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Hair Loss 101 - Monday, June 16, 2014

Hair is usually the least of our concerns when it comes to our health...that is of course until we start losing it. Excessive hair loss, or alopecia, can be attributed to a number of things such as: thyroid, diabetes, hormone imbalance, genetic predisposition, fungal infection, emotional stress and even blood thinning and anti-depression medicines. Our hair is made of a protein called Keratin. Hair Follicle cross-section diagram Our head scalp contains over 100,000 individual hairs which is made of keratin cells being accumulated by our hair follicles; as new keratin cells are produced the old cells are pushed out of the epidermis, the outer skin layer, and are exposed through as hair. Our hair grows approximately 6 inches per year; and we lose around 100+ hairs a day, but don't be alarmed because for a normal, healthy scalp 90% of the hair is continually growing. The hair growth life cycle is divided into 3 stages:

  1. Anagen stage - active hair growth; lasts 4 - 7 years where the hair grows 1/2 inch per month
  2. Catagen stage - transitional; lasts 2 - 3 weeks
  3. Telogen stage - resting phase; lasts 3 - 4 months where the hair is replaced by a new one and the hair growth cycle starts over again

There are many types of hair loss:

  • Androgenetic Alopecia - this is the most common type of hair loss, also called Male (or Female) Patterned Baldness (MPB). Typical symptom is receding hair on the crown of the head.
  • Telogen Effluvium - the next most common type of alopecia is the Telogen Effluvium (TE). TE is commonly related to severe or sudden stress which will cause scalp hair to shed. Although common in both men and women, TE affects women mostly during the stresses of childbirth. Eliminating the stress factor or restoring normal blood circulation to the hair follicles of the scalp will usually cause the hair to grow back.
  • Alopecia Areata - not as common is this auto-immune hair disease where the scalp experiences patchy hair loss. Severe cases will cause all the scalp hair to fall off.
  • Anagen Effuvium - occurs as a result of exposure to chemicals or radiation, such as Radiation or Chemotherapy treatments. This condition is only temporary and does not require any treatment. The hair will grow back and return to normal, or sometimes even healthier, once the radiation or chemotherapy is finished.
  • Traction Alopecia - also known as Trichotillomania is a self-induced hair loss due to the tensile stresses caused by the excessive pulling of the hair. This occurs due to various types of hairstyling such as: braiding, cornrows, ponytails and buns. Permanent hair loss may occur due to the weakening of the hair roots. Treatment can simply be regular hair scalp exercises to increase blood circulation in order to strengthen the scalp and hair roots.
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Why Scalp Exercise Is Essential For Hair Health - Saturday, June 15, 2013

The head is highest from the heart; and the topside of our scalp is the highest part of our head so it makes sense that our topside losses hair first, called Male Patterned Baldness (MPB). I once heard that being slapped on the face is healthy. Ridiculous as it may seem, I now believe it to be true because a slap on the cheek does give you the needed blood circulation which is so important for our skin's health. Our hair scalp just like the rest of our body needs blood circulation for oxygen so the scalp skin cells can regenerate. However, the top of our head is probably the second least touched area of our body. The first is our backs. Have you ever asked yourself why a back massage feels so good --it is because it rarely gets touched since we can't reach it unless of course we go to a massage therapist. The same thing goes with the top of our head --it hardly gets touched and if it had nerve endings and be sensitive enough, a massage would feel great too. Unfortunately, the top of our head doesn't have enough nerve endings for sensitivity to deserve a good rub which is why we don't massage it enough which then leads to not enough blood circulation...and thus the hair loss. Ever wonder why hair baldness normally does not start on the sides or back but...on the top of our head.

