What is it?
Menopause is the natural circle where the female hormones’ oestrogen and progesterone decreases and women’s fatality come to an end. Women’s menstrual circle (periods) ceases, the body can no longer release eggs (women are born with all their eggs), and they can no longer conceive children naturally.
The process of menopause can take place suddenly or progressively and on average can last for about 4 years. However, 10% of the female population can experience menopause for up to 12 years. Menopause starts between the ages of 44 and 55, but some women can experience it at a young age (premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency is used to describe menopause experienced by younger women). There are some factors which may cause premature menopause such as some breast cancer treatments (Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy), removal of the ovaries and some underlying conditions such as Addison’s Disease and Down’s Syndrome.
Many women will experience symptoms and some at a more severe level. The symptoms of menopause are:
Hot Flushes: Is a sudden heat that spreads throughout your body, but there was no causation for this to take place. Sweat, heat or heart palpitation and flush on the face may be experienced during hot flushes.
Racing Heart: Heart palpitation (heart beating fast, strong (can feel the heart beating) or irregular) may increase between 8 to 16 beats per minutes (regular resting heartbeat is between 60-100 beats per minute) whilst experiencing hot flushes due to the huge drop in oestrogen level. There are times when a woman can experience heart palpitation when the body suffers a hormone imbalance such as pregnancy and during their menstrual circle.
Night Sweat: This is when your clothing and bedding is extremely wet, and the room or atmosphere is cool/cold.
Vaginal Dryness (discomfort during sexual intimacy): This can be self-rectified by using water-based lubricants before and during intimacy; part take in foreplay for longer and use unperfumed soap. If this continues, you may want to seek medical advice and referral.
Difficulty in Sleeping: If you are finding it very difficult to sleep, you can go to your Doctors who can advise on the right treatment for you; such as CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), or you could talk to your local pharmacist.
Low Mood or Anxiety: This is when the person feels sad, anxious, etc. See our mental health post here for more information on how to get support.
Low Libido (Low Sex Drive): For anyone worried about this, please speak to your UK GP (General Practitioner) or your regular doctor (outside the UK) for advice. You can seek information or referrals from other health professionals such as, Psychosexual Therapist or your local pharmacy as well as visiting sexual health services in your local area or visit this charity website: https://sexualadviceassociation.co.uk/ which offers many fact sheets on different sexual problems.
Increase Urination: Some women may experience Overactive Bladder (OAB), this can include anything from urine leakage (leaking urine before getting to the bathroom), using the bathroom two to three times a night, to a sudden urge to use the bathroom and urinating more often. OAB may increase the likelihood of a fall as you are trying to rush to use the bathroom.
Dry Skin, Mouth and Eyes: Menopause can bring many changes to the skin (think puberty but minus the wrinkle) such as tingling, pins and needles in some extreme cases; these symptoms are called paraesthesia. Some women may even experience formication; this is when you think you have creepy crawlers (insects) crawling up and down your skin. If you experience any itchiness on the skin for more than 3 days, please seek medical advice to rule out any other underlying health issues. Menopause can also cause your tears ducts to dry out.
Weight Gain and Low Metabolism: Weight gain is not a sudden process during menopause, but rather a gradual process. Individual lifestyle choices and other factors can impact the speed at which they gain weight.
Loss of Breast Fullness: This happens when the skin and connective tissues become dehydrated and have less elasticity, therefore the breasts lose firmness and fullness.
Sore or Tender Breast: This can be a burning, soreness, throbbing, stabbing or sharp pain in one or both breasts. The discomfort can vary from woman to woman and this pain is different from puberty or menstrual sore breast.
Hair Loss or Thinning on the Scalp: is caused by the drop in oestrogen and progesterone level. These two hormones are very important in supporting hair growth. These hormones encourage speedy hair grown and allows the hair follicles to stay on the scalp for longer. These hormones are the main components to thickening the hair, however, due to drop of these hormones in the body and the hormonal imbalance, the hair can become thin and hair loss can occur.
Increase Hair Growth on Other Parts of the Body: Dues to the hormonal imbalance.
Headaches: Headaches in some women (the severity varies from women to women) tend to take place during perimenopause as the hormonal imbalance isn’t consistent.
Reduction in Bone and Muscle Masses: Oestrogen is a natural protector of the bone and the drop of oestrogen can cause the development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes the bone to become less dense and thin.
Memory Problems and Difficulties in Concentration: Research has found that just under 2/3 of middle-aged women have experienced some form of cognitive issue, including concentration and the numbers increase in women experiencing perimenopause.
How to Reduce Hair Loss
A healthy diet can play an important role in hair loss during menopause.
