Ways to reduce hair loss
When you think of hair loss, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the baldness that some men experience, typically from mid-life onwards (and sometimes earlier). However, women are also prone to hair loss.
Type of hair loss
Men and women tend to experience hair loss differently.
In men, hair tends to be lost first from the crown of the head and/or the hairline above the forehead. The affected patch of the scalp expands over time, often culminating in a monk-like pattern in which there's still hair around the sides and base of the scalp, but little or none on the top or at the front.1
As opposed to this pattern of hair loss experienced by men, in women it tends to occur as a generalised 'all over' thinning out of the hair.2
Why do we lose hair?
It's normal to lose 30-150 strands of hair per day.3 This phenomenon occurs because each hair continually moves through a cycle in which it spends a proportion of its time actively growing and the rest of the time either 'resting' or being shed from the scalp.
Issues arise when a greater proportion of hair follicles (the small pockets in the scalp from which the hair grows) are in resting or shedding phases of the hair life cycle than are in the active growth phase.
Traditional Chinese medicine and hair
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) it's believed that the blood flows through energy channels in the body to help maintain hair health - as a result, healthy blood is traditionally believed to result in a head of healthy hair.
If there's too much heat in the blood, the TCM understanding is that hair loss can occur- which as described above can occur in both men and women.
Biota: traditionally used to reduce hair loss
The herb biota (also known as Chinese thuja) is traditionally used in TCM to reduce hair loss and promote hair growth. It is traditionally taken to cool blood heat in TCM, which is traditionally used to help maintain healthy hair follicles.
Nutrients for hair loss
The health of your hair can be partially a reflection of the quality of your diet, so if you're concerned about hair loss, it's important to make sure that you're eating well!
Taking biotin can help decrease hair loss if you aren't getting enough of it from your diet. It can be found in foods such as eggs and almonds, so be sure to include these as a part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Zinc is an important mineral for hair health, so eat zinc-rich foods in your diet like red meat, chicken, legumes, oysters and pumpkin seeds. Make sure you also eat plenty of protein (like fish, eggs, legumes, red meat and chicken) as this is also important for healthy hair.
Other tips to reduce hair loss
- Protect your head from UV rays, which may worsen hair loss and lead to sunburn on exposed areas of your scalp4
- Be gentle with your hair and scalp. Avoiding vigorous brushing, the use of heated appliances (such as dryers, straighteners and rollers), harsh chemicals (such as peroxide and dyes) and hair styles that put tension or traction on the hair
- If hair loss is affecting your mental or emotional wellbeing, counselling may help you cope
- Blume-Peytavi U, et al. Br J Dermatol 2011;164(1):5-15.
- Ali I, et al. Br J Bermatol 2011;14(3):508-513.
- Br Assoc Dermatol. Telogen effluvium (a type of hair loss). Published 2016 and accessed December 2019, from bad.org.uk
- Kaliyadan F, et al. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2013;79:613-625.