Alopecia is a general term for loss of hair from hairy areas of the body. Hair loss, hair fall or alopecia is one of the most common problems in both genders. It starts to begin around the age of 30 in 25% of men. In most cases it develops gradually. As per reports scalp may contain about 1,00,000 hairs and normally 100 hairs may fall out every day. Except lips, palms and soles, entire body is covered by hair of varying thickness and color. It includes vellus (very thin hair and hard to see). On an average 5 million hairs are present in the whole body. There are different phases in the growth of the hair. An individual hair may grow for average of 5 years depending on the location of hair and age of the person. Then it quits growing and goes into resting phase of 12 weeks. Normally, a scalp hair grows about inch a month during growing phase. After the resting phase hair falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new one. The period varies from person to person. When it fails to grow a new hair, person slowly goes bald. Good blood supply to the papilla and a healthy body and mind would lead to normal hair growth. Environment, life style and food habits also play a vital role.
Alopecia and baldness hormonal aspects
The most common alopecia is baldness. It is usually due to body is failure to produce new hairs and not by excessive hair loss. It affects over 95% of people with hair loss. As people age, both men and women tend to loose hair thickness and amount, sometimes by becoming very fine and colourless vellus. Causes include aging, heredity, and higher levels of the androgenic harmone testosterone. Bilateral receding baldness affecting both ends of forehead affects more men than women, which is called as male pattern baldness. About 25% of men begin to bald by the time they are 30 years old and about two-thirds are either bald or have a balding pattern by age 60. The cause mainly is male harmone testosterone, because men who do not produce testosterone (because of genetic abnormalities or castration) do not develop this pattern of baldness. The typical pattern of male baldness begins at the hairline. Gradual receding hairline to form M shape can be seen in almost all cases. In such cases remaining hair may also become finer and shorter. This is followed by thinning around the crown with eventual bald spots, ending only a pattern of horseshoe ring of hair around the sides.
Pattern baldness may affect women too, because women also have androgens. This female pattern baldness is mainly due to changes in the androgensl level, but it is also associated with genetic predisposition and aging. During menopause many women encounter such hormonal changes and find thinning of hair in the head and coarser facial hair. Mostly, in these cases follicles remain alive and there are chances of new hair growth. Unlike male pattern baldness, in female pattern baldness the hair thins all over the head, but the frontal hairline is maintained. There may be a moderate loss of hair on the crown, but this rarely progresses to total or near baldness like a men.
Causes of other forms of alopecia
In many cases the fundamental cause of alopecia is nutritional deficiency and lack of balanced diet. Homoeopathy helps in correcting at different levels. Sometimes metabolic derangements and developmental defects may cause alopecia. Certain liver diseases can induce or make worse the hair falling. In such cases, drugs like Cardus marianus, Chelidonium majus, Echinacea angustifolia and Hydrastis Canadensis are useful.
Alopecia as a consequences to disease and drugs
Causes also include different types of medications, such as chemotherapy and medications taken for gout, arthritis, depression, hypertension and heart problems. Radiation therapy is the most common cause in cancer patients. Reports suggest that vitamin A in large doses can also lead to hair loss. Hair loss due to such medications and large dose of vitamin A is usually reversible. Birth control pills, pregnancy and child birth can lead to hair loss. Hair usually grows back in 6 months after stopping birth control pills or after delivering the baby. High fever or severe infection, sudden blood loss, severe emotional stress, crash diets (extreme dieting with much low-calorie intake), especially foods that do not contain enough protein are other causes. Conditions like thyroid problems, hypopitutarism, low levels of iron in the blood(common in women with heavy menstrual cycles), diabetes, HIV/AIDS, systemic lupus erythematosus, major surgery, major illness or chronic illness may cause hair loss. Apart from these, infectious diseases like tinea captis (ringworm of the scalp), syphilis, herpes zoster, linchen planus and eczema (atopic dermatitis), and fungus infection of the scalp can cause hair loss. It can also be due to hair pulling. Hair may be pulled purposefully due to nervousness or accidentally, such as with tighty braided hair. Hair normally grows back when pulling stops. Chemical and heart treatments on hair, such as coloring and perming (chemical and/or thermal treatment of hair to produce waves, curls or straight hair), can weaken the hair and lead to hair loss. More than one shampoo per day and hard brushing can also lead to hair loss.
Maintaining healthy scalp is necessary to maintain healthy hair. Periodic washing of hair is to be done with suitable cleaning agent cleanliness of individual comb is also necessary. Bike riders can cover their head with a cloth which should be washed periodically. Riding in metro and urban cities results in settling up of more dust and other pollutions on the head when compared to small towns. Identifying the maintaining cause plays an important role in the management. If the cause is due to medication, the dosage needs to be moderated. Conditions triggering alopecia have to be treated. Severe stress is to be tackled with counseling along with indicated remedy. If alopecia is due to major/chronic illness/surgery, assurance and giving confidence to the patients is helpful. Blow-drying is normally discouraged since wet hair is more fragile than dry hair. Patients with hair loss should comb hair after it dries. Adding iron or protein to the diet could lead to hair re-growth in respective deficiencies. Patients are advised to protect exposed areas from sunburn by covering them or by using sunscreens. If eyelashes and eyebrows are lost, eyeglasses can help protect the eyes from dust and debris.