Complex proteins are the making of hair, and the main protein that makes up the hair strand is Keratin. Amino acid makes up keratin. Eating protein and amino acid-rich diet can enhance the health of the hair and support the strength of each strand during menopause and perimenopause.
Ascorbic acid, otherwise known as Vitamin C, is great at stimulating healthy hair regrowth after hair loss, as well as promoting healthy hair, by removing free radicals due to its anti-oxidant properties; this protects any structural damage to the protein in the hair. Shampoo that has ascorbic acid is very effective at removing mineral build-up from the scalp and hair and improving the hair’s ability to absorb moisture (water).
Vitamin A can help to speed up the rebuilding of new cells, and it is a key vitamin for retaining the moisture in the hair whilst preventing brittleness.
Linoleic acid (Omega 6 fatty acids) and poly-saturated fats are vital to strengthening the hair structure. This acid and fats are found in various fish, olive oil and flaxseed, and are regarded as good fat.
Niacin is also known as Vitamin B3: It is great at converting food into energy in the blood. Niacin helping to maintain the structure of the blood cells, and improving blood circulation. This vitamin will help the flow of the blood to the scalp as well as providing the scalp and hair follicles with vital nutrients it needs for health and; therefore reducing the effect of menopause.
Iron just like Niacin helps with providing good blood flow and essential nutrient to the body and scalp. Meat such as the liver and dark green vegetables such as spinach is a rich source of iron.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) is also a very good vitamin for blood flow. It aids in the production of red blood cells which carries oxygen around the body. It is responsible for maintaining the hair colour. Unfortunately, this vitamin is mostly found in meat and fish products so vegans and vegetarian will need to take supplements of Vitamin B12 to benefit from its goodness and not become deficient.
Another Vitamin B that can support hair health, reduce grey hair and rebuild the follicle cells is Folates. Cod, green peas, white beans, egg and liver are all sources of folates.
The scientific name for Vitamin B5 is pantothenic acid. This vitamin strengthens the cells in the hair follicles and aids a healthy balance of sebum (oil the scalp produce) and moistures which helps to reduce Dandruff and/or itchy scalp. Egg yolk, tomatoes, beef, sweet potatoes, fish and liver.
Due to the drop of the female hormones during menopause, zinc is a vital mineral to have during this stage of a woman’s life as it helps to regulate the hormones in the body. Zinc reinforces the building of protein structure within the body and can play an important part in the construction of DNA. Zinc is found in spinach, egg, sweet potatoes, oysters, nuts, and chickpeas.
Stress is very important in how often it shreds. During menopause, the body is under a lot of stress, and it is then vital to find time to relax and de-stress. These activities can help to reduce stress: walking/exercise, listening to music, massage/pampering, socialising, talking about your stressors/problems, meditation, etc.
Hydration is very important, both external and internal. Drinking plenty of water or sources (oranges, grapefruit, cucumber, coconut water, etc.) rich in water will help to combat hair loss.
Cutting the use of direct heat and/or chemical processing the hair can support the health of your hair. Direct heat can dry out the strands, breaking the hair bond, causing brittleness, and increasing the chance of breakage. Chemicals can break down the proteins and the bond in the strands weakening the hair, and accumulating in the likelihood of breakage. Swimmers should protect the hair by wearing swimming caps, deep condition often as chlorine can dry out and damage the hair causing hair breakage and loss.
IF you’re worried about hair loss or any of the symptoms mentioned in this post during the menopause, you can seek medical advice from your doctor, who can refer you to either a dermatologist (skin specialist) or a trichologist (hair specialist). For women who are experiencing continuous or adverse effects of the menopause, your doctor may prescribe you Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)- please be aware that HRT can have side effects as HRT are synthetic (man-made) hormonal drugs.
NHS (2018); Menopause; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/
NHS (2018); Treatment Menopause; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/treatment/
Mayo Clinical Staff (2020); Menopause; Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397
Huizen. J Ernst. H and PA-C (2020); Everything You Should Know About Menopause; Healthline; https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause#symptoms
Healey. N and Jarvis. S MBE (2019); Does the menopause cause hair loss? Patient; https://patient.info/news-and-features/does-the-menopause-cause-hair-loss#:~:text=%22Hair%20loss%20during%20menopause%20is,much%20thinner%2C%22%20Denning%20explains.
