Overcoming My Hair Loss…

Overcoming My Hair Loss…

I never realized what my hair meant to me until it started falling out.

As much as I told myself, “It’s just hair” or “hair doesn’t define me as a person” I still could not shake this deep sense of loss.  As my hair became thinner and the bald patches broadened, I felt like I was losing sense of myself as a woman. Losing my hair was like losing a part of my identity.

Magazines, television, and social media all glorify women with lustrous, flowing locks of hair.  A popular hair growth supplement company slogan boasts, “regain the hair that makes you, fully you.” Day to day life is permeated with messages just like that about how we should look or how we should be, and I was subconsciously not immune.  It is tough to admit, but I felt ugly and a sense of shame that is difficult to explain.  I felt like I had failed as a woman and as a health practitioner.

My hair loss story began on Christmas morning 2015 when Santa did not bring quite what I was expecting.  I washed my hair and felt a slick spot on my scalp.  I knew it was a bald spot, but I didn’t accept it at first.  A bald spot did not make any sense.  I had to recruit my family to investigate, and I received confirmation of “the spot.”  Upon this first discovery, the bald spot was about the size of a poker chip.

What was so haunting about the spot was the mysterious disappearance of my hair! I never found a clump of hair on my pillow, in my hands, or in the shower drain.  My hair just vanished without a trace.  It was as if the Tooth Fairy’s evil cousin, the “Hairy Fairy,” came into my room during the night and snatched a chunk of hair out of my scalp and ran off cackling into the darkness.  Alright, that may be a bit dramatic, but that was the image in my mind, and I could not help but wonder when she would be back.  I was 33 years old with the equivalent of a monster under my bed. 

I was confused and upset, but I held it together.

This strange incident was just a little setback.   I knew I was a seasoned Holistic Pharmacist. Hair loss? HA!  I laughed in the face of hair loss.  I would just take all the right supplements, eat all the right foods and my hair would grow back in no time.  Right?

I maintained that high level of optimism for many, many months. I tried so many ingenious diets, supplements, and natural treatments, but the hair kept falling out at an alarming pace.   I also began experiencing significant scalp pain.  As positive and proactive as I was, I had absolutely no concept of the amount of time and effort it would take to heal from this “little setback.” The quick fix I anticipated turned into YEARS of stressing and battling, not only for my hair, but for my health.

I started to lose hope and would become stressed to the point of tears when getting ready to go out.  I was frequently finding new bald patches.  I tied my hair tightly to the side to try to hide the hair loss.   I was often asked about my new “Robert Palmer Girl” hairstyle.  As “simply irresistible” as it may have looked, I felt embarrassed. I sometimes wore hair pieces which was a completely foreign and intimidating practice to me.   I began shopping for wigs but was anxious about wearing one.  I thought a wig would look conspicuous when all I wanted was to hide.  I was concerned about my patients knowing about my hair loss. What would they think of me?  Would they be disgusted?  Would they doubt my ability to help them if I could not save my own hair?  

At the peak of my hair loss in 2017, I had lost at least 40% of my hair.  Most of the right side of my head was “Mr. Clean” bald and I had begun thinning all over.  With that level of hair loss, I realized it was likely that I would go completely bald.  I began preparing for my life as a bald woman.  

Underneath my worries about my appearance and judgement passed by others was the fear of what the hair loss meant about my health.  Obviously, something was very wrong. The migraines I had previously eliminated with my nutrition program had returned and were once again debilitating.  I was having joint pain flare ups and muscle weakness, weight gain that I could not seem to control, and I was constantly exhausted.  There were many mornings that I would cry in bed because I doubted that I would be able to drag my body through the day.  I consulted with a medical doctor, an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, and a dermatologist. They provided very few answers.  I heard the echo of, “It’s Alopecia Areata.  We don’t know why it happens.” 

In conventional medicine, Alopecia Areata (AA) is considered an autoimmune condition.  As the case is with many conditions labeled “autoimmune,” there is very little known.  The theory behind Alopecia Areata is that the body’s immune system attacks its own hair follicles. AA hair loss is usually in patches and is often potentiated by “stress.”   No single cause for AA has been isolated, but it has been medically recognized as more common in individuals with a family history of autoimmune conditions.  

The only treatment option I was offered was steroid injections into my scalp, which I declined.  From my research I knew that steroid injections often create a temporary improvement by reducing inflammation.  Often, the scalp gets inflamed again and the hair loss starts over.  I did not want to open myself up to the effects of these injections on my overall health with such a limited expected outcome. What good was hair regrowth if it would likely fall out again?  I knew from my medical and holistic experience that if I didn’t isolate the cause of the problem, the inflammation would return and so would the Alopecia.  The only logical solution was to heal my body so that the hair loss stopped.

With so few answers medically, I had to dig deep with research, self-experimentation and some faith. 

I am happy to say that through my efforts and with the help of my own NHCAA practitioner, my Alopecia has been reversed. 

Within the last year, all my bald patches have filled in and all my hair has grown back.  Many of the old symptoms that were making me feel so unhealthy have dramatically improved.

You probably want to know exactly what I did to overcome hair loss and regrow my hair. Well…that’s an extremely lengthy discussion for another time.  But what I will share with you right now are key ingredients to my recovery that are true for ANY health condition.

The first ingredient to my recovery was accepting my hair loss.  I reached a point where I decided I would be fine if all my hair fell out.  I am not going to pretend that being bald was my preference, but I stopped agonizing about it and fighting my body. I had a plan for shaving my head once I lost more hair.  It took me years to get to that point, but it was such a relief once I got there.

I have realized that by being at peace with my hair loss, I performed an action that is necessary for anyone to heal.  I stopped chasing the SYMPTOM.  When I stopped basing all my evaluations of success or failure on the status of my hair, I started making progress.  In fact, one of the critical steps I took in dealing with Alopecia Areata caused my hair to fall out much worse in the beginning.

Once I let go of the fear of losing my hair and was willing to experience what was happening with my body, I examined what it was that I really wanted. 

No one truly wants to NOT have something.  My real goal wasn’t to NOT lose my hair or even to have great hair.  When I changed my perspective and confronted why I was attaching so much significance to my hair, I finally understood what my true goals were.  What I wanted was to feel comfortable and confident in myself and in my health.  Once I understood this truth, my priorities changed, and I made better decisions that got results.

The second necessary ingredient to my healing was PATIENCE.  I have a tremendous amount of patience with others, but I have not always extended the same courtesy to myself or my body.  It has been over five years since the hair loss began and it has only been within the last year that my hair has fully grown back. In many ways, it would have been easier to give up after the first year, but if I had, I would be in a much different condition than I am today.  I am still healing but I am stronger, healthier and more confident than I was prior to this experience.

My advice to those who have Alopecia, or any chronic health condition, is threefold:

  • Be willing to experience your condition.   Being willing to experience your condition is much different than giving up on getting better, but it is in fact an important measure for wellness.  Accepting what you are going through with your health is by no means easy, but it is very important to not fight your body or to over analyze it.  The stress of the battle with your body and constantly being in “fight or flight” mode can completely undermine your healing process.  Worry and stress launch an assault on your mind and body. Many ill people lose trust in their body’s ability to heal because it has betrayed them.   However, even bodies with autoimmune and/or chronic disease can heal.  You are where you are with your health – so start there and don’t compare yourself with others.  Continue taking healthy, proactive steps rather than falling into despair that you are not healing the way you think you should.
  • STOP CHASING SYMPTOMS!  Your symptoms are what are driving you to act, but they should not be your immediate focus.  You should examine why you want to be rid of the symptom.  How would your life be different without that symptom and why is that so important to you?  Your motivations may be quite revealing.  The focus of the pathway you choose to heal should be uncovering the root causes. The root causes must be addressed in order to get lasting results.
  • Be patient.  Healing takes time. We are trained by a lifetime of being in the medical model to expect instant results from getting treatment.  Many drugs will bypass the body’s normal processes and force an effect, but true healing usually does not yield quick results. Regardless of what kind of condition you are dealing with, healing is a process.  There will be ups, and there will be downs. There will be good days, and there will be bad days.  When you are working on being healthy, it is not as if one day you do the one right thing and suddenly you have health that lasts a lifetime.  Health is a state that you inch toward continually and that you must constantly create. Success in healing is not just doing the right things; it is doing the things at the right time and for the right amount of time.

