HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

September 2104

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Why Women Lose Their Hair

When most people are asked to envision hair loss, they would see a middle-aged man whose head sports a bald spot on top and a fringe of hair around the sides. But while male-pattern baldness may be the most common form of hair loss, many aren’t aware that this distressing condition affects women as well.

Unlike men, most women maintain the forehead hairline. Instead, hair tends to thin from the center, rarely progressing to total baldness. Both genders can develop alopecia areata, in which an overactive immune system attacks the follicles from which hair grows. It “usually starts with one small round patch where hair falls out,” says Vera Peiffer, a British kinesiologist and author of Regrowing Hair Naturally (Singing Dragon). “This can happen overnight.”

Sometimes hair loss is caused by styling techniques such as cornrowing that pull on the roots or dyes and other chemical treatments that cause hair damage. Stress and sudden emotional shocks can cause hair to fall out, as can hormone imbalances and conditions like pituitary or thyroid gland disorders and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), in which pearl-sized cysts cover the ovaries and disrupt hormonal cycles. And like men, women often find that hair thins as they age.

Peiffer says hair regrowth requires a body that is “functioning at an optimal level” to support proper follicle function. She recommends eating an alkaline diet rich in fresh produce. Such foods also contain nutrients crucial to healthy hair, such as biotin, folic acid, iron, vitamin B12 and zinc.

Traditional Chinese Medicine offers another approach to this problem. TCM sees all disorders in terms of imbalances within the body; in the case of hair loss, this generally involves disruptions in the energy centers known in TCM as the liver and kidney (not the physical organs themselves). Herbal remedies, many of which have been used for thousands of years, are then recommended to address the energy imbalances, often within the context of overall anti-aging efforts.

One of TCM’s best-known hair herbs is Polygonum multiflorum, known as ho shou wu. Traditionally used to restore gray hair’s original color, it contains alkaloids found to affect the nervous and endocrine systems. Eclipta prostrata, or han lien taso, plays a similar role in
India’s Ayurvedic medicine.

TCM remedies generally contain herbs that support the formula’s main ingredients. Poria cocos, or fu ling, has shown anti-inflammatory properties. Both Centella asiatica and Ligustrum lucidum have long been used to fight the effects of aging; the first is believed to enhance circulation and serve as a brain tonic while the second supports proper immune response and helps protect the liver. And Rosmarinus officinalis, known to cooks everywhere as rosemary, is seen traditionally as a hair support herb that also enhances memory.

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N U M B E R S

 

PMS: The Emotional Toll

1

Women’s ranking of PMS’s emotional symptoms as being the most difficult to deal with

2

Where cognitive symptoms ranked; physical problems ranked last

33%

Women who rated their PMS symptoms as being severe

 

Source: PMS Test, Queendom

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Cheering on Green Universities

As part of the environmental studies curriculum at Davidson College, Jennifer Burns helped overhaul the menu in the dining hall of the liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina. She developed partnerships with local farmers, introduced grassfed beef to the menu and was instrumental in starting a campus farm that provides fresh produce.

“College is the time when we start making all of our own choices about how we eat,” explains Burns, 23. “It made sense to focus our efforts on overhauling the food system.”

Davidson now sources about one-third of its ingredients locally. It also operates a composting program, eliminated phosphate-based detergents and installed LED lighting in the cafeteria.

Colleges from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, have adopted programs ranging from operating biodiesel buses on campus to serving organic foods in cafeterias.

In 2011, the Sustainable Endowments Institute found that 95% of colleges in the US and Canada had sustainability committees to address environmental issues, 79% had green building policiesand64% were committed to reducing carbon emissions.

“Educators need to take responsibility for making sustainability a reality both in the classroom and across campus,” says Wynn Calder, co-director of the nonprofit Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future.

While administrators make the ultimate decisions, it’s often students who are at the forefront of eco-friendly changes. “Most of the initiatives we’ve undertaken in dining services were student-driven,” explains Dee Phillips, director of dining services for Davidson.

At Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, students voted to raise their tuition fees to support sustainability projects. Harvard students launched a Green Move Out program that encourages students moving out of dorm rooms to donate and recycle their unwanted items. And students act as farm managers on campus farms at Berry College in Georgia and Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, achieved carbon neutral status in 2007. Although it was the first college in the nation to do so, the students weren’t satisfied. Their initiatives led to the college dropping fossil fuels investments from its endowment portfolio. What’s more, the college purchases 40% of its energy from renewable sources. “We are not unique; other campuses are doing this,” college president Darron Collins, PhD, says. “It represents a real wave of interest in greening campuses.”

It’s not just the environmental impact that has colleges eager to promote green living. Supporting student health is a focus, as is aiding local economies.

After Davidson started using local grassfed beef, the rancher admitted that the decision saved his farm.

“Colleges have the purchasing power to make a difference,” says Burns. “If a campus makes a commitment to the environment, the community will follow.” —Jodi Helmer

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