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5 ways to know if hair loss is connected to your thyroid

Reviewed by Dr. Mary James, ND

Watching your hair slide down the shower drain or clumping up on your brush is a horrible feeling, especially for women! Our hair is connected to our identity, our youth and our health. While it’s natural for some women to experience hair loss at certain times in their menstrual cycles or times of the year, hair loss is also caused by specific health conditions including a thyroid imbalance.

hair loss and your thyroid

Why does a thyroid imbalance cause thinning hair?

Your hair normally grows in a healthy cyclical pattern with most of the hair follicles growing while only a small number are “resting.” With a thyroid imbalance, this cycle can be thrown off, resulting in more hair follicles “resting” than growing — and more hair falling out. Hair loss is a very common symptom of a thyroid imbalance.

But thyroid imbalances often arise slowly and remain unnoticed by women and their doctors in the early phases. Even with a lab test, your doctor may say everything is fine with your thyroid, even though you strongly suspect that something is wrong. This is because standard labs have a very wide range for what is “normal” in terms of thyroid test results.

So how do you know if your hair loss is connected to a thyroid disorder?

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Five signs and symptoms your hair loss is connected to a thyroid disorder

1. Thinning eyebrows. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) often causes general hair loss as well as thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows. We don’t know exactly why the eyebrow is targeted in thyroid disorders, but this is a good indicator that your thyroid hormones may be low.

2. Hair that is brittle, dry and breaking easily. Dry, brittle hair is also connected to low thyroid function. And research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism finds that thyroid hormones increase growth and color in hair. Low thyroid hormone can lead to the early release of the hair shaft and root, as well as premature gray or white hair.

3. Feeling exhausted all the time, even after 8 hours of sleep. The thyroid is the master of our metabolism, so it affects the way we use and store energy. With low thyroid hormone, metabolism slows down. This can often lead to persistent fatigue as well as weight gain.

4. Puffiness in the face or extremities. Many people with hypothyroidism have an excess of a compound called mucin. Mucin is part of our connective tissue and is present in blood vessels and cells all over the body. It absorbs water and may cause excess water retention in an individual with an underactive thyroid imbalance.

5. Yellowing of the palms of your hands. Yellowing of the skin on your hands can happen with a thyroid imbalance due to a build-up of carotene in your blood. Hypothyroidism can slow the conversion of carotene to Vitamin A.

If you think your hair loss might be connected to a thyroid imbalance, begin supporting your thyroid — and your hair — naturally. Our exclusive phytotherapeutic supplement T-Balance Plus™ is formulated with several herbs that can positively affect your thyroid function:

  • Bacopa monnieri is an ayurvedic herb that can increase T4 hormones.
  • Hops is a flower that allows thyroid hormones to enter cells more accessibly.
  • Sage leaves contain phytochemicals that promote better hormone reception in cells and boost mood, memory and healthy blood sugar balance.
  • Ashwagandha is another ayurvedic plant that supports thyroid hormone production while working to balance the endocrine system.
  • Coleus forskohlii is an herb that contains the chemical forskolin, which mimics thyroid-stimulating hormone and supports healthy body weight and mood.

Van Beek, N, et al. 2008. Thyroid hormone directly alter human hair follicle functions: anagen prolongation and stimulation of both hair matrix keratinocyte proliferation and hair pigmentation. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 93(11): 4381. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18728176.

Arem, Ridha. 2000. The Thyroid Solution. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Last Updated: March 7, 2024
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