Advice needed on two topics: hair loss in women and developing a palette for wine

No, the two are not related.

  1. Phoukamom is 67, had her thyroid removed in her 30s, is past menopause, and is troubled by the amount of hair she is losing. I don’t notice it unless I compare it to pictures that are more than five years old, but it’s really bugging her. She can’t take female hormones, as she’s already been through one bout of breast cancer. Her nurse practitioner is not offering much help, so she asked me to appeal to the Dopers.

I need anecdotes, research, personal experience, suggestions to help her keep the hair she still has, possibly regrow lost hair, or cope with the hair loss as it stands now. She is, apparently, tempted to shave her head but agrees it would give most of the family a heart attack.

  1. I cannot drink beer anymore, because all but the really expensive and rare sorghum beer has gluten in it, and gluten is bad for me. I would rather drink the occasional glass of wine when some libation is called for, as I’m not fond of mixed drinks, and would like something with a bit of sophistication and romance to it.

The trouble is, I am a complete gourmand. The only wine I’ve really enjoyed previously is, I kid you not, Boone Hill’s Strawberry Wine. I would say that my current palette is very sugar-oriented, but I did taste a sip of that kosher wine and shuddered. What is a good beginner’s wine, something with metaphorical training wheels? I would prefer red, if I can take it, as there are more apparent health benefits.

Suggest away.

As for hair loss, if it’s plain old female pattern baldness, there’s not really much she can do, besides using Rogaine for Women, which will help her keep the hair she does have. This assumes that her blood’s been tested and she’s on a sufficient dose of thyroid, not deficient in iron, etc.

As for the wine, I don’t like wine much, especially red, but I do LOVE a sweet German wine. Trader Joe’s carries one called Peisporter (white), and it’s so good, it’s like drinking fruit juice!

I believe you mean ‘palate’ for wine (palate, part of your mouth) not ‘palette’ (something used by an art painter).

In any even, start with a sweet German wine - Reisling or Peisporter or Liebfraumilch…

Wine -
10 years ago, we decided that we wanted to learn more about wine.
We found that our local family-owned liquor store had a monthly wine tasting club. The first Tuesday of the month, between 40 and 100 people would show up, and a wine distributor would teach us about different kinds of wine, and show off 8 of the wines they were selling.

It was the best $20/year/couple that we ever spend. I learned that there were some kinds of wine that I just don’t like, and that’s ok. Other things I learned: Red meat doesn’t require red wine. If you like white zinfindal, then drink it. Just because a bottle is cheap doesn’t mean it’s bad, and just because it’s pricey doesn’t make it good (to me).

So I’d suggest checking around to find someplace that has a wine tasting club. Not just wandering through the liquor store and trying their samples, but an actual sit down event.

Palate, not palette. Gotcha. Wine tasting. Blood tests.

Keep 'em coming.

Another vote for riesling or gewurztraminer. They are white and come in dry, sweet, and very sweet (dessert) versions. One way to tell is to look on the label for “residual sugar” percentage. They are usually served chilled and are very easy to drink. Don’t get the very cheapest ($4), get one that is $8-9.

If there is any wine shop around you that offers regular tastings, sign up for them. You can try quite a few new things without having to commit to a whole bottle. This will also be the case with local wineries, which you can’t go 10 miles without tripping over one here in Ca.

You might also want to try mead or hard cider, as both of those are gluten-free.

That’s true. Throw a stick in California, and it’ll land in a winery.

So, about my mom: her nurse-practitioner has told her that she cannot have Rogaine. The reason is “her hormones”. Que? Now, Mom has funky hormones, I’ll give her that. She’s Type II diabetic but controls it with metformin and diet. She’s been on synthroid for her removed thyroid for over thirty years. She’s also past menopause, and there’s a long, dismal history of both diabetes and cancer in the family.

But what in the Wild, Wild World of Sports does Rogaine have to do with hormones? And why would it be bad for my mom to take it? I know Mom gets regular bloodwork done, but that’s most likely to check her liver function, since she’s on the metforming, and her blood sugar. She takes mineral and vitamin supplements, so I don’t think she’s deficient, but she has a very long standing sleep deficit, and it’s starting to show in daily cognitive tasks (at least to her. To me, it appears like normal absentmindedness and distractedness when you’re worried about something else, and Mom is a worrier.)

Any more suggestions?

My dad’s 3 sisters all had thinning hair (I’m showing signs of the same at 56) and they all wore wigs for “occasions.” Aunt Jean always wore a small hairpiece daily. But they were all of the pre-Rogaine generation, so I don’t know if they might have tried other remedies.

As for me, I’m just dealing. I don’t like that it’s thinning, but it’s just hair, and if it gets bad enough, I’ll get a wig or a scarf or something. Has your mother tried coloring her hair? It won’t give her more, but I found when I’ve colored mine, it makes it feel thicker.

I’ve never heard of a contraindication for Rogaine due to hormone problems, but IANAD. She could see a dermatologist for the hair loss- they will most likely do blood tests or at least review her recent ones, and determine the cause of the hair loss. Steroid injections directly into the scalp is one treatment they could possibly do. Has she had surgery recently- that’s also a cause of hair loss. One interesting thing I heard the other day is that hair loss is more noticeable if you have thick hair than fine, because there are less hairs per inch when it’s thick. This is when it’s good to have fine hair.