Cappelloni. L, Sullivan, D (2019); Menopause Hair Loss Prevention; Healthline; https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/hair-loss
The Marion Gluck Clinic (Accessed 11/2020); 10 Nutrients For Healthy Hair During Menopause; https://www.mariongluckclinic.com/blog/nutrients-healthy-hair-menopause.html
Durward, E (Accessed 11/2020); Hair loss and menopause Hair loss can occur because of the menopause; A. Vogel; https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/menopause/symptoms/hair-loss/
History of Black Seed Oil
Black Seed comes from the fruits of a small plant with pale purple, blue, or white flowers that can be found in Eastern Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East. The plant is called Nigella Sativa, but the seed has many different names such as Black Cumin, Black Caraway, Black Onion Seeds and Kalonji. This seed is also mentioned in the bible in Isaiah:27
Black seed has been used as remedies for thousands of years as well as used to spice food and drinks such as pickles, curries, salads, vegetable dishes and bread. The high quality of black seeds is used for food and drinks.
Black seeds have many benefits for the skin, hair and overall health of the body and form part of the ingredients for many beauty products, for example; Shampoo, Massage oils, fragrances, etc.
What is it?
Black seed oil is obtained from the seed using a cold compression method This allows the purest and highest potency nutrients from the seed retain in the oil; the darker the oil, the higher the purity. Black seed oil contains thymoquinone. Thymoquinone is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that may have tumour-reducing benefits.
Black seed oil is also high in fatty acid, but low in Omega 3 and rich in polyunsaturated fat, which means it is great for the heart.
Benefits for the Hair
Studies have shown that black seed oil helps to grow and strengthen the hair shaft diameter (fight against thinning hair) as well as adding shine to a lacklustre and lifeless hair. Black seed oil reduces dandruff, soothes itchy scalp and help fight against greyness.
Benefits for the Body
Black Seed has many health benefits both in the application and when indigested (capsule).
A 2013 study shows that black seed oil reduces the severity of eczema compared to prescribed medication. It can also help with acne according to different research because black seed oil contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
According to recent studies, black seed oil may help with treating cancer as thymoquinone found in the oil may be able to kill off cancer cells found in leukaemia, breast and brain cancers. These researchers didn’t conduct on human, but on cancer uses cells. A research conducted on rats in 2013 shows that the oil may reduce liver and kidney disease complication and improve these organ structures. An article from the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that black seed oil may contain anti-diabetic properties and improve blood sugar. This sounds great for diabetics- but remember that these researches happen with animal participants and not humans. There is great news for men who want to have children but finds it hard. Research conducted in men found that the oil increases sperm mobility and sperm count. It may also help with Rheumatoid Arthritis and muscle spasms. The oil may aid in lowering Cholesterol (and supporting the health of the heart) as well as easing toothache
Black seed oil may cause a rash in some individual, so it is very important to do a patch test before using it.
The oil should not be used near the eyes, nose or other sensitive areas of the body.
Consuming black seed oil may cause stomach problems such as constipation, stomach upset and vomiting.
If you are pregnant or breastfeed, please seek medical advice before using.
Naturally Curly; Berley, S (2019); Natural Hair Growth Remedy: Black Seed Oil; https://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/kinky-hair-type-4a/hair-growth-remedies-black-seed-oil
Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322948#takeaway
Natural Food Series; Jessimy, M (2019); Black Seed Oil Benefits: For Health, Skin, Hair and Side Effects; https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-health-benefits-black-seed-oil/
Healthy Hubb: https://www.healthyhubb.com/black-seed-oil-benefits/
Beauty Best Care; Smith, J (2020); How To Use Black Seed Oil For Hair Growth; https://www.beautybestcare.com/black-seed-oil-for-hair-growth
Fresh, Body Mind; Ellie (2019); The Amazing Black Seed Oil Benefits for Hair; https://freshbodymind.com/black-seed-oil-benefits-for-hair/
Naturally Daily (2019); Black Seed Oil For Hair: 10 Benefits of Kalonji Oil; https://naturallydaily.com/black-seed-oil-for-hair/
Organic Facts; Staughton, J (2020); 5 Amazing Benefits Of Black Seed Oil For Hair; https://www.organicfacts.net/black-seed-oil-hair.html
NCBI; Yousefi, M, et al (2013); Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23198836
There are many methods of drying natural hair, but the three main methods are Heat Blow-Drying, Cool Blow-Drying and Air Drying. If one chooses to use a blow-dryer, the dryer needs to have different heat settings so that you can choose the right setting for your hair. Before we dive into the different methods of …
What is Castor Oil?
Castor oil is a very thick and sticky oil that comes from the seed of the Ricinus Communis plant. The oil colour is between clear to very light yellow and, it has a very mild odour. The Ricinus Communis plant can be found in Africa and Asia and, it’s believed that the Egyptians were the first to discover the benefit of this oil. They used it not only in their beauty regimen and as medicine (eye irritation, stimulate labour in pregnant women) but also for other practical day-to-day activity and living necessity (such as an oil for burning their lamps). The oil is non-toxic, biodegradable and most importantly renewable.
