Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fasting and Hair Loss

I am sharing this story, because no one ever warned me about this.  

After my first fast, I lost a lot of hair.  We're talking plugs of hair.  It didn't start until about four to six weeks after my very first juice fast ended, and I was horrified.  I would wake up and there would be a thin layer of my hair all over my pillow.  When I would shower, I would pull small chunks out all at once. I actually ran my fingers through my hair while sitting in a coworker's office one day, and I pulled out a large chunk.  I simply broke down and cried in his office.

My hair was never *great* beforehand; it was a bit dull, flat and rather oily.  The whole hair-loss process lasted about one month and my hair was pretty thin by the end of it all...

...and then it grew back.  Not just "back".  It grew back thicker, shinier, fuller, even a lighter color.  After about a year from when my hair started growing back, my hair was thicker than it was before the first fast. 

When my hair first started growing back and the new hairs were about 1" long, I had a mini-mohawk down the part of my hair.  Once the new little hairs were about 2" long, it looked like I was constantly suffering from static electricity as they stood on end all around my head.

To this day, my hair is still extremely soft, full, wavy and has a lot of body.

I warned my friend who attempted a 40-day juice fast, and her hair did the same thing.  Her hair also regrew beautifully!

I was talking to a hair dresser about my first juice fast, and he immediately asked if my hair started to fall out.  Surprised, I asked him how he knew.  He said that this is pretty typical for anyone who "shocks their system with a significant diet change."   I would love to understand the physiology of it, and I welcome any information. 

I do not fully understand why this happened.  I don't know if it is normal. Please talk to a physician if you have any concerns.  I do take this seriously.  But I also wanted to give other future fasters a heads up so you do not panic the way I did.  Also, this only happened after my first fast and never happened again.

EDIT (10 September 2012): About 5 months after I ended the 2012 fast, my hair started to fall out again, but it was not as drastic as this first experience.  I also talk about this in my 6-month post-fast update. It has since stopped.  I will let you all know if anything else happens if and when it does.


EDIT (26 October 2012): I have received a lot of feedback on this post from readers who are sharing their experiences regarding fasting and hair loss.  Please take the time to read others' experience in the comments section below.  After all, my experience is not the end-all, be-all of fasting. 

Also, my hair continues to do well.  It has not fallen out for a while, though I have not seen a "halo" of new growth yet. 

46 comments:

  1. Wow! I have heard of this in a book on fasting. Supposedly an older man did a 53 or so day fast and his hair grew back darker and thicker. What kind of juice did you use and do you see this often?

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  2. That's great to hear that others have had this experience! On this particular fast, I juiced my own fruits and vegetables. Using store-bought juices just don't work.

    I had one friend as mentioned who did a 40-day juice fast and the same thing happened to her. I personally do not know anyone else who has done a long fast. But I will tell you, not knowing what was going on while my hair was falling out was scary! But it was worth it. :)

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  3. Thank you for this. I broke my 45 day fast on April 23, about six weeks ago. My hair is falling out like crazy. There is not any history of male pattern baldness in my family so I'm hope this is the reason. I'm feeling kinda depressed about losing my hair. Hopefully it will grow back fuller and thicker. I'm gonna shave it off today and if it comes back, it comes back. Thanks for the spec of hope.

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    1. I am glad it helps. I was devastated when I went through it and didn't know if it would ever come back. But like I said, it did, and it came back fuller and closer to the color that it was when I was a little girl.

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  4. I have done juice fast for 90 days. Its been a month since I have stopped the diet. Now what I am facing is exactly what you have described above. My hair is falling at a rate I can be bald in no time. I hope what you are saying is true and my hair becomes better than it has ever been.

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    1. Mine lasted a little over a month.

      It was a relief to her my hair dresser immediately ask if my hair fell out after I did the fast. I was surprised by the question. I asked how he knew that had happened, and he said that it happens to any of his clients who "shock" their systems with diet change.

