Natural Thyroid Treatment Methods
Graves' Disease & Hyperthyroidism
Hashimoto's & Hypothyroidism
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How Long Does It Take To Reverse Thyroid Hair Loss?

Hair loss is one of the most frustrating symptoms many of my patients with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions experience.  This is a problem with both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions, and sometimes the hair loss can be very severe.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for the patient to be most concerned about the hair loss, even if they are experiencing numerous other symptoms.  As a result, many people who experience hair loss want to know what they can do to quickly stop this, and of course get their hair to grow back.

The good news is that most cases of thyroid hair loss are reversible.  In other words, the hair loss will usually stop and eventually grow back.  The bad news is that it can take a good amount of time for this to happen.  When hair loss is a result of a thyroid hormone imbalance you would figure that the hair would stop falling out once the thyroid hormone levels have normalized.  But unfortunately this usually isn’t the case, as while everyone is different, it commonly takes a number of months after the thyroid hormones have normalized for the hair loss to stop.

This understandably can be very stressful and frustrating, as someone might have normal thyroid function tests for a few months and still be experiencing hair loss.  I receive emails all of the time from my patients asking when the hair loss will stop, and if there is anything they can take to slow it down and/or help it to grow back.  Although there are supplements which can help with some cases of hair loss, in most cases these won’t help much if the cause of the hair loss is the thyroid hormone imbalance.  In other words, if the main cause of your hair loss is the thyroid hormone fluctuations, then not surprisingly, addressing this problem is the best approach.

Other Factors Which Can Cause Hair Loss In Thyroid Patients                  

Although in most people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions the hair loss is a result of the thyroid hormone imbalance, there can be other factors which cause hair loss.  So let’s go ahead and look at some of these other causes.

Nutrient Deficiencies.  30% of women before the age of 50 have hair loss due to some type of nutritional deficiency, with depleted iron stores being the most common cause (1).  A suboptimal intake of the amino acid lysine can also be a factor (1).  Getting back to iron, in women with hair loss, a ferritin level of 70 mcg/L is recommended (2).  However, keep in mind that ferritin can elevate due to inflammation, and so one can’t rely on the ferritin alone to determine the iron status.  In addition to iron and lysine, a few studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can play a key role in hair loss (3) (4).  A biotin deficiency can also result in hair loss (5).  Many women take evening primrose oil to help with hair loss, as this has gamma linolenic acid (as does borage oil and black currant seed oil), and supposedly a deficiency of GLA can be a factor in some cases of hair loss, although I wasn’t able to find any research studies confirming this.

Other Hormone Imbalances.  In addition to having hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, other hormone imbalances can result in hair loss.  One study showed that a low estrogen to androgen ratio (ratio of estradiol to free testosterone) might be responsible for triggering hair loss in women (6).  Problems with the estrogen and progesterone receptors can also be a factor in some people (7).  High levels of androgens in postmenopause can result in hair loss (8) (9).  High levels of prolactin can also cause hair loss (10).

Stress.  There is evidence that neurohormones, neurotransmitters, and pro-inflammatory cytokines released during the stress response may also significantly influence the hair cycle (11) (12) (13).  In addition, acute emotional stress may cause alopecia areata by activating corticotropin-releasing hormone receptors around the hair follicles, leading to intense local inflammation (14).  This isn’t to suggest that most people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have hair loss due to stress, although since many people with these conditions deal with a lot of stress this shouldn’t be overlooked.  Plus, there is also the possibility that the thyroid hormone imbalance is what initially causes the hair loss in some people, but the increased anxiety and stress due to the hair loss is a contributing factor.  In other words, even when the thyroid hormone imbalance or another factor causes the hair loss, the anxiety and stress associated with the hair loss might worsen the problem in some people.

Drugs and Other Toxic Agents.  Taking certain medications can also lead to hair loss (15) (16).  This usually isn’t the reason behind hair loss in most of my patients, although during those rare cases when drugs are causing hair loss, it is almost always reversible by stopping the medication.  Many patients with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease take beta blockers such as Propranolol and Metoprolol, and these also have the potential to increase hair loss in some people (17).  I wasn’t able to find studies showing that environmental toxins such as heavy metals or xenoestrogens can cause hair loss, but it wouldn’t be shocking if these were factors.

How Can One Determine The Cause Of The Hair Loss?

