SIBO and hair loss

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SIBO and hair loss

Medically reviewed by:
Dr James Freeman

Experiencing hair loss due to SIBO, is very common.

We have already established that SIBO exists in the small intestine. The small intestine is vital for extracting vitamins and nutrients required by the body, so it is common for people with SIBO to develop vitamin deficiencies.

To understand how SIBO affects hair growth, let’s establish the three phases of hair growth.

Phases of hair growth

At any time, a random number of hairs will be in one of three stages of growth and shedding: anagen, catagen, and telogen.

Anagen: This is when your hair grows. Most of the hair on your head should be in a growing phase which lasts 2-7years.

Catagen: This is the shortest phase between anagen and telegenic and only lasts about two weeks.
Roughly 1% of your hair will be in this stage at any given time.

Telogen: This is the ‘rest stage’. Your hair isn’t growing anymore. At the end of this phase, some of your hair falls out, and that is normal. Most people lose up to 100 hairs a day.

Micronutrients are significant elements in the normal hair follicle cycle, playing a role in cellular turnover.

Vitamins required for hair growth

Deficiencies of vitamin B12, fat-soluble vitamins, iron, thiamine, and niacin can be associated with SIBO. Some of these vitamins are essential for hair growth, and deficiency can cause thinning of the hair. Iron is one of the most common deficiencies seen in SIBO and iron is one of the most important vitamins in hair health.[1]

The hair and why your body doesn’t prioritise it in times of poor health

Unfortunately, your hair has no significance to your health survival as much as it might contribute to your self-confidence. Your body is smart, so when it’s forced to choose how and where to direct limited resources, it will prioritise the things that keep you alive over the less important things like hair.

With SIBO, your body is robbed and deficient in some vital nutrients; it will not prioritise hair growth, thus letting more of your hair enter the fallout phase while not supporting the new growth phase.

When too much of the hair enters the fallout stage while too little hair enters the growing stage, the total hair volume of the head starts to decrease. Unfortunately, once the hair has entered the fallout phase, there is no way to turn it back to the growing phase.

Hair loss is often delayed and here is why

Hair loss is like a predetermined condition since the event that causes it often happens months before you see any hair loss. That is because it takes time for your hair to shift from growing to resting to falling out. If someone experiences a traumatic, stressful event (mental or physical), the hair won’t start to fall out until about three months later.

When you’re experiencing hair loss due to a vitamin deficiency or stress, this started long before you saw any loss. That makes it hard to pinpoint when something went wrong. For example, your iron levels might be in the normal range now, but a few months ago, they weren’t, and this triggered something in your body that has affected the hair cycle.

Likewise, when you address the issue, whether that be fixing your gut and restoring your body to health, it will take time for your hair to recover, and unfortunately, there will be a lag.

The impact of hair on self-image

It may seem silly to some, but hair can impact how you feel about yourself and your self-confidence. It can affect your self-image. The media often considers healthy hair beautiful and a sign of vitality (which in some ways it is) and we see this portrayed often.

Just know that given time, your hair will come back with proper gut healing. We can therefore deduce that there are many things about you that are more important than your hair (but it sucks, we get it).

Things to note:

• Don’t fall for gimmicky hair growth supplements pedaled on social media. In most cases they have no scientific reference.
• The male strength and female strength are not needed. The male is more potent at 5%. Do not pay extra for “female” branded products
• Be aware that minoxidil can stimulate hair growth in any area- so be careful just to put it on your scalp (and be okay with grappling a razor if you get a bit of peach fluff)

1 Pimente, 2020