My hair loss experience post diagnosis & healing it holistically
It started about 2 months after I left hospital. I had glasses, a walking stick, a handful of disabilities, daily MS symptoms, horrendous acne from a healing crisis (after drinking too much kombucha) and thinning hair. I did wonder how one girl could suddenly be so unfortunate but after what I'd just been through in hospital this was somewhat mild, albeit a little unsettling and new to me.
I initially noticed it in the shower with 2-3 good handfuls of hair when I washed it, then more when I brushed it and even more if I styled it, with a dusting over the floor. Then it got to a point when I could see daylight through my hair and I realised there was a problem.
I was quick to blame everything. Tysabri was first (I even emailed my neurologist to ask if it was a side effect, which it isn't), then my diet - was it something I was eating? something I wasn't eating? or was it my shampoo and conditioner? even though I'd been using the same brand for years. After asking more questions, searching the web and forums and quizzing hair dressers I began to realise the elephant in the room.
When I would quiz hairdressers they all asked me if I'd had recent serious or traumatic stress in my life. After hearing it a few times I did a quick google search and found that it was actually a thing.
"Telogen effluvium is the name for temporary hair loss due to shedding of resting or telogen hair after some shock to the system." - www.dermnetnz.org
So I sat with that for a while and thought to myself - I've just spent 9 weeks in hospital where I lost the ability to walk, talk, co-ordinate my limbs, see properly, eat properly, all the strength in my body, even think properly - with a life changing diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. And now I'm out of work with a walking stick, full body freezing episodes and glasses not knowing if i'll make a full recovery. I think that warrants some telogen effluvium!
Now I'd found the potential cause I started to research things that could help me. I learnt that due to the hair growth cycle that stress induced hair loss happens months after the stressful event and it can last months until that stress is resolved. Knowing for the most part the stress of my diagnosis had been resolved and I was now on my healing journey with OMS. I knew all I needed to do was be patient and treat my hair with some TLC.
So then my attention went on all the things I could do to help it. I learnt some of the following tips from hair dressers, some from friends, and some were just common sense and intuitive. But when I committed to them and used all of these together regularly I got great results.
WHAT I DID...
- I stopped blow drying and straightening my hair to avoid more damage, I did this for at least 6 months
- I washed it less, letting the natural oils nourish it and prevent more damage
- I bought good quality volumising Kerastase shampoo and conditioner and embraced my natural wave - which made it appear thicker than it actually was
- I gave myself regular scalp massage to encourage blood flow and growth, most nights
- I brushed it regularly with a big flat hair brush to massage my scalp and encourage blood flow
- I did regular leave-in moisture treatments over night to nourish what hair I did have and the new hair growing. I used EVO Mane Attention Protein Treatment for a little while (which I loved and is chemical free), then a friend bought me the Moroccan Oil Restorative Hair Mask which is really amazing.
- I bought a natural leave-in conditioner as recommended by my hair dresser (as oils are too heavy for my fine hair) which I used after every wash. I used the brand Acure for ages and I now use Yarok - both brands I love, their heat protectors and make my hair super soft and glossy
- I continued to eat a healthy plant-based diet with good fats and seafood as per OMS, I share a lot of what I eat on my instagram - lots of fruits, smoothie bowls, veggies, good fats and raw treats.
- I continued to incorporate foods and therapies that encourage circulation like raw cacao powder, green tea and acai, contrast showers, dry body brushing and exercise.
- I continued to do daily meditations and mindfulness to manage stress an encourage healing
- I stopped lightening my hair and embraced my natural colour for a good year
- I got regular trims (about every 6-8 weeks) to make it thicker and healthier
And the most crucial thing that I think has made a huge difference
- A started taking a good quality Marine Collagen Powder daily called Vida Glow
When I was researching what foods would help with hair growth and hair health - collagen powder and bone broth came up time and time again, being the building blocks of bones, hair, skin and nails. With the added benefit of helping to heal a leaky gut and aiding in joint health. This seemed like a great all-rounder superfood to incorporate into my diet.
I started taking Vida Glow in February this year and I've been taking it daily ever since (for about 10 months), initially 3 sachets a day for a month to give my hair a good kick start. I now take 1 scoop a day (1 sachet) as a maintenance dose. Within weeks my hair was noticeably thicker with lots of new growth, I've also noticed much less breakage so it's growing stronger. I even fling it in front of Ben now showing it off, much to his amusement! I have fine hair so I really noticed it when it was thinner.
Stress induced hair loss is something that can affect anyone at any stage in their life and it's important to understand that it's the body's own survival mechanism at trying to keep you alive and healthy albeit a little balding. So supporting your body through something like this is important. It took months for me to get my hair back to health but I just kept doing all of the above, everyday, and eventually I saw results.
If your going through the same thing or your hair is lack lustre and you don't know why - I highly recommend all the above as a great holistic approach to hair health, especially a good quality collagen powder (marine if your on OMS) as it does wonders at taking your hair to the next level and getting all that new growth happening (I throw a scoop in my acai bowls every morning) and of course stress management - daily meditation and mindfulness are fantastic. You’ll also need to be patient, as always, good things take time.