This blog post is quite a sensitive one for me. Hair loss was something that I suffered in silence with for several months until I was finally diagnosed with PCOS and dedicated everything I could to healing myself naturally.As I have mentioned many times before, the main physical symptom that I faced after coming off the pill (and not having been diagnosed with PCOS yet) was the horrible cystic acne I suffered - It was so bad that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror, let alone go out in public - which is not ideal when you run your own businesses and model!But another physical symptom that I haven’t really touched on yet was the crazy hair loss.I am going to start off by saying, my hair is a BIG part of who I am.It’s a thick, wavy, dark blonde mane that I love!My hair has always been an asset of mine and all through my modelling career, hairstylists would comment on how thick and healthy it was! YUSSSS!
Apart from how it looked, my hair was also my security blanket. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true! (I’m sure some of you ladies can relate?!?).It became particularly important to me when my skin started to break out (after coming off the pill), and I would use my hair as a distraction to take the focus away from the ugly blemishes on my face (it was also easy to style, to hide the acne on my neck and back.That was until my hair started falling out, and I’m talking by the handful.Two months after I had come off the pill, I remember standing in the shower washing my hair and just seeing clumps of hair falling out. I was DEVASTATED.
I spent the next six months trying to hide my hair loss, so between that and the acne, I felt so hideous it sent me into a deep hole of anxiety and sadness.The moment I was diagnosed with PCOS, I made a decision that I didn’t want to take any more synthetic hormones or prescription medications.I wanted to listen to what my body was trying to tell me and start healing it from the inside so that it could heal on the outside.I wanted to write this blog post to help raise awareness about this symptom of PCOS, as I think a lot of women don’t even know that PCOS can cause hair loss, but also to share how I managed to stop and reverse my hair loss… NATURALLY!Experts suggest that HALF of all women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) go undiagnosed, yet this condition can contribute to a range of symptoms, one of the most distressing of which is hair loss.As you may be aware, PCOS can cause your body to become resistant to the action of insulin (which regulates your sugar levels). To compensate, your body starts producing even MORE insulin (ekkkk)This then leads to the production of excess testosterone, which then results in your androgen levels becoming too high.High levels of androgen levels cause hair loss from the scalp, it can also cause hair growth, but in places, you don’t want (such as the face, breasts and stomach etc.)Thankfully for me, I really only noticed hair loss and some extra hair growth on the back of my legs, but this may also be because I was able to lower my androgen levels quickly after being diagnosed.SO how does hair loss actually happen??Well to put it simply, if there is too much testosterone in your body, then your body converts it to something called dihydrotestosterone (better known as DHT).DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink, which means that new hairs become finer and finer, and eventually stop growing altogether…… and just like magic, the hair loss begins!! … Ohhhh the joys of PCOS!!OK, so now you know why it happens, but how the hell do we reverse it!?!?
1. Diet and Inflammatory foods
- Try a plant-based diet, otherwise known as a vegan diet. Plant-based diets automatically cut out one of the biggest causes of inflammation.
- Animal products.
If you think cutting everything out cold turkey sounds too much, just try to do it in stages. If you have to focus on cutting out one product, then dairy is your guy!!! Dairy is packed with inflammation-causing toxins and also really messes with your hormones (which, let’s face it, is already messed up enough haha!!).
- Cut out processed foods!!!
This one can be tricky, especially if you have decided to try a plant-based diet and are looking for substitutes. When in doubt, stick to foods that are in their natural form (allllllll of the vegetables haha!)
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake and up your fats.
Carbs turn to sugars (which mess with your insulin levels), and fats are vital to helping grow healthy hair. A lot of people are scared to add more fat to their diets but as long as you reduce your carbs and sugars you won’t gain weight (in fact, if you really reduce your carb intake, your body will go into ketosis and start burning fat as it’s primary energy source so you may find you lose weight!)
- Cut out gluten
Gluten might not affect everyone, but cutting out gluten not only improved my skin and hair, but I also starting getting periods again. It’s hard to say if I have an intolerance to gluten but either way, gluten is well documented for its inflammatory properties so it’s something I would definitely steer away from.
2. Herbs and supplements
- One thing that I really believe made a huge improvement to my PCOS symptoms (including my hair loss) was including the right herbs and supplements into my diet.
I have done an entire blog post on the supplements I take here, but a couple of my faves for hair loss in particular are:
- Lady’s Mantel
- Alfalfa leaf
- Stinging nettle leaf
If you are unsure about what supplements you should be taking, I would recommend seeing a Naturopath or TCM practitioner to help guide you with this.
My Cysterhood tea is now available and has been specifically designed to help with many PCOS symptoms that I personally suffered from, including hair loss.
Find out more about Cysterhood Tea here
2. Lifestyle Although diet is crucial to reversing PCOS hair loss, you will also need to take a look at other aspects of your life that might be causing inflammation and excess androgens.Here are my top lifestyle factors that can flare up PCOS symptoms:– High stress (This may be from work, relationships, financial issues, your appearance, trying to conceive etc.) For me, I found having hair loss and acne actually caused my stress to worsen, soooooo as you can see its a vicious cycle unless you know how to manage it.– Too much medium-high intensity exercise. I now focus on walking twice a day with my dogs, pilates, yoga, horse riding and surfing. All the exercise I do now are things I enjoy and also help to decrease my stress without causing more stress on my body. Try to stay away from intense activities like spin classes etc.– Poor gut health. Another big one, especially if you take antibiotics or other prescription drugs. Focus on adding fermented foods and take a probiotic if needed. I am a big fan of apple cider vinegar and kombucha for gut health.– Environmental toxins (such as BPA from plastics) I recently did a HUGE kitchen renovation and when I restocked my pantry I moved everything to glass containers instead of plastic. You should also switch your drink bottle to glass or metal to avoid toxins from plastic.I know you have probably read all of that and are now feeling a little bit inundated with the amount of information, but at the end of the day, it is very simple- evaluate your diet and lifestyle factors and look at different herbs and supplements you might be able to include.I was so determined to heal myself that having to give up some foods and change my lifestyle really didn’t bother me at all - I was at the point where I would do ANYTHING if it meant I would see results.
am so happy I did stick with it because the results speak for themselves.
It’s important to remember that the physical symptoms of PCOS are your body’s way of trying to tell you something is imbalanced or not right.
It is YOUR job to listen to your body and find out what it needs so that it can do its job properly.