What Causes Thinning Hair?


by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell

Why does your hair fall out? If you’ve been noticing clumps of hair in the shower or bald spots in the mirror, you might be getting concerned. Both women and men experience thinning hair for a variety of reasons and it can be frustrating. When hair falls, confidence can fall with it. But once you get to the root cause of your thinning hair, you can take natural and nutritional steps to stop it so you can look and feel your best.

Common Causes of Thinning Hair

  • Thyroid Disease – Both high thyroid and low thyroid conditions can lead to falling hair. With hypothyroidism, the body doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone, leading to scalp hair loss and all-over hair loss on the body. With hyperthyroidism, the body makes too much of the thyroid hormone, leading to chronic thinning hair all over the scalp. The key to stopping this type of hair loss is getting your thyroid under control first before using any other remedies.
  • Lupus – One of the earliest signs of this autoimmune disease is hair loss. Hair falls slowly or in clumps due to inflammation in the skin and scalp. Other symptoms of this disease include chronic fatigue, headaches, swollen joints, mouth ulcers, and butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose.
  • Anemia – Anemia is another reason hair falls out. This blood disorder leads to low blood count and poor circulation. Hair follicles no longer receive an adequate oxygen supply and hair thins over time. Some women with iron deficiency anemia notice more hair loss during their menstrual cycle.
  • Diabetes – Like lupus, one of the earliest signs of this metabolic disorder is hair loss. When your blood doesn’t adequately irrigate your hair follicles with nutrients, hair falls out in clumps and can lead to bald spots on different areas of your head.
  • Gluten Intolerance – Gluten intolerance is an inability of the body’s digestive system to process the protein (gluten) found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. Common symptoms of this disorder include diarrhea alternating with constipation, abdominal cramping, offensive flatus, brain fog, muscle aches, and irritability. With this disease, hair may thin gradually or fall out in clumps, leading to bald spots. This can be caused by chronic inflammation and stress on the body from trying to assimilate a protein it cannot digest.
  • Inadequate Protein Intake – If you’re on a low-protein diet, it could be the reason your hair is falling out. Other symptoms of low protein intake are fatigue, slow wound healing, brittle nails, and muscle weakness. The standard method used by nutritionists to calculate the amount of protein you should consume per day is to multiply your weight by .37. For example, a 130-pound person would need to eat 48.1 grams of protein per day to stay healthy and fit.
  • Acid pH – Many conventional doctors do not take body pH into account when testing patients with unusual symptoms, such as mysterious thinning hair. The 3 ranges of arterial pH values are acidosis (1-7.0), neutral (7.41), and alkalosis (7.42-14.0). In order for your body to function at its best, your pH levels should be in the neutral (7.41) range. A highly acid pH can lead to dull and thinning hair, mouth ulcers, hyperactivity, anxiety, dry skin, brittle nails, leg cramps, and hives.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies – Autoimmune disease, poor digestion, and poor diet can all lead to nutritional deficiencies. For my patients, I recommend a Comprehensive Test Panel from Direct Labs. They not only accurately diagnose nutritional deficiencies but test body chemistry for acid pH as well with convenient urinary testing strips. These test panels come in special formulas for both men and women. You may order the lab test online in the privacy of your home and have the test drawn at any LabCorp location you prefer. The results are sent directly to you, and forwarded to your physician only at your request.
  • Hormonal Changes – As we age, hormone levels
    in both men and women decline. This can lead to hair thinning or loss. For my patients I recommend ZRT Lab’s Saliva Profile III to check your hormone balance. When deficient, I recommend replacing them with topical, natural bioidentical hormones instead of traditional hormone replacement therapy.
  • Harsh Hair Chemicals – Another commonly overlooked cause of falling hair is harsh hair chemicals. If you regularly color or bleach your hair, it may thin out over time. Furthermore, commercial shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, and gels contain hazardous chemicals that could cause your hair to fall out.
  • Stress
    • Alopecia Areata – Stress can cause a condition called alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack and destroy healthy tissue, including hair follicles. Hair may fall out in patches, resulting in bald spots. Illness, pregnancy, and trauma are often a cause of this type of balding.
    • Telogen Effluvium – Telogen effluvium is a common response to stress. This scalp disorder affects the natural hair cycle and is usually characterized by rapid onset of diffuse hair shedding. Telogen effluvium can be trigged by chronic illness, eating disorders, crash diet, illicit drug use, and emotional disorders. When the sickness is healed or the trauma has passed, hair will regrow on its own.
    • TrichotillomaniaThis impulse-control disorder is characterized by the uncontrollable urge to pull, twist, and tug at the hair until it falls out.
    • Tinea Capitis – Also known as ringworm of the scalp, this disorder common occurs due to poor hygiene, profuse sweating (under a ball cap), and minor skin or scalp injuries. Symptoms include scalp itching, low-grade fever, inflamed areas of skin, and pus-filled sores called kerions.

