In this episode we talk about the five main causes of hair loss. We talk about sluggish thyroid, high cortisol, low stomach acid and digestive enzymes, low protein intake, and low iron.
Hair is an important biomarker. In order to have healthy hair, you need healthy thyroid, good digestion, adequate protein and iron intake. If any of these are missing or not working properly, then you are at risk for thinning or losing your hair.
TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY'S EPISODE
Dr. Martin Jr.: You’re listening to the Doctor Is In podcast from martinclinic.com. Although we share a lot of practical and in our opinion awesome information, what you hear on this podcast is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. It’s strictly for informational purposes, so enjoy.
Hello, I’m Dr. Martin Jr., and this the Doctor Is In podcast. And this is episode 177. [00:00:30] Now before I begin, I’d like to just share a couple of things with you. The first thing is, is I’m doing this episode by myself, so if you hope to come here and hear my dad’s voice with me, then you’ll be greatly disappointed. But I hope you stick around anyways, I’ve got a pretty interesting topic that I’ll get to in a second.
The second thing I wanna mention is, I’m recording this episode the first day of spring, yet when I look outside, it definitely doesn’t look like spring yet. However, next week, which if you’re listening [00:01:00] to this, when we first publish this, will be Wednesday the 27th of 2-19. We’re doing a free live webinar presentation at 7:00 o’clock at night. Now you can get the information on registration, how to register for it, on our website at martinclinic.com. But in the free presentation, we’re gonna talk about thyroid specifically. And the name of the webinar will be, How To Overcome Thyroid Issues. And we’re gonna deal with things like, why do most thyroid blood tests [00:01:30] come back normal, even if you have symptoms?
So, we’re gonna about that, that’s a big issue that people have. Gonna talk about the five main causes of a sluggish thyroid. Why does a thyroid start to slow down in the first place? What are the different reasons for that? And then at the end we’ll talk about how to naturally balance your thyroid.
So, if you’re interested in joining us for this free live webinar, then go to our website and sign up. And, if you’re listening to this way after the fact, there’s a good chance that you can still access the webinar on our website, if not, [00:02:00] email us and we can send you the necessary stuff to watch it.
So again, all right, so today, what I wanna do is talk about five causes of hair loss. Now, we have a wonderful, again free, private Facebook group. It’s The Martin Clinic Club. If you’re in it, we appreciate each and every one of you. It’s a very active group, tremendous, you know, people helping each other out, answering each others questions, it’s a lot of fun to be a part of.
In the group, we asked a while [00:02:30] ago for things that people would like us to do webinars on or podcast topics on, and we get a lot of questions in that group about hair loss specifically, ’cause obviously hair loss is a big issue. And, it’s also something that we get a lot of emails about, our staff gets a lot of questions on live chat about it as well. So, we figured this would be the good time to talk about some of the big reasons why hair loss occurs.
Now, [00:03:00] this is important to understand this part here: you have 100000 plus stands of hair, and the average person normally loses about 100 a day. So, 100 seems like a lot. I mean 100 pieces of hair, now a lot of times we don’t even notice we’re losing hair. But any of you who are married know that these tend to end up in the shower all the time for some reason. But at the end of the day, that’s normal. But what’s not normal is when you start to notice … [00:03:30] A lot of people are really sensitive to when they start to lose their hair or when their hair starts to thin. So, that’s what we wanna talk about. A little bit of hair loss is normal, but it’s abnormal when you start to notice thinning and you start to notice spots obviously.
And again, hair is a reflection of a lot of different things that goes on inside the body, which is why there’s a lot of things that can cause hair loss, and again, I’m gonna talk about the five big ones that cause hair loss. Also, it’s important to understand this, and this will be the [00:04:00] backbone in the sense of the reason why some of these things cause hair loss. So, 90% of your hair … There’s really three phases that you gotta understand quickly here. So, 90% of the time, your hair, or 90% of your hair are in what they call the growing phase. And that phase can last anywhere between two and three years.
So, you got a hair, it’s growing for two to three years, then it goes into a short resting phase, which is about three months or so, then it sheds, and then you [00:04:30] replace it. And that’s supposed to be what’s going on. So, that’s the general idea. Now if the hair doesn’t get what it needs or there’s something going on inside the body, then because 90% of your hair is in that growing phase, well what happens if a lot of those hairs suddenly shift out of there quickly into the resting phase and then they shed at the same time? And that’s not supposed to happen because the majority of your hair is supposed to be in the growing phase, but there are things that can trigger that to happen where you’ll start to lose your hair.
