“Why is my hair falling out?” — We have all wondered at some point in our lives.
When the body whispers, it is easier to turn a deaf ear to whatever she is trying to say.
It might be indigestion. A headache. A bad night’s sleep. Snapping at your partner for no reason. Or something as seemingly trivial as chocolate cravings during your period.
We say to ourselves, those are not relevant signs. So, we ignore them. And keep going.
But, eventually, the body stops whispering and starts demanding your attention now by screaming really loud.
You might notice it with chronic constipation.
Or with hair loss. (Which can be devastating. I know. I’ve been there myself.)
This guide is the Ayurvedic approach to reversing your hair’s damage, stopping the shedding naturally, and helping you feel beautiful and confident again.
Let’s dive in.
Modern medicine on hair loss
Hair loss, also called alopecia, happens when new hair doesn’t replace the hair that falls out. Modern medicine attributes this to many factors, including:
- Hereditary causes
- Hairstyle — like pulling on your scalp
- Improper hair care
- Scalp infections
- Hormonal imbalance
- Thyroid disease
- Not getting enough protein, iron, or zinc
Each follicle has a life cycle that can be influenced by these causes.
This life cycle has the following phases:
Anagen: active hair growth that generally lasts between 2 and 8 years.
Catagen: A short transition phase of hair growth that lasts between 10 and 20 days.
Telogen: Or the rest stage. At the end of this 3 to 4 month phase, some of your hair falls out.
1. As people age, their rate of hair growth slows. Ayurveda agrees with this statement.
With age, we become more vata which is typically synonymous with deterioration of quality and quantity of tissues, hair included. Likewise, pitta dosha can burn the body tissues due to recurrent inflammation and irritation.
However, aging is predetermined by our dietary and lifestyle habits, our emotional and mental state, our relationships, and environmental factors.
2. Losing about 100 hairs a day is normal. Furthermore, when the hair that falls is long, it can also mean that it already completed its full life cycle. Chances of replacement are high in this scenery.
Types of alopecia
If you are dealing with hair loss, the first step is to recognize what type of condition it is.
- Involutional alopecia — It occurs naturally with age. This is a condition that shortens the growth phase of your hair follicles and forces them into the resting phase faster than usual.
- Androgenic alopecia — In this case, hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples. It can affect both men and women. Women with this condition don’t have noticeable thinning until their 40s or later. They experience a general thinning over the entire scalp, with the most extensive hair loss at the crown.
- Alopecia areata — This is the sudden and unpredictable patchy hair loss on the scalp due to an autoimmune disorder.
- Telogen effluvium — The temporary hair thinning over the scalp that occurs because numerous hairs enter the resting phase at the same time, causing hair shedding and subsequent thinning.
- Scarring alopecia — Inflammatory skin conditions like acne, and other skin disorders, such as some forms of lupus, often result in scars that destroy the ability of the hair follicle to regenerate.
- Traction alopecia. Hot combs and hair too tightly woven and pulled can also result in hair loss.
Medications for hair loss
The most common chemical options include Minoxidil (Rogaine). Topical versions of this product come in liquid, foam, or shampoo form, which you can get easily get over the counter. Oral minoxidil, however, requires a prescription. Then we have Finasteride, a hair loss drug for men. Other medications are spironolactone and oral dutasteride.
Topical minoxidil might be the less scary alternative for women. I mean, with this one at least you don’t get to see other potential negative implications, including hair growth in unintended parts of your body, like your face.
But, still you pay for it in some way or another, as it can cause scalp irritation and severe anxiety and depression — We should expect that feeding our brain literally with chemicals can have a mental and emotional outcome. Further, finasteride comes with several side effects, the worst being persistent erectile dysfunction for men, which can be irreversible if taken for too long.
An ayurvedic — more intuitive — approach
Ayurveda tells us that vata, pitta, and kapha doshas can all be responsible for hair loss.
Vata causes the falling of hair, pitta’s excess heat can weaken the roots, and kapha can block the orifices of the hair follicles, which in turn, can restrict the growth of new hair. Our dominant dosha dictates what is the most impactful cause and helps us determine the best course of treatment for each.
The status of our hair is a mirror of the healthy state of our body.
Although alopecia is not life-threatening, it can definitely affect the core of our being with heightened self-consciousness, low self-steem, and reduced self-confidence. Seeing our hair is uncontrollably falling creates fear and stress, and yes, vata dosha aggravation if that is our default emotional state.
Ancient Ayurvedic scripts do refer to hair loss.
