atching hair falling off the scalp without new hair occupying its place is a nightmare for everyone regardless of age. Normally, the scalp of an average adult contains 100,000 to 150,000 hairs. Almost 90% of the hair on the scalp is in the active hair growth stage, which is known as the anagen stage. At the end of the anagen stage, which is known to last for two to six years, each hair enters a transitional phase known as catagen that lasts for two to three weeks. The resting phase, known as telogen, lasts for about two to three months. At the end of the telogen phase, the old hair falls off and it is replaced by a new hair. Each hair on the scalp is in one of the three stages of the hair growth cycle. It is normal to lose up to a hundred hairs each day. Your hair starts thinning when new hair does not grow in the place of the lost hair. [1]

Causes of Thinning Hair  

Arresting hair loss is possible only when the underlying cause of excessive hair shedding is identified. As there are multiple causes of hair loss, pinpointing the exact cause may not be easy. Genetics is known to be the major cause of hair loss. Thinning of hair could be due to the genes you inherited from either your mother or your father who has a family history of hair loss.

The second most common cause of hair loss is associated with telogen effluvium a condition that causes excessive shedding of hair. It is characterized by reduction in the number of hair follicles actively producing hair. It significantly increases the number of dormant hair in the telogen phase, which leads to excess hair fall. Stressful events are the possible causes of telogen effluvium. It is associated with flu, high fever, childbirth, surgery and severe anemia and extreme mental stress. Side effects of medications can also trigger excessive shedding of hair. Telogen effluvium could also be due to malnutrition especially when you do not eat adequate protein and iron rich food. Fortunately, hair thinning associated with telogen effluvium is reversible by addressing the underlying cause of hair fall. The normal hair growth cycle is known to resume within six months after resolving the cause of effluvium.
If you are experiencing excess hair fall, ask your doctor to check the health of your thyroid gland. Thinning of hair could be a symptom of thyroid gland malfunction. When the thyroid gland is overactive, it produces excess thyroid hormone, which speeds up metabolism and causes excess hair fall.

Hair thinning could also be associated with unhealthy scalp condition. You will lose hair if your scalp is affected by a fungal infection. Seborrheic dermatitis, commonly known as dandruff, is a common cause of excessive hair fall. People with scalp psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder, are vulnerable to hair loss. [2][3]

How to Stop Hair Thinning Naturally

1. Herbs

Herbs that are believed to stimulate hair growth include rosemary, sage, burdock, aloe, nettle, chamomile and peppermint. A small clinical trial suggests that saw palmetto can help in combating male-pattern baldness. [4]
In Ayurveda, the herb Eclipta alba is recommended for promoting hair growth. According to an experimental study, Eclipta alba extract was found to be as effective as minoxidil 2% solution in stimulating hair growth. Topical application of the herbal extract helped in reducing the initiation time of hair growth and increased the number of hair follicles in the anagen phase. [5] Traditionally, massaging the scalp with Eclipta alba oil, commonly known as Bhringraj oil, is believed to stimulate hair growth. The herbal oil rich in vitamins and antioxidants nourish the hair roots that could help in hair growth. [6]

The leaves and flowers of hibiscus rosa-sinensis are also known to stimulate hair growth. Research suggests that the leaf extract of hibiscus is more effective than the flower extract in increasing hair growth. [7]
In a study reported in the Journal of Dermatological Science, researchers found that among 45 plant extracts traditionally used in oriental medicine for reducing hair loss, Asiasari radix was found to be most effective in stimulating hair growth. The study revealed that the herb helped in regulating cell growth and promoted growth factor gene expression. [8]

Recent studies have demonstrated the hair growth potential of red ginseng extract. Laboratory studies suggest that ginsenosides, the active constituents in red ginseng, induce proliferation of human dermal papilla cells and help in activating the signaling pathways that promote development of the hair matrix keratinocyte and inhibit the dihydrotestosterone (DHT) induced suppression of the hair follicles. [9] Topical application of onion juice can also help in inducing hair re-growth. Researchers found in a small clinical trial that applying crude onion juice twice daily for two months stimulated hair re-growth in individuals with alopecia areata, a type of non-scarring hair loss. [10]

Topical garlic gel is also known to induce hair re-growth in people with alopecia areata. Research suggests that when combined with conventional topical medication for alopecia areata, garlic gel helped in boosting its effectiveness. [11]

2. Essential Oil and Hot Oil Treatment

A number of essential oils are believed to stimulate hair growth. Essential oils are traditionally used for massaging. The warm sensation produced while massaging the scalp helps in increasing blood circulation in the scalp. This helps to increase supply of nutrients to the hair follicles. Furthermore, essential oils can easily penetrate the scalp and ease hair growth. Essential oils of lavender, chamomile, cedar wood, helichrysum, clary sage, carrot seed, cypress and clove are believed to promote hair growth. Essential oils of rosemary, sage, myrtle, ylang ylang and sea buckthorn are known to unclog the pores and hair follicles. Essential oils should be applied to the scalp after diluting them in carrier oil. Ideally, 8 to 10 drops of any essential oil of your choice or mixture of essential oils should be combined with 1/4 cup carrier oil. [12]

Hot oil treatment is known to help the thickening the hair. Coconut oil is used for alleviating flaking of the scalp. Sesame oil is believed to reduce hair loss. Castor oil is known to improve the health of the thin, brittle hair. Avocado oil moisturizes the dry and frizzy hair. Jojoba oil is best suited for the oily hair. You can apply one of these oils or add few drops of essential oil of your choice to the base oil and then apply the mixture of oils to the scalp. Before applying the oil mixture, warm the base oil and then add the essential oil. Apply the warm oil mixture to the scalp and hair. Wrap your head with a warm towel. Leave it on for up to one hour, and then wash your hair. [13]

3. Foods to Eat

Adding foods rich in nutrients that support hair growth to your daily diet can help in reducing excessive hair fall. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in starch is believed to slow down the hair loss process. A number of plant flavonoids are known for their antioxidant activities that help in protecting the hair follicles and stimulate hair growth.

