Alopecia Areata (Spot Baldness)
In the rich tapestry of traditional healing practices, acupuncture is a well-respected, time-honored modality; one deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom of oriental medicine. Inspired by the harmonious rhythms of nature, acupuncture aims to restore balance, vitality and the smooth flow of energy within the human body. In this post, we’ll explore the theme of acupuncture as a potential remedy for alopecia areata (also known as spot baldness), a condition affecting millions worldwide.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder characterized by a sudden, patchy loss of hair on the scalp. Unpredictable and emotionally taxing, its impact can extend beyond aesthetics, often affecting an individual’s self-esteem, mental well-being, and social interactions. While conventional medicine offers several treatments, many people suffering from it have turned to traditional oriental healing modalities to address the underlying imbalances that may be contributing to the condition.
Treatment with NAOKI HATTORI Traditional Japanese Therapy
In Traditional Japanese Medicine (TJM), hair is viewed as a manifestation of the Qi life force and blood.
Hair loss is attributed to imbalances in Qi and blood, as well as deficiencies in the function of kidney & liver organs. (Not the organs as understood in western medicine, the terms kidney & liver are used here in the Oriental medicine sense of the words.)
The key TJM concepts related to alopecia areata include:
- Kidney deficiency: The kidney governs reproduction and growth, including hair growth. Weak kidneys may lead to hair thinning or loss.
- Liver imbalance: The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood. Liver dysfunction can interfere with both this energy flow and nourishment carried by the blood to the hair follicles.
- Qi stagnation: Obstructions in the flow of Qi can deprive hair follicles of essential nutrients needed for growth.
- Blood deficiency: Insufficient blood supply to the hair follicles can result in hair loss.
Various factors may contribute to these imbalances, including emotional stress, physical exhaustion, improper diet, and hereditary factors. To restore the balance of each organ and nourish the life essences of Qi and blood, TJM employs a multifaceted approach using acupuncture, Shiatsu, and herbal medicine.
The case of Madame. I
The patient, a 50-year-old woman, presented with spots of hair loss on her scalp. She had recently discovered a bald patch at the top of her scalp, approximately the size of a two-cent coin. The patient reported that the hair loss was sudden and inexplicable. Additionally, she reported experiencing fatigue, anxiety, and occasional digestive issues. Upon examination, her symptoms revealed an underlying pattern of liver Qi stagnation and kidney Qi deficiency as contributing factors to her alopecia areata. An assessment of her pulse, tongue, and abdomen was conducted based on the principles of TJM.
The acupuncture points selected for her treatment included:
- DU20 (Baihui): Stimulates hair growth and enhances blood circulation in the scalp.
- GB20 (Fengchi): Dispels gas and promotes blood circulation.
- ST36 (Zusanli): Strengthens the spleen and stomach, improving overall Qi and blood circulation.
- LV3 (Taichong): Calms the liver and facilitates the smooth flow of Qi.
Following 1.5 months of bi-weekly acupuncture sessions—a total of three sessions—she reported significant regrowth of hair on her scalp, including nearly complete coverage of the bald patch. She also reported reduced anxiety, increased energy levels, and improved digestion.
Follow-up treatment was recommended to maintain her hair follicle health and prevent recurrence or progression of the hair loss. This case study demonstrates the potential benefits of acupuncture for alopecia areata when combined with a holistic approach to health and well-being.
Recent studies confirm that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for alopecia areata. Possible mechanisms explaining why acupuncture works for this condition include the reduction of T1 attacks on the hair bulb, stimulation of hair follicles, and improved blood circulation . Another recent study shows that electroacupuncture reduces degranulation of mast cells in the dermis, which is reported to be a possible cause of pathological hair loss .
Alopecia areata can be a deeply distressing condition, partly due to the erratic and unpredictable nature of the hair loss. Treatment with Traditional Japanese acupuncture (TJA) shows great potential for those seeking natural, holistic solutions. TJA works at the deepest levels to fundamentally recalibrate the body’s energies and growth processes, allowing new hair follicles to emerge from a state of thriving equilibrium.
If you struggle with alopecia areata and have been unable to discover a safe and effective treatment, this might be a good time for you to consider Traditional Japanese Acupuncture.
- Lee, H. W., Jun, J. H., Lee, J. A., Lim, H. J., Lim, H. S., & Lee, M. S. (2015, October 26). Acupuncture for treating alopecia areata: a protocol of systematic review of randomised clinical trials. PubMed Central (PMC). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008841
- Anti-inflammatory effect of electroacupuncture in the C3H/HeJ mouse model of alopecia areata – PubMed. (2013, March 1). PubMed. https://doi.org/10.1136/acupmed-2012-010240