Telogen effluvium is the second most common cause of hair fall in women after female pattern baldness.
Female pattern baldness is generally caused by internal factors such as genetics or a hormonal imbalance, while telogen effluvium occurs mostly due to a consequence of external factors such as stress, medication, or diet.
All of the hair on your scalp is in one of two stages: a growing or anagen stage, and a resting or telogen stage. Each strand of hair usually goes through a two or more year cycle of growth and rest before being shed, after which the process is repeated.
In a healthy human, around 90% of the hair is in the growing stage, and 10% in the telogen stage.
Telogen effluvium is a condition in which the hair prematurely enters the telogen stage and starts to shed, leading to excessive hair loss.
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Can telogen effluvium be reversed?
Yes! Unlike female pattern baldness, which cannot be reversed, telogen effluvium can be naturally reversed.
What are the symptoms of telogen effluvium?
A healthy individual sheds between 50 to 100 strands of hair a day.
However, fresh growth immediately begins in the empty hair follicle — a sac under the skin inside which the hair strand grows.
Telogen effluvium is when hair roots are pushed prematurely into the resting state, which can result in excessive shedding of the hair.
What causes telogen effluvium?
Telogen effluvium is usually caused due to the following factors:
● Emotional or physical stress
● Certain medications, i.e., thyroid, gout, blood pressure
● Hormonal changes due to pregnancy or birth control pills
● Nutritional factors such as anemia or rapid weight loss due to crash dieting
How does diet impact telogen effluvium?
Malnutrition is a direct cause of hair loss, as the body discards unnecessary functions (such as hair growth) in order to conserve energy for critical processes. This factor is becoming more common in modern times with a rise in the variety and number of fad diets that people undertake without proper medical supervision.
Anemia, especially when combined with an iron deficiency, has been shown to play a direct role in many types of hair loss, including telogen effluvium. In a study of 60 females, it was found that out of nine women who suffered from telogen effluvium, eight showed signs of iron-deficiency anemia.
To prevent hair loss, make iron-rich foods a regular part of your diet. Good sources of iron include: beans, beef, spinach, tofu, lentils, and oysters. Iron in plant foods is generally less bioavailable than iron from animal products, and Iron supplements can be helpful for some groups such as vegans and vegetarians.
What are the best vitamins for telogen effluvium?
In some cases, nutritional supplements can be helpful for easing the symptoms of telogen effluvium. The following nutrients have been scientifically determined to play an important role in hair growth.
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Millet seeds contain miliacin, a rare triterpenoid compound. Studies show that miliacin stimulates hair growth by increasing cell proliferation at the hair bulb, and thickening of the connective tissue sheath around hair follicles.
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Low levels of Zinc have been linked with hair loss and supplemental Zinc can be helpful for easing telogen effluvium when low zinc is a cause. One study that looked into patients with hair loss found that they had statistically lower zinc levels as compared to a group of healthy patients. Another study showed that 66% of alopecia areata patients who were given a daily Zinc supplement showed positive effects after three months.
Vitamin D plays an important role in cell growth and deficiency can be an underlying factor influencing telogen effluvium. Many people fall short of the recommendations for Vitamin D, especially during the winter months when endogenous Vitamin D synthesis from sunlight exposure drops dramatically.
Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, and supplemental Vitamin D is often recommended for those with low Vitamin D levels.
Ashwagandha is called the “king of herbs” in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India. Ashwagandha is also an adaptogen, meaning a class of herbs that support stress balance.
Several studies have shown that Ashwagandha supplementation can lead to significantly lower levels of cortisol, which is a hormone generated during stressful situations. Ashwagandha may therefore be helpful in combating hair loss associated with chronic stress.
The bottom line
Excessive hair loss is a common condition in women that causes great psychological distress. However, many cases of telogen effluvium are easily treatable and even reversible.
The key to preventing hair fall is to provide proper nourishment to the body, regularly monitor important markers such as thyroid and iron levels, and minimize environmental and emotional stresses.
Curious to discover which vitamins and herbs are right for your hair? Take our 5-minute consultation quiz to find out.