Homoeopathic management of alopecia
Homoeopathy is a medical system which helps people acquired health from the diseased state. Is gaining popularity throughout the world. Patients seeking homoeopathy for alopecia are increasing. The testimony of success to cure permanently is a rapid, gentle and permanent manner. Increases awareness of the system in common people and it has become very popular among masses. But still we can not stop the whiplashes that come to us from time to time. The world enjoys as it were, taking us down many pegs, as if to show us where we stand in the field of medicine where so much revolutionary progress has taken place very true, but it begs the question that diseases have kept pace with this progress. Diseases have become harder and harder to diagnose and to treat.
Proper case history is vital in the selection of remedy and management. In case of side effects of toxic drugs, similar tautopathic drugs can be selected. Further detoxification drugs like Azadirachta Indica, Echinacea and Hydrastis may also be supportive. Alopecia due to nutritional deficiencies and impaired nutrition is to be managed with drugs like Alfalfa, Avena sativa, tissue salts, etc. There are individualistic drugs for many causes of alopecia like from grief, menopause, pregnancy, parturition etc.
Although, repertorisation would be helpful for effective selection of remedy. Inter-current constitutional, miasmatic, past illness targeted nosode would check the respective malady and also enhance the action of specific remedy. If alopecia is due to skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and fungal infection, remedy is selected based on these. Along with indicated remedy mother tinctures enhancing hair growth, controlling dandruff, promoting blood supply through peripheral vessels, acting as hair tonic, etc. are usually recommended to use externally mixed with some oil for consistency.
Homoeopathic drugs for alopecia
Every Homoeopathic Physician make an identification of oneself as a true human being as regarded in the society. Selection of medicine depend upon individuals symptoms, signs and other general conditions. Some of the remedies are given below with their indications: -
Acidum Fluricum: – Alopecia with great dryness of hair and soft nails. Falling out of hair after fevers. Children with a tendency to patchy bald areas, without a definite skin disease. But it is patchy areas of thinning of the hair rather than actual baldness.
Acidum nitricum: – Alopecia from congestion of blood to the scalp. Falling of hair from the genitals scalp sensitive
Acidum phosphoricum: – Hair turns grey and falls out early in life. Hair fall from grief, general debility, Hair thins out.
Apis mellifica: – Hair falls out in spots with burning and stinging pain in the scalp. Intolerance of heat & slightest touch.
Arsenicum album: – Falling of hair with convalescence. Sometimes from skin conditions like eczema, urticaria, herpes zoster etc. with characteristic thirst.
Alumina: – Hair falling with excessive dryness, itching and numbness of scalp. Low spirits, patients feels better as day advances.
Arundo mauritanica: – Falling of hair with painful root. Itching of scalp. Entire hair falls out in children.
Aurum metallicum: – Shedding of the hair copiously. Falling of hair from eye lashes. Hair falling due to syphilis and mercury intoxication.
Bacillinum: – It is usually prescribed as inter-current remedy for alopecia based on trait, past history of lung disease, etc.
Baryta carbonica: – Hair falling begins from the vertex. Hair fall from the moustache.
Borax: – Hair fall mainly from the eye brows. Hair fall associated with plica polonica, tangled hair at tips can not be separated.
Calcarea carbonica: – Hair dry, falling out from sides and temples down to beard with yellowish-white dandruff and a cold scalp. Hair falling from tinea capitis. Dryness of hair and sensitiveness of the scalp.
Calcarea phosphoric: – Alopecia areata. Hair fall in patients with hair of poor quality. Hair breaks out.
Cantharix : – Falling of hair while combing.
Carbo Vegatabilis: – Hair falls after illness after pregnancy (Lachesis & Sepia). Alopecia from general weakened condition.
Graphites: – Hair of vertex, sides and beared turns grey early and falls out, with matted and brittle hair. Bald patches at the beared and chin.
Hepar sulphuris: – Hair falls in large quantity. Falling of the hair and bald spots in various places on the head, with sore pimples; sometimes from chronic headache.
Kalium carbonicum: – Falling of hair, especially from temples, eye brows and beard, with great dryness.
Kalium sulphuricum: – Falling of hair, of bald spots. Yellowish or white scales on the scalp with hair falling, with dry and scaly lips. Hair falls out easily when combing.
Lachesis: – Hair fall during pregnancy with aversion to rays of sun and sometimes with itching on scalps. Scratching causes swellings and thickening of skin. Sensitive scalp; does not want hair to be touched.
