Alopecia areata is considered to be an auto-immune condition in which the body's immune system, specifically the white blood cells, attack the hair follicles, leading to hair loss, which can be on the scalp or elsewhere.
In most cases of alopecia, the hair falls out in small round patches about the size of a quarter. Alopecia areata affects approximately four million Americans of both sexes, and all ages and backgrounds. The effects of alopecia are primarily socially and emotionally disturbing, because of its unpredictable effects on a person's appearance. It is not life threatening or painful.
There are a number of Chinese herbs that can be beneficial for this condition. Chinese medicine treats the root imbalances in the body that result in alopecia. When the body is brought into balance, symptoms resolve themselves and slowly disappear. There are two patterns in Chinese Medicine that can result in the hair loss symptomatic of alopecia areata. The first is a pattern of Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency. This means that the energy of the body that normally nourishes the hair follicles is deficient. When herbs are used that nourish Liver and Kidney Yin, hair can start to grow back. The second pattern is that of Toxic Heat in the body. This means that there is an inflammatory condition in the body that is a result of excess acidity from a poor diet, exposure to pollution or other toxins, or an infection. In most people with alopecia areata, these two conditions exist in combination with each other.
It is necessary to reduce inflammation and acidity in the body while nourishing the cooling yin energy of the body that nourishes hair growth.
He Shou Wu, polygonum or Fo-ti, is one herb that can be beneficial for people with alopecia areata. This herb has been used traditionally in China for graying hair and premature hair loss. It is a general tonic for the brain and the body, and can improve the quality of hair growth on the head. It can take three to six months of use to see the full benefits of Fo-ti. The Chinese have also traditionally used this herb as a longevity tonic.
Ligustrum and eclipta are also two Chinese herbs used to nourish hair growth by strengthening the Liver and Kidney Yin energy of the body. Research done in China have shown that these herbs can promote hair growth in people with alopecia areata.
Chinese wolfberries are also a general body tonic that improve blood circulation to hair follicles of the head. This herb can work well in combination with the herbs listed above.
In order to clear the inflammation and acidity that can trigger alopecia, mint, dandelion, and honeysuckle herbs can be used in combination.
Some supplements that may be of benefit in combination with Chinese herbs include vitamin C, flaxseed oil, and nettle tea. All of these are anti-inflammatory and detoxifying to the body. Eating black beans and black sesame seeds can also be helpful when taken alongside Chinese herbs.
Chinese herbs are a safe, natural, effective, health-promoting way to treat alopecia areata and increase hair growth.
Dr. Khan is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has her own line of herbal supplements, including one for alopecia, at http://www.yinessence.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.