When I told my friends that I’d decided that it was time to go grey they were surprised and immediately started peppering me with suggestions about how best to cover those pesky grey roots. They’d missed the point. I know about all of the ways to cover that new growth, I was just choosing not to anymore. I wasn’t just deciding not to dye, it was more about the positive step towards embracing my grey hair.

So how did I make up my mind that it was the right time to go grey?

Let’s start with time, my hairdresser is an hour’s drive from where I live, I’d be in the salon for a couple of hours with an hours drive home. That’s half a day gone! Half a day every 6 weeks! Over the course of a year that’s literally a couple of days spent in the hairdresser’s chair. Yes, I could save some of that time by finding a salon closer to me, but I like my current one a lot. Obviously I’m not one of those people who find sitting still for hours with bits of tin foil stuck on my head and a rapidly cooling cappuccino in hand a ‘luxury’.

Next we have the cash element. Colouring isn’t cheap. Last year I decided to save some money by doing a box colour that I bought on special offer. That was a relative bargain at around £5, but was messy, and sadly didn’t cover all of the grey – the box said that it would, so it was probably user error.

Then there’s the health factor. When I was pregnant with my children I was advised not to dye my hair due to the chemicals crossing the placenta. They were all born in the US which doesn’t have the same strict rules as Europe with regards to cosmetics ingredients. As someone who purposefully eats as healthy as possible (organic veg box delivery, local butcher and greengrocer rather than the supermarket), and is fully aware of what’s in my skincare and make-up products. It seemed slightly incongruous to be avoiding parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate in shampoo only to apply who knows what chemicals in the salon.

A slightly trickier issue is the sexist one. No-one even raises a (charcoal) eyebrow when a man lets his salt and pepper start to show, but when a woman does she’s ‘letting herself go’. Somehow choosing not to dye your hair is a subject worthy of public debate. Even my hyper-aware 17 year old daughter (who is very comfortable using phrases like ‘toxic masculinity’ with irony or without) didn’t spot this societal hypocrisy.

Since starting this process in May 2019 I’ve had a couple of surprises… First, I’m not as grey as I thought I was! This is quite helpful as it means that I don’t have a grey/white demarcation line against my dyed dark hair. Also, I didn’t expect to find so much support for my venture. There are huge online communities of women who are growing out their grey with pride like Silver Sisters on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/groups/welcometosilversisters/

By far the biggest change though has been in my attitude to the new grey growth. Before choosing to embrace my grey hair, I’d be annoyed by the new silver growth appearing at my temples a week after visiting the hairdresser. Now I eagerly search to see what new hair is appearing and what colour it is. This shift both in attitude and confidence has occurred gradually over the months that I’ve been very busy not dying my hair.

Only you can decide when is the right time to go grey.

Over a year ago my son who’d lost all of his hair due to alopecia came to me and asked if he could get a wig. This knocked my sideways as I thought that he was dealing with his hair loss well. More to the point, I didn’t want to be the type of Mother that was constantly on at her child giving him the impression that he needed to be ‘fixed’. If he was happy, then I was happy. The converse was also true. I recalled some research that I’d done the year before with regards to treating alopecia with LDN. I’d not done anything with this info at the time, just stored it away.

I didn’t think that the answer for a super-sporty boy would be a wig. I revisited my alopecia studies, and recalled an auto-immune seminar that I’d attended with US pediatrician Dr Elisa Song https://healthykidshappykids.com/ She’d mentioned that some of her patients who had been diagnosed with auto-immune diseases had responded positively to the medication LDN. This medication was side effect free which was important to both my son and me. (We’d previously discussed Jak inhibitors with a dermatologist and not felt confident that the benefits outweighed the risks).

After finding out more via the LDN Research Trust https://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/ I was intrigued to find some examples of people with alopecia who’d experienced regrowth. Given the tricky nature of this auto-immune disease we’d already tried many different ‘experiments’, and saw this as another avenue to pursue. After discussing further with his functional medical doctor, we decided try treating his alopecia with LDN.

Three months later his completely smooth head developed some under the skin lumps and bumps, these developed into fine white growth which ultimately grew back in as his thick dark hair. It’s still growing back now.

