohol, caffeine, and water with chlorine or fluoride.

Exposure to heavy metals , such as lead, arsenic, mercury, thallium, and mold, as well as showers that are too hot, produce brittle hair.


Medicinal plants against hair loss

Blood circulation is also one of the causes of hair loss, for which treatments can be used to increase blood flow to the follicles, providing nutrients and promoting hair growth.

It has been proven that, topically, the application of preparations with essential oils of thyme, lavender, rosemary and cedar wood, 44% of patients developed hair growth.

Some other extracts that have shown effective action in topical preparations are:

  • Ginseng ( Panax Ginseng ): exerts a stimulating effect on the scalp, restoring its elasticity and tone, which increases cell renewal and hair thickness.
  • Quina ( Cinchona pubescens ): has stimulating properties on the hair bulb, which helps to fortify the hair.
  • Tea ( Camellia sinesis ): promotes cell renewal, keeping the scalp healthy.
  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ): due to its antiandrogen effect, it is traditionally used as a revitalizing, stimulating and strengthening scalp, also preventing seborrhea.
  • Nasturtium ( Tropaeolum majus ): used to control and reduce inflammation of the scalp due to its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant properties.
  • Thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ): favors the normalization of the growth of the scalp and has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.

When using essential oils, it is essential to know their origin and purity. It is recommended to use chemotyped oils (QT or AEQT) where their tolerance level is indicated in different uses, and that they have certifications of their organic origin, 100% purity and 100% natural.

Natural preparations for fragility and hair loss

Natural remedies are a good adjuvant and preventive therapy for the treatment of hair loss. However, it is important to consider and test for possible allergies before using them.

  • Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis ):

It is a natural antiseptic that stimulates blood circulation, acting as a vasodilator, antithrombotic and antiadrenergic, which favors hair growth and darkens gray hair.

To prepare the natural treatment, rosemary essential oil is used mixed with jojoba oil in equal parts or with olive oil.

It can also be prepared with soybean oil (80ml); wheat germ (2.5ml), rosemary oil (10ml) and cedar oil (5ml), let the preparation rest for a few days and apply to the scalp just before washing the head.

In this video you can see more about the therapeutic qualities of rosemary.

  • Onion ( Allium cepa ):

It is used mainly in alopecia areata, for its antibacterial power. It can be applied directly to the scalp or made into a juice with a teaspoon of honey to hide its smell.

  • Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera ( Aloe vera ):

It has compounds with antioxidant activity, such as catalase and oxidase, as well as phytosterols and vitamins E and C. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and is a good treatment for dry and frizzy hair, as its main action is to hydrate the scalp.

To prepare a natural treatment, the sap of aloe vera is used (making cuts in its leaves) and diluting it in water; The application is done by massaging the scalp, leaving it to act for 10 minutes, and then rinsing with warm water.

  • Nettle ( Urtica dioica ):

It has an antithrombotic effect and acts on different enzymes and on the androgen receptor. It is also used to combat dandruff and oily hair, as well as hair weakness.

The preparation consists of putting some dried nettle leaves in a container and adding a four liter of boiling water, letting it rest with the container covered for 20 minutes, strain it and add a teaspoon of honey. It is used two or three times a week, massaging the scalp.

I leave you this video about nettle so that you know more about its benefits and uses.


Hair massage

Scalp massages help to reactivate blood circulation and have a sanitizing effect, eliminating sebum and impurities deposited in the hair follicles.

The massages are performed as follows:

  • With the fingertips: apply light pressure, following circular movements starting from the nape of the neck to the forehead and along the sides.
  • With the palm of the hands: to complete, massages are performed with the palm of the hand in the form of small pumps.
  • With the knuckles: with a greater pressure than with the fingertips, to reach the deepest blood vessels.
  • With the fists: tapping to activate more circulation.
  • With water: which is very relaxing.
  • With capillary massage devices: with spider-shaped legs, mostly made of wood or with metal tip balls, although there are also some electric or battery-operated ones.

As can be seen, to treat hair loss, be it excessive or circumstantial, it is necessary to articulate the application of topical treatments with an intake of nutritious foods in a balanced diet.



Consulted bibliography

  • The Inhairclinic Hair Guide. Chapter 2: Hair Treatments
  • “Drugs and natural products useful in the treatment of alopecia and damaged hair”, Javier Quintero Mora. Sevilla University. 2018
  • “Hair loss”, Romero Bonet, Antonieta Garrote. Elsevier, Vol. 31, No. 5. 2017
  • “Aromatherapy. Extracts of uses and virtues of the essential oils of geranium, lavender, lemon, rosemary, rose ”. Junta de Andalucía.
  • “Hair care at the pharmacy office. Use of plant extracts for hair care ”, National Council of Pharmacists of Dermopharmacy. General Council of Official Associations of Pharmacists. 2014

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