So, let’s [00:05:00] talk about the five things. Now the first thing that we’re gonna talk about is the first thing that people think about when their hair starts to thin or fall out, which is low thyroid, hypothyroidism or a sluggish thyroid. So, let’s talk about that. Now I’m gonna tell you a quick story, just to give you an idea of how the thyroid works. I remember when … I’m a competitive person. If I play sports I like to win. I’m a competitive person. If I play board games I like to win. Our family and friends, [00:05:30] we’ve been playing for years, a board game called Settlers of Catan. If you haven’t played it, you’re missing out, it’s a great game. If you have played it, then you know what I’m talking about. Things can get pretty heated.
And I like Settlers of Catan because there’s some luck involved and yet there’s still an underlying skill or strategy underneath involved as well. So, it’s kind of a combination of a little bit of luck and that. But it’s a great game, it’s a fun game, but even in games I’m competitive, I like to win. So, when I was younger, [00:06:00] I remember a bunch of us used to go to this place where we grew up that had go-karts. And, you know, you get a bunch of kids together and everybody wants to win. They wanna win the go-kart race. So, I remember this one time going, you pick your car, you kinda stand in line, you run in, you sit in your car, and thinking, “All right. This is the car that’s gonna help get me to victory.”
So, we’d take the cars out of the area where they were sitting, and we start going. And then when I hammered the gas pedal, I realized [00:06:30] really quickly that my go-kart wasn’t that fast. In fact when I pushed the gas pedal, it definitely did not respond to the way that I was pushing my gas pedal. And of course, because the tracks are pretty simple, so there’s not a lot of driving skill, the fastest go-karts tend to win. Especially on a straight away, there’s nothing you can do to stop a faster go-kart to pass you. So, of course I was getting past and lapped and needless to say I didn’t win.
But at that time, there was the first time I ever heard [00:07:00] of a term from a guy that worked there, he had mentioned he had to do something to the governor. Now listen, I come from a long line of non-skilled workers. I’m born, bred, non-skilled. I don’t know a lot about cars, I don’t know a lot about … I’m the type of person that if I call a buddy of mine who’s a mechanic, I have to make the noise or just tell him the general area and then he’ll do the rest. He knows I don’t know much about cars. But this person who worked at the go-karting place told me about a [00:07:30] governor. And all that did was restrict basically how fast you’re able to go. And he said he had to do something to the governor.
So, that is how your thyroid works. Your thyroid is like a gas pedal for energy and metabolism. If you have a sluggish thyroid, and it’s almost like your thyroid’s operating with a governor, it’s not working quite as well. Now, why does that matter for your hair? Well listen. Your hair follicles are also [00:08:00] regulated by your thyroid. And, hair follicles have a shorter life span and they have a rapid turnover. And, what happens is when your thyroid is slow, your hair follicles like anything else, they just simply do not regenerate fast enough and end up with hair loss.
So, that’s a big reason why when you have a thyroid, or sluggish thyroid, and your thyroid is, your gas pedal is not working as well as it should, one of the things that happens [00:08:30] is your hair pays a price as well. Now of course thyroid affects every cell, every system in your body. So, if you have sluggish thyroid symptoms, you’re gonna have low energy, you’re gonna have dry skin, your hair’s gonna be thinning or falling out, your eyebrows same thing. And then think about it, constipation, all the things associated with that.
So, hair and thyroid go hand in hand. So, a lot of you who have hair loss, thyroid is to blame for [00:09:00] a lot of you. However, that’s not the only cause. So, I started with thyroid, but it’s definitely not the only cause. So, now I wanna quickly talk about a second big reason, and it kinda goes hand in hand with thyroid. Now if you’ve listened to us, our episodes for a while, or you’ve read our newsletters, then you know what’s gonna come next, which is high cortisol. High cortisol definitely affects hair. And it actually does it in two ways. So, when you have elevated cortisol, so when you’re stressed and that [00:09:30] cortisol which is the stress hormone is circulating higher than it should be, and your cortisol is messed up, well it does two things for our hair.
First of all cortisol eventually slows down your thyroid, which is why a lot of women who have low thyroid also have high cortisol. They go hand in hand. Which is also why a lot of women in order to fix the thyroid, you also have to do something about the elevated cortisol. But, cortisol slows down they thyroid, [00:10:00] and here’s one way that it does. Once your thyroid starts making hormones, it makes a few different ones. And, you know, it makes T1, T2, T3, which is the active form of the hormone. And T3 is the one that gives you, you know, it’s the active form, it’s the one that everything needs. And then you have T4.
