The past months, lots has happened. I feel I am getting closer to solving more problems every day. I know of two culprits that contribute to my hair loss. I can't say for sure that these are the only causes, but taking care of these should at least show improvements.
1. Ferritin levels are too low
I have been supplementing with ferrous iron tablets since end of last year. My hair loss stopped not too long after.
I then had trouble ordering the right supplements and it took much longer than usual for a new bottle to get here. So I reduced the amount by half. I then began shedding hair again early April. When the supplements got here I went back to one a day.
I have asked doctors twice (!!) to check my ferritin levels. The first doctor only tested my iron, and the second doctor forgot to test the ferritin levels!! So now I am sitting here not sure of what dose I should be on. I will be going in for another blood test on Monday and I will be bringing a freaking list of things that need testing! I am really tired of this.
2. Candida -> Digestion
Since last year spring I have suspected to have a Candida problem in my digestive tract. I did the parasite cleanse, took the probiotics and enzymes which bettered things, but it isn't a cure. I tried taking grapefruitseed extract orally, which can kill candida, but it gave me a bad stomach ache.
Doctors did not want to hear about Candida at all. Many don't even believe that Candida can sit in the digestive tract and feel it is some sort of misbelief in Natural Maedicine. A stool sample also came back negative in 2013. Recently though, my doctor agreed to test another stool sample and lo and behold - I got a severe case of Candida Albicans!
It was an awkward moment, I felt like saying "I told you so!", while my doctor tried to make sense of the results.
The exact results were:
- Candida Albicans, lots of bacterial overgrowth
- raised Leukocytes, possibly due to damage to my gut caused by digestive problems from Candida
- Malabsorption, I don't absorb much from the foods I eat. See how a healthy diet can't help if you have malabsorption issues?
I have written about my digestive issues and how they improved with probiotics and digestive enzymes. It makes sense when you think in terms on Candida, because they do help restore a good "climate". But that doesn't necessarily fix the problem. In my last post I also wrote about low stomach acid, which really gives candida a chance to grow. The problem is also that Candida can lower your stomach acid production even more, which will let even more bacteria grow. It is a cycle.
So both definitely have to be treated.
I also started taking medication to kill the Candida. "Nystatin" isn't a natural product, but it hardly has any side effects and unlike others, it does not affect the liver. So I really hope this will work for me.
I will likely also have to go through a gastroscopy (stomach) and a colonoscopy (intestines) to see how much damage was done.
Hair regrowth and shedding:
I told myself that if I should shed hair again, I won't announce it with a blog post anymore. I am just SOOO annoyed by it happening again and again. Just consider me to shed on and off...until I actually stay shed free for more than just three months.
I was shed free for two months and then started shedding again early April. 70% of the hairs I shed are short, from one inch to maybe ear length. My scalp also started itching again...so I started washing with the anti fungal shampoo I had used before (Nizoral). My scalp does not even produce dandruff, I only get itching weirdly enough, but the Shampoo helped and my shedding actually subsided.
I was almost shed free for two weeks. I also increased my ferritin supplementation again, so either one of these "could" have helped.
Then the shedding continued and was actually pretty severe for a week...just to stop again. It is really weird how it is fluctuating right now.
My hair has thickened up rapidly in the time I was completely shed free (Feb-Apr.). Despite me shedding a bit regrowth keeps growing down. The top part of my braid looks close to my normal thickness. My ponytail measures 9cm right now, so I am only 1cm short of normal there.
Below my shoulders however, the shed has reduced my hair to half of it's former thickness. It is really weird. My ends weren't too thin until recently when I started shedding again. That little bit of shedding was enough for my ends to look pretty seet-hrough :/.
I am not growing my hair anymore, and I actually cut off 3cm back to tailbone length. I just felt I am better of trimming my ends every month while shedding to prevent the hemline from looking all too awful. I really hope I don't have to go through another lengthy shed again, because I don't think my ends would survive it!
Braid comparison photos:
See how much thicker the top part is compared to the rest?
Now lets compare that to past braid pictures of mine:
2009, fall 2013, early 2014, March 2014, now
Note how much thinner my braid was at the nape earlier this year (middle) and how much has already improved...while the lengths are actually thinner than ever! This happens when some hair is in the regrowing phase while other hair sheds. I really need to be shed free to thicken up my ends again.
My 2009 braid wasn't shed free either, but back then I hardly ever had a severe shed. More the well known "seasonal sheds" that quickly subsided. I was also growing out dye and damage though, so my braid thickness wasn't up to it's full potential. I would have loved to see my full potential, sadly I never got there (my hair was classic length there btw. - buttocks).
Here is the picture in full, I marked waist length with a white line. Compare the thickness at waist length.
If I wear a braid out (I really like wearing a braid), I braid it more loosely and it actually looks quite thick. I took a few pictures of that also:
Especially the top looks so thick haha...imagine my hair with it's normal thickness! Though braiding it loosely works best when there is more hair...because you can fluff it up better. :/
There are also ways to make a braid even wider, but it involves products and possibly teasing and what not..I'm not in the mood for all that. Besides, after a while it gets very messy looking and isn't all that fluffy anymore. It isn't a perfect solution and after a few hours I usually bun it.
Now some length pictures:
The left picture shows my hair one month after the 3cm trim! The ends were visibly thinned. But May's trim really seems to have hit another level of thickness! I love when this happens...sometimes you trim for months without much of a change and then boom, you get to that thicker part of your hair and your hemline is just so much improved :D.
I trimmed 2 cm btw. that is the amount of growth I get in a month atm, sometimes a bit less too. I am trying to maintain my hair at 90cm (about 35").
The overall health of my hair is weird...parts of it are steadily improving but my ends have a considerable amount of splits. I would still consider it healthier than your average, blow fried, styled, dyed head of hair, but it isn't perfect either.
Frequent S&D helps keep it at bay though! Just when I shed, I am often not so motivated to remove splits..in a way I keep thinking "it will fall out anyway and then all the work was for nothing" ^^'.
I feel my hairs texture improved due to my thyroid having been well (possibly), it is getting back to its silky, shiny old self, but with the malabsorption of nutrients it makes sense that I have splits.
I hope the next update is a good one!!