      I hope you let me know when your hair starts to grow back. It would be nice to see if others have the same result.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Hi, thank you for sharing your experience. I did a 15 day juice fast. After that I wanted to go for a 60 day fast. But unfortunately I couldn't complete it and had to break it after 7 days. I too experienced significant amount of hairloss and was very scared. I thought it may be because I was not taking protein since I was trying to fast since 1 month. I got too scared and decided to withdraw my plan for a long juice fast. Now I'm using a hair oil for hairloss and the rate of hair fall is reduced. Already my hair is very thin and I can't afford any risk. Juice fast helped me to reduce 25 pounds but I'm sad that I can't go for a prolonged fast. I wish I could do a 60 day juice fast without worrying about my hair!

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  7. It was such a terrifying experience for me. But it not only came back, it came back thicker and with some wave. Also, my hair used to be really greasy, but that's not the case anymore; though I have learned that diet contributes to that, too.

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  8. Oh my god. I am so glad I read this. I am juice fasting BECAUSE of terrible terrible hair loss. I am terrified that more hair would come out, I honestly don't have that much hair to lose anymore.

    How long until you could see new regrowth occuring?? Honestly I am kind of tempted just to shave the whole lot!

    Oh wow, I hope mine just grows back and doesn't fall out, I will be too scared to think it might come back.

    EEEP.

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    1. I don't know how the hair on others will react, but I do know that it's been almost 6 months since I finished this 40-day juice fast. My hair just went through another round of hair loss. It wasn't as horrible as it was with the first 40-day juice fast. In fact, it kind of reminded me of how my hair was falling out on a regular basis BEFORE my first juice fast. It has recently stopped falling out, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. I wish you the best of luck with your fast!

      I suppose I need to provide a 6-month update. :)

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  9. how long after it fell out did it take before you noticed new growth? and how long did it take you to realise the new growth was better?? I am into day 3 of a juice fast (cheated on some dried apricots tho :( ) and have been panicking about hair loss because that's why I'm doing the fast. I don't mind if it falls out as long as it makes way for new hair! The hair I have is THE WORST quality ever, so it couldn't realllly get any worse. Any comments very much appreciated!

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    1. My hair was super greasy and thin and limp before my first 40-day juice fast. Blech.

      I was convinced that my hair was going to be super thin after it stopped falling out until I saw the new hair. It was super depressing.

      I think it took a few weeks for me to notice that I was getting new hair once my hair stopped falling out. In fact, it took my coworker to ask why I always looked like I was being shocked since all of the baby hairs were standing straight out until it was long enough to weigh it down.

      I probably took a few months before I realized how much healthier my hair was. It wasn't until it was long enough for me to see it shining and wavy.

      I hope that helps. Good luck!

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  10. oh my I am so jealous! My hair is so so so so terrible right now, it has been falling all year. I stopped the complete juice fast after day 3, I was too nervous about what I was doing and I was not feeling well. I also have a reverse T3 problem which can be worsened by fasting so I made the decision to stop. I am still mostly juices though just with some nuts and salad and starting tomorrow some steamed vegetables. I hope this makes a difference. I do have some new hair in my part from a few months back, not much tho. Overall my hair is hideous and there's no much to lose :( I'm going to pray this happens to me because my hair was SO beautiful before it started to fall. I cried over old photos last night, I couldn't bear to see them ! ARGH. thanks for your help, I'm going to hope a cleaner me can regenerate like you. Wow 40 days is so brave, I don't think I could do it!

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    1. You mentioned T3 issues. Do you have hypo or hyperthyroidism? Hypo is usually associated with hair loss.

      I am so sorry you are going through this. Like I said, I am not a medical doctor and can only report what actually happened to me. I have no idea why or how things happened, just what.

      If you're interested in fasting, please consider reading "Toxic Relief" by Dr. Colbert. He does an excellent job explaining why you feel cruddy during the fast. It really helped me to not panic when I had experience certain strange purges of toxins.

      Please consider talking a doctor, too, before trying one. He/she may be able to help you through the process.

      The only times I have been able to successfully do a 40-day fast is when I am at the lowest point in my life and something deep down inside of me tells me this is what I should do and can do. I know that doesn't make any sense, but that's how it is for me.

      I wish you the best of luck. Please let us know how you are doing in the near future!

