Hair loss can be a traumatizing experience. What’s worse than brushing your hair, only to find piles of loose locks? Hair is a huge part of who you are! But don’t be so quick to point the finger at aging. If you have telogen effluvium, hormones get the blame.
Don’t lose hope just yet, though. It’s possible to control wacky hormones with smart lifestyle choices. By doing so, you can maintain hormonal imbalance – and a head full of hair – once and for all.
What Is Telogen Effluvium?
Telogen effluvium disrupts a hair follicle’s growth cycle. Typically, it goes through three phases: Anagen (growth), catagen (transitional) and telogen (shedding). Anagen lasts for 2 to 8 years, catagen lasts for 4 to 6 weeks, and telogen lasts for 2 to 3 months.
About 90 to 95 percent are in the anagen phase, while 5 to 10 percent are in the telogen phase. But if anagen hair stops growing prematurely? It enters the catagen and telogen phase, causing 30 percent or more to reach telogen.1 In turn, severe shedding starts in 2 to 3 months.
Hair loss usually isn’t more than 50 percent. And while this condition doesn’t cause inflammation or scarring, thinning can be pretty excessive.2 As the second most common form of hair loss, telogen effluvium affects more women than men. It can also happen at any age.3
What Triggers Telogen Effluvium?
Most cases of telogen effluvium can be traced back to hormonal imbalances. According to the British Hair & Nail Society, the most common triggers are:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Severe trauma, such as an accident
- Stressful major life event, such as losing a loved one
- Significant weight loss and dieting
- Thyroid disorders
- New medication
- Severe skin issues
How To Control Hair Thinning Hormones
Now that you know the triggers, let’s dive into how you can balance hormones. The primary goal? To get a handle on stress. Remember, aside from triggering telogen effluvium, stress also worsens thyroid function.6
When your body and mind is out of whack, break a sweat. Physical activity is awesome for reducing the “stress hormone” cortisol. It often builds up during rough times, but exercise keeps it in check. Even low-intensity workouts has benefits.
Just be sure you don’t overdo it. Repeated high-intensity exercise actually increases cortisol, making it hard for the body to rest and recover.7 It’ll only worsen your hair woes!
When in doubt, stretch it out. Yoga lessens the effect of stress on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which controls everything from immunity to thyroid function.8 All it takes is one session for cortisol levels to decrease, according to the Journal of Health Psychology.9
When done as a normal part of your fitness routine, it’ll continuously balance the body. Start with beginner-friendly moves, and don’t focus on turning into a human pretzel. The aim is to recharge and relax.
Meditation is another stellar way to stabilize hair loss hormones. It’ll significantly reduce cortisol, especially if you do it on the daily. Consider the practice if you’re dealing with pent up feelings, psychological stress, and physical or emotional trauma.10
Can pleasant scents control your hormones? According to a 2015 study in the Complementary Medicine Research, it certainly can. Bergamot essential oil, for example, can decrease cortisol in healthy females.11 Lavender has also been shown to reduce anxiety and cortisol in open-heart surgery patients.12
5. Smoking Cessation
If you smoke cigarettes, work on quitting. It might seem to help stress, but the habit just makes things worse. Nicotine withdrawal significantly raises cortisol, which is bad news for your hormones and hair. 13 Talk to your doctor if you notice sudden, excessive shedding. Depending on your condition, medication might be prescribed to keep it under control.
|↑1, ↑5||Telogen Effluvium. British Hair & Nail Society.|
|↑2||Malkud, Shashikant. “Telogen effluvium: a review.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 9, no. 9 (2015): WE01.|
|↑3, ↑4||Effluviums. American Hair Loss Association.|
|↑6, ↑8||Jeter, Pamela E., Jeremiah Slutsky, Nilkamal Singh, and Sat Bir S. Khalsa. “Yoga as a therapeutic intervention: a bibliometric analysis of published research studies from 1967 to 2013.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 21, no. 10 (2015): 586-592.|
|↑7||Hill, E. E., E. Zack, C. Battaglini, M. Viru, A. Viru, and A. C. Hackney. “Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect.” Journal of endocrinological investigation 31, no. 7 (2008): 587-591.|
|↑9||Sullivan, Molly, Amanda Carberry, Elizabeth S. Evans, Eric E. Hall, and Svetlana Nepocatych. “The effects of power and stretch yoga on affect and salivary cortisol in women.” Journal of Health Psychology (2017): 1359105317694487.|
|↑10||BAnSAl, Anuj, AShiSh MittAl, and VikAS Seth. “Osho Dynamic Meditation’s Effect on Serum Cortisol Level.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 10, no. 11 (2016): CC05.|
|↑11||Watanabe, Eri, Kenny Kuchta, Mari Kimura, Hans Wilhelm Rauwald, Tsutomu Kamei, and Jiro Imanishi. “Effects of bergamot (Citrus bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn.) essential oil aromatherapy on mood states, parasympathetic nervous system activity, and salivary cortisol levels in 41 healthy females.” Complementary Medicine Research 22, no. 1 (2015): 43-49.|
|↑12||Hosseini, SeyedAbedin, Alemeh Heydari, MohammadAli Vakili, Shahram Moghadam, and SadeghAli Tazyky. “Effect of lavender essence inhalation on the level of anxiety and blood cortisol in candidates for open-heart surgery.” Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research 21, no. 4 (2016): 397.|
|↑13||Cohen, Lee M., Mustafa al’Absi, and Frank L. Collins. “Salivary cortisol concentrations are associated with acute nicotine withdrawal.” Addictive behaviors 29, no. 8 (2004): 1673-1678.|