I want to tell you about some of the fascinating things about hair care I learned as I review my notes from the American Academy of Dermatology Conference recently.
At a really interesting seminar on hair disorders, speakers covered basic biology, rare disorders, and common conditions affecting the hair. The hair shaft, made up of strands of protein, is covered by a “cuticle” of overlapping scales which protect and hold together the shaft.
Activities such as over-brushing removes the scales making up the cuticle and allows the shaft to come apart, making the shaft frizz and become weak. Scratching the scalp or hair has the same effect. The result is broken hairs and the impression that hair is not growing. Some conditioners and combing products are available with special lubricants
which reduce friction and reduce the removal of the cuticle scale.
Heating Wet Hair
Another way to damage the cuticle layer is to wet the hair and then heat it with a curling iron or a hair dryer that
is too close. The overheated water turns to steam inside of the hair shaft, forming tiny gas bubbles which cause the “cuticle” to burst off. It was really fascinating to see this close up with a scanning electron photograph showing a lot of bulges from the gas bubbles forming in a wet, heated hair. Hair treated this way looks frizzy, smells burned,
and breaks easily.
Be gentle with your hair and it will look good and serve you well.
While I generally deal with holistic dermatology, I have lots of experience with integrative medicine as it relates to the immune system. During cold and flu season, I tend to avoid flu vaccine. So, over many years of working long hours in my practice, I have perfected my method for cold and flu prevention and care.
The moment I become aware of a lowered resistence–a sneeze, a tired feeling, an ache in my head or neck–is the moment a cold or flu can be prevented with a regimen of natural remedies. If I wait a bit and don’t catch the symptoms until several hours or a day after that moment, I may not be able to prevent the illness, but I can lessen its severity and duration.
Steps to take at the pivotal moment:
stop whatever you’re doing. Take a nap if possible. If not, rest your eyes for a few minutes.
take a very hot bath, and when you emerge from the tub, bundle yourself up, climb into bed, and let the body “sweat out the cold.” (Be sure not to do this alone, as hot water can increase chance of fainting)
take healthy, regular doses of vitamins A, C, and E
take some echinacea or oregon graperoot
drink hot tea and keep the body full of fluids
Several hours of focused self-care at the right moment can prevent several days of illness, discomfort, and lost work–and it can keep you from spreading a cold or flu to loved ones.
I recently read an article in the Science Section of the New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope entitled “Telling food allergies from false alarms”. The article focuses on the efficacy of food allergy antibody tests (only one of many kinds of allergy tests there are.) It suggests that people avoiding a number of foods face malnutrition and inconvenience.
The article overlooks the great value in helping patients eliminate foods which trigger a wide variety of conditions, most of which have an inflammatory etiology. Any blood test, be it of antibody reactivity, neutrophil change, or lymphocyte response, may be helpful to point out foods to test for potential clinical improvement by elimination and challenge.
I have seen numerous conditions including acne, eczema, irritable bowel, hidradenitis, migraines, and fatigue improve with food elimination. A physician experienced in multiple forms of food testing can help associate symptoms with exposures, choose appropriate tests, and interpret results. This kind of natural acne treatment is a lot cheaper than prescription drugs.
One things I do agree on is that allergy tests can give a wide variety of food and allergen sensitivities which may or may not indicate the cause of a patient’s presenting condition.
The absolute best way to learn what foods are causing skin or any other problems is to eliminate all possible trigger foods, check to see if the problem clears, and then every few days, add a food back to the diet to find out which is the culprit. The value of trials of food elimination to improve disease should not be overlooked for lack of definitive testing in major centers.
To your health,
-Dr. Alan M Dattner, MD
As always, the content of this blog is for information and education purposes only, and should not be used to prevent, diagnose or treat illness; please see your physician for care.