Beautiful Hair with Natural Remedies

When it comes to having beautiful hair and preventing hair loss, there are some tried and true natural remedies that can help.


Diet plays a role in each and every part of your health and well-being. If you’re eating a diet rich in organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, lean meats, poultry, and whole grains you’re probably in pretty good health or halfway there. If you’re losing your hair, it might be due to stress, gluten intolerance or a thyroid problem but you’re on the right track. However, if your dinner regularly comes out of a fast-food carton or microwaveable box, it’s definitely contributing to your ill health. For beautiful hair and lasting health, leave the snack cakes and the potato chips for a once-in-the-while treat and focus on eating whole food instead.

Here are 5 foods that will especially improve the quality of your hair:

  1. Wild-Caught Salmon – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and B vitamins.
  1. Beans – Excellent source of protein and the healthy hair vitamin biotin.
  1. Eggs – Rich in protein, biotin, and B-12.
  1. Poultry – Another health protein source that is rich in natural iron.
  1. Oysters – Oysters are filled with the antioxidant zinc to fight inflammation and help re-grow hair.

Natural Hair-Care Products

Switching to natural hair-care products may not only help you regain hair, it may also prevent you from developing cancer. Many commercial beauty products contain proven carcinogens that can do a lot worse to your health then cause loose hair. Since the price of organic products can be off-putting for some, castile soap can be used as both a body wash and a shampoo and coconut oil can be used as a natural conditioner.


For my patients with thinning hair or bald spots, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s Skin, Hair, and Nail Formula. It contains a potent blend of nutrients designed to heal your body and help you regain hair from the inside out.

The ingredients are:

    • Stinging Nettle Leaf – I often prescribe this natural herb for my patients with allergies and inflammation. It can help treat falling hair by addressing these two autoimmune conditions at once.
    • Horsetail Grass – Too little of the nutrient silica can result in falling hair. Horsetail grass is high in silica and can reverse hair damage and help regrow healthy hair.
    • MSM –MSM removes toxins from your body, resulting in softer hair, smoother skin, and stronger nails.
    • PABA – This B-complex vitamin helps ease feelings of stress and relieves chronic inflammation, helping regrow hair naturally.
    • Fo-Ti Root – An Eastern anti-aging prescription, Fo-Ti root can help smooth skin, erase wrinkles, and treat thinning hair.
    • Selenium – In order for this trace mineral to be most effective, it has to be prescribed in balance. Too much selenium can cause as many problems as too little. Our formula contains 25 mcg. Just enough to treat your falling hair without worsening the problem.
    • Biotin – If you’re living with nutritional deficiencies, you may not have enough biotin in your diet. This vitamin has been proven to strengthen hair and treat brittle nails.
    • Betaine HCL – Those with autoimmune disease or chronic inflammation often have poor digestion. Betaine HCL is a natural digestive aid that can help you better absorb nutrients from food, resulting in thicker hair, stronger nails, and healthier skin.

Thinning hair doesn’t happen overnight and it can’t be cured overnight. However, once you get to the cause of your hair loss, you can treat it more effectively. With proper nutrition and the right supplementation, the clumps of hair and bald spots you’re seeing can become a thing of the past!



  1. I had been wondering if food allergies could cause thinning hair. Don’t blood tests for gluten intolerance give false negatives though?

    • Hello Ciara,

      Thank you for contacting me. I am sorry to hear about your hair loss.

      There are a number of potential causes, so I feel the best way to help you is through a telemedicine (phone)
      consultation. Please feel free to contact me by DM.

      All my best,

      Dr. Maxwell


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