Published May 28 2013
One of the biggest problems in people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions is hair loss. This affects people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, as well as those with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease. And so the goal of this article is to discuss three different ways to potentially help people with these conditions who are experiencing hair loss.
1. Balance the thyroid hormone levels. Many times balancing the thyroid hormone levels will help to stop or slow down the hair loss. While the goal of a natural treatment protocol is to restore the person’s thyroid health, it does take time to accomplish this, and so it’s common for someone with a hypothyroid condition to take synthetic or natural thyroid hormone, while people with hyperthyroid conditions may choose to take antithyroid medication such as Methimazole or PTU. In either of these cases, sometimes taking the medication will help with the thyroid hair loss, while other times it won’t make much of a difference.
Either way, when hair loss is the result of an imbalance of the thyroid hormone levels, then the ultimate goal is to balance these hormones. This of course is the goal regardless of whether or not someone is experiencing hair loss. While taking medication might help with the thyroid hair loss, in an autoimmune thyroid condition such as Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, one needs to focus on improving the health of the immune system, since this is what is ultimately responsible for the thyroid hormone imbalance.
2. Correct imbalances of the sex hormones. Many people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have imbalances of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. So if someone has their thyroid hormone levels balanced and they are still losing a lot of hair, then they might want to consider obtaining a hormone panel. Estrogen dominance, which is caused by either too much estrogen, and/or a progesterone deficiency, can lead to hair loss. In the past I put together an article entitled 3 Common Causes of Estrogen Dominance.
3. Take a form of GLA. Having a deficiency in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) can also lead to hair loss. This is why a supplement such as evening primrose oil can sometimes help with hair loss. Black currant seed oil and borage oil are other types of GLA. It’s also a good idea to consume some omega-3 fatty acids as well, as this is something just about everyone can benefit from. Besides getting these by eating fish (i.e. Alaskan wild salmon or tilapia), taking a daily fish oil supplement is recommended. The reason for this is because due to the toxicity of fish you want to avoid eating more than two servings of fish per week. Although you can minimize your exposure to toxins by eating wild fish, along with fish that are smaller in size, it still is a good idea to minimize your consumption of fish.
Other Causes Of Hair Loss. In addition to the three factors I listed above which can cause or contribute to hair loss in people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, there can be other factors as well. Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to hair loss, such as biotin, zinc and iron, and selenium (1). Sometimes taking too much of a certain mineral can also lead to hair loss, as taking high doses of selenium for prolonged periods of time might cause hair loss in some people (2). I frequently recommend selenium to many of my patients with these conditions because it has so many benefits, but selenium can also be toxic if taken in high doses for a prolonged period of time.
Some people have the condition known as alopecia areata (3), which is an autoimmune disorder that can cause hair loss. It does this by attacking the hair follicles. Remember that people with one autoimmune condition are likely to develop other autoimmune conditions, and so this also is something to consider.
What Approach Should You Initially Take For Hair Loss?
So what should you do if you have Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and are experiencing hair loss? Well, the first thing you should do is to work with an endocrinologist, natural healthcare professional, or both to help balance the thyroid hormone levels. Obviously most endocrinologists will try to accomplish this through medication, while many natural healthcare professionals will try to restore the thyroid health naturally. Either way, if balancing the thyroid hormone levels doesn’t help then it probably would be a good idea to evaluate the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
However, since it can be costly to obtain a hormone panel in some people, before someone chooses to do this, another option is to “experiment” by taking some GLA. As a result, some people who are experiencing hair loss will choose to take Evening Primrose oil or a different type of GLA. If this helps with the hair loss then that’s great, and if not then the person can move onto the hormone testing. Let’s not forget that having mineral imbalances can also cause hair loss, and so any mineral deficiencies should be corrected.
In summary, thyroid hair loss is common in people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. However, the hair loss isn’t always caused by the imbalance of the thyroid hormone levels, as other factors can cause hair loss to occur as well. And so those people with these conditions will want to look at the three causes I discussed in this article, as they very well might be the cause of hair loss in people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions.