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Bulimia Recovery #22 - How To Prevent (or Reverse) Bulimia Hair Loss!
December 04, 2011

How To Prevent (and reverse) Bulimia Hair Loss

When I first recovered from bulimia I had no idea that my thin and patchy hair was about to start changing... I thought my nasty 'frizzy fro' was a result of bad genes... I didn't know it was the result of starving my body of essential nutrients for so long!

Bulimia hair loss had never crossed my mind!

At first I didn't see much of a change in my hair. But after about 1 year of being binge and purge free I got my first comment...

"Wow Shaye, your hair looks so thick!"

"HUH?" I thought... "My hair - thick? never!"

But then I began to think about it...

Yes, in comparison to what it was like a year before - it was thick and it was shiny and healthy too!

And over the past 6 years of my recovery my hair has continued to get thicker and healthier. Now I know for sure that I don't have 'bad hair genes' - I was simply starving my poor little follicles!


Telogen Effluvium - Non Permanent Hair Loss Caused by Bulimia

What I have learnt since my bulimia recovery is that Bulimia can trigger a non-permanent kind of hair loss called Telogen Effluvium. This basically means that the body is putting the growth of new hair far down the list of it's priorities. There are not enough nutrients to go sufficiently around your body so looking after the vital organs and other essential body parts comes first.

In times of scarcity (which is frequent, if not all the time in many bulimia sufferers) the heart, lungs, liver, brain and other important body parts get first dabs at the nutrients... and fair enough...

We can live without hair - but if we didn't have a heart we wouldn't have much hope.

Telogen Effluvium can also effect people who have experienced a major shock to the body... This could include massive physical injury or major surgery. The stress these events put on the body results in the nutrients going to repairing damage instead of growing hair - just as it does with bulimia sufferers!


What can You Do To make Sure You Keep Your Hair?

Of course a healthy nutritional plan will help you to regain your hair and prevent you from losing too much more. But I completely understand that recovery takes time...

So what can you do NOW, while you may still be binging and purging, to make sure that you are working towards getting a healthy head of hair back...

Here are some options...


1) Drink this nutritious 'Hair Growth Smoothie' each day and do your best to keep it down!

Protein is essential in the growth of your hair and this is why women who are vegetarians often take longer to recover from hair loss. Vegetarian or not - this high protein smoothie is PERFECT for giving your follicles a healthy start to the day! An added plus is that it's also high in electrolytes (which will help prevent bulimia related heart attacks) thanks to the coconut water and bananas!

Here's the recipe:

1 banana
1 mango
1 cup of young coconut water (more if you prefer your smoothie to be more liquid)
1-2 scoops of Sunwarrior Vanilla protein powder

Now this is delicious - so drink up, savour and enjoy! While you're making and drinking this smoothie, try to focus on all the healthy benefits it will have for your body. Focus on the good stuff and this will make it easier to keep it down :)


2) Rogaine - Hair Growth Formula

Some dermatologists say that a product called Rogaine will help to stimulate regrowth of hair in people with telogen effluvium. I have not personally had experience with this product - but it could be something to look into if you are very concerned about your thinned hair and it is effecting your day to day self confidence.


3) Multivitamins (But make sure they're the right type!)

A good multivitamin will help to deliver nutrients to your healing body. But keep in mind that not all multivitamins are the same quality! Some are synthetic version of the actual vitamins, created in a laboratory... These do not absorb well into the body.

I went with my partner Tom to the organic store yesterday to find some multivitamins for him. We found some excellent ones that are all natural and made from fruits and vegetables. I'd definitely suggest this type of multivitamin any day over synthetic ones. If you want to get a multivitamin for hair loss - go to a trusted organic store and ask them for some advice on the most natural solutions.

It might also pay to ask them if there is a supplement that contains iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid, as a deficiency in these can slow the regrowth of your hair.

Of course, it's far more effective to get your nutrients from a sensible diet... But you're working on that, right? :)


How long will it take before my hair gets back to normal?

For me it was about 2 years before my hair had fully recovered from my years of abuse... But of course, everybody is different. Once you have beaten bulimia and are eating a normal and healthy diet - it might take 8 months, a year, maybe even 2 years for your hair to get back to normal...

But keep reminding yourself that it will happen! Hair loss from bulimia is temporary and as long as you give your body the nutrients it needs on a permanent basis - your hair will grow back :)



Do you have a story on bulimia hair loss to share?

I have shared my bulimia hair loss story to help others know that they are not alone! You can help others too by sharing your bulimia hair loss story here.



Pre-Natal Supplements for Hair Growth?

There has been a lot of talk in The Bulimia Recovery Program lately about hair loss due to bulimia and what can be done to reverse it. Brittany brought it up (so thanks Brittany for inspiring this newsletter!) and there were some great comments by Laci and Emmie - thanks girls for sharing support and knowledge! You are all awesome :) Emmie is trying out pre-natal supplements for her hair growth... I will be interested to see if they help - keep me posted Emmie!



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Sending you lots of love and recovery vibes!

xox Shaye

P.S. Today I'm sending lots of love and congrats to my good friend Laci - She posted on her BRP status today: "Hi ladies! I just got back last night from the first night away (alone) together we have had since our son was born (he'll be 5 in 2 months). It was so fun and so amazing to be able to go and do fun thing like that without any food thoughts bothering me or by binge urges. Our eating schedule wasn't normal bit I didn't care! I brought snacks and ate when I was hungry. It was INCREDIBLE!!!! Life is so amazing as we get away from anorexia and bulimia!!! :)"

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