Lycopodium: – Hair falls out, first on the vertex, later on the temples, especially after diseases of the abdominal viscera and parturition, with hair turning grey early. Alopecia with violent burning, scalding, itching of the scalp.
Mancinella: – Hair falling after severe acute diseases with itching of the scalp.
Mercurius solubilis: – Profuse hair fall, perhaps from suppressed anger. Hair becomes dry and falls. Hair falling mostly from temples.
Mezerium: – Hair falls in handfuls with white dandruff and dry scalp.
Natrum muriaticum: – The hair falls out when touched, especially in nursing women. Falling of hair from lack of nutrition. Hair falls out when merely grasped, most on bregma and temples, but also on beared and genitals.
Petroleum: – Rapid falling of hair. Suited well to the people whose skin is cracked, rough, bleed easily and unhealthy.
Phosphorus: – Hair falls out in clouds, as bunches. Baldness of single spot. Root, hair and scalp become dry. Hair fall with dandruff and itching worse scratching. Alopecia areata in the frontal region, especially above ears. Falling of hair in handful, patients has desire for cold drinks.
Pulsatilla: – Hair falling after delivery. It is more of constitutional than specific.
Selenium Metallicum: – Hair falling on combing. Hair falls off from on head, eyebrows, whiskers and genitals.
Sepia: – Hair fall after pregnancy, chronic headache and climacteric. More suitable to weak women with yellow complexion, bearing down sensation and tendency to abortion.
Silicea: – Scalp sensitive to touch, even to hat; resulting in tearing pains. Premature baldness. Hair falls when combed.
Sulphur: – Hair falling with dry, cold and hard scalp, worse washing. Scalp sore to touch, itching violently, worse in the evening, when getting warm in bed. Alopecia with dandruff.
Syphilinum: – More suited to the people of syphilitic nature; usually prescribed based on miasmatic presentation of the patient. Profuse hair fall, in spots, with white scaly dandruff and dry scalp.
Thuja occidentalis: – Thin hair, grows slowely, splits and falls off. White scaly dandruff.
Vinca minor: – Hair falls out and is replaced by grey hair. Falling of the hair with great itching of the scalp. Eczema of scalp and face, matted hair and offensive odour. A crust is formed, the discharge is retained underneath and causes the hair to fall out or to mat together, forming the plica polonica.
(Dr. Sandeep Puri)
Professor, Deptt. of Materia Medica,
Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital,
Sector -26, Chandigarh.
What your hair needs?
It's effect on hair
What to eat?
What to avoid?
Hair itself is made up of protein.
Meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, yogurt, soybean, etc.
Sugar, processed foods, fatty red meats, full fat dairy products; caffeinated products such as coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate. They can deple te the body of nutrients and raise adrenal levels, which will cause a chain reaction of producing more androgen and causing hair loss.
Vitamin A helps to develop healthy cells and tissues.
Its deficiency commonly causes thickening of the scalp, dry hair and dandruff.
Liver, fish oil, eggs, fortified milk; red, yellow, and orange vegetables are good sources for vitamin A, as are some dark green leafy vegetables like spinach.
Vitamin B6, B12, Biotin
These are important to maintain the level of iron, which helps in carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Brown rice, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Oats, Sunflower seeds , Walnuts, Soya, Peas, lentils, Cooked egg yolk, etc.
Vitamion C is responsible for the development of healthy collagen, which is necessary to hold body tissues together.
Its deficiency can cause split ends and hair breakage.
Fresh peppers, citrus fruits, melons berries, potatoes, tomatoes and dark green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E is necessary to provide good blood circulation to the scalp by increasing the uptake of oxygen.
Green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains, vegetable oils, and most ready-to-eat cereals, which are fortified with vitamin E.
Important for iron absorption
Marmite, Calf's liver, Chick peas, Endive
Ensures healthy supply of oxygen to hair.
Green leafy vegetables, kidney beans and bran
Zinc is responsible for cell production, tissue growth and repair, and the maintenance of the oil-secreting glands of the scalp. It also plays a large role in protein synthesis and collagen formation. For this reason, zinc is important for both hair maintenance and dandruff prevention.
Seafood, oysters, oats.
It is necessary for the production of hemoglobin.
Good sources of copper are liver again, seafood, nuts, and seeds.
Hair needs iodine for growth.
Seaweed, salmon, seafood, lima beans, molasses, eggs, potatoes with the skin on, watercress and garlic.
Silica is vital to the strength of hair, and although it will not necessarily stop hair from falling out from the follicle, it will stop hair breakage. It works by stimulating the cell metabolism and formation, which slows the aging process.
Rice, oats, lettuce, parsnips, asparagus, onion, strawberry, cabbage, cucumber, leek, sunflower seeds, celery, rhubarb, cauliflower, and Swiss chard.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
EFA are a key component to healthy skin, hair and nails.
Deep-water fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, or herring.
Water is vital to proper hydration, which is necessary in order for all nutrients to be utilized properly by the body, not to mention the proper function of every cell in the body including hair follicles.