Hair, Lost and Found (Part 2)

Dear Friends,

Before we get into information overload, I just wanted to share with you the salad I made for Easter dinner. It was a hit, and such a perfect way to celebrate a spring holiday and beautiful asparagus! And guess what….it’s raw. Never thought about eating this vegetable raw before…but it’s wonderful! I got my inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, and “doctored” the recipe to my taste :)

Ribboned Asparagus Salad

2 lbs of asparagus (thicker stalks ok)
1/4 lb of parmesan cheese
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
3-4 tbs of nice olive oil
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
3-4 oz of toasted pine nuts

Wash the asparagus, no need to snap the stems.

Use a vegetable peeler, start at the base of the stalk and make ribbons of asparagus. When I got to the point where I could no longer ribbon them, I julienned the rest as I hate to waste beautiful asparagus!

I ribboned the wedge of parmesan with the peeler too.

Enjoy!

Last week we investigated causes of hair loss, and how we can look for clues to see what our body is telling us. Assuming that our diet is adequate for good hair growth, our hormones are in check, and we are managing stress like a Zen master, what else can be done to maintain and regain our hair?

We all know the power of a good hair day, long hairand I distinctly recall my niece, Ellie, getting her first big-girl haircut at age 2. She was so proud of her new look that she beamed with a confidence that seemed to transform her personality. Ellie is now a senior in high school, and though the hairstyle has evolved, she still shines with the delightful personality we first glimpsed on that day so many years ago.

Most of us also know the despair of a bad hair day that makes us want to crawl under a rock. Given the psychological impact our hair can have, it’s important to know our options.

One of the most popular hair treatments available in drug stores is Nioxin. It contains niacin (vitamin B3) which stimulates blood flow to the scalp. It also contains phospholipids, biotin and B12. It has a pleasant minty smell, and women give it good ratings for making their hair feel thicker. It seems to have a mild stimulatory effect for non-hormone related hair thinning. Another option is RevitaLash Hair Advance which contains a prostaglandin analogue and has also been shown to stimulate mild hair growth.

We’ve talked about the importance of a healthy diet in our pursuit of better hair, and supplements help fill in the gaps. Biotin has long been thought to stimulate stronger growth of hair and nails. L-arginine has also been shown to increase hair growth by stimulating nitric oxide production in the hair follicle. Proper levels of iron, zinc and copper are also important for hair growth, but beware of too much Vitamin A and selenium, which can be culprits for hair thinning.

Viviscal is a product that’s had Hollywood buzz in the past few years. It contains a trademarked marine protein complex, horsetail extract, and Vitamin C. A study done in 1992 found that young men with thinning hair who were treated for six months had a 38% increase in hair growth, compared to a 2% increase in the placebo group.

Topical medications for hair growth are minoxidil (Rogaine) and ketoconazole (Nizoral). Rogaine has been around a long time and was originally an oral medication used for high blood pressure. These patients noted impressive hair growth, so research was directed toward this use. Applied to the scalp, it seems to increase blood flow and stimulate hair growth. It is available in drug stores in 2% and 5% formulations. Nizoral is an anti-fungal shampoo that seems to have some anti-androgenic effects on the hair follicle, which appears to decrease hair loss in the case of hormonally-mediated hair loss. It is available in a 1% form in stores, while the 2% is available by prescription.

Oral medications include Propecia with inhibits the hormone known as DHT. It works well in men to prevent further hair loss, as well as encouraging new growth. It is not recommended for most women due to the potential for birth defects. Spironolactone is a medication that can be used for high blood pressure and acne treatment, and may minimize hair loss for appropriate patients.

Laser biostimulation is also a hot topic and can be delivered as a comb or cap. It uses wavelengths in the red to infrared spectrum, and seems to stimulate the follicles to go into active growth phase. The devices can be used in a provider’s office or at home, though cost may be an issue. Research does show a statistical increase in hair counts after treatment. Reduced hair loss and thicker hair was also noted by patients.

Hair transplants have come a long way from the doll-plug look of decades ago. A technique called micro-follicular transplantation has made transfer of one to two hair units possible, and the results are very natural looking. It takes about a year after surgery to get the full effect.

And what if it gets to be too much? While I’ve never heard of someone complain that they had too much hair on their head, I get plenty of patients in my office that have excessive hair growth in other, less cosmetically appealing areas. Vaniqa is one topical option. And thankfully, we can rely on laser hair removal to help manage growth and keep us smooth.

 

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