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  11. thank you for this!! Yes I have reverse T3 ıssues whıch causes hypo symptoms wıthout beıng actually hypo. complex. yup have lıterally just ıdentıfıed ıt and am seeıng an endo next week. I actually stopped the fast because fastıng can actually ıncrease RT3 so I decıded untıl I rebalance the hormones now ısn't the rıght tıme. Thanks for the support though! And fantastıc about what happened wıth you!

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    1. I am so glad I could help! Good luck, and I hope you find the answers you are looking to find.

      (My apologies for not replying sooner.)

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  12. hi i also did the juice fast. i had braids in my hair for the 60days that it for. when i took out the braids and i ended my fast i got a perm, my hair was black thick and longer, now almost 2 months later i have really bad shedding or hair loss i don't know what it is but i am terrified right now.

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    1. Oh my goodness. Again, I can only attest to what happened to me. Both times this happened to me after a fast, the shedding process lasted approximately as long as the fast did. If you feel there is more to it than the fast, please see a doctor since I am not qualified to give advice.

      I remember crying myself to sleep when this was happening - once I cried in front of a coworker. It was so terrifying. I haven't seen new growth yet this go around, but I will keep you post.

      (((((Hugs)))))

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  13. did you have any terrible fatıge after your fast? I only did a few days but my body feels ruined. My eyes are puffy, I am waking exhauted (this was never a problem before ), I have ketones in my urıne, I'm cranky.. none of these things happened before. Biggest problem is my eyes. I look like I've been beaten

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    1. I think I might have a little bit, but I don't really remember. I had to be very careful about what I ate after a fast, because my body wasn't used to dealing with highly processed foods any more. In fact, there are certain things that really make me groggy, like fried foods and breads. I also discovered that I had a gluten intolerance. *Thinking* Sugar kicks my butt. Seriously. Refined sugar. (Not the natural fruit sugar - that's fine for me.) But refined sugar makes my eyes puffy, I feel like crap an hour or two after eating it, it lasts for HOURS, and it knocks me on my butt. It even makes me sneeze once or twice when I start to eat it! It negatively affects my moods, my energy, everything. That's what happened to me. Of course, I highly recommend talking with someone who is a licensed doctor, dietitian, whatever if you think this is a problem, since I am not qualified to do anything but report what happened to me. :) Good luck!

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  14. Anyone that has Juice Fasted and experience muscle and hair loss, please comment your experience.

    I appreciate the original poster/blogger for this report.

    My experience.

    I'm a 50 year old male. Have always had great hair even at 50, thick no balding at all. Just minor greying starting to come in for the last 5 years.

    Anyway I watched the Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead documentary which inspired me to try a 60 day fast. I wish I hadn't.

    I was not obese but struggling to lose those last 40 pounds after having lost 40 through exercise and normal dieting.

    I lost about 30 lbs from 180 to 150 but the problem is I've lost noticeable muscle and as the OP mentioned about 6 weeks after ending my fast I noticed thinning in my hair. Instead of being thick all over, I can now see my scalp through the hair that's still there.

    Thankfully its (so far) been fairly even without receding the hairline or any particular spots.

    I've scoured the net and have discovered my juice diet most likely put me into a protein and hence an iron deficiency. I've begun eating red meat, chicken, tuna, veggies and am taking Centrum multivitamin (with iron), Biotin, Saw Palmetto and Stinging Nettle Root (DHT blockers) and a Hair, Nail Skin supplement with Collagen.

    I'm only into the first week of taking these supplements so will report as to the results.

    More serious is the muscle loss. It is noticeable, I'm definitely weaker, I can feel my clavicle bones when I sit down on a hard surface. I've joined a gym to to try and regain some of the muscle.

    I wouldn't ever juice fast again. I would rather be overweight and strong than thin and weak.

    I'll report back on the hair loss and let you guys know if it starts growing back.

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    1. I also noticed being weaker afterwards, which is why I started body building (http://juicedietingforhealth.blogspot.com/2012/09/6-month-post-fast-update-before-and.html).

      The only time I fast is if there's something wrong with my body. I try not to use it for weight loss. (Don't get me wrong - it is tempting to fast if I put on a few pounds.)

      Please let us know what happens with your hair. I appreciate having other people share their experience about fasting - whether positive or negative.

