In 1958, in King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan, I first learned that stress causes hair loss in both genders. More than twenty years would pass before my female patients would teach me stress also contributes to male-distribution hair in females (hirsutism) with increasing frequency. Why the shift? I address this central question in this third article looking at the stress-adrenal-hirsuitism connection – male-distribution hair in females being the core abnormality in hirsutisms.
Oxygen is the king of human biology, insulin its minister of energy and metabolism. So in my model of integrative medicine, I look at all chronic disorders through the prisms of oxygen homeostasis and insulin regulation. In two previous articles on the subject in this journal, I considered the matter of male-distribution hair in females (hirsutism) in the broader contexts of The Oxygen Model of Disease and The Insulin-Toxicity of Disease. In this third article, I briefly explore the next level of study of hair health: the stress-hair connection.
The very mention of unwanted hair (hirsuitism) brings up the matter of excess male hormones (hyperandrogenism) of ovarian or adrenal origin. This view completely ignores toxicities of foods, environmental, and thoughts that form the basis of hirsuitism, except in uncommon caes of in-born errors of metabolism, such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The spreading epidemic of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common visible feature is facial and chest hair in girls and young women, reinforces this view. PCOS, however, is not rooted in ovaries and cysts are usually absent in the early and intermediate stages of the disorder.
Stress, Hirsutism, and Electrologists
What is stress? Be-Aware-Living is my term for a life lived in a way of one’s own choosing. I introduced the term Beware-Living for a life lived with a script written by others. In Be-Aware-Living is breathing one’s own air, observing one’s surrounding by one’s own senses, and heeding one’s own inner voices—in harmony and equilibrium with one’s own core of an enlightened life. Beware-Living is living is a life of recycles past and feared future miseries. In this perspective of Be-Aware and Beware-Living, I consider chronic stress as the state of dominance of the Beware mode. For reader interested in an in-depth treatment of this view of chronic stress, I offer seminars 3 and 4 of Dr. Ali’s Course on Stress (downloadable from http://www.aliacademy.org.)
The Stress-Hair Connection
In deliberations of the biochemical pathways which underpin the pathoegensis of hirsuitism, following are the main issues:
1. Excess production of androgens in adrenal response to chronic stress
2. Changes in the production of steroid hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which increases the levels of free testosterone and related androgens.
3. Stress-caused disturbances of the adrenal-pituitary-hypothalamus axis
4. Increased 5-reductase enzyme activity in peripheral issues as appears to be the case in the so-called idiopathic hirsutism.
As Roots Are to Roses, The Bowel to the Hair
The above subtitle is the simple truth about hair health which my patients taught me. Local hair appplications of castor oil, amla oil, and coconut oil can be very helpful. Short-term use of dandruff shampoo are useful as well. However, the real health, texture, and robustness of hair depends on the integrity of the bowel ecology. For furtrher reading I suggest my free Adrenal Health Course and free Bowel Health Course available at http://www.drali.org.