Hypothyroidism Linked Hair Loss: What You Should Know
If hypothyroidism is the underlying cause of your hair loss, typical symptoms that can help you spot the condition are - diffusely thinning hair across the scalp as well in the outer edges of the brows. Herbal helpers like ashwagandha, trifala, guggulu, and anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger, can all help combat hair loss by treating your thyroid problem.
Hypothyroidism or having an underactive thyroid afflicts 5 out of every 100 people in the United States(aged 12 and over) and can leave you feeling perpetually fatigued, may cause weight gain, fertility problems, and even depression. What you may not know is that it also cause for hair loss.1 Dry thinning hair is, in fact, one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, but just how bad can it get? And are there ways to treat the problem naturally, to restore your once lustrous mane?
Spotting Symptoms Of Hair Loss Due To Hypothyroidism
While the hair loss itself is something you will spot yourself, knowing how to distinguish hair loss that is rooted in hypothyroidism, as opposed to other causes is important, so you can get the right treatment. The British Thyroid Foundation points out some of the key features that include2:
- Diffused hair loss.
- Hair loss at the edge of the eyebrows, beginning with thinning on the outer edges is a noticeable feature.
- Loss happens across the scalp, not in discrete section.
- Hair seems uniformly sparse.
- Hair loss appears many months after the thyroid disease itself has taken hold, so watch for symptoms of thyroid disease like weight gain, fatigue, puffy face, constipation, joint or muscle aches, difficulty with cold temperatures/weather, less sweating, dry skin, heavy/irregular periods in women, slowed heart rate.3
If the hair loss is due to a different autoimmune condition called Alopecia areata, then the symptoms will be different since hair loss will be discrete or in patches.
Why Does Hypothyroidism Cause Hair Loss?
The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for the modulation of biological processes of the hair in multiple ways. While T3 and T4 together down-regulate the cell death of keratinocytes or cells that create the keratin which forms a building block of your hair, T4 on its own also up-regulates the proliferation of these cells that form the hair matrix, besides lengthening the duration a hair cell is in its growth phase.4 Which is why, if your thyroid isn’t active enough, you simply don’t have enough of these hormones in your body, and your hair suffers, eventually falling out due to quicker cell death and no upregulation of their proliferation.
Natural Treatments For Hypothyroidism Linked Hair Loss
Treating hair loss isn’t always easy, however, in the case of hypothyroidism linked hair fall or loss, you can use some natural treatments that help with the thyroid disorder to restore hair growth.
Ayurveda: Remedies To Try
Ayurveda treats an underactive thyroid to restore the balance of T3 and T4 hormones in the body, which in turn stimulates hair proliferation or regrowth.5 Varunadi Kasaya, Trifala, Kachanar Guggulu, and Ashwagandha are some common remedies that an Ayurvedic doctor may prescribe.6
Get Some Ginger!
Ginger consumption can help with improving endocrine function and should help bring back the life to your hair as well.7
Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Not having enough Vitamin D has also been implicated in hypothyroidism by some practitioners and experts. As such, taking a supplement or boosting intake of the vitamin through fortified foods, as well as ensuring you get about 20 minutes to half an hour in the sunshine to help your body produce the vitamin, could help with improving thyroid function and overall metabolism as well. Over time, as function of the thyroid gland is restored, your hair growth may also improve and return to normal.8
Up Vitamin B12 Intake
Inadequate levels of vitamin B12 too, could be the cause of your hypothyroidism.9 Organ meats, shellfish, poultry, dairy, and eggs are some foods that have a high level of the nutrient in them.10
Skip Processed Foods, Caffeine, Sugar, And Alcohol
Those with thyroid problems, including hypothyroid are usually urged to avoid eating any kind of processed or heavily refined foods. Sugar, alcohol, and caffeine too are advised against. All of these cause inflammatory responses in the body and could worsen the condition of your thyroid problem which in turn makes your hair loss worse.11
Like ginger, turmeric too is anti-inflammatory and helps to improve immune function in the body. This kind of food in turn helps those with a hypothyroid problem, and can have beneficial effects on symptoms, as endocrine function improves.12
Avoid Goitrogenic Food
Goitrogenic foods hamper the functions of the thyroid by interfering with iodine(needed for normal thyroid function) usage by the gland and resulting in the characteristic enlarged or swollen looking thyroid gland of goitre. The good news is that this effect can be avoided by cooking the foods thoroughly, destroying the enzymes responsible for this action. This includes foods like kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, millet, sweet corn, sorghum, walnuts, peanuts, almonds and soy and soy based foods.13 You may find symptoms easing after you give up these foods, or cook them well before consuming them. After a while, as function improves, your hair too should be less dry and the thinning may reduce.
Careful How You Treat The Problem
Regrowing hair is usually quite successful for most people with hypothyroid, but you should know that it can take a long time – months even, and may not be absolutely complete regrowth.14
Do keep in mind, though, that certain Ayurvedic formulations and herbal remedies can cause blood to thin and are best avoided by anyone who is already using a blood thinning medication like aspirin or warfarin. This could cause dangerous levels of bleeding in the event of an injury. Also check with your doctor for any interactions with any medications you are already taking for your thyroid problems or any other condition like a cardiac problem, as there could be adverse reactions to some combinations of drugs and remedies.15
References [ + ]
|1, 3.||↑||Hypothyroidism. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|2, 14.||↑||Hair Loss and Thyroid Disorders. British Thyroid Foundation.|
|4, 5.||↑||van Beek, Nina, Eniko Bodo, Arno Kromminga, Erzsébet Gáspár, Katja Meyer, Michal A. Zmijewski, Andrzej Slominski, Bjorn E. Wenzel, and Ralf Paus. “Thyroid hormones directly alter human hair follicle functions: anagen prolongation and stimulation of both hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and hair pigmentation.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 93, no. 11 (2008): 4381-4388.|
|6.||↑||Panthi, Sharad, and Tianshu Gao. “Diagnosis and management of primary hypothyroidism in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Indian Medicine (Ayurveda).” Int J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1 (1): 009 12, no. 009 (2015).|
|7, 12.||↑||Al-Suhaimi, Ebtesam A., Noorah A. Al-Riziza, and Reham A. Al-Essa. “Physiological and therapeutical roles of ginger and turmeric on endocrine functions.” The American journal of Chinese medicine 39, no. 02 (2011): 215-231.|
|8.||↑||Mackawy, Amal Mohammed Husein, Bushra Mohammed Al-Ayed, and Bashayer Mater Al-Rashidi. “Vitamin D deficiency and its association with thyroid disease.” International journal of health sciences 7, no. 3 (2013): 267.|
|9.||↑||Jabbar, Abdul, Aasma Yawar, Sabiha Waseem, Najmul Islam, Naeem Ul Haque, Lubna Zuberi, Ataullah Khan, and Jaweed Akhter. “Vitamin B12 deficiency common in primary hypothyroidism.” Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association 58, no. 5 (2008): 258.|
|10.||↑||Vitamin B12. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|11, 15.||↑||Thyroiditis. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|13.||↑||Foods That Can Cause Problems. Thyroid UK.|