Chronic Illness and Hair Loss
Hair can fall out for a number of reasons: hormonal changes, poor nutrition, certain medications, thyroid disease, or stress. Unfortunately, chronic illness can also lead to hair loss from the toll it takes on the body. This article will hopefully shed some light onto the process of hair loss due to chronic illness and discuss natural ways to help lost hair grow back.
Why Chronic Illness Can Result in Hair Loss
Growing hairs takes energy. Fighting disease takes even more energy. Chronic illness can cause the body to shift its resources and energy from non-vital activities (like growing hair) to more important things (like fighting illness). Hair loss from chronic illness most often results from one or both of the following factors:
- Autoimmune Activity: some chronic illnesses, e.g. alopecia areata, are caused by a confused and over-active immune system. Normally the immune system destroys foreign organisms (like bacteria and viruses), cancerous cells, and dead or dying cells. When the immune system accidentally mistakes the body’s own cells as foreign, it can result in rashes or in some cases, hair loss.
- Depleted Resources: the immune systems of those with chronic illness are always active, more so than healthy people. The immune system is a very energy expensive part of the body to support, and as such requires a lot of nutrients to keep running. When the body can’t get enough nutrients to run all the normal processes of the body, it will often take resources from not-so-necessary processes (like growing hair), in order to keep more vital things (like the immune system), running smoothly.
Hair Loss Caused by Cancer Treatment
Cancer is another form of chronic illness which can cause hair loss (or rather, its treatment causes hair loss). The radiation and chemotherapy used to kill rapidly dividing cancer cells can also go after rapidly dividing cells of the hair follicles. Hair follicles damaged by these treatments go into a 5 to 6 week resting state and eventually fall out. After cancer treatment has ceased, hair will grow back.
Natural Ways to Restore Hair Growth
Hair loss caused by chronic illness is rarely permanent. If you suffer from such hair loss, the best thing you can do is help your body with proper nutrition and stress-relief in order to create the optimal bodily environment for growing hair. As mentioned earlier, the immune system uses nutrients quickly. One nutrient especially important to immune function and hair growth is zinc. We get most of our zinc from red meats, beans, whole grains, and dairy products. Taking a supplement containing zinc is a great way to ensure ample amounts of zinc are available both for the immune system and hair growth. Several key vitamins – including vitamin A, vitamin B6 (also called biotin), and vitamin B12 are also important for growing hair. Again, you can be sure to get enough of these nutrients (without having to chow down) by taking a vitamin supplement. If you suffer from hair loss due to chronic illness, don’t be discouraged. Nutritional supplements along with proper diet and a steady dose of support from family and friends can help relieve the stress and nutrient depletion associated with hair loss from chronic illness. Sources: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/features/treating-hair-loss-naturally?page=2 http://blog.worldvillage.com/health/zinc_for_hair_loss.html http://www.dentalplans.com/Dental-Health-Articles/Diet-and-Hair-Loss.asp http://www.follicle.com/section2/1.html