I am sharing my experience as a real-life example that even in complex conditions like Alopecia Areata, or other chronic diseases, healing IS possible.  The body has a miraculous ability to repair and restore once given the correct environment, both internally and externally.  By sharing my mindset that led to my hair regrowth, I hope you recognize how to jumpstart your own healing process.  

 

Your Holistic Pharmacist,

Dr. Amanda Childress, PharmD

Amanda Childress, PharmD Bio

The Healing and Immune Boosting Power of Bone Broth

The Healing and Immune Boosting Power of Bone Broth

A healthy habit that supports your immune system is regular consumption of bone broth.

Almost every culture has made use of bones in cooking to get the nutritional benefits as well as to make the most out of precious resources.

Here are some of the health benefits of bone broth for immunity:

  • Rich in easy to absorb minerals
  • Contains healing factors for the lining of the gut (helps to heal leaky gut)
  • Supports healthy hair, skin, and nails 
  • Supports healthy joints
  • Supports skin elasticity 
  • Naturally boosts the immune system 
  • Contains minerals, amino acids, collagen, gelatin, good fat
  • Supports bone health
  • Helps with detoxification

During these challenging times of living during a pandemic, it is more important than ever to access as many of the health and immune system benefits available to you as possible. Bone broth is one of the cheapest of those precious resources available to you and has the added benefit of being food as well as medicine.

instant-pot-bone-broth-the-nhcaa

Now, you likely have more time than ever to cook so break out your pressure cooker, crockpot or stockpot and try it out. Sure, you can buy bone broth in the store, but it’s going to be missing the fat and gel that make it so good for you. Not to mention that it is quite expensive to buy when you can make it at home easily with scraps! Making your own bone broth is good for your health and your budget.

Dr. Amanda’s Simple Instant Pot Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • Organic bones
  • Purified water
  • Apple cider vinegar 
  • Vegetables (optional)
  • Spices (optional)

Instructions:

canned-bone-broth-the-nhcaa
  • Add bones to instant pot up to almost 3/4 the way with some gaps between bones. (I used organic grass-fed beef bones)
  • Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  
  • Add water up to the max fill line.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes to begin bone demineralization.
  • Add spices and vegetable scraps if you want. (I used 5 crushed cloves of garlic, some celery scraps, and pink Himalayan salt)
  • Close the lid to the pot and turned the valve to seal. I used the soup/broth and low-pressure settings for 120 minutes.
  • After it is done cooking, strain the broth into a pot then put it in mason jars. After it cools, put them in the refrigerator. After 12 hours the fat and gelatin will rise to the top.

You can store the bone broth in the refrigerator for 1 week. To store longer, freeze.

You can use a crock pot or stock pot, but will need to cook for at least 12 hours using those methods.

You can drink this broth plain or with butter and salt. You can also use this as the base for soups, gravies and for braising.  

Bone broth can be used for fasts. I have seen dramatic improvements using this type of fast for individuals with digestive issues as in addition to giving the digestive system a rest, it contains those gut healing factors. Bone broth is also a great complement to a keto or carnivore diet. Bone broth is the staple for the GAPS (gut and psychology syndrome) diet and can support a healthy mood and sleep.

I recommend consuming at least 1 cup per day for gut and immune benefits. With the current viral situation we are facing, I advise daily consumption over at least the next 3 months. 

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For more help on how to integrate bone broth into your nutrition plan and how to access mother nature’s medicine cabinet, contact the office to set up a phone visit.

Your Holistic Pharmacist,

Dr. Amanda Childress,
PharmD

Read Dr. Amanda’s Biography

Skin Rash? Skin Problems or Bug Bites?

Skin Rash? Skin Problems or Bug Bites?

 Why does a skin rash react differently to each person?

What are some common skin rash causes? During the summer months, we may have more attention on our skin as we expose more of it. Healthy skin is a sign of a healthy body. Just as problematic skin is an outward sign of what might be happening in the body. Discover some common causes of skin problems below, including vitamin deficiency skin rashes. Whether you have a rash or bug bites, there are natural solutions to both.

Skin rashes can be a sign of liver and gallbladder distress. The liver and gallbladder are organs of elimination; and, if they are not detoxifying the body well, the skin becomes an alternative pathway for toxins to exit the body. Also, the liver and gallbladder are responsible for helping to digest fat and protein. Healthy fats and protein are necessary for skin elasticity, strength, and integrity. Often, vitamin deficiency can cause skin rashes too.

What are we missing in our diet?

Stretch marks are often related to mineral deficiency and incorrect or deficient fats. Applying Vitamin E oil topically can be beneficial. And, ask your practitioner to test you for minerals at your next visit.

Acne is often related to hormone imbalance in the body or immune challenges. By balancing out the hormonal organs and helping the immune system we can often help with facial and upper body acne, too.

Summer also brings more bug bites. Terra Shield by DoTerra is a powerful essential oil. It helps deter biting insects powerfully and safely. Also, if you do get bit, you can make a paste out of Standard Process Cholacol II (a bentonite clay) and Colloidal Silver. Just crush the Cholacol II and mix with a little water and a spray of colloidal silver. Apply this topically to draw the toxins from the skin. This paste can help with bee stings, mosquito bites, and other skin rashes like poison ivy.

Yours in health, Kerry Cradit

Read Kerry’s Bio

4 Natural Remedies for Fungal Skin Conditions

4 Natural Remedies for Fungal Skin Conditions

Your skin is the most visible indicator of your health.

For this reason, I find that many of my patients put skin ailments at the top of their list of concerns. Not only are skin rashes often uncomfortable and annoying, but they can also vastly affect your appearance and your self-image.

A large percentage of skin conditions and rashes are fungal in nature. Psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, dandruff, and acne, just to name a few, are conditions commonly influenced by fungal challenges.  

Here are a few indicators that your skin condition may be fungal:

  • Flakey, scaling, or peeling skin (either white or reddish)
  • White patches over the area
  • Rashes in the folds of the body such as the armpit, groin, under the breast, etc.
  • If the rash is an area that is commonly wet or moist

The medical treatments for rashes are both over-the-counter and prescription creams (such as Lotrimin). These creams can be very effective; however, often there is a resurgence of symptoms once they are discontinued. This is why people often look for natural remedies for fungus.

Here are 4 natural remedies for fungal skin conditions that are safe and easy to try.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)-  Dilute the ACV and then apply it with a cotton pad or cotton ball to the skin area.  If using it to treat your scalp, dilute it at least 50%. Rinse the scalp with the mixture. Shampoo and condition as normal then rinse the scalp with the mixture again. Rinse your hair with water afterward. An added benefit is that it makes your hair nice and soft.
  2. Melaleuca Oil- Also known as tea tree oil. This oil has incredible anti-fungal properties.  Put it in a base of coconut oil and apply it to the rash. Melaleuca oil also works great on the scalp.  
  3. Coconut oil –  Even on its own, coconut oil does a phenomenal job at fighting fungus. The advantage of coconut oil is it is safe and gentle enough to use daily and even on sensitive skin areas. You should get an organic, unrefined product.
  4. Colloidal Silver- Colloidal Silver is a great broad-spectrum anti-microbial agent and can offer great itch relief as well. Quality matters. We use ACS Silver. It is not in an alcohol base which offers an advantage for use on the skin as it is not so drying.

If your skin condition does not improve with topical remedies, is severe, or is affecting the toenails, it is highly likely that it is due to an internal fungal challenge rather than isolated to the skin. If that is the case, topical natural skin fungus remedies are unlikely to achieve lasting results. If you fall under this category, consult with an NHCAA practitioner to see if you are a good candidate for an anti-fungal diet and/or supplement protocol.  You can make an appointment to see Dr. Childress by calling 734-302-7575.