If someone has been dealing with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition then there is a pretty good chance that this is what’s responsible for the hair loss.  However, there is always a chance that one or more of the other factors I discussed can be responsible for the hair loss, or at least be a contributing factor.  For example, someone could have had a nutrient deficiency or a sex hormone imbalance which directly or indirectly caused the thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition.  In this case it might be necessary to correct all of these imbalances in order to completely stop the hair loss.

Obviously one can also do some additional testing to see if someone has an imbalance of the sex hormones, test some of the nutrients (i.e. conduct an iron panel), and/or run an adrenal panel to see if someone has imbalances in cortisol and/or DHEA.  But even if someone has one or more of these other imbalances it doesn’t necessarily mean these are responsible for the hair loss.  However, if someone does have a nutrient deficiency or a hormone imbalance, even if these aren’t the causes of the hair loss it of course still would be a good idea to correct these imbalances.

Can You Just Take Some Supplements To See If It Will Help?                                   

It’s very common for people to take some supplements and see if this will help with their hair loss.  If the hair loss is due to a thyroid hormone imbalance then taking supplements probably won’t help that much.  However, taking certain nutrients such as biotin, evening primrose oil, and low doses of zinc for a month or two usually won’t cause any problems, even if someone doesn’t have a deficiency in these nutrients.  On the other hand, taking iron supplements can be problematic if someone doesn’t have an iron deficiency.

I’m fine with most patients taking some nutrients such as biotin, zinc, and a form of GLA.  But many times this won’t have much of an impact with regards to hair loss.  There is also evidence that peppermint oil can help with hair growth (18).  But in most cases, correcting the thyroid hormone imbalances and then waiting a few months for the hair to normalize is the best option, although I definitely would recommend getting an iron panel as well.  While incorporating stress management techniques might not help much, it definitely won’t hurt, and most people can benefit from improving their stress handling skills.

In summary, hair loss is very common with both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions.  Although most cases of thyroid hair loss are reversible, it can take some time for the hair loss to stop and grow back.  In addition to having a thyroid hormone imbalance, some other factors which can cause hair loss include nutrient deficiencies (i.e. iron, zinc, biotin, GLA), other hormone imbalances, stress, as well as drugs and other toxic agents.  Please feel free to share your experience with hair loss in the comment section below.


 

18 Comments

  1. Edie says:

    acupuncture has helped me to stop hair loss, and slowly have some hair recovery.

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Edie,

      Thank you for sharing this with everybody, as I’m a big fan of acupuncture, and I’m glad it helped with your hair loss.

  2. Lisa Kamins says:

    I’ve been having hair loss for years and have never had an endocrinologist take it seriously. What is the best approach? A dermatologist?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Although you can see a dermatologist, I’m not sure how much they will help. If it’s endocrine related then of course balancing the hormones is the key, but if it is related to a nutrient deficiency then most conventional medical doctors won’t help much. So it might be best to contact a natural healthcare professional.

  3. Helen K. says:

    Thanks Dr. Eric, another very good article. From my own observations it does seem that I lose my hair when my thyroid dosage changes, not necessarily if it is too high or too low. This has occurred on the Levo I was first on and now the NDT that I am on. Yes, I think it is the change in dose, not the actual dose.

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Helen,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. And thank you for sharing your experience with everyone about the change in dose causing the hair loss.

  4. Cindy says:

    My young daughter’s hair loss subsided with a change in diet…going gluten free and dairy free. We’ve tested her periodically and antibodies have normalized. My concern is that while her hair grew back, it grew in curly where it once was straight. She doesn’t like having curly hair and misses her poker straight locks. Her grandmother told us that a friend also had the same issue but after taking thyroid hormone, her hair started to grow back in straight. Have others had that experience? My daughter doesn’t appear to need thyroid hormone. I don’t want to put her on meds just to achieve straight hair. Is there anything else that can be done nutritionally? (We can spend an hour mechanically straightening her hair and that’s a bummer as is the thought of having it chemically straightened.)

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Cindy,

      I must admit that I haven’t come across anyone whose hair grew back curly after being straight upon getting into remission. And so I do agree with you about not having her take thyroid hormone medication if she doesn’t need it, and not to have her exposed to the chemicals used in mechanically straightening one’s hair. But I’m honestly not sure why this happened, or what the solution is.

