By Dr. Michael L. Johnson
Hair loss in women is usually caused by an autoimmune disorder. I say “usually” because I do not want to generalize but, and this is a big but, I have yet to see a woman suffering from hair loss that isn’t suffering from an autoimmune disorder in over thirty years of private practice.
What is an autoimmune disorder? The patient’s immune system is attacking their body.
The most common autoimmune disorder that I see in my office causing hair loss in women is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The second most common autoimmune disorder causing hair loss is Alopecia areata. Alopecia is caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles of the body. Interestingly enough, every case of alopecia that has walked into my office over the past 30 years has also suffered from Hashimoto’s.
What is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis? Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition where the patient’s immune system is attacking their thyroid gland.
How do you know if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
You can have your doctor run the TPO (ATA) and TGB (ATG) thyroid antibodies. Please note that there are “lab ranges” and “functional or optimal ranges.” Lab ranges are much broader than the functional range so your physician may tell you that you are not suffering from an autoimmune thyroid or Hashimoto’s when in fact, you are suffering from it and that is causing your hair to fall out in clumps!
Can you tell if a patient is suffering from an autoimmune
condition without running blood work?
Ideally, you should run blood work. A doctor can order a T & B lymphocyte panel or the TPO (ATA) and TGB (ATG) antibodies. There are some cases where the patient cannot afford any blood work so how does one know if they are autoimmune? First, an autoimmune patient will have a large grocery bag of supplements that they have tried but did not work for them. Second, they will have medical file the size of a thick book. They have been to countless doctors and no one is giving them any answers!
The problem is that most doctors only run the TSH blood test and they don’t even bother to run the thyroid antibodies, let alone the T & B lymphocyte panel, because they don’t know how to address Hashimoto’s! Whether the patient suffers from Hashimoto‘s or not, the physician’s treatment is the same…drugs.
Medications are fine if the patient is suffering from primary hypothyroidism BUT according to The Journal of Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders… “90% of hypothyroidism or low thyroid is caused by an autoimmune thyroid or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.” Again, medicine has absolutely no answer for Hashimoto’s!
A patient suffering from hair loss needs to have complete blood work run on them such as a complete metabolic panel (CMP) which provides information on the blood glucose levels, HGBA1C, liver, kidney, gall bladder, stomach function and iron levels (serum iron, TIBC, transferrin, etc.) . A CBC with auto differential needs to be run which breaks down the red and white blood cells. A lipid panel needs to be run and a complete thyroid panel which includes, TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Total T4, FTI, T3 Resin Uptake, Reverse T3, & TBG. The vast majority of physicians will only run the TSH and no other tests. If your hair is falling out, you want to get to the cause of the problem and the only way to get to the cause is to run comprehensive blood panels!
If the complete metabolic panels do not contain the following tests, they need to be run separately…uric acid levels, C-reactive protein (C-RP) and homocystiene to check for inflammation. Inflammation is like taking a blow-torch to your thyroid or other organs of the body that are being affected by an autoimmune condition. Vitamin D levels such as 25 OHD (active form) and 125 OHD (storage form) to determine how well you immune system is being supported.