We all feel it - the weight of daily stress and how it impacts our well-being. But have you ever stopped to consider the ripple effect of stress on your crowning glory – your hair? Let's delve into this connection and discover holistic solutions for stress management and healthier hair.
Understanding the Hair-Stress Connection
We all lose hair daily - that's a natural process. Your hair mirrors your overall health. And one of the key players? Cortisol, which is often dubbed the "stress hormone." When faced with excessive stress, our bodies can respond in various ways, one of which is to ramp up hair loss.1
Elevated stress can wreak havoc on your hair growth cycle by disrupting the balance of several hormones crucial for maintaining luscious locks. This includes estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHT.2
Fun fact: While it's entirely normal to shed 50-150 hair strands daily, stress imbalances can supercharge this rate. If you're observing an unusual increase in hair fall, stress might be the unsolicited guest you didn't account for.3,4
How Hair Grows: A Quick Crash Course
Your scalp consists of around 100,000 hairs, each at different growth stages.5,6
The Hair Growth Cycle: Your hair goes through distinct phases.
Anagen (growth), catagen (transition), telogen (resting), and exogen (shedding). The balance of these phases determines the health and volume of your hair.4
Sounds complex? Think of it as the lifecycle of a plant - it sprouts, matures, then eventually wilts.
Image source: Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles
How Stress Influences Hair Health
Hair growth isn't just about good shampoo and avoiding hot styling tools. Our hormones play a crucial role. Cortisol, along with hormones like estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone, can significantly impact hair growth and loss.2
When stress enters the scene, it disrupts this delicate hormonal balance. Not only does it speed up the transition from the growth phase to the resting phase, but it also extends the latter. This means more hair strands take a break, and fewer remain in the active growth stage, leading to increased shedding.4
Ever heard of telogen effluvium? It's the hair loss caused by significantly stressful events, be it an emotional trauma like a breakup or a physical strain such as surgery.7
Our body's stress-response system, the HPA axis, reacts by releasing hormones such as cortisol in abundance. An excess of cortisol and other stress hormones can shift the hair growth cycle, increasing the number of hairs in the shedding phase.2
Moreover, high cortisol levels can harm the molecular building blocks (proteoglycans) in hair follicles and decrease the synthesis of growth-promoting hormones (like IGF-1).1,4,8
Reclaiming Your Hair in Stressful Times
Wondering what to do next? Here's a game plan:
Know Your Levels: Understanding whether your cortisol levels are off-balance is the first step. Opt for saliva hormone testing - it’s accurate and can pinpoint any hormonal imbalance.
Seek Expert Advice: If your hair loss concerns persist, it might be time to chat with a functional medicine or naturopathic physician. They can provide a holistic view and give you solutions tailored to your needs.
Natural Solutions: Herbal adaptogens, such as Ashwagandha, have been known to counteract hair loss due to adrenal dysfunction.9 Also, ensure a balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals. The right nutrients can give your hair the support it needs to thrive.
Our natural supplements aid in managing stressors to ultimately support hair health:*
Understanding this intricate link between stress and hair health can empower you to make informed decisions for your holistic well-being.
Final Thoughts: Hair loss isn’t just about aesthetics. It's tied deeply to our self-esteem, confidence, and overall well-being. While external treatments can offer temporary fixes, understanding and addressing the root cause, especially when it's as sneaky as stress, is pivotal. Embrace natural solutions, prioritize well-being, and watch your hair flourish.
* The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY
BEYOND PREGNANCY – THE EFFECTS OF PROGESTERONE ON MOOD, GUT MOTILITY, BLOOD PRESSURE, METABOLISM, HAIR, AND SKIN
As explained in our last blog post about fertility, the word progesterone translates to “promoting gestation,” so progesterone is often thought of as a female hormone required for fertility and healthy pregnancy. While this is true, progesterone has many effects beyond pregnancy, and an ideal progesterone level supports optimal health in men and women of all ages.
Many men believe the higher the testosterone level, the better, but high testosterone levels can cause harm. Too much of a good thing is not always good, even in men! And - it is well-known that high testosterone levels in women are associated with numerous health concerns. Thus, testosterone is a hormone that must be present at an optimal level because abnormally high free testosterone levels can cause significant health issues.
April is Stress Awareness Month, so let’s learn more about the stress hormone known as cortisol! While cortisol is known as the stress hormone, it is crucial for the optimal function of your body every day. In healthy individuals, cortisol levels naturally shift throughout the day in a pattern known as a diurnal rhythm.
Chronic stress is a frequent underlying cause of low nutrient levels and health issues. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 450 million people worldwide are affected by stress-related disorders. Research indicates stress could be responsible for an estimated 70% of visits to primary care providers, which is shocking. Fortunately, the consistent use of a synergistic blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts that nourish the adrenal glands could support a healthy stress response.
- Thom E. Stress and the Hair Growth Cycle: Cortisol-Induced Hair Growth Disruption. J Drugs Dermatol. 2016;15(8):1001-1004.
- Grymowicz M, Rudnicka E, Podfigurna A, et al. Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(15):5342. doi:10.3390/ijms21155342
- Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed July 28, 2023. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/shedding.
- Natarelli N, Gahoonia N, Sivamani RK. Integrative and Mechanistic Approach to the Hair Growth Cycle and Hair Loss. J Clin Med. 2023;12(3):893. doi:10.3390/jcm12030893
- Piraccini BM, Alessandrini A. Androgenetic alopecia. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2014;149(1):15-24.
- Saleh D, Nassereddin A, Cook C. Anagen Effluvium. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482293/
- Kesika P, Sivamaruthi BS, Thangaleela S, et al. Role and Mechanisms of Phytochemicals in Hair Growth and Health. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2023;16(2):206. doi:10.3390/ph16020206
- Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Hymer WC, et al. Growth Hormone(s), Testosterone, Insulin-Like Growth Factors, and Cortisol: Roles and Integration for Cellular Development and Growth With Exercise. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:33. doi:10.3389/fendo.2020.00033
- Kalani A, Bahtiyar G, Sacerdote A. Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. BMJ Case Rep. 2012;2012:bcr2012006989. Published 2012 Sep 17. doi:10.1136/bcr-2012-006989