Biotin is an important nutrient for hair growth. Brown rice, sunflower seeds, oats, lentils, bulgur, walnuts, green peas and brewer’s yeast are good dietary sources of biotin. When hair loss is induced by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), eating soy foods such as soybeans, tofu and tempeh can help in inhibiting the effect of the hormone. Green tea could be included in the diet as it is rich in antioxidants and is also known to inhibit conversion of testosterone into DHT. Wild-caught fish such as salmon are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help in thickening the hair and improving hair growth. Zinc deficiency is believed to be a possible cause of hair loss and sluggish thyroid gland function. Pumpkin seeds are good sources of zinc.

Increase intake of protein and collagen that support healthy hair growth, add bone broth to your diet.
Seeds such as flax, chia and hemp are excellent sources of healthy fats and fibers that support the hair health.
Eat foods that have been grown organically. They are free from chemicals that are believed to disrupt the endocrine system that affect healthy hair growth. [14][15]

4. Supplements

In addition to diet, nutritional deficiencies can be addressed with the help of nutritional supplements. In some cases of non-scarring hair loss, high doses of inositol could help in inducing hair growth. Inositol 200 mg can be taken twice a day. As inositol works synergistically with choline, remember to combine equal amount of choline with inositol.

To maintain a healthy scalp, you can take Vitamin E. Supplements containing different types of tocopherols are believed to be effective. Start Vitamin E supplementation with 200 IU of the vitamin for the first two weeks, and thereafter you can take 400 IU of the vitamin daily. To improve utilization of Vitamin E, take 100 to 200 mcg of selenium daily.

Zinc and silica supplements help in increasing hair strength and growth. Take 100 to 250 mg of silica once or twice a day. Take 15 mg of zinc with food twice a day. To maintain the normal ratio of zinc and copper, take 1 to 2 mg of copper daily.

To increase biotin intake, you can take 500 mcg to 2 mg of biotin supplement daily in addition to a Vitamin B complex supplement. Vitamin B complex supplement should contain 25 to 50 mg of the important B vitamins. Take the supplement two to three times a day. Vitamin C is known to support healthy formation of hair follicles. You can take 500 to 1000 mg of Vitamin C supplement two times daily. [16]

5. Stress Management

High level of stress is known to alter uptake of amino acids and trace elements that support hair growth. Too much stress affects the testosterone level and metabolism and slows down blood flow to the scalp. [17] The American Psychological Association has recommended five easy techniques to reduce both short-term and long-term stress.

  • Avoid the stressor for a short time: Though stressful situations cannot be avoided and you cannot skip your responsibilities, spending a few minutes in taking care of yourself can help in lowering the level of stress.
  • Physical Activity: Exercise is an excellent stress buster. Just 20 minutes of walking, running, swimming or dancing helps in reducing stress and the positive effect is known to last for several hours.
  • Smile and Laugh: Smiling and laughing help in reducing tension. The brain can easily connect with facial expressions.
  • Social Support: Sharing your concerns and feeling with another person can help you in coping with stress.
  • Meditation: Meditation and mindful prayers are known to help in reducing the adverse effect of stressful situation. [18]

6. Shampoo

Certain shampoos are specifically formulated to stimulate hair growth. Biotin, when used topically in the form of shampoo or conditioner, is known to make the hair appear thicker. The water-soluble B vitamin coats the hair shaft giving it a thicker appearance. Biotin is also known to increase the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle that helps in making the hair thicker and longer. [19] Shampoos that do not contain harsh chemicals or ingredients that make the hair excessively dry should be avoided. Shampoos with natural plant extracts are believed to be good for the tresses. [20] Instead of washing your hair with commercial shampoos, you can use plant-based cleansers for cleaning your hair and scalp. The saponin rich soapwort is an excellent natural cleanser for the hair. Saponins produce foam when combined with water. Soapwort is also known to protect the hair structure. It is usually combined with horsetail, a silicon rich herb, to reduce hair fall. [21] Yucca is another saponin-rich herbal cleanser that may help in arresting hair loss. [22]

8. Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is associated with chronic health problems and autoimmune disorders. It may even inhibit hair growth. Reducing inflammation could help in improving the health of your hair. Intake of processed grains, sugar, processed food, gluten and vegetable oils induce the formation of inflammatory compounds. [23] Avoid the inflammation-causing foods and add foods with anti-inflammatory nutrients to your daily diets such as tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, fatty fish, olive oil and fruits especially cherries, oranges, strawberries and blueberries. [24]

8. Scalp Massage

Scalp massage is believed to stimulate hair growth. For general maintenance of scalp health, scalp massage is usually recommended once a week. For scalp disorders, frequent massage can help only when performed according to the direction of the dermatologist. [25]

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