My son came home from Canada a few months ago, he was about to turn 24 and was showing signs of male pattern baldness. What hope does he have? He has a father, and two grandfathers that are bald as well as his two uncles. There seemed to be no hair on the heads of men in our family.
He had been in Canada snowboarding and working for the season and he wore a hat most of the 5 months he was away. The hat was implicated in being a problem, but I reasoned that many people wear hats and don’t go bald so it can’t be the hat.
We decided to do some research into baldness. I questioned why the Asian men aren’t as bald as Caucasian men. I also noticed a lot of young men with receding hairlines or completely shaved heads to avoid the balding look everywhere I looked in our home town. Was there more to it than genetics, was a question I kept asking myself? I know that genes are usually the loaded gun and environment the trigger, but I also knew that there were phenotypes and genotypes. Which was baldness? And is male pattern baldness merely alopecia (hair loss). It seems that there is controversy with all that I read and there was no definitive answer to my questions.
Our first part of the research was to look at the well known clinics around Australia offering help for baldness. I was a little shocked, but I guess not surprised to see that most use medications and some of the adverse side affects of the medications were less then desirable. One of the side affects was permanent impotence. Great! I have a good rule of thumb if the medication has more side effects or a worse side effect then the problem then steer clear.
Brogan, his father and I trolled the internet looking for anything that could help. Of course my focus was diet, whereas Howard and Brogan were looking for laser, herbs and other treatments. So between the three of us we came up with a plan.
While I was researching baldness and nutrition I learnt that alopecia (loss of hair) was an autoimmune disease. Amazing I have been reading everything I can on autoimmunity and diet so I was well versed in what was being said in the research. I reasoned that we know at this point that approximately 55 autoimmune diseases are linked to the continued consumption of gluten. So I decided that what ever eating program we did for my son it would be without gluten.
Brogan arrived home from Canada 17th April 2013 and began eating a diet based on real foods, meat, fish, chicken, unprocessed dairy, all vegetables, all fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, super foods but no grains except for the occasional brown rice and quinoa. His super foods were the Changing Habits; Greens, colloidals, probiotics, inca inchi protein and inca inchi oil as well as some herbs indicated by several blogs for baldness and alopecia.
Of course a young man wants immediate results so he was checking the progress daily, he also made up a mixture of fresh chili, ginger and garlic and made a paste and put it on his head for about 30 minutes every day.
We were covering all bases, leaving nothing to chance.
About a week into the program my son said that he realised while he was in Canada that he lived on bread and pasta. He was only making $7.00 an hour and meat was a luxury. He thought he was eating healthy as he always added his nuts, fruit and vegetables, but basically his main diet was wheat. Brogan had always been a pasta and bread eater, I would buy organic pasta as well as get my local baker to make him organic loaves of bread without additives and made traditionally as I couldn’t keep up with making my own bread for him. They were his filler and sustained him. He always added good food to them but they were a big part of the diet.
The other day, so 6 weeks since he started on his eating regime, he was washing up the dinner dishes and he told me that he felt really happy and was content with where he was and glad to be home, he told me that he hadn’t felt this way before. I just thought it was him getting older and knowing what he wanted in life. I also noted that Brogan was beginning to converse more with Howard and I as well as not spending a lot of his time upstairs in his room watching video’s. He began to spend more time with us.
Then over the weekend we had the Changing Habits Health Retreat and we were unable to pick up our daughter Tarnea from the airport, she had been away since February. Brogan volunteered to pick her up - which normally he would complain heavily but said with great cheer that he was happy to do it.
That night when Tarnea and I were sitting down catching up on the past few months, she told me that she had, had the best conversation with Brogan ever, in fact they talked the whole way home from the airport and he was happy and gregarious - she asked me what was he on???
Everywhere I’m getting hints that my very quiet son Brogan has changed in personality but it wasn’t until his two best friends made the same observations that I began to think that perhaps it was the fact that he had cleaned up his diet and had taken wheat and gluten away that had made the difference.
Ever since I have learnt the destructive properties of modern wheat on our health I have avoided it myself (that will be another blog), but it’s very hard to convince a young man to stop eating it completely especially when he enjoys his bread and pasta.
To top off this whole story, this morning my son called me into the bathroom to show me the regrowth on his scalp as well as the fact his hair doesn’t come out in clumps and that it has a whole new feel to it.
Of course this isn’t the end of the story. It is only 6 weeks into no wheat and no gluten and off most grains. I’ll repost what happens in 12 months and whether he has regrown his hair. How wonderful if we did find that it’s not the genes that causes the baldness in our men but perhaps the trigger in the environment. No promises, it’s all anecdotal but worth the thought.
Just a note on this. I asked Brogan if it was OK to post this blog, I wanted his permission. He read it and wanted me to add one thing and that is that he is young and the losing of his hair is recent and he believes it may be something that you need to take issue with early on in the loss of hair rather then later in life - Wise boy!
Happy Changing Habits
Following is one explanation of Hair loss as far as genes and chromosomes.
Many types of baldness occur, and often baldness may be a symptom of some other illness or genetic condition or syndrome. The most common type of baldness in healthy men has also been called "early baldness of the ordinary type" or "male patterned baldness (MPB)" or androgenetic alopecia.
Some studies have concluded that this type of baldness is caused by an autosomal gene situated somewhere on chromosomes 1 through 22, not on the X or Y chromosomes. The exact chromosomal location has not yet been identified - we don't know which chromosome, or which position on that chromosome.
The gene appears to be autosomal dominant in males and autosomal recessive in females. This means that some other gene or genes must be influencing the way the gene is expressed.
Males who have just one copy of the gene will, of course, also have one copy of the corresponding non-baldness gene, since all our genes occur in pairs. In other words, these males are heterozygous for the gene. Such heterozygous males do have baldness, according to this theory.
A female who is heterozygous, with one baldness gene and one non-baldness gene, will not be bald. She can still pass the gene onto her sons and daughters, but a woman will not be bald herself unless she inherits a baldness gene from both parents. In such a case she would be homozygous for the baldness gene.
You may wonder how it is that we do not know where this gene is on the chromosomes, now that the Human Genome Project has been completed. The answer is that the Human Genome Project gives us only the sequence of DNA base pairs along the length of the chromosomes - ACGTACGT, etc. The next challenge is to interpret these sequences and figure out which gene is which. DNA-language is not so easy to understand even when we can read the sequence.
Please note that there are also other studies of baldness that seem to indicate other modes of inheritance different from the inheritance pattern described above. Perhaps we may still identify other genes that cause baldness in certain families.
Sarina Kopinsky, MSc, H.Dip.Ed.