April 2008 Ageless herbal newsletter
Healthy hair - and how to maintain it
Our hair is our crowning glory and we all know that the state of the hair has an incredible effect on how good we look – we all know of the “bad hair day” and how this affects the way we feel about ourselves.
Being in tiptop shape and good health will be reflected in the condition of our hair, skin and nails. Following a balanced diet, controlling stress levels and exercising moderately will give our hair the ideal conditions in which to grow.
We are very fortunate to live in an age where the approach to hair styling and care is more natural. Remember the bouffant style of hair in the 1960’s, where the hair was pasted into an unnatural shape! This look can of course still be achieved these days, but at least the gels and mousses available are much more hair, scalp and ozone friendly.
We do still subject our hair to harsh dyes, colorants and treatments, but the research done into most of these procedures has given rise to much gentler treatments. A well trained hairdresser, who keeps his or herself up to date with new technical advancements in hair care and treatments, will have all the necessary knowledge to achieve the best style for your over-all look, without damaging, or limiting damage to the hair and scalp.
When we are born, we start out with a full complement of follicles, each having its own blood supply and muscle. Each follicle produces a hair, which grows upward from the papilla in the follicle, where the root and the bulb of the hair are located.
The usual lifespan of a hair is around about three years, and the hair is found to follow the following stages:
As we age, the above-mentioned cycle degenerates and starts to malfunction, and the progress of this degeneration and malfunction can differ greatly from person to person.
Our genes play a major role in how well our hair grows and if premature baldness is pre-programmed into our genetic make up, there is really nothing that we can do about it.
A very tight ponytail, very definitely causes the risk of premature hair loss. The hair follicles are forced into an unnatural position, which causes the hair to press against one side of the opening in the follicle, which stretches the opening, causing wonderful breeding ground for bacteria and germs, which enter the follicle, which may cause unseen infection, and which may lead to the death of the follicle and permanent loss of the hair.
When making a ponytail, it should be very relaxed and rather loose and should feel comfortable.
This theory does need more investigation.
Not all chemotherapy causes hair to fall out or thin and this depends on the type of drug used and the dosage.
Luckily, the hair is usually found to grow back once the chemotherapy ceases.
It is found that the hair may take up to 6 months to grow back and that the color and texture of the hair may change when it grows back – straight hair may become more curly etc.
Various treatments, involving constriction of the scalp with rubber bands and the application of ice packs to the scalp, have been tried during chemotherapy. The idea behind this was that this would prevent the drug from reaching the hair follicles. No positive results have been achieved so far and in most cases, the patients simply complained of a headache!
The genetic make-up of a person plays a large role in cases of premature baldness and a person must accept the effect that our genes have on hair loss, even if it means that nothing will help. There are however, certain medications on the market that have shown effective results, if you suffer from balding.
A reduction in stress levels and a realistic look at the effect that excessive tension (pulling), curling, bleaching and perming can place on the hair, may have an extremely positive effect on premature baldness. Your hair also reflects the general health of your body, and a diet including the right nutrients and moderate exercise which promotes circulation, will also positively influence hair growth.
A visit to a registered dermatologist, specializing in the hair and scalp may be called for. The term, tricologist, which refers to a person specializing in the hair and scalp, is often used, but this term does not necessarily refer to a specialist registered with a medical board. Be sure that the tricologist you consult is on the up and up.
We find the following studies that have been conducted on certain medications available for the prevention of balding worthy of note:
Please note: we are in no way affiliated with any company that profits from the sale of these medications and have simply included these studies for information purposes only.
The following herbs are thought to help prevent hair loss and are included in many hair care products. We sell a herbal shampoo and conditioner on our www.Ageless.co.za website, which contains the following, and can be viewed by clicking here.
A powerful anti-inflammatory. It also is active in wound healing, as well as healing ulcers. The vaso-dilating properties promote circulation to the skin. On the scalp it is just as effective and also helps to prevent any itching and rashes.
It is an extraordinary remineralizer of the skin and hair. It has haemostatic properties and provides natural silica to the skin and hair. The flavonoids and saponins in horsetail have great cell rejuvenating and regenerating properties, adding to the structural strength of hair.
