Gut bacteria and hair loss
Gut bacteria and hair growth

THE GUT BACTERIA AND HAIR GROWTH CONNECTION

Many studies have shown that our gut bacteria is vital for the uptake of may nutrients vital for healthy hair growth.  Some studies have shown that the numbers of ‘good bacteria’ in our gut support a normal hair growth cycle.

In one study, supplementation with probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri increased anagen hair follicle counts by 106% when compared to a control group.  Researchers determined that the probiotic-fed male mice had 74% of their hairs in the active, anagen phase, while the control group only had 36%. In comparison, 64% of hairs on the mice in the non-probiotic group were in the non-growth, telogen phase [1].

A study by Dr. James Chen showed that wiping out the gut microbiota with antibiotics, prevented alopecia areata in a study of mice.  This provides evidence that an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria within the population of the gut microbiota plays a role in hair loss.

ANTIBIOTICS AND HAIR THINNING

A team of Japanese scientists gave mice a diet with, and without biotin, and observed no hair loss.  The experiment was then repeated after administration of antibiotics and this time hair loss was observed in the bacteria-free mice.  The scientists discovered that a particular type of bacteria, Lactobacillus murinus, had expanded after the antibiotic treatment.  This bacterium could not produce biotin and was the cause of the biotin deficiency that led to the hair loss.

Hair loss was reversed with biotin injections.  The study was able to demonstrate that gut bacteria can manufacture essential nutrients for hair growth, even when these nutrients are completely absent from the diet.

ANTIBIOTICS AND HAIR THINNING

A team of Japanese scientists gave mice a diet with, and without biotin, and observed no hair loss.  The experiment was then repeated after administration of antibiotics and this time hair loss was observed in the bacteria-free mice.  The scientists discovered that a particular type of bacteria, Lactobacillus murinus, had expanded after the antibiotic treatment.  This bacterium could not produce biotin and was the cause of the biotin deficiency that led to the hair loss.

The original experiment was repeated with bacteria-free mice that were inoculated with Lactobacillus murinus.  It was observed that the hair loss worsened, and the mice became almost entirely bald.  Hair loss was reversed with biotin injections.  The study was able to demonstrate that gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus reuteri can manufacture essential nutrients for hair growth, even when these nutrients are completely absent from the diet.

5 SIGNS OF GUT DYSBIOSIS

  1. You find it difficult to lose weight; Studies have linked a lack of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, to issues with weight management.
  2. You’re experiencing gas and/or bloating; An abundance of bad bacteria can create gassy by-products, this can lead to  gas or bloating.
  3. You have digestive issues; Some people experience digestive problems like constipation or diarrhoea, due to inflammation and nutrient malabsorption caused by dysbiosis.
  4. You have patchy hair loss; Imbalances in the gut microbiome (as well as a genetic disposition) can cause your immune system to become overactive, thus contributing to autoimmune disorders, such as alopecia areata or alopecia universalis.
  5. You have unexplained hair thinning; Good gut bacteria helps us extract energy from food and hair thinning is an early sign of low metabolism.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

The gut microbiome has the capability to regenerate itself to host an array of beneficial bacteria.  Through diet, nutritional supplementation, and exercise, most incidences of gut bacteria dysbiosis can be resolved.

  1. Consume a wide range of foods; A ‘healthy hair diet’ consisting of many different food types can lead to a diverse population of beneficial gut microbiota.  Include kimchi, sourdough, yoghurt, and garlic to benefit your gut.
  2. Cut back on artificial sweeteners; Artificial sweeteners are widely used as replacements for sugar in drinks and packaged food. However, some studies have shown that they negatively affect the gut microbiota.
  3. Consume probiotics and prebiotics regularly; Boost your gut population by supporting your gut with prebiotics and live, multi strain bacteria.
  4. Start sweating; Recent studies show that exercise is beneficial for the gut microbiota. It is linked to an increase in the number of beneficial microbial species, an increase in microbial diversity, as well as improved short-chain fatty acid synthesis, and carbohydrate metabolism.

REFERENCES

  1. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis Front. Microbiol, Iran Salem doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459 10 July 2018
  2. Xing L, Dai Z et al. R. Alopecia areata is driven by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and is reversed by JAK inhibition. Nat Med. 2014 Sep;20(9):1043-9. doi: 10.1038/nm.3645. Epub 2014 Aug 17. PMID: 25129481; PMCID: PMC4362521.
  3. Todes-Taylor N, Turner R, Wood GS, Stratte PT, Morhenn VB. T cell subpopulaions in alopecia areata. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1984 Aug 1;11(2):216-23.
  4. Levkovich, T., Poutahidis, T., Smillie, C., Varian, B. J., Ibrahim, Y. M., Lakritz, J. R., Alm, E. J., Erdman, S. E., (2013). Probiotic Bacteria Induce a ‘Glow of Health’. PLoS ONE, 8(1): e53867. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0053867

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