Hypothyroidism or having an underactive thyroid afflicts 5 out of every 100 people (aged 12 and over) in the United States. It can leave you feeling perpetually fatigued and may cause weight gain, fertility problems, and even depression.
What you may not know is that it is also a cause for hair loss.1 Dry, thinning hair is, in fact, one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
But just how bad can it get? And are there ways to treat the problem naturally to restore your once lustrous mane?
Symptoms Of Hair Loss Due To Hypothyroidism
The hair loss itself is something you will spot yourself. But knowing how to distinguish hair loss that is rooted in hypothyroidism as opposed to other causes is important, so you can get the right treatment. The British Thyroid Foundation points out some of the key features that include:2
- Hair loss is diffused.
- Hair loss at the edge of the eyebrows, beginning with thinning on the outer edges, is a noticeable feature.
- Loss happens across the scalp, not in discrete sections.
- Hair seems uniformly sparse.
- Hair loss appears many months after the thyroid disease itself has taken hold, so watch for symptoms of thyroid disease like weight gain, fatigue, puffy face, constipation, joint or muscle aches, difficulty with cold temperatures/weather, less sweating, dry skin, heavy/irregular periods, and slowed heart rate.3
If the hair loss is discrete or in patches, it’s probably caused by alopecia areata, not hypothyroidism. Use onion juice to cure hair fall due to alopecia areata.
Why Does Hypothyroidism Cause Hair Loss?
The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for the modulation of biological processes of the hair in multiple ways.
T3 and T4 together down-regulate the death of keratinocytes or cells that create the keratin, a building block of your hair.
Lack of thyroid hormones makes hair cells die quicker and hinders regrowth.
T4 on its own up-regulates the proliferation of these cells that form the hair matrix. It also increases the duration of the growth phase of hair cells.4
If your thyroid isn’t active enough, you simply don’t have enough of these hormones in your body. So your hair cells die quicker and are not replenished. This is what causes hair loss due to hypothyroidism.
7 Natural Treatments For Hair Loss Due To Hypothyroidism
Treating hair loss isn’t always easy. However, in the case of hypothyroidism-linked hair fall or loss, you can use some natural treatments that treat the thyroid disorder and help restore hair growth.
1. Try Ayurvedic Remedies
Ayurveda treats an underactive thyroid gland to restore the balance of T3 and T4 hormones in the body. This in turn stimulates hair proliferation or regrowth.5
Varunadi kasaya, triphala, kachanar guggulu, and ashwagandha are some common remedies that an Ayurvedic doctor may prescribe.6 Ashwagandha mixed with coconut oil can make the hair roots stronger.
2. Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Not having enough Vitamin D has also been implicated in hypothyroidism by some practitioners and experts. As such, taking a supplement or boosting intake of the vitamin through fortified foods helps. Also ensure that you get about 20 to 30 minutes in the sun to help your body produce the vitamin.
This could help with improving thyroid function and overall metabolism. Over time, as function of the thyroid gland is restored, your hair growth may also improve and return to normal.7
3. Up Vitamin B12 Intake
[Read More: Sources Of Vitamin B12]
4. Get Some Ginger
Ginger consumption can help with improving hormonal function and should help bring back the life to your hair as well.10
5. Try Turmeric
Like ginger, turmeric is anti-inflammatory and helps improve immune function in the body. This kind of food in turn helps those with a hypothyroid problem and can have beneficial effects on symptoms as hormonal functions improve.11
6. Skip Processed Foods, Caffeine, Sugar, And Alcohol
Those with thyroid problems, including hypothyroid are usually urged to avoid eating any kind of processed or heavily refined foods. Sugar, alcohol, and caffeine too are advised against. All of these cause inflammatory responses in the body which could worsen your thyroid problem and makes your hair loss worse.12
7. Avoid Goitrogenic Food
Goitrogenic foods hamper the functions of the thyroid by interfering with iodine (needed for normal thyroid function) usage by the gland. This results in the characteristic enlarged or swollen-looking thyroid gland in goiter patients.
The good news is that this effect can be avoided by cooking the foods thoroughly, destroying the enzymes responsible for this action. This includes foods like kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower, millet, sweet corn, sorghum, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and soy and soy based foods.13 This is why while many advise eating broccoli raw, you must cook your broccoli as well as these 6 vegetables.
You may find symptoms easing after you give up these foods or cook them well before consuming them. After a while, as function improves, your hair too should be less dry, and the thinning may reduce.
Careful How You Treat The Problem
Regrowing hair is usually quite successful for most people with hypothyroid. However, you should know that it can take a long time – months even – and the regrowth may not be absolutely complete.14
Do keep in mind, though, that certain Ayurvedic formulations and herbal remedies can cause blood to thin and are best avoided by anyone who is already using a blood-thinning medication like aspirin or warfarin. This could cause dangerous levels of bleeding in the event of an injury.
Also check with your doctor for any interactions with any medications you are already taking for your thyroid problems or any other condition like a cardiac problem. There could be adverse reactions to some combinations of drugs and remedies.15
|↑1, ↑3||Hypothyroidism. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑2, ↑14||Hair Loss and Thyroid Disorders. British Thyroid Foundation.|
|↑4, ↑5||van Beek, Nina, Eniko Bodo, Arno Kromminga, Erzsébet Gáspár, Katja Meyer, Michal A. Zmijewski, Andrzej Slominski, Bjorn E. Wenzel, and Ralf Paus. “Thyroid hormones directly alter human hair follicle functions: anagen prolongation and stimulation of both hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and hair pigmentation.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 93, no. 11 (2008): 4381-4388.|
|↑6||Panthi, Sharad, and Tianshu Gao. “Diagnosis and management of primary hypothyroidism in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Traditional Indian Medicine (Ayurveda).” Int J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1 (1): 009 12, no. 009 (2015).|
|↑7||Mackawy, Amal Mohammed Husein, Bushra Mohammed Al-Ayed, and Bashayer Mater Al-Rashidi. “Vitamin D deficiency and its association with thyroid disease.” International journal of health sciences 7, no. 3 (2013): 267.|
|↑8||Jabbar, Abdul, Aasma Yawar, Sabiha Waseem, Najmul Islam, Naeem Ul Haque, Lubna Zuberi, Ataullah Khan, and Jaweed Akhter. “Vitamin B12 deficiency common in primary hypothyroidism.” Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association 58, no. 5 (2008): 258.|
|↑9||Vitamin B12. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑10, ↑11||Al-Suhaimi, Ebtesam A., Noorah A. Al-Riziza, and Reham A. Al-Essa. “Physiological and therapeutical roles of ginger and turmeric on endocrine functions.” The American journal of Chinese medicine 39, no. 02 (2011): 215-231.|
|↑12, ↑15||Thyroiditis. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑13||Foods That Can Cause Problems. Thyroid UK.|