First, they discuss khalitya alopecia or gradual hair loss that occurs when pitta combines with vata or kapha dosha to destroy the hair.
Second, they talk about indralupta or the sudden, patchy hair loss pattern. Indralupta happens when kapha dosha combines with rakta dhatu, or the blood stream, which results in degeneration and shutting down completely of hair follicles, thus leading to baldness.
What I love about Ayurveda is that it attempts to get to the root of the problem. And while it doesn’t promise a speedy change, progressive improvements are what make the healing process real, genuine, and attainable. With obviously no side effects because it’s all done through natural, organic strategies.
If you are interested in learning more about the efficacy of Ayurveda for mitigating the damage and helping hair regrow, take a look at this preliminary study.
Why is my hair falling?
People with pitta Prakruti have an inherent tendency for baldness and premature graying. Yet, as we have seen, all doshas can have a hand in alopecia.
Other reasons for hair loss Ayurveda mentions are the following:
- Smoking or exposure to smoke
- Too much sunlight
- Sadness and suffering
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- The habit of always looking downwards
- Water sports
- Excessive sweating
- Talking a lot
- Eating immoderate amounts of salt, vinegar, pickles, and spicy meals
- Bad temper
- Excessive combing
- Toxic hair care
These elements, when repeated throughout our lives, can aggravate the doshas and produce diseases in the head, as well as khalitya, which is in that same place of manifestation.
Reversing the damage (by dosha)
This is how to bring balance to the vitiated doshas and start your hair healing journey.
Vata dosha can be aggravated by pollution, constant stress, overworking, and over worrying. In response, hair becomes weak and brittle, and the scalp excessively dry; therefore, hair starts falling out.
Malabsorption of nutrients is a problem too. Movement and transportation are tasks governed by Vata, and so, if it is vitiated, our hair can’t absorb the nourishment we are trying to offer, even if our diet is healthy.
For Vata, protein is also an important factor to consider.
Sometimes, eating animal protein when we are deeply vata aggravated can be necessary to gain the strength we are lacking.
In fact, a vegan or vegetarian diet that is deficient in iron, B12, biotin, and zinc, which can all be naturally provided by animal-based protein sources, can be extremely damaging for our hair.
Of course, you can always supplement your diet with these components.
But it is good to bear in mind that an alternative is adding organic meat to your diet in small amounts, well cooked with spices, to reduce the vata aggravation —and hair loss.
Further, follow a Vata pacifying diet and vata workout strategies.
- Massage your hair with warm almond or olive oil at least twice a week.
- Gently, brush your hair with a wooden comb at night to stimulate hair growth.
- Do basti or enemas with medicated oils to expel vata dosha from the large intestine, in conjunction with a panchakarma cleanse.
- Avoid hot water when washing your hair.
- Get adequate, good quality sleep.
The fire element in pitta makes the hair thin and oily, prompting it to slide away from its hair follicle. Pitta can also cannibalize the tissues of the body.
Balancing the internal fire starts with cultivating peaceful emotions. Journal and reflect if bad temper or impatience have been consistently part of your days. Admitting they have is the first step to pacify the flames.
Calm your inner fire by connecting more with nature, avoiding multitasking, and balancing the heart chakra.
A proper anti-pitta diet and workout routine are essential too.
- Use coconut oil to cool your head and nourish your hair. Massage your scalp gently, in a beautiful and calm environment 2–3 times per week. Soft music, sweet essences like lavender or sandalwood, and vanilla candles can create the vibe you need for a deeply relaxing and healing massage.
- As the nose is considered the direct route to the brain, do nasya with skullcap oil, which is grounding and soothing. Simply place 3–5 drops of the oil in each nostril, sniff in, and massage the inner walls of the nasal passage.
- Apply fresh aloe vera on your scalp to reduce redness, itching, and fire.
- Repeat love affirmations like “I am well”.
Kapha dosha individuals typically have beautiful, lustrous hair.
Yet, sometimes, deranged kapha and vayu (wind) cause minute fissures on the scalp, dryness, and itching, which eventually results in hair loss.
Excess kapha can also produce clogged hair follicles and an oily scalp, so make sure to follow a kapha pacifying diet and fitness routine.
- Add leafy green to your meals.
- Strengthen your digestion and boost your metabolism with plenty of spices.
- Use shikakai to cleanse your hair to naturally remove the excess oil from the scalp.
- Do a hair mask with fenugreek oil once a week.
Hair loss damage can be reversed with Ayurveda, for most cases. It just takes commitment and perseverance, and a whole lot of self-love.