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  15. I wish I could post photos.... I always had super thick wavy to curly hair. ALL that hair has fallen out and I am still loosing hair. Went to the doctor and she said, you 44 must be hormones??? Nice that is helpful. I did a 40 day juice fast July and August. My hair is still falling out I am left with fine weak straight hair thin thin thin like I can see my scalp.... I am so hopeful reading this PLEASE LET MINE GROW BACK! Cayce

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  16. I went on a 30 day juice only mission 2 months ago and then I went onto a macrobiotic diet - cutting out diary, caffine, wheat and meat. I have lost over 2 stone and look SO much better. My energy levels are up too. However 6 weeks after my 30 day juicing I noticed that my hair was falling out. The past 2 weeks have been terrible. I have lost over a quarter of my hair. i am going for a wig fitting later, just incase i lose all of it!! My scalp is itching too. I have been advised to take the following:Lysine (amino acids) with food, fish pils (omega 3), a foundation mult-vit, HCI&Protease (to help absorb my protiens and superfood plus (sea, algae powder - diisgusting to taste!) I am still on a macrobiotic diet but I have decided to have a few eggs once a week. Anyway, I am hoping that my hair does come back, as it is very upsetting! I thought I would share my advise with you and i will keep you informed of my progress. Goodluck to all you fellow suffers. Love Nellie

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  17. 2nd post from Anonymous 50/yr old male (orig post Oct 25, 2012 8:01 PM)

    Thanks for allowing my post in its entirety despite it being negative towards juice fasting.

    I won't say juice fasting is all bad but when used for weight loss as the FS&ND doc espouses it can be dangerous. So many people struggle with weight for so long that when a seemingly magic formula that works comes along we go for it.

    Problem is not everyone can or does it correctly or with a nutritionist and getting detailed info can be hit and miss.

    I read about hair loss while starting the fast so was eating a boiled egg with the juice every day. But as the fast continued and things were fine I stopped that and just stuck to the juice. Then sometimes I'd only have 2 green juices daily and coconut water in between.

    This is what I mean about misinformation. Had I been getting MORE green juices with protein and somehow getting iron, biotin, and certain other supplements perhaps the hairloss wouldn't have happened but I can say for sure. I'm sure I was undernourished.

    I've read that being undernourished can cause adrenal fatigue which also causes hair loss.

    Your blog is a good resource for people considering juicing and its benefits or side effects.

    Some of the dedicated forums about juicing only lightly discuss the muscle / hair loss dangers and don't put a big

    STOP! Proceed with caution! sign out there for potential dieters.

    Here's something that isn't really mentioned. When you lose muscle through juicing, you lose it everywhere. Face muscles also thin out so your zygomatic arches are more pronounced. Now I also have to consider chewing gum alot and other exercises for the face.

    I hope to experience the hair regrowth you did and if so will definitely come back and let everyone know.

    Anyone out there considering juice fasting for weight loss, don't. If you can't exercise, do a calorie reduction diet where you still get your proteins so you don't lose muscle. Talk to your doctor.

    If you're able bodied, walk 30 minutes a day or more but get your nutrients. The weight loss will be slower but safer.

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  18. 50yom:

    A quick update:

    My hair loss seems to have curtailed or at least I'm not noticing much more loss.

    An interesting note is where my mustache would grow I can see little spots where no hair is growing. Like mini bald spots on my upper lip.

    So I'm using that as a way to monitor the changes. I'm not shaving everyday so will notice if the gaps start to fill in on my mustache since that will be an indication that things are back to normal.

    Redfizz, can you point me to a link of what juices you used post fast to either help your hair recovery or just general health?

    Thanks

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  19. I'm a 19 year old male (20 in a few days, physically fit, and active) and I went on the Mean Green juice fast after watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I've been on and off the fast four times; each time with an average duration of about three weeks. My hair dresser pointed out that my hair was thinning in the back...fast forward to three weeks later...and my scalp is now visable in the front. Everytime I run my fingers through my hair I get at least 4-5 hairs. I have no history of MPB, and I'm young enough to believe the fast may have caused some malnutrition.

    I just shaved it. If it grows back, it grows back... or at least I can keep telling myself that.

