Hair is a non-living tissue.
Each hair on your body grows from a hair follicle, a tiny, saclike hole in your skin. At the bottom of each follicle is a cluster of special cells that reproduce to make new hair cells. The new cells that are produced are added on at the root of the hair, causing the hair to grow longer.
The living tissue that makes your hair grow is hidden inside the hair follicle. The shaft, the part of a hair that you see, is made of cells that aren’t living anymore.
Each hair shaft is made up of two or three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and sometimes the medulla. The cuticle is the outermost layer. Made of flattened cells that overlap like the tiles on a terra-cotta roof, the cuticle protects the inside of the hair shaft from damage. Cells in the hair follicle regularly produce the keratin and other proteins that become incorporated into the hair shaft. Coloration comes from melanocytes which produce the brown pigment melanin.
To feel the cuticle, just pinch a single long hair between your fingers starting up near the root. Pull the hair between your fingers and feel how slick and smooth it is. As you move from root to tip, you’re running your fingers in the same direction as the cuticle layers. Now start at the tip of the hair. In this direction, the hair may feel rougher; it may squeak as it passes between your fingers. You’re running your fingers against the grain, and you’re bumping into the edges of all those flattened cuticle cells.
It’s handy to know how different conditions affect this protective layer on the outside of each hair. Chemists talk about solutions that are acidic (like vinegar or lemon juice) and ones that are alkaline (like a mixture of water and baking soda). In an acid solution, the cuticle cells shrink and harden. In an alkaline solution, the cuticle cells swell up and soften.
Just to confirm the response of the cuticle to acidic and alkaline solutions, I tried soaking one strand of hair in water and lemon juice and another in water and baking soda. I rinsed both strands carefully. When they dried, the hair from the lemon juice bath felt smoother and looked shinier. (Another triumph for scientific understanding.)
Underneath the cuticle is the cortex, which is made up of long proteins that twist like the curly cord on a telephone. Try stretching a hair, and you’ll find that it’s elastic—it stretches before it breaks. When you stretch a hair, you are straightening the coiled proteins in the cortex. When you release the hair, the proteins coil up again. The pigments that give your hair its natural color are tucked among these protein strands and protected from the elements by the translucent layer of cuticle cells.
When you get split ends, you see the cortex at its worst. You’ve worn away the protective cuticle on the tips of your hairs with harsh treatment like hard brushing or too much sun and water. Without the cuticle, the fibers of the cortex fray like the strands of a rope. Since the cortex can’t heal itself, the only way to get rid of split ends is to cut them off.
To fill the gaps between the protective cuticle cells and to keep your hair shiny and flexible, glands adjacent to the hair follicle produce a kind of natural hair conditioner called sebum. Unfortunately, that sebum, which is an oil, also makes dirt stick to your hair. When you shampoo your hair, you wash away this protective oil and the dirt that clings to it.
In the center of some hairs is the medulla, a soft, spongy mass of tissue. Coarse hair generally has this layer, while fine hair usually doesn’t. The presence or absence of a medulla doesn’t have much to do with how your hair behaves when you wash or color or curl it, however, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Hair Loss and Its Causes
Normal cycle of hair growth and loss
At any given time, approximately 90% of the hair on the scalp grows, while the rest (~10 %) stays in a resting phase. The hair in growing phase can last for 2-6 years, while the hair in the resting phase will fall out replaced by new hair that starts to grow. During the growth phase, each hair may grow about half an inch per month on the average. Shedding a few hairs daily is, therefore, a normal event in light of the hair cycle. However, an excessive, more than normal hair loss may occur to some people. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. The most common type of hair loss is “androgenetic alopecia” or pattern baldness, which is permanent, typically hereditary, and most popular: about 95 percent of hair loss from the scalp is attributed to genetic factors.
What could be the causes of excessive hair loss and baldness? Drastic or premature hair loss may be caused by:
Stress and bodily weakness from overwork.
Dietary imbalance or nutritional deficiency.
Using abrasive shampoos, hair lacquers, dyes and bleaching, etc. Improper care of hair often causes hair loss.
Endocrine disorder. Hair loss may be caused by hormonal problems. For example, the overactive or underactive thyroid gland may cause hair fall out, which could be corrected by the restoration of the normal thyroid function. Hair loss may also occur in case male, or female hormones (androgens and estrogens) are out of balance. Restoring the hormonal imbalance could halt hair loss.
Genetic factors and aging. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is formed from testosterone as man age, and elevated level of DHT is a cause for both prostate enlargement (BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy) and hair loss. The age of the onset of hair loss and baldness is mainly governed by genes and varies greatly among individuals.
