Common Problems, Simple Solutions: Tackling Hair Loss and Other Frustrating Symptoms without Medication
May 06, 2014 02:31AM
By Susanne Saltzman, MD
As a general practitioner for more than 20 years, I’ve treated women with a myriad of problems. One of the most common—and often easiest to cure—is hair loss. Although many menopausal women complain of thinning hair, younger women can suffer from this problem as well.
The power of protein
When treating hair loss, it’s important to correct any thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis. (Yes, Hashimoto’s can be cured, as evidenced by my own case and those of many of my patients.) Once thyroid disorders are ruled out, I’ve found that one of the most common causes of hair loss in women is protein deficiency. I’m not talking about serious protein deficiency diseases such as marasmus or Kwashiokor’s, often seen in children in developing countries, but subtler forms of protein deficiency in otherwise healthy individuals who are simply not getting enough animal foods in the diet.
I’ve found countless times that when a woman eats good-quality protein at every meal, her hair stops falling out (again, assuming any thyroid problems are corrected) and will even grow back. Good-quality protein includes grass-fed and organic beef, venison, buffalo, wild salmon and free-range chicken and eggs. Women should eat at least 3 to 5 ounces from a number of the above sources per meal, every day. In fact, I’ve found that eating a certain amount of red meat every week is often the key to healthy regrowth of hair.
Many other women come to me with various degenerative bone disorders and osteoporosis, which are often exacerbated by protein deficiency. Bone is living tissue composed of protein (collagen) and minerals (hydroxyapatite). Taking calcium supplements is not sufficient if a woman’s diet lacks quality protein, an important part of bone matrix.
Balancing blood sugar
Because I also emphasize prevention in my practice, another condition I watch for is prediabetes. I have an HgA1C done on most adults (measuring the average blood sugar level for the past three months), and that number is often too high, as is high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker (since elevated blood sugar increases inflammation throughout the body). Although most physicians accept an HgA1C of 5.7 and below as normal (with 5.7-6.3 showing an increased risk of diabetes), I prefer an HgA1C of less than 5.4, ideally 5.0-5.2, because often in someone with an HgA1C over 5.4, that number creeps up over the years into the prediabetic range.
The cause of elevated blood sugar is usually a diet too high in carbohydrates; even too much fruit, whole grains and legumes will elevate blood sugar in many people. For these carbohydrate-sensitive individuals, I recommend a diet emphasizing protein (the animal foods listed above), good-quality fats (such as cooking with coconut oil, using olive oil on salads, eating avocados and raw nuts and seeds), and lots of vegetables (raw greens, lightly steamed cruciferous vegetables, etc.). Women and men will often lose body fat within a few months on such a diet. Their blood sugar will stabilize, too, although some people with a strong diabetes tendency (and usually a notable family history) will need supplements to help lessen insulin resistance (a forerunner to diabetes).
The facts about fat
I also check body fat on many patients, since excess fat releases inflammatory substances that increase our risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Usually women and men will feel much better when their body fat is less than 30 percent and 25 percent, respectively. For my overweight and obese patients, I use a fat-loss program that is highly effective for decreasing cravings, lowering blood pressure, stabilizing blood sugar and bringing cholesterol into healthy ranges, often without medications.
Of course, exercising and reducing stress (remember, we are human beings, not human doings!) are also important to overall health.
Homeopathy for the whole person
I find that homeopathic medicine is a powerful way to heal many chronic diseases, since it can reach deeply into the psyche and alleviate fears, worries and anxieties, as well as old, unconscious traumas that often contribute to chronic disease. Homeopathy is an extremely effective holistic medicine that treats the whole person. In homeopathy, it’s understood that someone’s mental and emotional states are just as important as his or her physical symptoms in the selection of the correct constitutional remedy.
As with most diseases, the way to a cure is often simple and does not require complicated, expensive tests and a myriad of supplements. Our bodies will perform magnificently if we just give them proper nutrition and care, and if we use remedies designed by nature to promote healing.
Susanne Saltzman, MD, has a family practice emphasizing homeopathy and functional medicine. Her office is located at 250 E. Hartsdale Ave. Ste. 22, Hartsdale, NY. For more info, call 914-472-0666 or visit HartsdaleHomeopathy.com. See ads, page 10 & 29.