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    1. Please let us know if anything changes in the next few months! It would be useful and provide hope to those who are going through the same thing.

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  20. Hi, I'm a 24 yr old male and I went on a 5 day water fast. After breaking the fast I think I also stupidly did not pay enough attention to how much and which nutrients I was getting. Three weeks after breaking the fast I noticed I have a pretty sizeable bald patch on the left side of my head. My hair is pretty thick so it's a little hard to tell but I think it may have thinned out elsewhere too. Anyway this freaked me out too and it is comforting to read all of your experiences.

    I'm wondering though, has anybody experienced hairloss like mine after their fast? Where you have a distinct bald patch with smooth skin? I know the author said their hair fell out in clumps... did this cause any distinct bald patches for you like I described? Also, anybody suspected their hair loss might be alopecia areata? I've been suspecting this simply because my bald patch is pretty big and round with smooth skin... however I also can't seem to shake the fact that this all happened just a few weeks after my fast. Coincidence?

    Any input is greatly appreciated. I will of course update you all as well.

    Thanks,

    Dan

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    1. Hey Dan,

      I experienced more of a Telogen Effluvium: a diffuse shedding where hair growth is stunted as the body attempts to preserve its nutrients. Those bald patches, in addition to diffuse shedding, are common symptoms of starvation. As I noted before, some bodies are more sensitive to these drastic dietary changes. (I’m 20 btw, and the aggressive hair loss I experienced was extremely upsetting. Hopefully you might find some comfort in knowing that this -–most likely-- isn't a permanent condition).

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    2. Yes I figured it could be that as well. How long did it take for your hair to grow back? And did it take a while to see any hair growth at all? What was the regrowth process like?

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  21. I just read your statement about this blog not being about water fasts. I realize this, but seeing as how I'm experiencing many of the symptoms and effects of my fast as you describe (increased libido, hair loss, etc), I really would like some input from anyone who has experienced the hair loss, REGARDLESS of what type of fast they've done. When your hair fell out in clumps, did this ever lead to a bald spot on your head? My guess is that whatever symptoms one might experience from juice fasting, one would probably experience at a greater intensity from water fasting. Good thing I only did it for 5 days. Please, post my comments and any input you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  22. Back in July, I went on a 7 day juice fast followed by a 21 day water fast in hopes of alleviating chronic inflammation. I've been experiencing worsening hair loss over the past two months. Its not coming out in patches, but from all over my head. It started out fairly thick, so its not noticeable yet, but I really hope mine grows back like yours did. Seeing big clumps come out in the shower is both terrifying and depressing. I do see short little 'mohawk' hairs growing along the part as you described, but I just can't believe they'll offset my losses! What was your diet like after completing the fast? I eat a mostly plant-based diet, with eggs every so often and salmon once a week. I'm worried I might still have a deficiency of some kind.

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    1. My post-fast diet was very similar to yours. It was plant-based with salmon and eggs. I am glad you're already starting to see the baby hairs!!! I didn't think that my little hairs would offset the hair loss, but for me it did.

      Please be sure to give us an update. It seems this is a regular occurrence, and I am sure others would like encouragement and hope.

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    2. I know its a little late, but I'm happy to say that my hair has grown back! (i'm the anon from nov 9, 2012) I can't tell if its more than before my fast. However, its thick, full, shiny, and grows to my mid-back with very little breakage. It seems wavier as well, though I've also stopped using shampoo. I've not been eating as clean as I could be, so there may be room for improvement. I continue to see a few baby hairs here are there, but most have grown too long for me to distinguish. I'm pretty motivated to start a new juice and/or water fast this summer. I am so happy with my hair right now, I hope this encourages others not to give up!

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    3. Thank you so much for your update! Your input really adds to this discussion and gives others hope who are in the middle of this scary side-effect. I will add that my hair did not fall out anymore the way it did with my first fast.

      Thank you again!

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  23. (Update on October 30th post) Since stopping the Mean Green Juice diet in October, my hair has made significant progress from thinned and doll-like, to a now fully covered scalp— be wary with similar prolonged liquid diets, it’s inevitable that some bodies are just more sensitive than others.