Why is Castor Oil good for both the hair and skin?
Castor oil has many anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that help to treat things like ringworm, dandruff, dry itchy scalp and skin. The Ricinoleic acid (12-Hydroxyoleic Acid) in castor oil consists of roughly 90% of the fatty acid; this helps to balance the pH of the scalp and creates an environment that is unsuitable for dandruff.
This oil is a humectant, which means it attracts and traps the moisture (water particles) from the air into the skin and hair. Just like all other oils, castor oil locks in the moisture (water) in the hair, which helps to keep the hair hydrated for longer; the longer moisture stays on the hair strands, the less like it will be prone to breakage and split ends as hydrated hair is flexible, manageable and, healthy. Castor oil penetrates the hair outer layer and fills in any damaged keratin on the strands. This locks in the moisture, keeps the hair hydrated and therefore, making the hair soft and manageable. It also adds shine and lustre to the hair as it forms a protective layer on the hair shaft; this helps to reduce frizz and premature greying, hair thinning and hair loss.
Castor oil is commonly used in today’s modern world as a laxative for constipation, uneven skin tone, acne and many other skin conditions.
How to use Castor Oil on hair?
Like with all oils, castor oil is best applied on wet or damp hair as it seals in the moisture. Due to the thickness of the oil, only the smallest amount needs to be applied to the hair.
Possible disadvantage of using Castor Oil?
Castor oil has few side effects if consume or absorb in a large amount such as:
- Muscle cramps
- Abdominal cramps
- Shortness of breath and chest pain
- Skin rash
- Throat tightness
- We highly recommend that medical advice should be sought as there might be underlying health issues when using castor oil for hair loss.
- Stained clothes (best to wear an old t-shirt or unwanted clothes)
Resources and References:
Tadimalla, R.T; 2020; 9 Side Effects Of Castor Oil You Should Be Aware Of; StyleCraze; https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/side-effects-of-castor-oil-you-should-be-aware-of/#gref
Kandola, A; 2018; Benefits of castor oil for the face and skin; Medical News Today; https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319844.php
Wong, C; 2019; Using Castor Oil for Hair Growth; Very Well Health; https://www.verywellhealth.com/using-castor-oil-for-hair-growth-4172190
Winney; 2019; Benefits Of Using Castor Oil On 4C Hair; LovingKinkyCurls; https://lovingkinkycurls.com/benefits-of-adding-castor-oil-in-your-4c-hair-care-routine/
Walton, N; 2014; How to Use Castor Oil for Natural Hair Growth; Naturally Curly; https://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/ingredients/how-to-use-castor-oil-for-natural-hair-growth
Hartfield, W; 2020; Castor Oil For Hair Loss Study Review; Hairguard; https://www.hairguard.com/castor-oil-benefits-for-hair/
Heather; 2012; 8 Benefits of Castor oil for natural hair & a warning!; Neno Natural; https://www.nenonatural.com/hair-blog/8-benefits-of-castor-oil-for-natural-hair-a-warning
Jostylin; 2019; My Experience Using Castor Oil to Grow Natural Hair | 4C Afro Hair Review; Jostylin; https://jostylin.com/how-to-use-castor-oil-to-grow-natural-hair-4c-afro-hair
Kelly AJ1, Kavanagh J, Thomas J; 2013; Castor oil, bath and/or enema for cervical priming and induction of labour; NCBI; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23881775
Photos by: CDC on Unsplash
These are summaries of oils that are great for natural hair and provides an excellent environment for hair growth, hair strength and thickness as well as length retention.
In the future, each oil will get explored in more detail.
Grapeseed Oil: This oil is lightweight and great to use as natural hair protection as it has a high boiling point.
Olive Oil: This heavy oil, is magnificent at conditioning the hair and with its anti-inflammatory property, it can help prevent dandruff.
Coconut Oil: This lightweight oil can penetrate the hair shaft with its antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties it can help prevent hair loss.
Argan Oil: Argan oil contains omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E; this lightweight oil absorbed into the hair, providing great shiny and manageable hair.
Sweet Almond Oil: This oil is full of so much goodness, such as fatty acids, magnesium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, and antioxidants. It helps to seal in the moisture in the hair (keeping it hydrated for longer) and therefore providing elasticity without the greasy feeling.
Jojoba Oil: This is the only oil that is similar to the sebum oil (the natural oil the scalp produces). It is an excellent sealant as it locks in the moisture (water) into the hair.
