Much has been said about gut health, and how its balance (or imbalance) may have implications on the brain and the skin. Recently, studies have shown that gut health may be a driving reason behind hair loss. So how is this possible? Here we explore the connection between gut health and hair growth (or the loss thereof.)
An Overview of the Hair
Your hair is more than just a means to look attractive. It is responsible for important tasks such as protection. It can also help regulate your body temperature by allowing your perspiration to evaporate freely. Hair (especially the ones in your ears) can aid your body in detecting sensation and movement as well.
The hair, as is the skin and the nails, is part of the integumentary system (set of organs that forms the external covering of the body). And like the gut and the skin, it has its own microbiome. According to a study published in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, the hair follicles house about 25% of the body’s microbial population, the most bountiful of which are the micrococcaceae species.
Gut Health and Hair Loss
Trillions of intestinal bacteria, yeasts, and other microbes make up the gut microbiome. They are beneficial in a lot of ways. They can improve digestion and protect the gut from infections. Add to that, they can help boost one’s immunity as well.
Apart from the above-mentioned responsibilities, gut bacteria are also in charge of the production of vitamins. They can synthesize Biotin, also known as Vitamin H. There's usually no problem with the body's stores of Biotin unless dysbiosis – the disruption of gut microbiota – kicks in.
Dysbiosis can result from an unhealthy diet or the use of antibiotics. It can lead to digestive problems, as well as the development of several skin conditions. Recently, dysbiosis has been implicated behind hair loss as well.
When the gut is disturbed, good bacteria – especially the ones that produce Biotin – are left outnumbered. Biotin is no longer produced in the right amounts, thus resulting in a deficiency. Sadly, this leads to hair loss and a variety of skin problems.
The connection between dysbiosis and hair loss was shown in the Journal of Cell Reports study. The research involved mice that were given antibiotics. As expected, these medications caused a disturbance to the gut microbiome. Such fostered the growth of Lactobacillus murinus, a strain that is unable to produce the vitamin Biotin. Expectedly, the mice that were treated with antibiotics suffered from mild hair loss.
The results were replicated in another group of mice that were supplemented with L. murinus. Again, hair loss was noted. The case was more severe, however, as some of the mice even went bald. Because of these findings, the researchers established a link between gut health and hair loss.
Dysbiosis and Hair Health
The gut microbiome’s role in hair health goes beyond rodent studies.