Hair, Skin and Nails

These three are the visible signs of our health and wellbeing. These three are also the things that at some time or another give cause for worry. Lets have a look at them individually, see some common things that can go wrong and what we can do about them.

We will start with hair. To suddenly start losing handfuls of hair is a dreadful experience, and hair loss seems to vary from person to person. So how much hair loss is normal? Most people lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day. The hair you lose when you brush or comb or shampoo your hair are ready to fall out, so not brushing, combing or shampooing will not help stop hair loss.

Our hair is an excellent indicator of our health. If we should experience excessive hair loss from the entire scalp this usually means something has happened to our body. This could be either a temporary thing or a more serious event and the cause needs to be identified and corrected. Once this is done the lost hair will be replaced.

Usually whatever caused the hair loss happened two or three months before the loss became apparent. In the case of a temporary hair loss something like food poisoning or a high fever will cause a loss of hair from all over the scalp a couple of months after the event. Other common causes are stopping contraceptive pills, changing from one brand of pill to another, taking the morning after pill, or ending a pregnancy. In these cases no treatment is necessary and hair will return to normal in six months.

It is usually something more serious that causes permanent hair loss. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anaemia, and things that affect the endocrine system.
The endocrine system covers the glands of the body system and their role is to secrete hormones. These glands include the thyroid, the Parathyroid and the Adrenal glands.

The Thyroid gland is very important to the way we feel, how energetic we are. If this gland is underactive we may experience fatigue, hair loss, menstrual disturbances, weight gain and excessive hair growth on the face and body. If, on the other hand, the Thyroid is overactive, we could still experience hair loss as well as feeling too hot, sweating and have a rapid heartbeat.

Our Adrenal glands produce the hormones that help us combat stress, and with the busy stressful lives we all lead nowadays the Adrenals are overworked at the best of times. A sudden bout of more stress on top of our usual high stress levels can result in hair loss.

Anaemia is a common cause of hair loss. This is something you should not diagnose yourself, you should get a blood test from the doctor to check your levels. It is however, something that is easy to do something about. You can check to make sure you are having enough protein in order to get iron, you can take additional Vitamin C to aid absorption of dietary iron, and you can find supplements based on beetroot if you are a vegetarian.

Mineral deficiencies are another common cause of hair loss. Common deficiencies are Magnesium, Zinc, Calcium, and Chromium. If you eat a varied diet that contains lots of vegetables and fruit and a protein source at two meals per day, you should be getting all the minerals you need. You may think you have a healthy diet but it could be that your stomach isn’t working properly and you are not absorbing your nutrients. If you feel bloated, with belching, flatulence, indigestion and diarrhea or constipation you can be sure things are not working and you should be heading for your Naturopath.

So, what is the best thing to do if you are experiencing significant hairloss? If you can identify an illness or traumatic event that took place two or three months ago you don’t have to do anything. Your hair will grow back. If you can’t think of any particular thing then maybe it is time to see a Naturopath to get the cause identified.

 

The skin

There are many different skin diseases and problems that range from the inconvenient and temporary to the recurrent and permanent. Let us have a look at the most common skin problems, and probably pimples and breakouts of the face would be top of the list. The first thing that needs to be done is to identify the probably cause. One of the most common problems is the breakouts that occur at period time, the hormonal pimples. These tend to be around the jaw line. To get this fixed we need to see what is happening in the menstrual cycle to assess if there is a hormonal imbalance. If one is suspected then taking some herbal medicine or some herbal medicine in tablet form will usually sort this out. A wonderful hormonal regulating herb is called Vitex Agnes Castus, its common name is Chaste Tree. This will work for simple problems but if you have a lot of pain or cramping or heavy bleeding with your periods – as well as skin outbreaks – you would do well to see a Naturopath.

In Chinese Medicine the skin is called the third kidney and the idea is when one or more of the systems of elimination are not working properly, the body has to use the skin to get rid of toxic matter, and it does this in the form of breakouts on the face, chest and back. So we have to ask what is not working. Are the lungs okay? This is one way we eliminate toxins from the body. If you are a chronic asthmatic for example, your lungs may not be able to expel adequately and may need some help. How is does your digestion work, is there bloating, flatulence, rumbling, constipation or diaorrhea? This isn’t how things are meant to be and this must be fixed.

What about the bowels? This is the most important body system of elimination. If you suffer from chronic constipation the body cannot rid itself of waste matter and what is worse, little bugs called enterotoxins move from within the bowel into the blood and secrete enterotoxic matter. This then circulates around our brains and makes us feel headachey and ill as well as causing pimples to break out on the face, back and chest. If this is what is happening to you then this must be fixed quickly. Cut out all fried food, sugary food, and junk food of any sort. Cutting out junk food applies to drinks as well as food. No soft drink, coffee, sports drinks either! Eat a diet high in fruit, vegetables, lean meat and high fibre complex carbohydrate like good quality bread and brown rice. You could also take a supplement such as Psyllium Seeds or Slippery Elm Powder, both of which are available from the Supermarket..

For healthy skin we need Zinc and Vitamins A, C, and E.

 


Nails

The state of our fingernails tells us a few interesting things about how our body is working. Like everything else in the body, our nails reflect our general state of health. If we are in poor condition due to illness or poor diet this will be reflected in our nails.


Soft cracking peeling nails

Take gelatine capsules or a teaspoon of powdered gelatine stirred in to a glass of water or juice daily. This will strengthen them up in about one month. Also take a multi vitamin and mineral supplement.


White spots on your nails

A sign of Zinc deficiency, take 25 mgs of elemental zinc.


Horizontal Ridge

A sign that you have been sick or experienced major trauma. Will grow out.


Longitudinal Ridges

Some ridging is normal with age but it can be a sign of a lack of Hydrochloric Acid in the stomach. Try drinking the juice of half a lemon in hot water each morning first thing. Some people also think this is a sign of a lack of Silica. This is readily available in health food shops.


No Moons

We should have moons visible on all of our finger nails, not just our thumbs. It is a sign of poor protein intake or metabolism to have no moons. Make sure your digestion is working and make sure you eat adequate protein. Eating meat, fish, chicken, dairy foods and eggs is the easiest way to be sure you are getting enough protein, and eating it at two meals per day, not just one. If you are a vegetarian you have to put some effort in to getting enough protein, you need to eat pulses such as dried beans and lentils at two meals per day, or other foods such as tofu, or combining foods to make good proteins. Beans and rice is an example of combined foods making a good protein, as is bread and cheese.

Just in case you are in trouble in all three areas there are products available from health food shops made by a number of different companies called “Hair, Skin and Nails”.