Infectious diseases and excessive stress. Hair loss caused by illness or stress is temporary. Certain fungal infection may cause children’s hair to fall out, which can be treated by antifungal agents. Hair loss may occur due to underlying diseases such as lupus or diabetes. Hair loss may serve as an early indication of a disease. It is important to find the causative disease so that it can be treated.
Hormonal or metabolic changes in lactating women. Many women experience hair loss about three months after parturition as a result of hormonal changes. The normal cycle of hair growth and loss resumes with the regain of hormonal balance.
Nutrient and protein deficiencies in the hair cells.
Use of certain drugs and chemotherapy. Some medicines may cause hair loss, which can be corrected by stop taking the medicines. Medicines that can cause hair loss include blood thinners (a.k.a. anticoagulants), medicines used for chemotherapy to treat cancer, an excessive amount of vitamin A, birth control pills, and antidepressants.
Baldness is difficult to cure. However, treatments are available for hair thinning and hair loss problems to help promote hair growth and ward off hair thinning. For some temporary types of alopecia, hair growth often resumes spontaneously.
The effectiveness of medications to treat hair thinning and hair loss varies significantly among individuals depending on the cause and severity of alopecia. No supplement or prescription drug works with 100% success rate. Traditional herbal medicines have been in use for a long time, and have been anecdotally proven to work with varying results depending on the response of the individual. “Anecdotal” observation of efficacy and safety are based on large population and over the long period. However, these anecdotal convictions are not accepted as objective data. They remain to be tested by scientifically controlled clinical trials under the guidance of authorities, which requires a large sum of money. Herbs and nutrients are not the attractive candidates for investment because they are not patentable, thus not as potentially profitable as chemically unique synthetic drugs that can be patented. This is why the herbal treatment is regarded as dubious quackery. However, outside of the US, herbal treatments have been respected and broadly practiced for centuries, in Asia and Europe and other continents.
There are a few drugs currently approved by the FDA for treatment of alopecia.
Minoxidil is sold in the brand name Rogaine, an over-the-counter drug, which is approved for the treatment of hair loss. Rogaine is a liquid, 2% or 5% solution of minoxidil, and rubbed on scalp twice a day for several months. 20-30% of the users experience varying degrees of hair regrowth. The slower rate of hair loss is observed in more than 40% of the users. The use of minoxidil often results in thinner and lighter hair than original, sometimes resembling baby hair. Side effects including a headache, diarrhea, dryness, and irritation of the scalp may occur. The growth of new hair ceases soon after the discontinuation of the use of minoxidil.
Finasteride is a prescription drug marketed under brand names Propecia and Proscar, which purport to treat male pattern baldness, and are taken orally in pill form for several months up to a year for visible positive effects. Like minoxidil, the success rate is modest and limited: some people taking finasteride experience a slowing of hair loss and new hair growth. Like minoxidil, the hair growth effect ceases with the discontinuation of Finasteride. Finasteride works by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase that the converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that shrinks hair follicles and is an important factor in male hair loss. Saw palmetto berry extract does the same, with little side effects. Side effects of finasteride include reduced libido and sexual function. Finasteride has neither been shown to be effective for women nor is approved for use by women of childbearing age.
Hair Restoration: hair growth drugs and hair transplantation
Besides traditional herbal supplements/nutritional hair care, Minoxidil, Finasteride, there are some other treatments for alopecia.
Anthralin is a synthetic drug for psoriasis, sold as Drithocreme, or Micanol in the market. It is available as either cream or an ointment and applied to the scalp daily. Although its typical use is for psoriasis, it may be prescribed to treat mild hair loss conditions.
Cortisone or Cortone is injected or taken as pills. Injections of cortisone into the scalp can be used to treat alopecia areata. Treatment is usually repeated monthly and generally involves only mild discomfort during the injections. Cortisone pills are sometimes prescribed for extensive hair loss due to alopecia areata.
Hair transplants and scalp reduction surgery (scalp lifting) are available to treat androgenetic alopecia. Hair transplantation is performed by a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon and involves taking a tiny patch of skin containing one to a few hair roots from the side or back of the scalp, and embedding it to a bald area on the scalp. This operation is repeated some times. Scalp reduction, on the other hand, aims to reduce the bald area in the scalp by surgically removing and closing the skin. In general, surgical treatment of baldness is not only expensive and painful but also accompany occasional side effects, such as headaches and infection.
Finally, if all these methods do not work, then wigs and hairpieces are the options. Some folks even prefer to have a bald head. “Baldness by choice” could be the ultimate answer to those who are genetically prone to lose hair.
Is alopecia just an issue of appearance?
Hair Loss and Other Health Problems
There are research reports (Miric D. et al. 1998, Schnor P. et al., 1995, Lesko S.M. et al., 1993) correlating early onset of hair loss, gray hair, and baldness to a higher risk of myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and heart attack. Studies also suggest a link between alopecia and shortened life span. However, there is no evidence that hair loss and baldness is a direct cause of such diseases. Rather, the correlation may indicate a presence of the genetic predisposition and environmental factors that cause both early hair loss and increase the chance of heart diseases. Please note that these researches are only suggestive, and not yet conclusive.
Hair loss may also be an indication of underlying physiological or medical conditions. Hyperthyroidism as well as hypothyroidism has a well-documented linkage to alopecia areata (Schmidt J.B.). Interestingly, thyroid hormone receptor is expressed in the human hair follicle.
Individuals infected with HIV or AIDS patients may experience severe hair loss mainly due to weakened immune system. HIV/AIDS-related hair disorders include alopecia areata, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, telogen effluvium, and trichomegaly (lengthening of eyelashes). Some of the hair disorders may be caused by drugs used for HIV/AIDS treatment.
Patients with lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease, may develop rashes or plaques on their skin, tend to develop telogen effluvium also, and over 50% of these cases accompany alopecia areata.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy used against cancer weaken immune system significantly and may lead to severe hair loss. Since chemotherapies are targetting to kill dividing cells as most cancer cells are in dividing phase, dividing hair follicle cells are also killed. Hair growth is expected to resume after stopping to use these therapies, but it is not guaranteed, and in fact, many patients keep losing the hair after the therapy.
Drugs such as bleomycin, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, doxorubicin, methotrexate, mitomycin, vinblastine, and vincristine may cause hair loss as a side effect. There are a variety of other medicines and supplements that may cause hair loss.
Some women with excessive androgen level may develop male pattern baldness and hirsutism as well as adult acne, diabetes, infertility, or obesity.
Use of vaccines such as hepatitis B vaccine often accompanies a hair loss as a side effect. About 25% of those with severe hair loss caused by hepatitis vaccination could never regrow their hair.
Alopecia treatment info.
ASAMI serum is a healthy and safe natural and unique formula that promotes hair restoration.
Seeing is believing.
The biology of hair growth and control is highly complex and requires a lot of scientific work and time before it is fully understood. Safe and fully effective medicine for hair growth may only emerge after this barrier has been overcome. As a safe, natural alternative, Hair Million is a healthy and nutritious herbal formula that helps to ward off hair loss and promote hair growth.
When people reach their thirties, regardless of their sex, signs of aging begin to show on their scalp, with receding hairline, thinning hair, and especially in the crawl area. From the first hint of hair loss to complete baldness can take a long time, but it can also happen in just a few years.
THE HAIR CYCLE
The normal life span for each hair is from three to six years. Each hair grows in a hair cycle that can be divided into three stages: the growing stage (Anacin) lasting from two to six years, the partial degeneration stage (Catalan) lasting between 10 and 14 days, and finally the resting phase (Telogen) during which time the hair is shed, and there is an involution of the hair follicles lasting about one hundred days.
THE CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
Drastic or premature hair loss may be caused by:
1. Stress and bodily weakness from overwork.
2. Dietary imbalance or nutritional deficiency.
3. Using abrasive shampoos, hair lacquers, dyes, and bleaching, etc.
4. Endocrine disorder.
5. Genetic factors.
6. Infectious diseases.
7. Hormonal, metabolic changes in lactating women.
8. Nutrient and protein deficiencies in the hair cells.
ASAMI is an effective natural formula that provides the vital nutrients your hair follicles need, restoring your hair’s natural balance and health, and rejuvenate your hair. It improves microcirculation in the follicles, stimulates the growth and metabolism of hair cells and increases production of tyrosinase which produces hair pigment. ASAMI is 100% natural and consists of only premium natural herbs such as Angelica Sinensis Radix, Poriae Cocos, Bupleuri Radix, and others.
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ASAMI serum contains active ingredients to help:
- 1. Increase the oxygen uptake of the capillary blood in the hair follicles.
- 2. Dying hair follicles recover and reduce further hair loss.
- 3. Stimulate club hairs in the Telogen phase to grow into normal hairs in the Anagen phase.
- 4. Protect hairs from damages by neutralizing the free radicals caused by various bleaching, perming, and excessive shampooing.
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Specification of Asami hair growth serum
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Reduction in hair loss and hair re-growth becomes evident within 1-2 months, and 3-6 months, respectively, after taking this formula.
- 1. Stops further hair loss within 1-2 months.
- 2. Hair re-growth within 3-6 months.
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- 6. Wards off thinning of hair.
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