Struggling to grow long, luscious locks? Bogged down by breakage, split ends or sudden hair loss? When it comes to hair growth, there are three cycles: regeneration, degeneration and the rest cycle. Unfortunately, at times, these cycles can be disrupted by conditions that both slow or cease growth altogether. While many are self-inflicted (too much heat, ladies) others are entirely internal.

As with most health woes, several factors can contribute to stopping hair growth as well as hair loss. Here are four common medical conditions that could be the culprit.

Alopecia: Described as the thinning or loss of hair, there are two types of alopecia: scarring and non-scarring. With scarring, hair follicles are destroyed. Thus, sufferers may experience a receding hair line, large circular patches of hair loss, thinning eyebrows, lashes and pubic hair as well as inflammation of the scalp. With non-scarring alopecia, hair loss is caused by certain medications, pregnancy, iron deficiency and severe stress, but can be reversed with proper treatment.

Hair Shaft Disorder: Usually hereditary, this disorder is characterized by hair that is dry, brittle, coarse and riddled with split ends. Skin abnormalities may also present themselves. Per the University of Maryland Medical Center, this condition is also caused by over processing the hair, i.e. relaxers, color and heat.

Autoimmune Disease: A medical condition known as alopecia areata – a disease that attacks hair follicles – is believed to be a genetic disorder. Sufferers may experience halted hair growth or loss of hair from the scalp. While many tend to regain hair growth several years down the road, scientists are still unsure of its true cause, noting that a family history of the disease does indeed increase risk for the disorder.

Hormone Irregularity: Hormone irregularity can disturb or extend the growth phase, or anagen phase of the hair. While this stage lasts anywhere from two to three years, if prolonged, it can lead to less overall growth. Because hormones both promote hair growth and loss, a fluctuation in hormones during different life stages like menopause, can also create thinning or stalled growth.

Believe it or not, prevention can be as simple as eating a balanced diet and avoiding damaging hair treatments.

Of course, to achieve long lasting results (AND jumpstart hair growth), treating the underlying cause is the way to go. Fortunately for sufferers, healthcare providers can diagnose and create with a treatment plan around your issue with a variety of treatments including medications, herbs, acupuncture, massage – the list goes on.

To jumpstart hair growth and calm current damage the natural route, try:

Ginkgo: Taken 3 times daily, this age-old remedy will increase antioxidant support and stimulate blood flow, thus improving poor circulation. In turn, it is believed that sufferers will see reduced hair loss, as widening blood vessels supply hair follicles with much needed nutrients.

*Note: Ginkgo is not suggested for people with diabetes, a history of seizures or bleeding disorders.

Essential oils: Not necessarily a new trend but one that is currently resurfacing, topical applications of essential oils may benefit skin infections and stimulate new hair growth. One concoction I’ve found to be helpful (for edges) is 3 – 4 drops each of peppermint, rosemary, and sage, mixed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. By massaging gently into the affected area 1 – 2 times daily, you can prevent further breakage and stimulate new growth.

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