Castor Oil: Castor Oil is a very thick oil that helps to thicken the hair strands and prevent thinning hair, breakage and hair loss.
Avocado Oil: This is another super oil that contains folic acid, amino acids, fatty acids, copper, iron, magnesium, proteins, and vitamins A, B, D, and E. It protects the hair from sun damages and good to use as a hot oil treatment.
Rapeseed Oil: Conditions the hair and helps to prevent hair loss, split ends and dandruff. It is rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 as well as vitamin E.
Mustard Seed Oil: This is another excellent hot oil treatment and support hair growth as it stimulates and encourages blood flow to the scalp.
Black Seed Oil (Nigella Sativa Seed): It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant promoting a healthy scalp (creating a fantastic environment for hair growth) and reducing dandruff.
What is Aloe Vera (AV)? How does it benefit the body and hair and what are the pros and cons of using AV on the body and hair? This section on the blog will look at AV closer and will try to answer all the above questions.
What is AV?
AV is a plant that grows wild in tropical and semi-tropical climates from around the world (it can indoor as a plant as well) that derives from the plant species call Genus Aloe.
AV is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its thick pointed and very fleshy green leaves have slimy tissue. The water-filled slimy tissue is called “gel” and this “gel” is used in many cosmetic, medicinal and food products for hair and skin as well as internal well-being. The leaves can grow anywhere between 30cm to 50cm in length.
AV has many compounds that are very good for human health; these compounds include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties which belongs to a range of substances known as polyphenols. Polyphenols help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that may cause infections in the human body.
As well as inhibit the growth of bacteria, AV is also used on the skin to help accelerate the healing process of things like sores, sunburns and burns. It has a high collagen content and cooling properties which help to repair sun damage to both skin and hair. AV has a great ability to increase blood circulation, hence why it accelerates the healing process to sores and burn.
AV can also reduce the build-up of dental plaque and accelerate the healing of mouth ulcers as well as the pain that is associated with ulcers. Studies have shown that AV is just as effective as the Chlorhexidine (ingredients use in mouthwash) in reducing the build-up of plaque by destroying the plaque producing bacterium Streptococcus Mutan in the mouth and the yeast Candida Albans.
How does it benefit hair?
AV contains enzymes called Proteolytic Enzymes. These enzymes help to repair dead skin cells on the scalp which prevent itching scalp and help to reduce dandruff (Seborrheic Dermatitis). AV has fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties, these properties stop the scalp from inflaming (the cause of dandruff). A healthy scalp creates a healthy environment for the hair follies to grow.
AV contains many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B-12, C and E as well as folic acid. Vitamin B-12 and folic acid prevent breakage and the hair from falling out this may be because AV has a great ability to increase blood circulation whilst Vitamins A, C and E helps with the turnover of cells and therefore promoting healthy cell production and shiny hair.
Due to the slimness of the gel, AV is a great product to detangle the hair; it provides plenty of slip that would melt away any knots and tangles and can help to reduce your detangling time on wash day.
What are the Pros and Cons?
The Pros are all mentioned above in why you may use AV as part of your hair regime as well as part of your overall health. There are more pros such as it may help with weight loss, constipation (latex is the yellow sticky residue found just under the skin, which may help with constipation), improve skin elasticity and wrinkles or diabetes. These are not conclusive as the evidence isn’t strongly supporting these other benefits from studies done.
The Con of using AV is that some people might be allergic to it. So, it is important to do a patch test and see how your body and/or hair reacts to it. To do a patch test; rub a bit of AV on the inside of your wrist and wait for about two hours. If you react to AV, please do not use any AV products and seek medical advice if necessary.
If you are allergic to AV and if consume, AV may cause, blood sugar to drop, stomach cramps, irritation, dehydration (if taken in large quantity), uterine contractions (on pregnant women) and very low potassium levels (this may cause irregular heartbeat, weakness and fatigue). Skin allergies may include skin rashes, irritations, burns and redness to the eye.
Sources of Reference:
Cobb, C and Watson, K (2017); Healthline; www.healthline.com/health/aloe-vera-for-hair
Malik, K (2019); NDTV Food; www.food.ndtv.com/beauty/6-amazing-benefits-aloe-vera-hair-skin-weight-loss-1221869?amp=1&akamai-rum=off
Rana, S (2018); NDTV Food; www.food.ndtv.com/health/side-effects-of-aloe-vera-heres-why-anything-in-excess-is-bad-1882205%3famp=1&akamai-rum=off
Leech, J (2017); Medical News Today; www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318591.php
Bender The Bot (2019); Wikipedia; www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera