Will your hair turn gray or fall out? The answer is dependent on your body having proper levels of natural thyroid hormones. Ground breaking research has documented that human hair follicles are direct targets of thyroid hormones. The study assessed the impact of the two central thyroid hormones of the body, T3 and T4 on the human hair follicle. Human hair follicles in their growth phase were obtained from women between the ages of 40 and 69 with adequate thyroid levels. The follicles were cultured and treated with T3 and T4.
The results showed that T4 up-regulates the proliferation of hair matrix keratinocytes (cells responsible for growth), and a combination of T3 and T4 down-regulates programmed cell death. T4 was also shown to prolong the growth phase, possibly due to the down-regulation of a key inhibiting growth factor. Both T3 and T4 significantly stimulated the synthesis of melanin in the follicle. Melanin is what gives pigment or color to the hair. This study was published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Other research has led to the conclusion that hair loss is the result of decreased metabolism in the scalp follicles of people with low levels of thyroid hormone, resulting in early release of the hair shaft and root. Brittle hair, hair that has split ends, and hair that easily breaks has been correlated with low thyroid levels. Many physicians and dermatologists diagnose low thyroid based on early graying of the hair and the loss of hairs from the outer ends of the eyebrows.
Thyroid problems can develop at any age and usually appear so slowly that they go unnoticed. At least 27 million Americans are estimated to have an undiagnoised thyroid problem, and most of them are females.
The thyroid is the master gland of metabolism. When your thyroid is not functioning properly it can affect every aspect of your health, particularly weight, mental outlook, body temperature and energy levels. Underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, is the most common thyroid condition, affecting as many as one in five women at some point in their lives.
Untreated hypothyroidism dramatically increases your risk of serious health concerns and degenerative diseases. Another symptom of hypothyroidism is weak heart beat. When your heart beat is not as strong as it should be, the amount of oxygen getting to your cells is reduced. This is the kind of environment in which cancer grows.
Along with the loss of hair and its color, symptoms of hypothyroidism include difficulty losing weight, saggy skin, and muscle and joint pain. Severe or long term constipation is frequently associated with hypothyroidism. Depression and anxiety, including sudden panic attacks, can be symptoms of thyroid problems. Feeling overly cold when everybody else in the room is comfortable suggests hypothyroidism as does excessive fatigue. If you are tired when you get up after a good night’s sleep, or need a nap to get through the day, you probably have a thyroid problem.
Think about how the wisdom of the body operates. When your thyroid is not functioning up to par, the body will attempt to conserve energy by redirecting if from nonessential areas, and directing efforts at repair and regeneration to those functions considered more essential. This is why beautiful hair and skin are among the first to go when your thyroid starts to give out. And when thyroid function is low, intestinal absorption and utilization of nutrients is compromised. There are then not enough raw building materials available to keep the nonessential parts of you at their best.
What can be done to restore your beautiful locks?
To get your full head of hair back and halt the graying, you must restore thyroid hormones to the level they were when you were in your prime. This is not always an easy task.
Most traditional physicians are reluctant to consider thyroid functioning at all. When they do, the “standard of care” for people with symptoms is to have their thyroid stimulating hormone levels (TSH) checked. The thinking is that a low score in the TSH test means your body isn’t trying to stimulate thyroid production so therefore, thyroid production must be adequate. A high score on the TSH test means your thyroid is not functioning well and that is why your body is producing TSH, to stimulate it.
Unfortunately, this approach gives only a very narrow picture. The best way to see what your thyroid is really up to is to have a blood test that includes TSH, T3 and T4.
If your conventional doctor decides your thyroid function is low, he will probably prescribe a synthetic version of T4, either the generic form or under the brand name of Synthroid or Levoxyl. He may also add a synthetic form of T3, either as a generic or under the brand name of Cytomel.
Each of these is a patented drug and is a substance that does not occur naturally. These will be recognized by the body as foreign, and you will build resistance to them so that in time they will become ineffective. These are chemicals that will be spotted as foreign by your immune system, and because they are toxic, they must be detoxified by your liver. Of course, have side effects.
There is a better way
There are different herbal formulations sold by various companies, either online or in health oriented stores. These can help stimulate your own production of adequate thyroid hormone.
But these remedies do not work for everyone. If you are unable to restart your own thyroid production, the next best thing is to find a physician who practices anti-aging medicine and get natural thyroid replacement. This hormone, which come from pigs, is the closest we have to bioidentical thyroid hormone, and it provides both T3 and T4. The most popular brand in the U.S. is Armour Thyroid.
Natural thyroid hormone will be recognized by your body as a natural substance. You will not build resistance to it, nor will it need to be detoxified. Any side effects can easily be removed by adjusting the dosage.
If you are assertive and firm with your conventional doctor, and make it clear that you will only accept natural thyroid hormone replacement, he may come around and prescribe it for you.
But many physicians are reluctant to prescribe a dose that will bring your levels of T3 and T4 into the optimal range. Many use tests that compare you to others your age. For example, If you are 40, your level of hormone will be compared to the 40 year old population which includes many people with under performing thyroids. So you will have to make it clear that you want to be supplemented to the optimal level, the level of hormone had by people in their young vibrant primes. Once your thyroid hormone levels are stabilized in the optimal range, your hair loss or graying will eventually slow down and finally stop, and the other symptoms of low thyroid will vanish too.
Understanding hair loss
There are three common types of hair loss. General shedding occurs throughout the head. You notice more hair in drains, hear brushes, and on the bathroom floor. This is the most common form of hair loss typically found in people with hypothyroidism.
The second type of hair loss involves circular patches of hair loss, or complete hair loss resulting from many small patches. This is usually the result of a fungal infection or autoimmune alopecia, and is not particularly associated with thyroid problems.
The third type is male pattern hair loss, and although men are the most susceptible, women get it too. It is concentrated on the temples and top of the head, and is caused by the enzymatic conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This conversion makes hair follicles shrink up and disappear. If you have been receiving thyroid treatment and your hair loss continues, this conversion is the most likely reason. It can be remedied by taking a supplement of Saw Palmetto or Nettle Root. Both of these natural compounds from plants are sold in health food stores and by online health retailers.
Men with hairy bodies but little hair on their heads are usually converting much of their testosterone to DHT. This conversion may also put them at risk for prostate problems, including prostate cancer.
Other alternative treatment
A recent study at Portsmouth University found that 90 percent of women with thinning hair were deficient in iron and the amino acid lysine. Fish, meat and eggs are the only dietary sources of lysine.