Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where hair falls out in clumps, usually on the head area – and where there are no clinical inflammatory signs.
Stress can play a large role in the condition, as well as viral infections, trauma, hormonal change, and emotional/physical stressors. It can be more prevalent in those with a family history of alopecia areata and/or of other autoimmune disease. Those with the condition are more likely to experience thyroid disease, vitiligo and/or atopic eczema.
Patches of alopecia areata can affect any hair-bearing area, and most often affects the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and beard.
Patchy alopecia areata has three stages.
- Sudden loss of hair
- Enlargement of bald patch or patches
- Regrowth of hair
Other forms of alopecia can include total hair loss over entire body, entire head, the occipital and lateral scalp area, diffuse alopecia areata where one presents with sudden diffuse alopecia and hair may tend to grey. One can also get alopecia areata of the nails.
There is not yet any reliable cure for alopecia areata and other forms of autoimmune hair loss. Because spontaneous regrowth is common in alopecia areata, especially in the early stages of the disease, and research has often been of poor quality, the effectiveness of reported treatments is mostly unknown.
Treatments can include: Topical treatments, intralesional corticosteroid injections, systemic corticosteroids, immunotherapy, lipid-lowering medications, JAK/STAT inhibitors. Complementary therapies may also include meditation and stress management.
Ayurvedic Approach to Alopecia (Indralupta):
According to Ayurveda hair loss is a tridoshic condition (Vata, Pitta and Kapha – with a dominance of Pitta). Causative factors (see below) lead to Pitta dosha derangement, and along with Vata, this aggravation becomes localised in the hair and hair roots, leading to hair fall. Later on Kapha in the condition, there is obstruction of the micro-channels that supply nutrients to the hair follicles, which will then result in hair falling out in tufts, as well as preventing further regrowth of hair.
- Poor diet and food combinations leading to poor digestion
- Intake of fried, sour, spicy, salty, and fermented foods
- Excessive intake of tea, coffee, alcohol and red meat
- Imbalanced lifestyle
- Excessive anger, stress and anxiety
- Restlessness, lack of sleep
- Sleeping during the day
- Weak immune system
- Hormonal imbalances
- Certain medications such as anabolic steroids, oral contraceptive pills, progesterone, chemotherapy, thyroid hormones etc.
- Use of chemically based personal care products
- Poor scalp hygiene
BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR ALOPECIA:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Aloe vera juice, amalaki, brahmi, lavender
Vata Kapha Balancing: Aloe vera juice, amalaki, brahmi, ashwaganda, bhringaraj, shikakai, fenugreek, curry leaves
Pitta Vata Balancing: Aloe vera juice, amalaki, brahmi, lavender
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Aloe vera juice, amalaki, brahmi, hibiscus, manjista
Kapha Vata Balancing: Aloe vera juice, amalaki, brahmi, ashwaganda, bhringaraj, shikakai, fenugreek, curry leaves
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Aloe vera juice, amalaki, brahmi, hibiscus, manjista
Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Alopeica:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:
- Avoid causative factors
- Balance Jataragni, and digestion
- Gently remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body)
- Balance doshic imbalances and blockages through diet/lifestyle/herbs
- Shirodara, shiroabhyanga, shirolepa and nasya bodywork therapies
- Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
- Regular scalp massage and scalp hygiene
- Panchakarma detox therapies (where required)
General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Alopecia:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:
- One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
- One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. Food substances should be dry and light to digest, without too much oil or fat. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
- One should regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
- One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods, be sure to use ghee in cooking. Have adequate intake of asparagus, leafy greens, mint, coriander, coconut water, pomegranate, fish, eggs nuts (preference of almonds) and seeds (e.g. chia, sunflower, flax, pumpkin) and soy/tofu. Avoid intake of red meat. Chicken is fine, preferably chicken beast).
- Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks and aerated beverages, high fat foods, greasy foods, extra salty foods. Avoid heating spices (chilli, black pepper, dried ginger, excessive intake of cardamon, cinnamon and fenugreek).
- One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry. If digestion is poor, then 4 light meals per day is advisable in place of three regular meals.
- Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
- Buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
- Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
- Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
- Use all of the five senses at mealtimes. Create a ritual of eating to bring back the sacredness of eating.
- Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Alopecia:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:
- Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
- Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
- Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion and exercise in summer during the heat of the day.
- Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
- Avoid smoking and minimise alcohol and caffeine intake.
- Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
- Maintain good hair hygiene.
- Home scalp massage with infused Ayurvedic hair oils.
- Use organic/natural hair shampoo, conditioner and hair products.
- Minimise use of heated hair appliances (hair dryers, straighteners) that add extra heat to scalp area.
If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.