Overcoming Stress-Induced Hair Loss With Aromatherapy
The average person loses 100 hairs a day, which the body replaces with new growth.
Unfortunately for some people, their hair doesn’t grow back and they continue to shed strands at a much greater rate.
There is a general acceptance that hair loss is largely a hereditary issue, especially in men and women who suffer from pattern baldness.
However, it’s not always as clear cut as pointing to a specific gene and in many cases both sexes lose hair naturally due to stress. This is commonly known as stress induced hair loss.
The effect of stress on the hair
Traumatic events are known to interfere with the normal hair growth cycle, and this can eventually lead to stress induced hair loss. This condition is called Telogen Effluvium and the good news is that it’s entirely reversible once stress levels are reduced. However, it’s important to note that this is the result of physiological stress, opposed to emotional.
By physiological stress we mean diet, medical or lifestyle changes. Nevertheless, emotional stress can lead to physiological stress due to the symptoms we develop when under pressure, such as stopping exercise or overeating.
A common time women develop Telogen Effluvium is after pregnancy, due to the stress childbirth places on both the body and mind. Add into the mix disrupted sleep and eating patterns, and there is a perfect storm of stress-induced hair loss triggers.
Combating stress-related hair loss
To treat stress-induced hair loss, the main strategy has to be removing the source of stress. Whether this is correcting a change in diet, tackling an illness, stabilising weight or getting more sleep, once stability has been restored it is likely that hair will begin to grow again.
Thankfully, there are a few things that can be done to help along the way. Aromatherapy can be used in two ways to help with the condition: to reduce feelings of emotional stress and to stimulate hair growth.
If the reason you are exhibiting physiological stress symptoms is due to the emotional pressures in your life, using stress and anxiety-busting essential oils to calm the mind is obviously a good place to start you on the path to recovery.
Inhaling essential oils is an effective stress-busting technique and research has proven that the composition of many oils have powerful effects on the mind. For example, linaloe wood, lavender and sweet basil essential oils contain a chemical constituent known as linalool, which soothes emotional stress. Scientists from Japan, led by Akio Nakamura, found that the constituent can return neutrophil and lymphocytes levels back to normal. These are key indicators of stress.
To help reduce stress levels and restore mental well being, add eight drops of either linaloe wood, lavender or sweet basil essential oil to a warm bath. Relax for up to 15 minutes, and use some soothing music and candles to help you wind down. Don’t forget to agitate the water to ensure the oil is evenly dispersed before getting in the bath.
To treat hair loss directly, thyme white and cedarwood atlas are two essential oils that have been proven to stimulate hair regrowth. Blend four or five drops of either essential oil with 10ml of a carrier oil and apply directly to the scalp. Some of the best carrier oils for this purpose are arnica, calendula, black seed, borage, coconut, evening primrose, jojoba and macadamia, as these contain nutrients and conditioning properties.
Cedarwood atlas essential oil is also a good oil for helping to combat stress, which means it provides dual benefits when used as part of regular treatments. Read another of my articles to find more essential oils to reverse hair loss.
Preventing hair loss
While some scenarios in life can’t be avoided, prevention remains better than the cure, so it’s important to live the sort of lifestyle that limits the risk of stress-related hair loss. This means supporting health and wellbeing by maintaining a regular, healthy weight, eating the right foods and engaging in plenty of exercise. A regular sleep schedule should also be maintained as much as possible. These things combined should limit the sort of fluctuations that cause physiological stress.
It’s even more important that these patterns are upheld during times of emotional strife to give your body the foundation it needs to get you through the difficult time. It can be hard to maintain normal practices when life gets hard, but only by doing this will you be able to stave off melancholy/depression/anxiety and the physiological symptoms these emotions create.
Practicing elements of cognitive behavioural therapy, such as mindfulness, can also help prevent hair loss by limiting the power of stress. Mindfulness focuses the mind on the present moment, preventing rumination and, often, anxious predictions.
Keep at it
There’s no quick fix to stress induced hair loss and change will only happen over time. The most important thing is to remain positive and keep at it until you begin to see the results.
Make a commitment to changing your lifestyle for the better, massaging the scalp with essential oils, and improving your diet. After a while this will yield some positive results.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2014. Written by Sue Charles