co-written by Rick Olazabal, BSc, BN
Hair loss is medically known as “alopecia”, and it can be caused by variety of reasons, including damage to the hair follicles due to fungal infections, genetics, hormone changes, medication, malnutrition, smoking, thyroid, etc.
This article briefly addresses the issues surrounding hair loss and circulation and what you should be aware of before buying hair loss products.
There are two main types of alopecia: alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia. Alopecia areata is an auto-immune condition by which cells of your immune system attack hair follicles. The result is that hair falls in patches, often all over the body.
On the other hand, androgenic alopecia, as the name suggests, is male pattern hair loss—an inherited condition that can affect both men (predominantly; ~60%) and women, and unlike alopecia areata, the pattern of hair loss is more diffuse.
How blood circulation can prevent hair loss?
“Circulation and hair loss” is a popular and yet controversial topic. This is because there is very little strong evidence to support the claim that circulation can prevent hair loss. On the flip side, some studies claim that by improving circulation, nutrients can reach the hair follicles and regenerate. This may be the case in a subset of patients, or in conditions that may interfere with normal hair formation (e.g. a nutritional deficiency, chemotherapy).
It needs to be taken into account that when the hair loss is due to immune attack, then the treatment must focus on modulating (or reducing) that immune response—surely, improving circulation would be futile, or at best, ineffective.
Similarly, hair loss due to genetics can be very difficult to prevent or treat. When the hair loss is due to other factors – lack of a nutrient, e.g. zinc, or hormonal, such as due to thyroid function, or due to medication – then those conditions need to be addressed on a case by case. For more information, speak with a qualified healthcare provider to receive more in-depth, accurate details about your type of hair loss and treatment options.
How to improve blood circulation in scalp?
The fastest, and possibly the most effective way to increase circulation to the scalp is with massage. Therapeutic massage brings more blood and thus more oxygen and nutrients to the scalp. Scalp massage using a variety of essential oils, such as those from thyme, rosemary and lavender may help increase circulation.
Be careful not to chemically burn yourself. Apply a “base” oil, like coconut oil, first. Some people with alopecia areata are prescribed topical corticosteroids. Try not to mix this medication with any other treatments (natural or otherwise).
What can be done to help
Hair loss can have serious psychosocial and emotional impact on the person. If you are affected by hair loss and have not seen a qualified health care provider, do so right away to establish the right diagnosis. Once you know exactly what type of hair loss you may be suffering from, then you can learn about the treatment options that will be effective, and which to avoid.
Because of the emotional impact hair loss can have, many people are willing to try almost anything in order to prevent, or undo the “damage”, and over time this can be costly and ineffective. Keeping this in mind, don’t be discouraged, speak with your physician or licensed naturopathic doctors about any products you may have come across and would like to try—or anything that has been recommended to you.
From a nutritional standpoint, common products in the market contain biotin (usually found in carrots and tomatoes), zinc (found in pumpkin seeds), beta-sitosterol, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), etc. Once again, before trying any of these products on your own, consult a licensed naturopathic doctor to see if they are right for you.