Our hair just like any fixture needs a strong root and foundation to stay in place --- the scalp is that foundation. However, there is only so much we can do to strengthen our hair directly such as giving it chemical treatments or taking in more Vitamins B12, E and Iron, because much of it is attributed to our genetic makeup, family history and the aging process. With that said let us just limit our solution to what we can control. In the end, it comes down to where the rubber meets the road --the hair follicles depend on a strong and healthy scalp to anchor itself into. Poor circulation and lack of blood flow to the scalp translates into malnutritioned and weak hair roots. Once the hair roots get weak, the hair follicles become susceptible to DiHydroTestosterone (DHT). DHT then attaches to the hair follicle which then reduces its growth cycle stage, the anagen stage. As a result, each time a new hair grows it is thinner and weaker than the last and this cycle continues on until eventually the hair follicle stops growing hair entirely. This then leads to baldness. This is why frequent hair scalp massages and scalp exercises to stimulate the blood flow and sebum oil circulation is a critical and essential part in the anagen or growth stage of the hair growth cycle.

Here is a regular 5-minute hand exercise routine that can stimulate your scalp:

1. With your 5 fingers in one hand horizontally opposing the other 5 fingers of your other hand

2. Straighten and stiffen your fingers, and press the tips of your fingers on your scalp,

3. In a vigorous back and forth motion, trying to grip only the scalp and not the hair, stroke each set of fingertips opposite and towards each other to create a pinching action to squeeze out the old sebum oils and stimulate your scalp without pulling your hair.

Following this regular hair scalp exercise routine will help prevent hair loss and promote a healthy head of hair.

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The Most Common Causes Of Hair Loss - Monday, May 20, 2013

The list mentioned below are among the most common causes of hair loss in both men and women. Early treatment can reverse the hair loss for some conditions allowing the hair to regrow. As for the other conditions, further hair loss can only be slowed or prevented through various means.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
One of the most common causes of thinning hair is hormonal changes. Our body will undergo changes in our hormones and it will affect both men and women. Women will experience thinning hair at no particular pattern. While men will normally experience thinning hair developing in a particular pattern commonly called Male Pattern Baldness. The hormone that affects the hair cycle is called DHT or Dihydrotestosterone. DHT has not been scientifically proven to directly cause hair loss; however, the presence of DHT allows other factors such as androgen to attach to the Dihydrotestosterone hormones to clog the shaft of the hair follicles and impede the normal growth of hair.

Alopecia Areata
An autoimmune disease that causes the person’s hair to fall out is called Alopecia Areata. The hair follicles, in this case, is attacked by the autoimmune system. The hair loss is characterized by clumps of hair falling out leaving bald patches the size of a coin. This disease may be triggered by the genetic makeup of the person and can be treated by corticosteroids, minoxidil or other topical medications.

Stress
Extreme or long-term stress can lead to hair loss. The constriction of blood flow in the scalp caused by stress can cause disruption of the reproduction of healthy cells.

Poor Diet and Nutrition
Although hair loss causes are more often hormonal, nutrition can also play a part in the maintenance of healthy hair. Poor diet and nutrition can result in hair loss. A healthy amount of protein is important in maintaining a healthy hair growth cycle.

Birth Control Pills
Some women who due to genetic predisposition may experience Androgenic Alopecia much earlier in life triggered by taking birth control pills. After two to three months into taking birth control pills, the woman may start to notice baldness associated with Androgenic Alopecia. The hormonal changes caused by the birth control pills is suspected to lead to a disruption in the autoimmune system resulting in irreversible hair loss which may not be restored even after the taking of the birth control pill has been discontinued.

Post Pregnancy
Some women may also experience hair loss during the first six months after child birth. This is normally caused by the hair cycle period where a significant number of hair will simultaneously enter the telogen stage of the hair cycle which is the resting stage. However, when the woman’s body restores its metabolic balance within six months or less then the hair will regrow back to its previous condition. There is no need to take action in this case as this is a passing stage in the woman’s post pregnancy phase.

Thyroid Disease
Thyroid and hair loss usually go hand in hand. Patients who undergo treatments from sickness related to thyroid gland problems have a very high chance of experiencing shedding of hair no matter how young the patient is. This type of hair loss is a phenomenon that is experienced by people who suffer from problems related to excessive secretions of thyroxin. The hair follicles start to weaken which leads to thinning hair that will eventually fall out.

