Alopecia areata is a condition characterised by hair loss which may occur anywhere over the body, however it primarily affects the scalp. Patches of hair loss are experienced and the cause of the problem is unknown.

Naturopathically addressing nutritional deficiencies is recommended as well as immunity, hormonal imbalances and sluggish liver function. In Chinese Medicine congested energy (Qi) and a decline in Kidney function are underlying causes of alopecia areata. This means that there is reduced circulation, sluggish blood and nutrient transportation to the scalp and a decrease in constitutional energy (Kidney vitality) to invigorate the energy to the scalp for optimal hair growth.

Healthy adults normally shed 50 -100 hairs each day. Temporary hair loss can occur due to stress, illness, thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalance following childbirth, and as a reaction to general anaesthetics and other medications. In these circumstances, a large number of hair follicles suddenly go into a resting phase, causing hair to thin noticeably, although the hair may not fall out until 2-3 months after the event. Hair loss can also be caused by exposure of the hair or scalp to burns, x-rays, scalp injury, and certain chemicals (including those used to purify swimming pools, and to bleach, dye, and perm hair). Normal hair growth usually returns once the cause is eliminated. Dietary mineral deficiencies have also been implicated in hair loss, particularly deficiency of zinc, selenium, silica and copper and iron deficiency. The oral contraceptive pill and nervous system stress may also be a contributing factor for many women.


Skin, hair and nails are chemically related. Basic requirements for the health of these structures include adequate intakes of nutrients such as protein, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. The following are some general recommendations for improving the health of the hair:

  • Biotin is an essential vitamin which has been found in clinical trials to strengthen soft brittle nails and reduce breaking and splitting after 12 weeks.
  • Silica is concentrated in the nails, hair and skin and contributes to collagen formation to help it to strengthen.
  • Herbs to improve Kidney function, thereby improving circulation and energy to the hair shaft to stimulate growth. Herbs which act on strengthening constitutional energy and Kidney function are: Rehmannia, Alisma, Poria, Chinese Yam, Cuscuta, Horny Goat Weed and Goji Berry. Please speak to a herbalist who can tailor make a herbal tincture according to your specific needs.
  • A multivitamin supplement may be of assistance to ensure that you are consuming adequate amounts of nutrients needed to build new hair and strengthen the quality of the hair.
  • Zinc helps maintain the structural integrity of the nails, hair and skin and is important for a healthy immune system.
  • Emu oil can be used topically on the scalp to reduce the resting phase (dorminancy) of the hair follicles
  • Vitamin C is important in the production of collagen and for a healthy immune system.
  • Folic acid, iron, manganese, Silica, beta-carotene and vitamin B5 all assist with metabolism of nutrients important for nails, hair and skin.
  • The herb Ginkgo may help to stimulate circulation to the hair shaft.
  • Many women have used the herb Saw Palmetto successfully in alopecia as it addresses hormonal imbalances, other herbs which may be of benefit are Dong Quai, Vitex and Paeonia
  • Protein is an important food group which contributes to the overall health and quality of the hair.
  • For healthy hair and scalp choose a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, and suggest you eat some good protein sources everyday. It is important to have a balanced diet to ensure your hair receives sufficient nutrients to stay strong and healthy.
  • It is also recommend to use gentle hair products that protect the hair shaft and keep it supple. It is recommended that you avoid shampoos, conditioners and hair products which use Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. Some brands which do not use this harsh chemical are Jurlique, Aveda and Alchemy.
I suggest consulting a healthcare professional who can help you to investigate further and determine the cause behind this complaint by referring you for hormonal testing, heavy metal testing, a full blood test which includes nutritional status and thryoid function. There are many important factors that may have lead to your thinning hair such as: stress, hormonal imbalance, reactions to chemical shampoos/dyes etc, poor diet etc.