A fulsome head of hair is a highly prized badge of youthful exuberance. Losing it as we get older, even though it’s expected for men, is still a source of consternation, and it’s even more distressing when it happens to women. In men hormones and genetics, probably connected with biology and evolution, it’s less advantageous for the preservation of the species to mate with an older, balding male, are the prime activators. In women male hormones in overdrive are also at play. This can happen with the menopausal transition when women produce less of the prime female hormone, oestrogen, a hair growth enhancer, allowing for testosterone, the more masculine hormone, to dominate. Stress, an underactive thyroid gland, a lack of adequate hair sustaining nutrition including deficiencies of protein and zinc and new research suggesting that inflammation or an immune system in dysregulated free fall and unchecked oxidative or free radical activity are also implicated.
Because hair loss has now been identified as a complex process this would explain why the two prime and in fact only treatments for this condition to date, namely minoxidil shampoo, a circulation booster and hair growth promoter and finasteride, a male hormone blocker, have often failed to restore satisfactory hair growth. These treatments, especially finasteride, are not without their side effects. To accommodate this evolving landscape a range of technological innovations including platelet-rich plasma infusions, low-level laser therapy, stem cell administration and even robotic hair transplantation are now available. Addressing hormone imbalances, a lack of thyroid hormones, combatting excessive stress and targeting nutrient deficiencies are also of critical importance. For example recent research has shown that a nutraceutical containing a combination of hormone and stress modulating herbal remedies as well as nutritional supplements successfully promoted hair regrowth in post-menopausal women.