Because hair is such a prominent part of a person's appearance it can be particularly distressing when it begins to thin or fall out. It is a well-known fact that most people will experience hair loss at some point in their life. However, the degree at which hair is lost or regrown is influenced by many factors. One of the most influential being thyroid function.
The powerful influence of the thyroid can be seen in many areas including skin and hair health. If you are concerned about hair loss, read on to learn about the impact of thyroid disease and what can be done to support hair health.
How Does Thyroid Disease Harm Hair?
The thyroid regulates many aspects of health through the use of hormones. Areas impacted by the thyroid include mood, metabolism, weight, and even hair growth – find out how thyroid disease can affect the entire body. The two most common forms of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. These conditions are typified respectively by a sluggish or overly active thyroid.
Thyroid disease can contribute to changes in hair quality, texture, health, and may even cause significant hair loss if left untreated. Those with hypothyroidism, slowed thyroid function, often experience a coarsening or drying of hair. Whereas those with hyperthyroidism, hastened thyroid function, often find that their hair becomes softer and finer.
Thyroid-related hair loss is not exclusive to the scalp. Patients may experience hair loss in other areas around the body, specifically the eyebrows. For example, a defining symptom of hypothyroidism thinning hair near the outer edges of the eyebrows. However, hair loss may also be experienced elsewhere. Fortunately, thyroid-related hair loss is typically reversible through proper treatment.
Balancing the Thyroid to Bring Back Hair
In the case of thyroid-related hair loss, the primary concern is restoring proper thyroid function. Ideally, this process should begin with thorough testing of TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies – get a free thyroid panel lab slip here. This allows for more precise and individualized treatment.
Unfortunately, common practice is to test only for TSH and prescribe a synthetic form of T4 called levothyroxine. Even though levothyroxine may normalize TSH, studies show that this approach is not effective at resolving common thyroid issues such as inhibited conversion, reduced hormone receptivity, and poor transport – learn more about why levothyroxine doesn’t work for most people. Ideally, treatment of hypothyroidism involves an individualized approach that considers multiple treatment options including T4, T3, or natural desiccated thyroid medication. Each case is unique and as such should be treated in a fashion that attends to individual needs. Employing such treatment practices increases the likelihood of optimizing thyroid function and better patient outcomes.
It is important to note that even after an underlying thyroid issue has been resolved, it may take some time, approximately one to two months, for the rate of hair loss to normalize and hair growth to return. In some cases, thyroid patients may experience a temporary hastening of hair loss during the first few months of treatment.
Other Methods of Promoting Hair Growth
Even if a thyroid disorder is the root cause of your hair loss, it may be beneficial to seek out or employ other hair-supporting tactics in addition to treating an underlying thyroid condition.
Resolve an Iron Deficiency
Ferritin is the stored form of iron. Ferritin deficiency is common among thyroid patients and is a leading cause of hair loss among women. Optimal ferritin levels support the anagen or growth phase of hair, allowing for optimal growth. If there is a lack of iron in your diet, your body’s supply of ferritin may be diverted from non-essential areas, such as hair growth, to critical systems like the heart. Therefore, without a proper supply of iron, hair health and growth are likely to deteriorate.
Increase Protein Intake
Collagen is a protein containing a high volume of amino acids such as glutamine that supports hair strength, skin elasticity, bone and joint health, and proper gut balance. Collagen production declines as the body ages and in the presence of chronic health conditions. Supplementing with collagen to alleviate reduced levels may improve hair growth and provide exceptional benefits for those with thyroid-related hair loss.
Attend to Absorption Issues
Nutrient deficiencies are a primary cause of hair loss. A major component of nutrient absorption is maintaining appropriate levels of stomach acid. If acid levels are inappropriately reduced, the body will have difficulty breaking down and absorbing nutrients contained in the foods we consume. This can result in a deficiency of important hair supporting vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Chronic conditions such as thyroid disease and autoimmune disorders can also inhibit nutrient absorption resulting in thyroid dysfunction and poor hair health. Resolving underlying absorption issues such as reduced levels of stomach acid can significantly improve nutrition and by extension hair growth.
The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system and as such, influence various hormone-related systems including the thyroid. Adrenal hormones regulate various aspects of wellness including blood pressure, stress response, blood sugar, immune function, digestion, and hair growth. Periods of prolonged stress can exhaust the adrenals resulting in many symptoms including migraines, depression, weight gain, inflammation, irritability, and hair loss. Furthermore, adrenal fatigue can impact thyroid function by inhibiting hormone production, conversion, transport, and receptivity. Those with adrenal fatigue frequently experience hair loss and other symptoms of thyroid disease.
Individualized treatment protocols are necessary for resolving adrenal fatigue. However, some find that supplementing with adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and others support their adrenal health and treatment.
Through supplementation, with a high-quality supplement, you can supply your body with the nutrients it needs to help restore hair growth, fullness, and strength. This is why Dr. Holtorf formulated HoltraCeuticals’ Big Hair. Big Hair contains powerful vitamins and nutrients that support hair health while also resolving deficiencies that contribute to hair loss.
Better Health Leads to Healthier Hair
The impact of thyroid disease can be seen throughout the body. One of the more aesthetically prominent areas affected is hair growth. Reduced thyroid function often correlates to declining hair health and can contribute significantly to hair loss. Fortunately, by resolving an underlying thyroid issue, attending to nutritional deficiencies, and improving lifestyle factors, you may be able to restore your hair to its prior strength and fullness.
1. Nina van Beek, Enikő Bodó, Arno Kromminga, Erzsébet Gáspár, Katja Meyer, Michal A. Zmijewski, Andrzej Slominski, Björn E. Wenzel, Ralf Paus. “Thyroid Hormones Directly Alter Human Hair Follicle Functions: Anagen Prolongation and Stimulation of Both Hair Matrix Keratinocyte Proliferation and Hair Pigmentation.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 93, Issue 11, 1 November 2008, Pages 4381–4388.
2. British Thyroid Foundation. “Hair Loss and Thyroid Disorders.” http://www.btf-thyroid.org/information/109-hair-loss-and-thyroid-disorders
3. American Academy of Dermatology. “Hair Loss.” https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-and-scalp-problems/hair-loss
4. Safer JD. “Thyroid hormone action on skin.” Dermatoendocrinol. 2011 Jul-Sep;3(3):211-15.