It is an excellent tonic for the scalp and hair, and in folk medicine it has been used to prevent hair loss as it invigorates and sets off new growth, and it is often used in hair tonics or specialized hair products to promote hair growth and to help treat dandruff and hair loss.
Lavender is mainly used for its antiseptic and anti-dandruff properties.
The main benefits of tea tree oil are that it has superb antiseptic, antifungal and broad-spectrum anti-microbial activity on the skin. On the scalp it helps to prevent and control dandruff.
A clinical trail done by Jamieson M and Ormerod AD at the Department of Dermatology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Scotland, using essential oils: Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender and Cedarwood, diffused into a base of Jojoba and Grapeseed oil, found that the participants using the oil in a massage treatment to the scalp, showed a significant improvement in their alopecia areata (hair loss), compared to the participants that only used a plain carrier oil massage blend.
It was concluded that the results showed “aromatherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata. Treatment with these essential oils was significantly more effective than treatment with the carrier oil alone”.
Our essential oil sister website sells a scalp massage blend of essential oils of rosemary, bay, cedarwood, patchouli and cypress and ylang-ylang on a carrier of jojoba oil, called hair and scalp blend
For more information regarding this blend, please click here.
A diet including a variety of raw fruits and vegetables, as well as protein and carbohydrates is essential for all over good health, which will be reflected in the condition of your hair.
It also should be noted that the quality of the soil in which vegetables and fruits are grown is important, as well as whether pesticides and herbicides are used and what the effect of these have on the quality of the fruit and vegetables.
The following nutrients are available from normal food sources and are considered essential for good hair health:
The root of the hair originates in the skin, which has to be healthy as a foundation for healthy hair. This vitamin is essential for the development of epithelial cells. The outermost layer of the skin is composed of epithelial cells.
Liver, milk, egg-yolk, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits are high in vitamin A or beta-carotene.
There is a link between the lack of a vitamin D receptor in the follicle and alopecia (baldness). This leads to our assumption that vitamin D is required for good hair growth.
Good sources of vitamin D are fatty fish like kippers, sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel, liver, egg yolk and butter. Smaller amounts are also present in dark leafy vegetables.
This nutrient stimulates the circulation and is an extremely effective anti-oxidant, bolstering the immune system. Vitamin E also stimulates oxygen uptake in the blood, which provides the hair follicle with well-oxygenated blood.
Vitamin E is found in nuts, oils, vegetables, sunflower seeds, whole grains, spinach, oils, seeds, wheat oils, asparagus, avocado, beef, seafood, apples, carrots and celery amongst others.
Vitamin B Complex
The group of B vitamins is involved in the improvement of so many body processes, which influence healthy blood circulation and health of the skin, hair and nails. The condition of the hair, skin and nails is a very good indication of the general well-being of a person and reflects the current state of health.
Good sources of various forms of vitamin B include beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower, soybeans, nutritional yeast, bran, nuts and eggs.
A good vitamin B supplement should include vitamin B 1, vitamin B 2, vitamin B 5, vitamin B 6 and vitamin B 12.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Vitamin C is required in the synthesis of collagen in connective tissue. Ascorbic acid also promotes healthy cell development, proper calcium absorption and normal tissue growth and repair, strengthening the walls of the capillaries.
Good sources of vitamin C are green leafy vegetables, berries, citrus fruits, guavas, tomatoes, melons, papayas etc.
Although the jury still seems to be out as to the relationship between iron deficiency and hair loss, the Department of Dermatology at Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, seems to believe that treatment for alopecia is improved if an iron deficiency is corrected.
Kelp is used for shinier, healthier hair. It contains many critical trace elements essential for better health.
Kelp is a form of seaweed, which is available as a supplement in health shops and is also used when making sushi.
Magnesium plays an important role in at least 300 fundamental enzymatic reactions and for that reason is of vital importance to our health, which affects the hair.