Chemotherapy / Radiation Treatment (Anagen Effluvium)
Anagen Effluvium is the type of hair loss caused by the disruption of cell growth caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment which almost always leads to hair loss after the first few days of treatment. Patients will lose almost 90% of the hair wit

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Scalp Stimulation Leads To Healthy Hair Growth - Saturday, May 11, 2013

Here's the simple truth...scalp massage and acupuncture are both effective in improving scalp circulation and promoting an efficient hair growth life cycle. Any natural method that will increase the blood flow to the scalp can only be good for hair health, and the effective methods that come to mind are: scalp massage and acupuncture. Scalp massage holds many potential benefits not the least of which is the growth of healthy hair. Dry scalp can be attributed to not enough blood circulation getting to the top layer of skin which results in flaky skin or dandruff. Blood to the scalp is essential because of the oxygen it carries to the hair follicles needed for cell generation. A regular scalp massage regimen can help treat dry scalp and keep dandruff under control.

A daily routine of a 5 - 10 minute scalp massage is a safe and effective natural hair loss treatment. There are several massage techniques that can be applied to the scalp such as: rubbing, kneading and squeezing which involve a combination of the fingers and hands.

Kneading during a massage warms the skin and opens up the pores and blood vessels that allows for an increase in the blood flow. More blood circulation results in more oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the hair follicles which can only create a more ideal environment for hair regrowth.

Squeezing the tightly drawn skin by the use of both rows of fingers can greatly enhance the circulation of the scalps natural sebum oils, unclog the pores and allow for new sebum oils being produced energizing the hair's growth life cycle.

Rubbing the hair with the hands and fingers also aids in reducing stress promoting overall relaxation of the body. Reduced stress allows the body to function more efficiently contributing to better blood circulation to the scalp and hair follicles.

Acupuncture can also be effective in promoting hair regrowth by stimulating blood flow using acupuncture needles directly on the affected areas such as the bald spots and thinning areas. Acupuncturists can use the 7-star acupuncture needle and tap the area most in need of hair regrowth.

Scalp stimulation is essential for overall hair health because of the benefits of blood circulation. And when it comes to scalp stimulation you can't go wrong with the effective, safe and natural treatments of scalp massage and acupuncture.

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The Safest And Cheapest Way To Stop Hair Loss: Natural Hair Loss Treatment - Thursday, April 18, 2013

Literally, there are hundreds of products in the market today ranging from medicines, topical chemical solutions, laser devices, to name a few that claim to reduce or even stop alopecia, hair loss or alleviate thinning hair. However, the majority of us still prefer the natural way to treating hair loss and restoring the growth of healthy hair. Why so?

The answer is plain and simple: Most people still prefer to use natural methods to treating hair loss or promoting the growth of healthy hair because they are safe, come with no side-effects and cost effective. Unlike products that use chemicals which can be harsh on the scalp, hair and skin, natural hair loss treatments may not irritate the scalp and offer peace of mind knowing that side effects do not become a factor.

There are other alternatives to solving hair loss such as the use of laser devices, laser therapy, surgery and other invasive methods however they tend to cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

The following is a list of natural methods to preventing hair loss and promoting the growth of healthy hair:

A. Scalp Massage - the most common natural approach to hair loss treatment. It involves rubbing, kneading, and pressing the scalp using the fingers and palms in order to stimulate blood flow in the scalp and the hair follicles. Note that some loose strands will fall initially using this treatment, but overall the new strands that will replace the old ones will generally be healthier and thicker.

B. Exercise - using the same general principles as the Scalp Massage technique, regular exercise will improve overall health, as well as, the scalp and hair roots because the body gets that needed blood circulation that delivers vital oxygen and nutrients to regenerate cells more effectively. Exercise also has the added benefit of reducing stress on emotions and the body thereby minimizing stress -which is one of the contributors to hair loss and thinning hair.

