Natural health: Thinning hair and urinary stress incontinence

Thyroid issues are often the first place to look when the hair starts to thin or grey prematurely says Megan Sheppard.

Q. My hair seems to have thinned considerably during the past two years. I am a 33-year-old woman with no children. My thyroid tests are normal. 

Is there anything that can help to restore the thickness, or is this a part of getting older?

A. Thyroid issues are often the first place to look when the hair starts to thin or grey prematurely without any other obvious cause. 

I’m not sure which thyroid tests your doctor has ordered, but the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tests can in fact show up as being within the normal range when other thyroid markers (free and reverse T3, T4, and thyroid antibodies – to name a few) can give a more comprehensive picture. 

If you wish to further investigate the state of your thyroid, then I recommend you contact Dr Patick Magovern at the Drummartin Clinic (01-296 5993).

There are a host of other underlying issues that may contribute to thinning hair in a woman your age. Adrenal stress is a big factor, imbalance of the sex hormones (which is why our hair often thins after pregnancy and menopause), and nutritional deficiencies.

Nourish your hair from the roots by supplementing with essential fatty acids (EFAs). It will take time – around six months – before your hair has grown enough to see the results, but it should improve noticeably. Flaxseed, borage, and evening primrose oil are all great choices. If you take flaxseed, then use 15-20ml daily; evening primrose or borage oil should be supplemented at 1,000mg taken three times daily with food. EFAs will improve the condition of the hair and scalp as well.

The B vitamins are important in maintaining condition, strength, and thickness of hair. Biotin deficiency in particular can trigger hair loss. The B vitamins are best taken together, so choose a complex that will deliver 1,000 micrograms of biotin daily. Selenium supports healthy hair growth, with deficiency in this mineral being a very common issue — take 200 micrograms twice daily.

Avoid using harsh heat treatments and chemical processes if possible, as these are both very damaging. Massage your scalp every night before bed to stimulate blood flow (plus this will help if stress is an issue). Eat a balanced whole foods diet, and limit your intake of processed and junk foods, and make sure that you are well hydrated.

Q. I lose a small amount urine whenever I cough, sneeze, or sometimes when I laugh. What can I do to stop this from happening?

A. Urinary stress incontinence is typically associated with a weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, and is more common in women than men.

It is commonly thought that pelvic floor disorder (PFD) occurs as a result of pregnancy and childbirth, however research shows that it occurs equally among women who have and have not had children.

Recurring cystitis or urinary tract infections can trigger episodes of acute urinary incontinence, as can chronic constipation due to the pressure exerted by the bowel. Food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies can also be a contributing factor.

There are exercises that can help with all types of urinary incontinence, from a light bladder leakage, through to more serious cases.

In the past, Kegel’s exercises have been widely recommended, however there is now information to suggest that this type of exercise may make matters worse in the long run.

Biomechanist Katy Bowman ( ) caused a stir across the internet when she wrote an article suggesting that Kegel exercises were actually doing more harm than good, pointing out that pelvic floor weakness is “the result of too much tension, not weakness that comes from flopping around.”

She recommends squats as the ideal exercise to treat PFD. This is because a weakness in the glutes (“butt muscles”) creates susceptibility to pelvic floor weakness.

Hypopressive exercises are also useful in treating urinary incontinence 


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