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  24. update from 50 year old male (2 or 3 previous posts above)

    I have not lost any more hair but there's definitely less hair there. The good news is since I've kept taking the vitamin and nutrients mentioned in my previous posts, the hair I do have continues to grow so the balding that was so obvious before isn't as obvious now.

    I also see shorter hairs making their way up so hopefully within a few more months it'll be less and less noticeable.

    I think any drastic weight loss ages you and especially an extended juice diet since it removes certain nutrients for too long.

    I've noticed certain celebrities having similar results. Christian Bale, Matthew Macconaughey and Matthew Fox all have had fast weight losses and you can see a difference before / after.

    If you watch Bale in The Fighter, you can see bald spots in his hair whereas in American Psycho his hair was very good.

    I've accepted that what's done is done and I'll just have to keep working out and taking the nutrients I am. It was a hard lesson learned.

    On the bright side, I've become more empathetic to others who have any type of setback. Instead of just focusing on myself, I see most people have something to overcome. Some more than others so I'm more patient and understanding of others situation.

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  25. I've noticed hair loss after juicing for 2 1/2 months and having sensible meals, (fish,turkey,chiken & cooked vegetables). Im a cosmotologist & I'm doing a protein treatment once a week for the next 2weeks. I hope that makes a difference! I'll keep u guys posted.

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  26. I am starting a juice fast because of terrible hair loss, I am a 26-year-old female with a huge bald patch on the whole crown area that I can't cover anymore. I hope this will help me ... did you drink a lot of juice ? Did you drink a lot of green juice as compared to fruit juice ? And did you supplement with powders or anything ? Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I tried to have a balance of fruit and vegetable juices. Of course I prefer the fruit juices, because they're so tasty! But the trick to making veggie juices tolerable is the lemon and ginger trick. Those two cover a lot of veggie sins.

      I hope the juicing provides you with what you need. Of course, I cannot predict that the juicing will help you, but we (myself and those who come here for information) would love to hear how it worked out for you 1, 2, 6, 12 months from now. We're all learning from each other. Good luck!

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    2. Thank you very much Redfizz for approving my post and kindly replying to me :) I was very thrilled when I came across your testimonial, but even if it doesn't work for me, I will be happy for the other benefits a juice fast can provide me. Today is only day 5 of my juice fast, I do mainly fruit juice and try to have a decent amount of green juice, but not every day. I will try your trick, because green juices really are not that good lol. I'm aiming for at least 40 days, I will keep you posted if anything ( good or bad ) happens. Thanks again ! Hope you'll still be there a few months from now. :)

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  27. RE: possible hair loss from juicing: Excerpt "...some people who had been on juice fasts had experienced hair loss to some degree. Getting to the root of the matter I learnt that if the body's overall state is acidic (which is not favourable for good health) then when a juice fast is started the body rids itself of toxins and excess proteins that it does not need. Not every one that does a juice fast experiences this but it should be noted here that soon after the body has gained its correct state i.e. it becomes alkaline again the hair growth does come back." For more (and juicing recipes to re-gain hair) , click the link below. Be sure to consume sufficient daily protein for your body as well. Supplements such as Omega 3 oils, Biotin and Primrose Oil are good for hair, nails and skin.

    http://veggiejuicing.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/juicing-for-hair-loss/

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  28. After reading everybody's responses, im just curious, I am starting a juice fast tomorrow 40 days, I read that a lot of you experienced hair loss...I already have thin weak hair...so question is, did most of you hair grow back better or worse? Also was juicing worth it for all you? I keep reading so many pros and cons. I am definitely trying to reboot my system, Im a recovering alcoholic and I didn't eat good, and my body is filled of garbage, I was hoping while doing this my skin would clear, I would feel better, physically and mentally and giving me that kick start. BUT im worried do the cons weigh out the pros? Thanks everyone.

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    1. Personally first fast was well worth it! My face cleared up, my hair (once it grew back) wasn't greasy, etc. I am learning now that I did too many fasts. (Read my post about broken bones.) The first fast wiped the slate clean, and I should have just kept going with healthy eating. Just be careful after your fast as I am now learning how delicate your body is after fasts.

      Any other comments are welcome!

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