C. Aromatherapy - this is an ancient and traditional technique of healing which comprises the use of essential aromatic oils. Aromatherapy provides many therapeutic benefits that include hair regrowth. This ancient art of healing, nourishing and conditioning of the mind and body is achieved with the use of essential oils extracted from the flowers, leaves, root or bark of several herbs. The most common and effective aromatic oils that promote the regrowth of healthy hair come from jojoba, basil, thyme, coconut, rosemary and lavender.

D. Diet - hair cell reproduction and the efficiency of the hair growth cycle depends on the supply of vital minerals and nutrients provided by the body. Therefore, an important factor that contributes to the growth of thick and healthy hair is having a regular diet rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc which help stimulate hair regrowth.

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Scalp Exercises To Fight Hair Loss - Monday, March 4, 2013

Scalp exercises to fight hair loss is a safe, natural and holistic way strengthen your scalp and hair follicles to promote hair growth. Scalp massages or hair exercises is an affordable and effective alternative to expensive treatments that range from medical procedures to topical chemicals and laser therapies. There are a few scalp exercise techniques that have differing approaches to scalp and hair follicle stimulation. Adding a daily regimen of scalp exercises to your chores can both be beneficial to your hair health and help prevent the early onset of male pattern baldness.

1. Friction Exercise
This scalp exercise requires all of your fingertips to be strong. This routine can be very effective in promoting blood circulation on both the scalp and hair follicles to fight hair loss. Press the pads of your fingers on each side of your scalp. Start moving your fingertips rapidly in a circular motion while keeping your fingertips stiff. Work your fingers from the sides of your head. Then to the crown of your head. Then finishing up at the back of your head. Do this routine several times for about 5 minutes. You may vary the routine and also change the circular motion from clockwise to counterclockwise as desired. This scalp exercise can be performed daily or as often as needed.

2. Fingertip Massage
Organize as many of your fingers as you can on each side of your scalp in such a way that they remain in one place while being able to move the scalp. Start moving in a circular motion or a back and forth movement while keeping your fingers more or less in the same spot. Try to cover as much as you can of your scalp. Do this routine several times for about 5 minutes. You may vary the routine and also change the circular motion from clockwise to counterclockwise as desired. This scalp exercise can be performed daily or as often as needed.

3. Palms Up, Palms Down Technique
This scalp exercise technique involves your palms to be pressed against your scalp as you clasp your fingers together not including the thumbs. This hair massage can really help relax your scalp and stimulate its blood circulation at the same time. With the head steady and facing forward, clasp your fingers together except for your thumbs. While keeping your palms open, press your palms against the back of your head. Then move your palms up and down at a rhythmic but comfortable pace keeping your fingers steady. Work your palms from the back of your head to your crown. Do this for 3 minutes taking 10 second breaks to relieve hand strain. This hair massage can be performed daily or as often as needed.

4. Side To Side Routine
This is similar to the "Palms Up, Palms Down" but does not require clasping your fingers together. Press your palms against the sides of your head just above the ears. but do not clasp your fingers together. Move your palms up and down at a rhythmic but comfortable pace keeping your palms pressed against your scalp. Perform this routing for 3 minutes taking 10 second breaks to relieve hand strain. This scalp exercise can be performed daily or as often as needed.

5. Head Tap Technique
This head tapping technique starts by standing up straight with your feet slightly apart for balance. Then while keeping your feet straight, slowly bend over forward arching your back as you go until your head is below waist-height. Clench your fingers to the second knuckle. Press the knuckle of your index finger onto your scalp. Gently tap your scalp with your knuckles either from your index finger or the rest of your fingers. Continue tapping slowly over every area of your scalp. Do this for 30 seconds then return to a normal standing position for 10 seconds to rest. Repeat this routine 2 or 3 times or as desired.

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10 Myths Of Baldness - Friday, February 1, 2013

In Men's ongoing battle against baldness nearly $1 billion a year is spent by American males in staving off hair loss that happens in 2 out of 3 of these courageous warriors. As of this writing, there still is no cure in sight against a shiny bald pate. And while male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, the argument about the real causes of baldness is still yet to be determined. Male pattern baldness however, according to recent studies, can be caused by defective progenitor cells, a type of hair follicle stem cell, in the scalp.

