Understanding Your Hair and How To Keep It Healthy



What is hair?

Hair is a protein filament that grows from follicles found in the dermis, or skin. Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals. The human body, apart from areas of glabrous skin, is covered in follicles which produce thick terminal and fine vellus hair. Most common interest in hair is focused on hair growth, hair types and hair care, but hair is also an important biomaterial primarily composed of protein, notably keratin. Attitudes towards hair, such as hairstyles and hair removal, vary widely across different cultures and historical periods, but it is often used to indicate a person’s personal beliefs or social position, such as their age, gender, or religion.  Each strand of hair is made up of the medulla, cortex, and cuticle.The innermost region, the medulla, is not always present and is an open, unstructured region. The highly structural and organized cortex, or middle layer of the hair, is the primary source of mechanical strength and water uptake. The cortex contains melanin, which colors the fiber based on the number, distribution and types of melanin granules. The shape of the follicle determines the shape of the cortex, and the shape of the fiber is related to how straight or curly the hair is. People with straight hair have round hair fibers. Oval and irregularly shaped fibers are generally more wavy or even curly. The cuticle is the outer covering. Its complex structure slides as the hair swells and is covered with a single molecular layer of lipid that makes the hair repel water. The diameter of human hair varies from 17 to 180micrometers (0.00067 to 0.00709 in). There are two million small, tubular glands and sweat glands that produce watery fluids that cool the body by evaporation. The glands at the opening of the hair produce a fatty secretion that lubricates the hair and prevents it from dying. Hair growth begins inside the hair follicle. The only “living” portion of the hair is found in the follicle. The hair that is visible is the hair shaft, which exhibits no biochemical activity and is considered “dead”. The base of the root is called the bulb, which contains the cells that produce the hair shaft. Other structures of the hair follicle include the oil producing sebaceous gland which lubricates the hair and the arrector pili muscles, which are responsible for causing hairs to stand up. In humans with little body hair, the effect results in goose bumps.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair)

The hair growth cycle

The anagen is the active growth phase of hair follicles during which the root of the hair is dividing rapidly, adding to the hair shaft. During this phase the hair grows about 1 cm every 28 days. Scalp hair stays in this active phase of growth for 2–7 years and is genetically determined. At the end of the anagen phase an unknown signal causes the follicle to go into the catagen phase.

The catagen phase is a short transition stage that occurs at the end of the anagen phase.It signals the end of the active growth of a hair. This phase lasts for about 2–3 weeks while the hair converts to a club hair. A club hair is formed during the catagen phase when the part of the hair follicle in contact with the lower portion of the hair becomes attached to the hair shaft. This process cuts the hair off from its blood supply and from the cells that produce new hair. When a club hair is completely formed, about a 2 week process, the hair follicle enters the telogen phase.

The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair follicle. When the body is subjected to extreme stress, as much as 70 percent of hair can prematurely enter a phase of rest, called the telogen phase. This hair begins to fall, causing a noticeable loss of hair. This condition is called telogen effluvium. The club hair is the final product of a hair follicle in the telogen stage, and is a dead, fully keratinized hair. Fifty to one-hundred club hair are shed daily from a normal scalp. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_follicle)


In order to keep the hair healthy we must first know what to do and use in order to keep the hair healthy. The first thing that we should know is that a healthy diet, exercise and drinking plenty of water will keep the hair healthy along with taking a daily multi-vitamin. Our favorite hair vitamin is NouriTress Perfect Hair Vitamins Plus. The reason their vitamins are our favorite is because of all the natural key ingredients that are in their vitamins. Here are some of the key ingredients that our bodies need to produce healthy hair.


Biotin-Is a co-enzyme and a B vitamin and is also known as vitamin H Biotin plays a key role in the body. It supports the health of the skin, nerves, digestive tract, metabolism, and cells. Biotin may also help to treat some types of nerve pathology, such as the peripheral neuropathy that can result from kidney failure or diabetes. Biotin supplements have been studied as a treatment for a number of conditions. In people with type 2 diabetes, early research suggests that a combination of biotin and chromium might improve blood sugar. On its own, biotin might decrease insulin resistance and nerve symptoms related to type 2 diabetes. More research needs to be done. Some preliminary evidence suggests that biotin might help strengthen brittle nails. Other uses of biotin — for conditions like cradle cap, hepatitis, hair loss, and depression — are unsupported or untested. However, most people don’t need biotin supplements. We get biotin in foods naturally. Our bodies also recycle the biotin we’ve already used.

Green Tea-The health benefits of green tea are well publicized. This increasingly popular drink is packed with antioxidants that combat harmful free radicals, deliver cancer-fighting flavonoids and disrupt the production of bacteria. These same antioxidants also benefit the hair and scalp in multiple ways. Incorporating green tea into your diet may help combat or help prevent hair loss. One of the most powerful antioxidants in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies conducted by the Saitama Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan and the Seoul National University College of Medicine both show evidence that EGCG stimulates hair growth. The Saitama study reports that green tea inhibits the production of Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), a molecule that has been linked to cancer, arthritis and hair loss. In the Seoul study, hair follicles were treated with EGCG in a lab setting. Test cultures showed increased hair growth and hair follicle elongation when compared to control cultures. A green tea tincture containing 10 percent EGCG was also applied to the scalps of human volunteers, yielding the same results. Green tea tincture can be purchased at health food stores or online (see link below). Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5002209_how-green-tea-benefits-hair.html


A high green tea intake also leads to higher levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that binds to testosterone. Free testosterone traveling through the bloodstream is able to enter hair follicles and be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that causes male pattern hair loss. But testosterone that is attached to SHBG cannot be converted into DHT.

