What Causes Alopecia? by Tammy Lobato

Ever heard Autoimmune Diseases described as the result of our immune system attacking itself? The reality is that because our immune systems are so highly clever and complex they are actively fighting to protect us. There are a few schools of thought about what causes alopecia although stress is almost always a trigger, as is a compromised immune system. There are five key contributors to the creation of autoimmune diseases and in this blog I give you a brief insight into each.

STRESS

95% of our clients experience some kind of heightened stressful period or a traumatic event leading up to their unexpected hairloss. For example one of our clients as a four year old was riding her bike down a hill when the breaks failed and she fell off. From her usual state of increased anxiousness, Sally thought she was going to die. She had experienced heightened adrenaline to such an extent her hair started coming out in chunks within hours of the accident. The remainder fell out over the next week and never returned after 40 years. 

I am sure something similar happened to me at age 3 when I developed Alopecia but cannot recall the reason for the extreme stress I must have experienced for my hair to fall out over several months and never return.

Many of our clients, like myself, have ongoing heightened adrenaline that is constantly present and exacerbated when experiencing a frightening occurrence or trauma. This constant adrenaline causes stress related illnesses (including autoimmune). Most other people do not have the constant adrenaline, only experiencing it from time to time and in that state it is a healthy hormone.

We have clients who have developed Alopecia as a result of being bullied, work pressures or from the loss of loved ones. Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in teenage girls presenting with Alopecia due to increased life pressures, environmental factors and toxins.

Many Dermatologists reject the involvement of stress in Alopecia.

THE IMMUNE SYSTEM & THE GUT

Conventional medicine classifies Alopecia as an autoimmune disease. Often diseases that are classified as autoimmune are those not comprehensively understood by medical practitioners. Conventional medicine describes Alopecia as a form of hair loss produced by the autoimmune destruction of hair follicles in localised areas of skin.

Conventional medicine then refers people with Alopecia to dermatologists who treat the condition as a skin disease by treating with chemicals that are said to promote hair growth.

Functional/Natural health practitioners believe Alopecia is caused by a weakened immune system and work on strengthening/healing the immune system.

Recent research proves a theory around ‘Leaky Gut’ and it’s trigger of autoimmune diseases. Leaky Gut occurs when the walls of your intestines become loose and allow undigested food particles, microbes, and toxins to escape your gut and enter your bloodstream. Leaky Gut can be caused by food sensitivities, parasites, stress etc. Once the toxins enter your bloodstream, your immune system tags them as invaders and attacks them, causing a huge rise in inflammation. Extreme inflammation is what triggers and worsens autoimmune symptoms.

VIRUSES/INFECTIONS

There is increasing evidence that the common viruses and/or bacteria that often live dormant in our systems – our livers, kidneys or guts may at some point be overloaded by toxins and become unable to continue fighting the viruses or bacteria; the viruses or bacteria then make themselves active creating other symptoms and potentially other autoimmune diseases. (Do you know you are three times more likely to develop more autoimmune diseases once you have one?)

Such viruses could include Epstein Barr Virus and bacteria such as Streptococcus.

DIET/TOXINS

There is overwhelming evidence that gluten contributes to Leaky Gut in certain people and that Leaky Gut causes autoimmune diseases. Medical doctor and gastroenterologist, Dr. Alessio Fasano’s research recently concluded that gluten triggers the release of Zonulin. Zonulin is a chemical that signals the tight junctions of your intestinal wall to open up, creating intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. Gluten also causes inflammation which triggers and exacerbates autoimmune symptoms.

Changes to Gluten and how they affect us

1.   Gluten is in so much of today’s diet – breads, cereals, biscuits, sauces etc. It has also become highly modified from the gluten of 50 years ago providing for the creation of higher yields. It is also found in so many more products such as medication fillers and manufactured meats.

2.   The predominant chemical in the weed killer Round Up is Glyphosate – the increased use of this chemical in wheat crops (Glyphosate has been found to contribute to the development of some cancers) – is thought to also contribute to the harm being experienced from gluten.

3.   This reason is highly technical and scientific - it is called Molecular Mimicry and it is scary. Gluten is a large protein that has a molecular structure that looks like our thyroid. In people with autoimmune thyroid disease, the immune system seeks to destroy the gluten but can end up attacking the thyroid by mistake.

DIET/INFLAMMATION

Diet plays such a large role in increasing or decreasing the symptoms of autoimmune disease and in the ability or not, of reversing the symptoms and the disease itself.

In sensitive systems such as ours, inflammation occurs and is worsened by what we eat - we will often react differently to that of our friends and family.

Experts have developed a dietary approach that informs us of all of the inflammatory foods we should avoid in order to heal our leaky guts and reverse the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.


All information provided by Tammy is researched from a variety of medical experts in autoimmune disease. Sources of that information together with a variety of additional services and assistance to advance the knowledge and healing of her clients are available from the Alopecia Resource Centre. To book a consultation please go to alopeciaresourcecentre.com.au or phone 03 9796 2730