The study, published in the Journal Of Clinical Investigation, suggest that men with receding hairline that goes all the way to the crown, characteristic of male pattern baldness, all had malfunctioning progenitor cells. These progenitor cells appeared to be stunted and would not mature fully in order for the hair growth cycle to complete. With this discovery, researchers could now develop a treatment that reactivates and restores the defective progenitor cells. Although there are a lot of myths about the cause of hair loss that have been passed on from generation to generation that may be true or unfounded, most grew out of legend rather than scientific facts. This recent findings helps clear out the growing list of myths about baldness.

Myth #1: Sexually active men go bald sooner.
False. Research shows that testosterone levels in bald men who are more sexually active were found to have levels no higher than their less active counterparts.

Myth #2: Wearing a hat can strain and pull hair out.
False. Unless the hat is causing scalp or hair injury, then wearing a hat or a baseball cap will not loosen the hair follicles or cause hair strain that will lead to the hair falling off.

Myth #3: Emotional stress leads to hair loss.
True. Emotional stress has been associated with loss of hair. There are 2 types of hair loss due to stress; one is called Telogen Effluvium which can occur after 2 or 3 months. However, hair can regrow back after the source of stress has passed; the other is called Alopecia Areata which leads to bald spots on the scalp so is also known as spot baldness.

Myth #4: Baldness comes from the mother's side.
True, but not statistically true. Although mothers contribute a bigger role when it comes to passing down the genes, especially the X Chromosome gene which relates to baldness, research statistics suggest that men are more likely to start losing hair earlier if they have a father who also started going bald sooner.

Myth #5: Physical trauma can cause hair loss.
True. Physical trauma have been observed to cause dramatic loss of hair in a short time. However, depending on the conditions the hair can grow back to what it was after the episode has passed. In other cases, the event can speed up the balding process and cannot be reversed.

Myth #6: Baldness comes with getting old.
False. Hair loss can strike at any age even right after puberty to some. Men and women in their 20s and 30s can start to have thinning hair.

Myth #7: Rogaine and Propecia treatments can prevent hair loss.
True. Rogaine, a topical treatment that when applied to the scalp regularly, can help slow hair loss. Propecia, a prescription pill, can also prevent hair loss and is more effective in younger people who are just in the early stages of thinning hair. Although effective, there is a downside, Rogaine must be applied two times a day and can irritate the scalp, while Propecia can reduce the sex drive (libido).

Myth #8: Hairspray and Gel cause baldness.
False. Putting gel or hairspray, washing hair with regular shampoo or dandruff shampoo, teasing the hair, or using curling irons will not cause baldness. However, doing too much of it and abu

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Stem cells show promise in cure against baldness - Saturday, January 12, 2013

New findings may lead to a new, stem cell based treatment against baldness and hair loss in people. A recent scientific study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Connecticut Stem Cell Research Program revealed that molecular signals from stem cells within the skin's fatty layer trigger hair regrowth in mice.

According to Valerie Horsley, an assistant professor on molecular, cellular and development biology at Yale University who conducted the study and was issued in the university press release, "If we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of the hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again."

The news article of the discovery also appear in the Sept. 2, 2011 issue of the journal Cell. Men who experience male pattern baldness still have stem cells present in the hair follicle roots, but those stem cells seem to lose their ability to trigger hair growth. Although it has been known that these follicle stem cells require these molecular signals from within the skin to grow hair, the source of those signals was unknown until now. In a normal hair growth cycle, the scalp is thicker because of the layer of fat within the scalp that expands when hair growth begins. When the hair dies, the layer of fat shrinks.

The team of Yale scientists discovered that hair regrowth in mice required a type of stem cell, also called adipose precursor cells, that plays a major role in the production of new skin fat cells. The team also found that these precursor cells produce molecules, a type of platelet-derived growth factors, that are also needed to regrow new hair. Scientists are now trying to determine whether the same hair growth factors that affect hair growth in mice are similar to the molecular signals that affect and promote hair growth in humans.