Now here’s the thing. A majority of the hormones produced by your thyroid are in the form of T4. In [00:10:30] fact, 90% of them are T4. So, T4 has to be converted into T3, into the active form. And one of the things that cortisol does … And if you join us for that thyroid presentation, you’ll see there are a few other things that mess this up as well, but one of the things that cortisol does, is cortisol disrupts the conversion of T4 to T3. Which means you have less active form of the thyroid, which means your thyroid is gonna appear [00:11:00] sluggish. Your body’s gonna act as if it has a sluggish thyroid.
So, cortisol will indirectly cause hair loss because it will slow down your thyroid, which will then affect the way that your hair follicles regenerate. They won’t regenerated fast enough, so you’re gonna end up with thinning hair and you’re gonna end up hair loss. That’s one way.
But also cortisol directly, so that was indirect. Cortisol also directly decreases new hair growth, and will speed up hair loss, which is [00:11:30] why stress, and people say this all the time, somebody who’s chronically stressed, they’re gonna lose their hair, they’re gonna start to thin their hair out. And again, especially in women, I mean men can be affected by this as well, but in women their thyroid then gets affected and then it’s like a double whammy. And then all of a sudden they really start to notice hair thinning. They really start to notice that their hair is falling out.
So, those are two big reasons. But again, there are three other big ones that I wanna talk about. So, let’s about another one that is very surprising for most people. [00:12:00] And this has to do with low stomach acid and digestive enzymes. And let me be clear, this is a major cause for a lot of women and men for that matter, for hair loss. It’s overlooked. Most people never associate low stomach acid and digestive enzymes with hair loss, but it’s a major cause of hair loss and thinning hair in both men and women.
Now there’s something that people say all the time, “You are what you eat.” And here’s the thing, [00:12:30] that’s a partial truth. You are actually what you absorb, because you have to have the ability to absorb it if you’re actually gonna be able to use it. Now, when you have low stomach acid, stomach acid is extremely important in the digestive process, because think about it, as you start to chew food, you have the saliva and you have enzymes to start to breakdown the food, goes down the esophagus into the stomach, and there the stomach acid starts that process [00:13:00] off. And stomach acid is extremely important for digesting protein.
And, we’ll learn in a second why that matters for hair. But stomach acid breaks down protein. And, here is a major problem with low stomach acid, low stomach acid is typically diagnosed or misdiagnosed for that matter as heartburn. Because one of the symptoms of low stomach acid can be heartburn. Now, [00:13:30] the funny thing is, is that in modern medicine, or the average persons when they get heartburn they say, “I got too much stomach acid.” But the reality is, it’s the complete opposite that’s occurring. They actually don’t have enough stomach acid. When you have enough stomach acid, then that little valve, that little, they call it a sphincter, the little valve at the top of the stomach closes properly. And that stops the acid from going up into the esophagus.
When you don’t have a low enough PH, then that doesn’t close properly, and then the acid, the [00:14:00] little that you do have, ends up in the esophagus, so you end up with heartburn. So, heartburn is a symptom for most people of actual low stomach acid, which is why when you take an antacid, it actually is literally the definition of a bandaid solution, because it’s doing nothing to address the problem, which is low stomach acid.
But anyways, when you have low stomach acid, you’re gonna have an issue with hair, and I’ll explain that in one second. Now, how common is low stomach acid? Well listen, as [00:14:30] we age it becomes extremely common. It is a lot more common than people think it is. And here are some of the symptoms that people get for low stomach acid: constipation or diarrhea, bloating following a meal, that’s a big one as well. Indigestion, burping, or think about this, and I’ve talked about this in the past and we’ve written about this in the past as well.
Chronic yeast infections because one of the jobs of stomach acid is to kill things that you ingest. And it shouldn’t even get through the stomach [00:15:00] acid into the rest of your body, into your bowels, and then the leaky gut gets it into your blood, if you had normal stomach acid. And then that happens. And then, because you need protein which is gonna be the next point, you end up with thinning hair and hair loss, so that the third reason is low stomach acid.
Now the fourth reason kinda fits in with the third reason, which is not enough protein consumption or protein breakdown. Now here’s the reality: a lot of women [00:15:30] simply do not consume enough protein in their diet every day. Most women, in fact studies show that 40% don’t even get the RDA, the recommended daily amount, which is criminally low. I mean you wouldn’t wanna just get the RDA. I mean that’s way too low. Especially if you wanna worry about stuff like osteoporosis or you wanna worry about sarcopenia, you need to increase your protein.
