In this blog post I will be discussing the use of soy products as a non-medical way to possibly reduce or even stop Female Pattern Hair loss also known as genetic hair loss or Androgenic Alopecia. Female Pattern hair loss is often experienced in the over 40’s age range and the thinning is noticed at all over the head and occurs gradually.
What causes female pattern hair loss?
According to the British Association of Dermatologists “FPHL is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. The hairs produced by the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter, shorter in length and lighter in colour until eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.”
One of the main causes of both Male and Female pattern hairloss is now known to be a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a derivative of testosterone which binds to receptors in hair follicles, shrinking the follicles making it impossible for healthy hair to survive. Women have much lower levels of this than men but if female hormones decline or are imbalanced the scalp may become more sensitive to DHT. Heredity also plays a role in this type of hair loss.
This type of hair loss is not to be confused with Telogen Effluvium which is when following a period of stress, such as an operation or childbirth the hair shifts from its anagen (growing) phase or catagen (resting) phase to its shedding (telogen phase). In this instance a product such as Lamberts Florisene which is specially designed for Chronic Telogen Effluvium may be very useful. Conditions such as hypothyroidism and anaemia should be investigated by blood tests by your GP with any hair loss problem. And it should be born in mind that even sub clinical hypothyroidism and anaemia can lead to hair loss.
Assuming you know you have female pattern hair loss it makes sense to try and wage war against the DHT which may be destroying your hair follicles. Pharmaceutical companies have tried to find a compound that will block DHT as it is linked to prostate cancer and in the process found that ‘equol’ a metabolite of soy (something that is produced after eating it) binds to DHT The hair loss drug Propecia works in a similar way. Now there aren’t loads of studies on this yet and since soya is a natural product which can’t be patented there won’t be a queue of companies paying for research on this. But if you want to modify your diet in a way that will quite possibly reduce Female Pattern Hair Loss introducing more soya to your diet is a good place to start.
Another hormone that Soya Isoflavones can increase is Insulin like Growth Factor (IGF-1). Insulin like Growth Factor (IGF-1) is a type of growth hormone, studies have shown that increased levels of this can lead to hair growth. Other studies have shown that DHT inhibits hair growth by blocking IGF-1 so whether hair growth is promoted by blocking DHT alone or by increasing IGF-1 it makes sense to eat more soya since it seems to interact with two mechanisms affecting hair growth. For women over 40 this can be done by eating soya milk and soya yoghurtsand for women of menopausal age they can even take a product such as Higher Nature’s Soyagen
A few things to be aware of though:
Soybeans are a common allergen. Raw or sprouted soya beans contain substances called goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid gland activity.
Women who have or have had oestrogen-sensitive breast tumours should restrict their soya intake.
Before changing your diet, it is advisable that you speak to your GP or alternative health professional.