10 Secrets to Growing Your Hair Longer
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10 Secrets to Growing Your Hair Longer

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August 20, 2011
By LAUREN PRINGLE, Contributing Columnist


Hair loss affects about 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States alone, according to the American Hair Loss Association. Over 40% of men have noticeable hair loss by age 35 and 65% of men experience some hair loss by the age of 60.

Hair loss affects many people all over the world and certain people choose to deal with it better than others. Losing hair is a stressful condition. Because we live in a society where we are judged by our appearances, even the thought of losing our locks is a frightening possibility.

The fear of hair loss drives us to spend billions to remedy the problem. According to The Washington Post, "American hair loss sufferers spend more than 3.5 billion dollars a year in an attempt to treat their hair loss. Unfortunately, 99% of all products being marketed in the less than ethical hair loss treatment industry are completely ineffective for the majority of those who use them."  Taking these staggering statistics into account, we have reviewed existing academic research studies to ascertain which hair loss remedies have stood the test of rigorous science and which ones are better just leaving on the shelf. 

Causes of Hair Loss and Breakage

Vitamin and lifestyle changes have proven links to hair loss and growth.  Take the example of Elizabeth Hasselback, the  co-star of "The View"  who got her start on the TV show "Survivor".  While on "Survivor",  Elizabeth's hair fell out in clumps before our eyes. Why?  Because she was starved of iron and other nutrients while taping the show.

So, it is clear that nutrition and health plays a vital role in the strength and stability of your hair. Often a severe lack of nutrients and vitamins will cause damaging effects on the condition of your hair and its growth.

External factors can also have a huge influence on the condition of your hair. Simple examples such as rough brushing and combing and using harsh chemicals used on your hair can cause severe weakness and follicle breakage. 

Which vitamins are essential to healthy hair?  What foods promote hair growth? Are there any herbs that can stimulate hair growth? Here are our  Top 10 tips to restore and stimulate hair growth, and avoid breakage:.

1.    Quinine Stimulates Hair Growth.  Quinine can stimulate hair growth, numerous studies have found. Traditionally used as a malarial treatment, quinine is a powerful toxic alkoid derived from the bark of Cinchona trees has been proven to treat hair loss.

Cinchona trees are native to Peru and other South American countries. According to "The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs" by author Leslie Taylor, page 399, quinine has been used for centuries in South America as a digestive and healing aid. Quinine has been used "as an appetite stimulant; for hair loss; alcoholism; liver, spleen, and gallbladder disorders; and to treat irregular heartbeat, anaemia, leg cramps, and fevers of all kinds." Quinine was discovered by Europeans to be an effective way to battle malaria as they explored Africa and South America. Europeans have been using quinine ever since, and its use has spread to Japan, Asia, the United States and Canada.

You can buy quinine hair products in most health stores. It comes in the form of a shampoo treatment and can be applied in the shower. You will notice after regular usage, thicker, full-bodied hair. But here's a cautionary note. Quinine is a toxic product in large quantities. Test quinine on a small portion of your scalp before general use. And, do not use quinine if you have an allergic reaction.

Quinine was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994 for use as a remedy for leg cramps. However, other uses of quinine have not been banned in the U.S., and quinine is used worldwide in small quantities for a variety of products, including in tonic water sold in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America and Asia.

Quinine has not been banned for use as a shampoo additive.

2.    Hair Needs Iron -- Desperately.  Iron may be the single most important nutrient  for hair growth.  Researchers and dermatologists are now touting iron's critical role in treating hair loss. "We believe that treatment for hair loss is enhanced when iron deficiency, with or without anaemia, is treated," said Leonid Benjamin Trost, MD; Wilma Fowler Bergfeld, MD; and Ellen Calogeras, RD, MPH, wrote in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

When the body is lacking iron, it acts as a trigger for Telogen Effluvium, which is the process of  hair loss.   How do you optimize optimize your intake of iron? Red meats, leafy vegetables, egg yolk, nuts and cereals and any foods fortified with iron. 

Iron comes in 2 forms, heme (found in meats) and non-heme (found in plants). When you take plant-based iron foods such as spinach, make sure you also drink orange juice or another source of Vitamin C. Studies have found that vitamin C increases your body's ability to absorb plant-based (called non-heme) iron sources.

Here's an important tip.  If you have an iron deficiency, you may want to skip tea. Tea contains Tannin which interferes with  iron absorption into your blood. An easier option is a simple iron supplement each day.

3.    Vitamin B Is Essential to Healthy Hair.  If you want great hair, you have to get your daily supply of Vitamin B.  Vitamin B is a great way to boost your hair follicles.

"It is a vitamin that the hair just can't live without. In my office it's not uncommon to find a B12 deficiency in women who come in seeking treatment for hair loss," says Professor Theodore Daly, a clinical professor of dermatology at Nassau University Medical Center in New York.

Often, he says, "supplements are necessary to restore levels, which in turn, can sometimes improve hair loss". Research studies show that a deficiency of Vitamin B, particularly B12 and Biotin, can be a direct cause of unhealthy hair.

What foods are rich in Vitamin B?  B vitamins can be found in eggs, meat and poultry. If you struggle to maintain a large consistency of these vitamins in your diet, take a daily supplement to restore vitality into your roots. "Eggs are especially high in biotin,  a major component in the natural hair manufacturing process , essential  not only for growing new hair, but also for healthy skin and nails.

4.    Green Tea Promotes Hair Growth. Green tea, researchers have discovered, can  simulate hair growth. The Saitama Cancer Research Institute in Japan notes that "consumption of high amounts of green tea increases the amount of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the bloodstream.

Green tea works by causing SHBG to catch testosterone before it can be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that stimulates hair growth during puberty".

According to the American Medical Association, however, some men and women have hair follicles that are genetically programmed to respond negatively to DHT later in life. So, reducing the amount of DHT in the bloodstream could help protect hair follicles in people who have DHT-induced baldness.

5.    Keratin Strengthens Hair Follicles.

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Schweppes tonic contains quinine, though not enough to help hair growth.