When your hair is stressed, it can’t grow. That’s why when you’re feeling overworked, anxious, or even a little bit sad—your hair might show it. It’s not just your imagination: stress does actually affect your hair growth.
This happens because stress affects your hormones and how your body works. When you have too much or too little of certain hormones like cortisol or testosterone, it can slow down your hair growth.
But getting stressed is normal. How do you manage it so you don’t have to sacrifice your hair?
The answer may lie in Ashwagandha, an herb that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine as a way to reduce stress and anxiety levels. While its roots are in India and Southeast Asia, the plant is now grown around the world and its benefits are being widely studied by scientists.
Stress and hair loss
Stress is an underestimated cause of hair loss. Since hair is considered a non-essential tissue it is one of the first things to go when we are stressed. One specific form of stress-related hair loss is called Telogen effluvium. It triggers hairs that are in the growth phase of the hair growth cycle to suddenly enter into their telogen phase (shedding phase). This results in large amounts of daily hair fall out.
Symptoms include a sudden increase in daily hair shedding, shedding that rapidly gets worse and affects most areas of your scalp, shedding that occurs even after you have switched up your diet or stopped an aggressive styling routine (like bleaching) and all of this shedding is happening for no apparent reason.
Hair growth typically takes around 3-4 months. If you are experiencing this type of hair loss it will usually start within a few weeks of starting a stressful event and can last for about three months, or until the stressful event has come to an end. The good news is that once you are in a better place mentally and emotionally, your hair will start growing back normally again.
Ashwagandha and stress hormones
When we're stressed, our adrenal glands produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is great when you're in danger, but less so when you're experiencing chronic stress.
Supplementing with ashwagandha can reduce the impacts of chronic stress on the body and mind, lowering cortisol levels that are too high and improving stress-related hair loss.
Loss of hair is a warning sign about stress
Hair fall is a serious problem, but thankfully it's usually one that can be fixed with some lifestyle changes!
When hair loss is related to chronic stress, ashwagandha may be able to help. But remember: Ashwagandha can only do so much. If you experience a chronicly high state of stress, you’ll need to evaluate what is causing that stress and what you can do to improve it. Even if you don’t feel worried or stressed out, keep in mind that putting your body through continued biological stressors like heavy workouts, lack of proper resting, lack of sleep, fasting, even loud noises and bright lights can cause biological stress on the body even though you may not register as stress mentally.
If you’ve recently undergone a period of severe stress or prolonged low-level stress and seen increased hair fall out, don’t worry: Taking ashwagandha accompanied with adjustments in lifestyle can help your hair to bounce back to its previous—perhaps even improved—lustre.
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