Dr Haffejie has been practicing medicine since 1997, after graduating from Wits medical School in Johannesburg. Dr Haffejie is a metabolic and anti-ageing medicine specialist and is only one of 2 South African doctors Board certified in Anti-ageing and regenerative medicine by the American academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine. He has been trained in Prolozone by the world renowned oxidative and orthomolecular medicine specialist Dr Frank Schallenberger of Nevada USA. Dr Haffejie is also certified in Functional medicine. In addition he is also a medical advisor to the South African health magazine - Health intelligence.http://www.ohi.co.za
The Functional approach to fixing hair loss
The Functional approach to fixing hair loss
The Functional medicine approach to reversing hair loss is to look for the cause of the hair loss and fix that. Presumably, the patient was not losing their hair at some time in the past, so what caused this patient’s hair loss to start? This approach looks at the WHOLE person. Hair loss is a clue that something is wrong in the body. In this article, I’m going to share the most common causes of hair loss from a Functional medical perspective.
Toxins and Hair Loss
Hair loss is often common in patients who have high levels of toxins in their bodies. Sometimes this is due to high exposure to toxins on a regular basis in the workplace, but most often the patient lives a normal life with a broken detoxification system. We are exposed to toxins from plastic, heavy metals and toxins in our food. Once the patient loses the ability to get rid of the toxins, the body starts trying to eliminate these toxins through the hair. Then, as you can imagine, the hair growth is affected.
The key to fixing this kind of hair loss is identifying any possible source of the toxicity problem and assessing whether the patient’s detoxification systems are working. For example here is the test result of a patient with hair loss, headaches, hormone problems, anxiety and severe fatigue.
This patient couldn’t detoxify very well because her sulphur levels were depleted. Once this was corrected, the patient’s health issues began to resolve, including her hair loss!
This is a good time to point out that most “detox” diets, teas, baths, etc., while possibly helpful, don’t usually fix what needs to be fixed. Effective detoxification requires correct nutrients, and proper gut, kidney, liver and gallbladder function. It’s not until a patient knows the specific problem that true detoxification can be accomplished. This is why proper testing is so important.
Hormone imbalances often lead to hair loss. There could be a problem with male/female hormones, thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones or a combination. In functional medicine it’s not enough to simply run a blood test to measure hormone levels, and then prescribe some sort of replacement hormone to “fix” the problem. We need to understand the underlying cause of the hormone imbalance.
Often the cause of most hormone imbalances is improper detoxification. All hormones have a “shelf life”-a time span in which they are active. Once the hormone is used, it must be broken down and removed from the blood stream. At this point the hormone is a toxin. If the body can’t remove the old hormones the result is a hormone imbalance.
Another common hormone issue is with the thyroid. Both excessive and deficient amounts of thyroid hormones can cause hair loss. Again, if there is a thyroid issue, the key is finding and fixing the cause.
Accumulation of the metabolite of the male hormone Testosterone i.e. DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a common cause of male pattern baldness, managing excessive conversion of testosterone into DHT is important for managing this type of hair loss.
Intestinal issues are another important cause of hair lise. Anything from leaky gut syndrome to the presence of a pathogen can cause a patient lose hair. Intestinal problems contribute to toxicity. A leaky gut is basically dumping toxins from the gut into the bloodstream 24/7. Because intestinal problems result in toxicity they can also result in hormone imbalances.
Infections Mineral deficiencies
Many patients with chronic viral, fungal or bacterial infections experience hair loss. Patients with infections like Lyme, Epstein Barr Virus or Mold have their hair return to normal as they get well. Infections produce toxins, destroy cells and consume nutrients. Obviously the first key to fixing these infections is diagnosing them. Often these chronic infections are overlooked. Treating these infections is different than fixing an acute infection. Chronic infections often require getting the patient overall healthier so their own immune system can be more effective in getting rid of the infection. Deficiencies of nutrients are a common cause of hair loss especially, iron, zinc, copper, iodine and B vitamins
Deficiencies of nutrients are a common cause of hair loss especially, iron, zinc, copper, iodine and B vitamins, and if present need to be adequately replenished.
A Detailed History and Testing is the Key!
The functional medicine approach to curing hair loss is to fix the underlying causes of the hair loss. The first step is to engage in a comprehensive History. Once a functional medicine doctor has a good understanding of what the patient has been experiencing he or she can determine what kind of testing is needed to figure out what is causing the hair loss. From there treatment is usually pretty straight forward. Every patient is different. The “cure” is different for each patient. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t want to treat a symptom, but instead fix the problem you will love functional medicine.