She probably needs a skin check anyway, so why don’t you suggest to her to see a derm?

You ought to try Ace Perry, a hard, carbonated cider made with pear juice, brewed up in Napa Valley.

It tastes great, it’s fairly inexpensive (7 or 8 bucks for a 6 pack) is 5% alcohol and has no gluten in it.

It really is delicious, and just perfect for summertime sipping, it has a tart finish and a sweet (but not TOO sweet) palate.

I much prefer it to most hard apple ciders, and it may just be the ticket for your tastes.


I’d recommend getting a book of cooking-with-wine recipes, and making some dishes that involve plenty of wine in them. Wines can bring out flavors in foods, but combinations with the right foods also provide a context for the flavors of the wine.

I’ve always found savignon blanc to be an easy to drink wine. It’s white unfortunately but you might like to try one anyway. They are very light in colour and have a mild flavour. They’re not particularly sweet but that’s not a bad thing.

Oh my gosh. I’ve had that! And I loved it. I should look it up again.

Is it female pattern baldness? Or is it caused by something else? I agree to check with a dermatologist.

According to my mom, I started losing my hair when I was 16. I myself didn’t notice until a bit later, and that was because it got really obvious; there were quarter-sized bald spots all over my scalp in addition to general thinning at the top. I went to see a dermatologist about it, because at first I was also scared it was a symptom of something else… maybe something more serious (at that point, I never even knew females could become bald… much less teenage females). She did several tests. The first one was a quick one involving a strand of hair to check if there was something wrong with the hair or the scalp. The second thing was a biopsy of the scalp. The third was a blood test that checked hormone levels, iron levels, etc. When she finally concluded that it was probably alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia, she administered steroid injections to the areas affected by alopecia areata. It works for some people in regrowing the hair, but not for me. The most it did was probably keep it from growing larger (even that is questionable - alopecia areata is unpredictable). Rogaine did work for the area affected by androgenic alopecia, though. Your mom should probably check with the doc about the Rogaine use.

There was another thread recently about guys using Rogaine, and some of them said they just shaved their head and embraced it. It’s easier for them to say - being bald when you are a guy is not an unusual look. When I was a teenage girl, the last thing I wanted to do was to draw even more unwanted attention to myself in that way. If phoukamom is fine with it, then more power to her.

For her, it’s thinning all over. I think she’s also mentioned her hair becoming more brittle.

When I worked at a liquor/wine store, we called the sweeter wines “fruity”.

You might like a lambrusco, which is not only a fruity red, but it’s also sparkling and good chilled.

There’s white zinfandel and white merlot, which is similar to white zin except it’s made from the merlot grapes. These are more pink than red though, but they are quite fruity and should also be served chilled.

Reislings, which have been mentioned by others already, are fruity whites that often taste of green apples, and gewurztraminer is very similar, tasting of green apples and spice (and goes phenomenally well with trout).

I believe you meant “In any event”…:smiley:

I second the recommendation for a wine tasting club or class. Go to any store with a decent selection of wine for sale, and ask. Odds are they can point you to at least one option, maybe more. If there simply isn’t anything in your area, invite 3-4 couples over for a nice dinner party, and ask each to bring a bottle of wine with them. You’ll get to sample some different kinds. With a little luck, they’ll leave the bottles behind, and you can get 2nds on some you like.

Also, if there are wineries in your area, do a winery tour. If not, find some somewhat close, and plan a road trip. My wife went to one awhile ago, and hit 4-5 different places. For a few dollars, she got to sample 3-4 wines in each location. Do this, and you can get an idea of what you like and don’t like. You may want a designated driver for the ride, home, of course.

phouka, some people find they do better on natural dessicated thyroid, such as Armour or Naturthroid, since they provide T1,T2,T3, and T4, like the real human thyroid does, instead of a synthetic like Synthroid, which is only T4, especially if they’ve been on a synthetic for a while. Armour was recently reformulated to change the fillers, and some people are now having some trouble with THAT, so some patients have gone to using compounding pharmacies to make it up for them without those fillers.

In addition, though, you said your mom has a bad sleep debt, has blood sugar problems and is a worrier. You may want to check out adrenal fatigue, since insomnia, blood sugar problems, and anxiety are on the list of signs of adrenal fatigue (they’re signs of other things, too, of course, and they could in fact be not related at all to her adrenals.) The website has a lot of thyroid and adrenal information and info on natural and synthetic thyroid as well. I will tell you up front that they claim that synthetic T4 long-term doesn’t work, and your mom’s MMV. But behind the anecdotes there does seem to be some useful information, and they also have info on what to ask your doctor, etc. The link to Dr. Rind’s metabolic temp graph in the adrenals section was particularly helpful to me personally. I’m not affiliated with that website in any way - it’s just helped me to figure out what has been going on with me recently. Anyway, I hope this helps.

I know it’s not wine, but Woodchuck hard cider is gluten free and darn tasty to boot.

Adrenal fatigue, you should know, is not a diagnosis that is accepted by the medical community. We’re into woo territory now.