Saw Palmetto-Research on the effectiveness of saw palmetto in treating hair loss is limited, but promising. An extract of saw palmetto berries may block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is the molecule responsible for hair loss, and also is involved in the enlargement of the prostate.


Because saw palmetto remedies have been shown to successfully treat an enlarged prostate, researchers hope it could slow or stop hair loss too. In fact, the components of saw palmetto that block the enzyme work in a similar way as the synthetic ingredients in prescription medication for hair loss.

Minimal research has been conducted on how well saw palmetto could treat hair loss in men or women, but one small study showed positive results for six out of 10 participants. Men with moderate cases of male pattern baldness were given a saw palmetto oral supplement to take twice daily for a few months. When asked to rate their balding patterns before and after the study, sixty percent reported that their condition improved. (http://www.healthline.com/health/saw-palmetto-hair-loss#1)

Grape seed-Grape seed extract refers to a set of derivatives made from whole grape seeds. The extract is a concentrate of flavonoids, linoleic acid, Vitamin E and OPCs or oligomeric proanthocyanidins. The last two constituents are known to stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth.  Grape seeds inhibit the production of DHT, one of the main factors in hair loss. The OPC’s also stimulate hair follicles, promoting healthy hair growth. Since high levels of DHT is a known cause of androgenic alopecia, grape seed extract can be used to reduce the rate of hair loss. (http://www.progressivehealth.com/grape-seed-hair-loss.htm)


Inositol-Inositol is a water soluble sugar-like carbohydrate. It exists in nine forms but the form, myo-inositol, is the most naturally occurring form. Inositol is considered half as sweet as sucrose. It is synthesized in the body from glucose and sometimes considered part of the compounds making up Vitamin B complex. Most of the production of inositol in the body occurs in the kidney where a few grams are synthesized every day. While inositol can be found in various plants, it is mostly in the form of a salt, phytate. Brans, beans and seeds are the known to contain inositol solely as phytate.  It can be argued that inositol’s success in addressing hyperandrogenism is an indication of its usefulness in treating hair loss, and an evidence to corroborate the positive reports of people who have used in this way. Hair loss is known to be especially encouraged by high levels of circulating androgens. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) synthesized from testosterone is one of the androgens known to trigger the dickkopf-1 gene to produce the protein DKK-1 which is known to cause papilla cell death. Papilla cells are the cells responsible for the nourishment of hair follicles. With increased DKK-1 concentration, hair growth slows down and hair loss accelerates. Therefore, since inositol addresses hyperandrogenism, it follows that it will reduce the body level of androgens, reduce the expression of dickkopf-1 gene and lower the activity of the DKK-1 protein. This chain of events will provide the positive outcome of increased hair growth. Still another possible way inositol reverses hair loss is through its combination with choline. Inositol is often combined with choline bitarate in hair loss remedies. When both compounds are combined, they form phospholipids. Phospholipids are known to be crucial to the development of healthy hair follicles. Inositol’s prospects as an effective hair loss treatment are especially good when you consider that these two pathways demonstrate that it can treat hair loss from the two crucial points: increased growth rate of new hair and the strengthening of hair strands as they grow.


Pygeum Africanum-Pygeum is a tree that is native to the African forests and grows in the higher elevations of southern and central Africa. Also known as the African plum tree, it can reach heights of up to 150 feet, but frequent harvesting of the tree has left it endangered. Tree farms are being established to grow the trees and limit harvesting in the forests. It is the tree bark that is used for medicinal purposes. The correlation between pattern hair loss and an enlarged prostate is well-known in the science community, as both are caused by dihydrotestosterone. DHT, an androgen, is formed when testosterone is converted into it by an enzyme known as Type II 5-alpha-reductase. The leading prescription hair loss treatment, Propecia, is a 1-mg tablet of finasteride, while 5-mg finasteride tablets are sold as Proscar, which is one of the leading treatments for an enlarged prostate. Finasteride works by inhibiting Type II 5-alpha-reductase, which in turn limits the production of DHT.  The American Hair Loss Association, the only national, nonprofit 501(c)3 charity devoted to hair loss, states that when DHT is suppressed, hair follicles will continue to produce healthy hair. In the book, “Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Strategies for Clinical and Cosmetic Practice,” Jean Krutmann, professor of dermatology and environmental medicine at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Dusseldorf, Germany, states that pygeum is believed to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, which will limit the production of DHT. This gives some credence to the idea that pygeum may help with hair loss. Professor Krutmann does state that while there is no scientific evidence to support pygeum’s use for male pattern baldness, it is often contained in herbal hair loss treatments. (http://www.livestrong.com/article/546657-pygeum-and-hair-loss/)