Friday, June 30, 2017

Alopecia Areata: Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Regenerate Hair with a 90.32% Success Rate

by Kathy Thorpe, MA, CHom

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies are proving to be the most successful treatments for Alopecia or hair loss.

What causes Alopecia?
Although Alopecia is not well understood, some of the causes include:

·      an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles
·      a stress reaction (worry or anxiety which impairs spleen function and reduces the flow or quality of blood to the hair follicles)
·      hypothyroidism
·      the result of chemotherapy or radiation used in cancer treatments
·      anemia
·      genetic male-pattern balding
·      topically applied chemicals to the scalp that damage the hair follicles
·      heavy metals or even exposure of the hair follicles to shower water with heavy metals

Western Medical Treatment
Western medical treatments usually include corticosteroid injections or topical steroid creams which may decrease the hair loss if it is caused from inflammation. Hair loss often improves during treatment but often recurs once treatment is stopped because the underlying cause has not been addressed.

Chinese Medical Approach
Chinese medical doctors see that alopecia is caused by a deficiency of blood, blood heat or blood stasis which causes the hair follicles to be undernourished. Deficiency of liver qi and kidney qi may also cause alopecia because the liver stores the blood which nourishes the hair and the kidneys produce bone marrow which is responsible for the growth of hair. Treatment focuses on acupuncture and herbs that will move and nourish the blood while nourishing the liver and kidneys.

Researchers have recently published a study concluding that acupuncture combined with the herbal formula Huoxue Shengfa is safe and effective for alleviating alopecia areata. Their research was published in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2015.

In this study, participants received 7-star acupuncture treatments twice per week on the hair loss areas and they orally consumed the Huoxue Shengfa decoction three times per day for three months.

The test results showed that the total recovery rate for the treatment group was 90.32% with a recurrence rate of 9.68%.

The theory behind choosing the formula Huoxue Shengfa is that the doctors concluded that it is best to resolve blood stasis in order to treat alopecia areata.  Resolving blood stasis helps to promote qi and blood circulation, thereby supplying vital nutrients to the hair.  In this herbal formula, Dang Gui has been shown to regulate blood platelet aggregation and benefit the circulation in the blood vessels while Dan Shen helps to promote blood circulation and repair tissues. The other herbs in the formula also build or move the blood. 

The 7-star acupuncture treatments promote blood circulation, especially to the scalp, reduce inflammation and improve follicle health. As soon as blood flow increases, nutrient levels at different areas of the scalp are replenished to encourage hair growth.

David Scrimgeour, Licensed Acupuncturist in Boulder Colorado, has used this protocol with his patients with success. “It works,” says Scrimgeour, “but you must be patient because it takes three months for the hair follicles and new hair cells to regenerate.  I start seeing new hair growth around 7 weeks with good growth in three months.”  Scrimgeour states that not only does the alopecia resolve, but hair all over the head becomes fuller and thicker.  

Diet and Nutrition to Support Hair Growth
In addition to the herbal formula and acupuncture, David Scrimgeour also recommends including an abundance of dark green leafy vegetables, quality lean protein, seaweed, and brightly colored foods that are valued for building the blood such as goji berries, dried apricots, purple grapes, blackberries and raspberries. He also recommends bone broths to support the liver and the building of marrow. 

Protect the Scalp
As far as protecting the scalp, Scrimgeour reminds patients to choose only a mild organic shampoo and use a water filter for the shower.  People often think about the water they drink, but they forget that the water used on their hair and scalp daily may have heavy metals (especially if it is well water) or chlorine and fluoride (for city water).

Two Supplements for Hair Growth
Scrimgeour also recommends two supplements to support hair growth:  Biotin (5 mg/day) which improves keratin or the protein that makes up hair and nails and N’Acetyl Cysteine (1,000 mg/day) which is an anti-oxidant that promotes hair growth. 

Scalp Massage and Headstands!
Two other things you can do to promote scalp health and hair growth:  every night before bed, massage your scalp for five minutes, and when you wake in the morning, do a headstand or yoga inversion poses to bring blood circulation to the head. 

With Acupuncture and Chinese herbs as well as some of these recommendations, you'll soon be noticing new hair growth as well as a healthier scalp. 

David Scrimgeour specializes in treating chronic illness and practices Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at his clinic in Boulder, Colorado. For more information, he can be reached at 303 413-9596 or through his website:

The herbal formula Huoxue Shengfa is available in a formula called Hair Restore by Six Persimmons Apothecary

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