This medication has been a critical part of the alopecia puzzle along with many significant lifestyle changes which would be challenging to anyone let alone a teenager. His strength of resolve and character inspires me every day.

The purpose of this article is to let you know that other options exist that may support your hair regrowth. You could discuss LDN with your functional medicine practitioner. Alternatively you can get in touch with the compounding pharmacy that supplies LDN and can arrange delivery directly to your home as a private patient. This treatment is not available on the NHS. If you’re keen to pursue this option, here’s the link to the pharmacy https://dicksonchemist.co.uk/new/.

Alopecia is a disease which can affect anyone. My experience of living with someone impacted by this particular auto-immune disease is what made me decide to retrain as a Health Coach. Conventional medicine had no answers for us, even worse it had no hope. From the outset functional medicine gave us a measure of confidence, and the opportunity to try different protocols which have ultimately been successful.

Please leave a comment if you’ve had experience, positive or negative, of trying LDN.  

After embarking upon a rigorous course with the Kresser Institute to study and train to be an ADAPT Health Coach, I decided to put myself in my prospective client’s shoes and begin a Thirty Day Reset diet following a Paleo template (sometimes called ancestral health diet). Typically a client would be prescribed a diet protocol by a Functional Medicine doctor, a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist to address their health concerns.

In fact, last year my family and I were placed on the Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) by a Functional Medicine doctor and I found that to be very challenging. The Thirty Day Paleo Reset is quite similar in approach with some subtle differences, e.g. unlike AIP it includes nuts and seeds in moderation, and excludes natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey completely.  I wanted to understand the challenges that clients would be dealing with when faced with a prescription or protocol that you can’t just hand in to the pharmacy to fill.

Let me start by saying that the Thirty Day Reset was a lot more straightforward than last year’s AIP. This was due at least in part to the fact that I’d already made so many lifestyle changes over the last 12 months. I felt overwhelmed by the AIP because it was a huge amount of food shopping, cooking and preparation. As soon as one meal was finished and I’d cleaned up, I’d start to prep the next as we’re a family of 5, with 3 of us battling auto-immune diseases. I remember walking into the supermarket and thinking ‘this will be quick!’ as only the first aisle had the fish, meat, vegetables and fruit that were part of our ‘new’ diet. I found the supermarket incredibly expensive and soon turned to my local butcher, fruit and veg stall, fish man and egg lady who not only provided a wider and better priced array of local produce, but could also vouch for the provenance.

A key difference with my AIP experience was that this time it was just me, and not my entire family. This meant that I didn’t have to spend time preparing food, then more time talking people into eating it, teenagers don’t tend to like hot smoked mackerel salad. Surprisingly I still had the caffeine withdrawal symptoms on Day 2, but this was less severe and more short-lived than before. One of the worst days was Day 5 which was the first Friday night. Typically my husband and I will have a glass of wine or a G&T to mark the start of the weekend. This ritual effectively disappeared as a glass of San Pellegrino with a slice doesn’t really cut it.

Another challenge was going out to dinner with friends. I was driving so not having an alcoholic drink wasn’t a problem. However, I became that person, you know the one who asks for the salad, but then proceeds to ask for half of the ingredients listed on the menu to be excluded. My three friends had ordered their complicated tapas dishes in the time that it took to figure out my amended salad.

How did it go? Well, I feel fantastic. My sleep has improved, my skin is clearer, my thoughts are sharper and I’m much less tired than before. I’m waiting on blood test results to see if my auto-immune disease has been pushed into remission. Was it easy? Yes, because this time around I knew what to expect and I had a far greater insight into the science behind the diet because of my Health Coach training. Was I hungry? No, although I did have some cravings for sweet food. Did I lose weight? Yes, I lost 3 kilos over the month which was an unintended benefit.

The most important thing is that I feel more like myself and have so much more energy. Now the fun starts with the food reintroductions, I’m going to take it slowly and carefully monitor any side-effects. By the time that I’m finished I’ll have created a personal paleo template that will be the perfect diet for me at this time in my life. For more info, take a look at The Paleo Cure by Chris Kresser or e info, take a look at The Paleo Cure by Chris Kresser or https://chriskresser.com/

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