Yours in Health,
Amanda Childress, PharmD

Read Dr. Amanda’s Bio

Fun In The Sun

Fun In The Sun

Here are some summer health tips for staying well this season and having safe fun in the sun.

1. Enjoy the sun!

Exposure to the sun is beneficial; it provides Vitamin D. You should prepare for sun exposure and protect your skin, too. Here at The NCHAA, we have a tanning protocol. You can ask your Practitioner for a copy of this protocol and get checked for the products (Calcium Lactate, Cataplex F Perles, and Oxi-Cell) at your visit. Coconut oil is a protectant and has a natural SPF of 4.

You should increase your sun exposure slowly. If you know you will be in the sun for an extended amount of time and you haven’t built up to it use a safer sunscreen. For Healthy sunscreens go HERE. Avoid sunscreen that contains aluminum, sprays on, or has a high SPF (greater than 50).

2. Eat healthily!

Summer brings picnics, parties, and fun. But, good food can still be a priority. Keep your focus on protein and vegetables. Fresh vegetables will be readily available; so, if you’re going to a party bring a veggie tray to pass. Eat an adequate amount of protein and fat so you won’t be as tempted by deserts and snack foods. Shop at your local Farmer’s Market or consider joining a CSA (Community Support Agriculture or Farm Share Group).

The warmer weather increases the need for fluids, too. So, make sure you are drinking enough filtered water throughout the day. You can also add some Celtic Sea Salt to your water (1/8 of a teaspoon to 16 – 20 ounces of water and shake well) to help replace electrolytes.

3. Keep bugs and skin problems away!

Use essential oils to deter bugs from biting. You can make your own spray by with an 8-ounce spray bottle filled 1/2 way with distilled or boiled (and cooled) water. Add witch hazel to almost fill. Then, add 30 – 50 drops of Lavender, Lemongrass, Melaleuca, Peppermint, or Wild Orange drops. You can mix whatever scent you prefer.

We can also help with bites that get red, itchy, and irritated with supplements like Antronex and Cal Amo, which are helpful with the allergic-type reaction. Ask your Practitioner to test you for these if you are having trouble. And, if you have problems with Poison Ivy let us know, we can help with that, too.

Hope you have a sun-filled, fun summer.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Yours in health, Kerry

Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

With the warmer weather ahead it’s time to prepare your skin with our tanning protocol.

The sun is essential for the Vitamin D it provides. So if you’re going to be out in the sun, preparing for sun exposure and protecting your skin is essential. Learn how to tan safely in the sun below.

Here at The NHCAA, we have many summer tanning tips:

    1. Take Cataplex F Perles and Calcium Lactate about one month before you will be in the sun prepares the skin.
      We can check you for these products at your next visit.
    2. The general recommendation is 5 Cataplex F Perles per day and 6 – 8 Calcium Lactate before bed.
    3. Once you start spending more time outside in the sun or most of the day take 8 Cataplex F Perles. Keep taking 6 – 8 Calcium Lactate before bed.
      You could take extra Calcium Lactate if you burned. Also, apply Raw Virgin Coconut Oil to the skin throughout the day. Coconut Oil is a protectant and is SPF 4.

Once you are out in the sun more, Coconut Oil applied topically will help your skin feel and look great. Also, Aloe Vera or USF Ointment or Oxi-Cell (products we carry here in the office) can help heal burns and soothe the skin.

You should increase your sun exposure slowly. So, the first time you’re out in the sun shouldn’t be for 8 hours.

This tanning protocol helps; but, you have to build up your tan. If you know, you will be in the sun for an extended amount of time, and you haven’t built up to it, use a safer sunscreen that doesn’t contain aluminum. To find a healthy sunscreen, we recommend going to EWG 12th Annual Guide to Sunscreens.

Have a great summer and see you soon!
Kerry

Read Kerry’s Bio