    • Rashi says:

      Curly hair is better than no hair. Trust me, I’m going through server hair fall and I would trade beautiful curly hair for hair fall any day!

  5. Marelize says:

    Strange enough, my hair loss started long after diagnosis.

    I was diagnosed with hypothyriodism in 2000, Hashimoto’s in 2015. Never had problems with hair loss until end of December 2015.

    It certainly is annoying, hair everywhere (except where they should be – on my head), my shoulders and arms (summer in the south, I feel the hair all day), in my plate… After I washed them – oh my!

    Could it be that I have some deficiency due to the strict AIP I am following?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Marelize,

      Although an AIP diet is without question restrictive, it is nutrient dense, and if you were eating a variety of different vegetables then a nutrient deficiency is unlikely to happen. On the other hand, if you have been eating only a couple of different vegetables and not having much variety then it is possible that you developed a nutrient deficiency.

  6. Coleen Unger says:

    Great Article – I have notice over the past couple months my hair is thinning and does not grow.

    I have Hash’s with very high thyroid antibodies – 525. My doctor never tells me how to lower the thyroid antibodies >25.

    I do take Biotin, Lysine, Zinc, BHRT hormones but nothing seems to be helping. The only vitamin I am not taking is GLA.

    I will have to research the RDA/ODA levels and start supplementing with that.

    Can you tell me how much GLA I should be taking? My vitamin regiment is all single vitamins since I want to avoid Soy.

    I need to find a naturopathic doctor around PA-18037 that will accept medical insurance. Any suggestions.

    Thank you,
    Coleen

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Coleen,

      In most cases you would want to take at least 200 to 300mg of GLA, although some formulations have more than this.

      Unfortunately I’m not familiar with any naturopathic doctors in your area. You might want to visit the website for the Institute for Functional Medicine and perform a search for a local doctor.

  7. Dave says:

    Hi great article. It is interesting to see how well vitamins and minerals as such as Kelp and/or Folic Acid can indeed help with hair loss. Although results are not always the same, for some this approach may not work. I have noticed a few people try this approach, usually taken in the form of a good multi vitamin. They have noticed hair loss slow down, and in some cases grow back in as short a time as a month. For others the process is a little longer. Certainly for some a change in diet as Cindy mentions in a previous post, is a good approach too. As we all react differently to different things IE diet, medication etc unfortunately it really is trial and error for us as we go down the path of discovery, to find what works for our thyroid and what does not.

  8. Kevin says:

    Thanks for the article. My wife was just diagnosed with Hash a couple weeks ago. She’s also always been pretty iron-deficient. We’ve heard of a product called Thymuskin to reverse hair loss. Any use in trying this?

  9. Caroline says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have just been diagnosed with hyperthyroid and I am also hypoglycemic. I am losing mostly eyelashes and then eyebrows. The hair on my head isn’t falling out as much thank god, but I really really miss my thick eyelashes. I am supposed to get retested after taking all my b complex supplements and other vitamins, however I was wondering how long until my eyelashes start growing back? Will they grow back on their own, or can I do something to speed the process?

    Thank you!

  10. Mohsen says:

    Thanks for the article. my hair started to falling out just 3 weeks after I started to take levothyroxine and now, after 3 years it doesn’t stop while my TSH,T4 and T3 is ok for long time!
    what can I do to stop hair loss?
    does NDT help?

  11. Raymond B says:

    I took Synthroid for my thyroid problems for 4 year approx, then I felt like I didn’t need the medication so I slowly dropped down from 7 day to not talking it at all over a 2 year span. since oct 2016 I have not been taking the medication and my thyroid levels been fine I am still get them check until the end of 2017. my doctor is surprised my levels is still fine but now I have loss hair in the middle of my head and would like to know is there any way I can help my hair grow back somehow. thank you

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Get Your Free Guide Entitled
“The 6 Steps On How To Reverse Graves' Disease & Hashimoto's Through Natural Methods”
You will also receive email
updates on any future webinars
on natural thyroid health.
 

"We respect your privacy"
 
Free Webinars on
Natural Thyroid Health


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Natural Treatment Methods:
Graves Disease Treatment
Hypothyroidism Treatment
Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Natural Thyroid treatment


Conventional Treatment
Methods:
Radioactive Iodine
Thyroid Hormone