But, your hair is made up of protein fibre, which means [00:16:00] it needs enough protein to grow. If you do not get enough protein, here’s what happens. Now, I can’t remember how many year ago, a group of movies came out called The Expendables, and as a guy who’s in his mid-40’s, The Expendables movies were awesome because it took all my favourite teen actors that I liked in action movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger, all those guys, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, [00:16:30] Bruce Willis, all these actors, and it put them all together in this movie called The Expendables. And the idea was that these are the guys that you send to do jobs because as the title of the movie suggests, they’re expendable.
Well, your hair is expendable in your body’s eye, because if you’re not getting enough protein, and you need protein for every cell in your body, and you need protein for [00:17:00] so many more crucial things, your body’s gonna say, “Well listen, we’re not getting enough protein, we have to send it to where it needs it, and your hair, too bad.” So, your hair is expendable, and because hair is made up of protein fibre, it needs protein, it needs the components of protein, amino acids, your body’s like, “Nah, your hair doesn’t need it. We wanna keep you alive.” And that’s what happens. So, you may not be consuming near enough protein.
And, as I mentioned in the last [00:17:30] point, even if you’re consuming enough protein and you have real low stomach acid issues, then you’re not breaking down the protein in your stomach, and it’s moving along undigested and you’re not getting the amino acids necessarily, you’re not absorbing enough of the protein in the first place.
All right. So, so far we’ve talked about thyroid, we’ve talked about cortisol, we’ve talked about low stomach acid and digestive enzymes, we’ve talked about not getting enough protein.
And the last thing I wanna talk about quickly is iron. [00:18:00] Iron a lot of times is forgotten, but it is honesty one of the main causes of hair loss in women. And iron goes hand in hand, again there’s a connection between iron intake and thyroid. So, a lot of times the iron and thyroid work hand in hand again. But listen, hair follicles require a ton of iron in order to grow. Iron is necessary for hair growth. Therefore, when you don’t get enough [00:18:30] iron or you have anemia, or you’re for whatever reason you’re not absorbing enough iron, then you are gonna have hair thinning and hair loss, there’s no question.
So, somebody who has a real blood loss through hernias or medications, a lot of medications can affect the iron absorption, or simply not eating enough, then you’re gonna end up with low iron and your hair follicles are gonna pay the price big time. So, a lot of people don’t [00:19:00] get enough iron in their diet because they don’t eat enough red meat, and for whatever reason. And, you know, you can get iron in stuff like beans and egg yolks, oysters, spinach. I mean there’s a plant based and there’s an animal based type of iron.
And, here’s another thing now that we’re on this topic, there’s two types of iron in a sense, it’s called heme iron and non-heme iron. And, heme iron comes or is found in [00:19:30] meat and non-heme is found in plant based stuff like beans and spinach and stuff like that. Heme, so from meat, is much easier to absorb by the body, which makes it the best source of iron. So, if you’re not eating meat and you have low stomach acid or not enough digestive enzymes, then you are putting yourself at a higher risk of having [00:20:00] low iron, which again can create a whole bunch of issues.
So, as you can see, when it comes to hair loss and … Hair is like the skin. Now skin as we’ve said before, is your largest organ. So, it only makes sense that skin health is a good window to what’s going on, especially when it comes to the gut, because the gut and the skin are tied through literally an axis they call the gut/skin axis, but hair is biomarker in a sense that it’s also a good indication that something is [00:20:30] going on inside the body. So, as soon as you start to notice thin, thinning hair, or hair loss, then something is going on in the body, and there’s a good chance it’s one of the five things I just mentioned, and I’ll say them again one more time.
Low thyroid, if you have hair loss ’cause of thyroid, you have to fix the thyroid. If it’s because of high cortisol, you wanna control your cortisol. If it’s low stomach acid and digestive enzymes, you definitely wanna take care of digestion. If it’s not enough protein, then eat more protein, get more [00:21:00] protein. And if it’s because of iron, then iron fix the absorption, ’cause a lot of times iron is an absorption issue, fix the ability to absorb iron and make sure you’re getting enough as well in your diet. A lot of women have to supplement with iron, ’cause they just can’t get enough in their diet, they can’t absorb it properly. So, a lot of women have to do that.
But again, those are the five main causes of hair loss. There are others again, but these are the big ones. So, if you have symptoms of hair loss and hair [00:21:30] thinning, there’s a good chance that one of these five things I just mentioned is a cause.
Again thanks for listening, and have a great day.
Dr. Martin Sr: Thanks for listening to The Doctor Is In podcast from martinclinic.com. If you have any questions you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not a newsletter subscriber, you can head to our website and sign up for free.
We also have a private Facebook group that you can join. It’s a community of awesome people. [00:22:00] Finally, I do a Facebook Live every Thursday morning at 8:30. Join us again next week for a new episode.