mhn news & blog

September 02, 2012

Eating Disorders and Hair Loss

There are approximately eight million people with eating disorders in the U.S. One of every eight sufferers is male. The two diseases frequently occur in males and females between ages 9 and 45, and either gender can experience hair loss resulting from undernourishment.


What Happens to Hungry Hair

During the anagen, or hair’s growth phase, shafts are weakened by starvation. Not only is hair deprived of its usual nutrients, but also suffers from the insufficient workings of other malnourished body systems. An eating disorder is especially hard on our nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems, blood, and kidneys.

When the body is in crisis, hair is low on the priority list to receive the scant nutrients available. We may not like how we look without hair, but we can live without it and our wise body is on to this. Any protein manufactured will be used to maintain life, not to strengthen hair keratin, an essential protein in hair

When the body is undernourished, hair shafts do not bother with the catagen or transition phase of their growth cycle. They skip to the resting telogen phase, where hair is shed so new hair can grow, except there are not enough nutrients to create new hair; the result is much shedding without replacement.

Eating Disorders

Although eating disorders can appear to be a willful behavior leading to starvation, people with this disease are not psychologically able to stop the behavior, even if they desperately want to. It is thought these disorders develop when people compensate for psychological and emotional overwhelm by controlling their intake of food.

Those with eating disorders typically have a distorted view of their body. They may appear overweight to themselves while others look at them and gasp in horror at their skeletal appearance. Most sufferers require professional help to recover from their eating disorder.

Hair Recovery

Once a person has recovered from the disease and is getting proper nutrition, their hair will grow back. It takes about six to twelve months to regain all that was lost. Some people report supplements and vitamins are helpful for healthier hair re-growth such as biotin, chlorella, spirulina, and Chinese herbs.  Low Level Laser Therapy can aid in stimulating the hair follicles to grow stronger and healthier hair.  Laser Therapy may also assist in decreasing hair shedding.  You can also try massaging the scalp with essential oils is recommended because it stimulates the sleepy follicles and gets more blood with oxygen and nutrients to the hair. Consult with your doctor before starting a treatment or supplement regimen.