Magnesium is found in dairy products, fish, meat and seafood, as well as in legumes, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, whole grain cereals, nuts, dark green vegetables, and cocoa, while hard water and mineral water may also supply it in fair quantities.
Manganese improves the absorption of vitamin C, vitamin B, biotin and choline, all of which impact on the health of the hair. It is also indicated in the stimulation of the creation of the connective tissue in the skin.
Manganese is found in nuts, avocados, eggs, brown rice, spices, whole grains, leafy greens as well as tea and coffee.
Great sources are found in muscle meat, poultry, fish and seafood, while grains, nuts, eggs, seeds and brewer's yeast also supply good quality zinc.
Biotin is present in cheese, beef liver, cauliflower, eggs, mushrooms, chicken breasts, salmon, spinach, brewer's yeast, nuts and can be manufactured in the body should a small shortfall occur.
Inositol is needed for health at cellular level.
Men taking extra inositol reported that their hair loss had improved, with less hair falling out - although this has not been tested under clinical situations.
Inositol is available from both plant and animal sources. The plant form in which inositol is available is phytic acid, which can bind with minerals and so affect their absorption negatively.
The body is also able to manufacture this factor. Inositol is available from wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, bananas, liver, brown rice, oat flakes, nuts, unrefined molasses, raisins and vegetables.
Choline assists in keeping cell membranes healthy and in the health of the liver. It is reported that a symptom of a diseased liver may be hair loss.
Choline is found in egg yolks, beef, wheat germ, oats and nuts
It has been linked to hair growth as well as reversing the graying of hair, but results are disappointing, as extremely large amounts have to be ingested for this effect.
PABA is found in liver, kidney, brewer's yeast, molasses, whole grains, mushrooms and spinach, and can be made by intestinal bacteria.
Brazil nuts are excellent sources of selenium, but it is also found in whole grains and shellfish.
Betaine is an amino acid glycine, a substance that improves liver function. Good liver function may promote good hair health.
Food sources of betaine include beets, liver, eggs, fish, legumes, and whole grains.
Rutin strengthens the capillary walls and promotes better circulation, which is essential for the correct functioning of the hair follicles.
Rutin is found in buckwheat seed, fruits and fruit rinds, especially citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime).
It assists in the breakdown of fats and thereby prevents the build-up of fat in the arteries. It assists with the digestive system and helps the body remove heavy metals from the body since it can be converted to cysteine, which is a precursor to gluthione, which is of prime importance in detoxifying the liver, the correct functioning of which may positively influence hair growth.
Methionine is found in good quantities in meat, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds.
Your hair and skin require cysteine. It is found in beta-keratin, the main protein in nails, skin, as well as hair. It not only is important in collagen production but also assists in skin elasticity and texture.
The body can synthesize cysteine from the amino acid methionine, but it is also found in high protein foods such as poultry, wheat, broccoli, eggs as well as garlic, onions and red peppers.
These nutrients act together with vitamin C to help maintain the thin walls of the capillaries, therefore preventing bleeding or bruising. Bioflavonoids have been linked to having an antibacterial effect, stimulating bile production, promoting circulation (essential for hair growth) and even assisting with fighting allergies, asthma etc.
Bioflavonoids are found in the white (pith) material just beneath citrus peel, as well as in peppers, grapes, pine bark, onions, garlic, blue and red berries, green tea as well as buckwheat.
Aloe vera improves the condition of your skin, hair and nails by boosting your total nutritional status.
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is a supplement containing procyanidolic oligomers, which help to protect cells from the damage caused by oxidation and free radicals and also promotes healthy circulation, which is essential for good hair health.
Our modern diet may be deficient in all the above-mentioned nutrients, and a well-balanced supplement may be called for.
Following a healthy diet (including a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and trace elements obtained from raw fruits and vegetables), exercising properly and avoiding stress is necessary for good hair health. In some cases supplementation can be most beneficial.
A certain percentage of us do have a propensity to baldness and certain preparations and medications are available which seem to correct alopecia (baldness), but we have found that they have to be used permanently, if the make-up of the person simply leads to premature baldness and may not be effective in the long run.