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Anti-stress drug may also regrow hair - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It is said that stress can lead to hair loss. So could it also mean that an anti-stress drug could lead to hair growth? A team of U.S. scientists researching on the effects of stress may have accidentally stumbled on a chemical compound that promotes hair growth. According to the report that the team posted in the online journal PLO One, they had been researching on a drug that blocks a stress-related hormone linked with hair loss. In their experiments, mice that had been altered to produce an excess of the hormone were able to reverse their earlier hair loss and subsequently regrow back their hair. "Almost 100 percent of the mice responded" said Million Mulugeta of the University of California at Los Angeles who was part of the team in the study.

Mulugeta said that this discovery could lead to new areas of research on treatments against hair loss in humans, especially in people who have hair loss due to stress or aging. "The hair grows back fully. It is a very dramatic effect." Mulugeta said during a telephone interview.

The experiment was conducted by a team of U.S. scientists that included researchers from the Veterans Administration and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. They had experimented on genetically altered mice in order to overproduce a stress hormone called Corticotrophin-Releasing Factor or CRF. As these highly stressed mice aged, their hair would turn gray and eventually fall off their back. Mulugeta likened the effect to watching a U.S. president age over the course of two four-year terms in the White House. Then the team would inject these mice with a stress-blocking chemical compound called Astressin-B, which blocks the action of the stress hormone CRF. The chemical compound Astressin-B was injected in the genetically altered mice over the course of five days, then the team measured the effects of Astressin-B on their colons and put the mice back in their cages. "When we came back three months later, their hair had all grown back. They were not distinguishable from their littermates who were not genetically altered," Mulugeta said.

"It was totally unexpected." Mulugeta said.

Other similar studies were conducted and confirmed the results. The experiment was also tested on younger mice who had a full complemnt of hair, and found that Astressin-B also kept them from going bald. "Not only does it restore hair, but it also prevents hair loss," Mulugeta said.

Currently, there are no treatments to reverse baldness or thinning hair, and that current treatments are preventative or can only slow down the process. Although the effects of Astressin-B on genetically altered mice has been dramatic, effects on humans are hard to predict. However, Mulugeta said that since humans also have the stress hormone Corticotrophin-Releasing Factor it is possible and that further studies should be pursued.

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Cause of Male Pattern Baldness found - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In the race to find a cure to baldness, a new and promising biological approach has been found by scientists according to their recent study.

The most common cause of hair loss is when hair follicles shrink over time which leads to the typical male pattern baldness.

Scientific research at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that their group of men with male pattern baldness had unusually higher levels of a protein called prostaglandin D2. What was evident though was that the protein was more concentrated where the bald patches were and was considerably less on the hairier parts. So on succeeding experiments when the scientists introduced prostaglandin D2 to human hair follicles in a lab dish, they discovered that the hair stopped growing.

This discovery, Dr. George Cotsarelis, chairman of dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania said, may lead to a cure to hair loss if the production of the protein prostaglandin D2 is controlled. This treatment to baldness may even reverse hair loss and regrow hair over the bald spots.

“This is a much more targeted approach and much more likely to yield a treatment,” Cotsarelis said.

The hair follicle life cycle goes through three stages of growth and regression. According to the scientists the protein prostaglandin D2 was at its highest level right before the hair follicle entered its regression phase. This concentration of prostaglandin D2 may be the reason the hair follicle is kept in the regressed phase rather than repeating the hair growth cycle as would normally be expected..

Science Translational Medicine journal published a report noting that there are a few drugs currently in the pipeline specifically for the treatment for male pattern baldness, and some of these drugs targeted the prostaglandin D2 pathway. Cotsarelis also noted that assuming the drugs pass human safety and efficacy trials, a possible cure in the form of medication or a topical cream may be in the way for male pattern baldness in no more than a decade from now.

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