Ask a Naturopath: Dealing with Hair Loss

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Can a naturopath help with hair loss?

Absolutely! The naturopathic approach to hair loss begins with an investigation of what’s causing the issue. We often see hair loss secondary to stress, nutrient deficiencies and/or gastrointestinal issues. Naturopathic medicine has a great deal to offer for any of these etiologies.

I usually start with a patient’s history and a physical exam to rule out the possibility that the hair loss is being caused by a fungal infection or a medication side effect. I also like to get a sense of the person’s diet, digestive health, hormonal patterns, and stress levels. Lastly, I order some basic blood work to assess thyroid function, levels of iron, ferritin (stored iron), vitamin B12, and vitamin D. The most common nutritional deficiencies I see in my practice that are related to hair loss are low iron and B12 levels.

As a naturopath, I place a lot of emphasis on digestive health and often look to the gut as a source of nutrient deficiencies. So in addition to replenishing any nutrients which are low, I work with patients to optimize gut health. Often we explore food reactions through therapeutic diets. In some cases I order stool testing to look for imbalances in gut flora that may contribute to a suboptimal digestive experience.

If the culprit seems to be stress, I might order a salivary cortisol test to get a sense of how stress is affecting the circadian rhythm. In some cases, we address stress management through lifestyle measures and in other cases I recommend supplements.

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