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Alopecia Areata: Hair Loss and Acupuncture

A study done in 2015 estimated that globally, 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from alopecia areata (hair loss), beginning as early as 35 (The Hair Society, 2015) that can be attributed to stress and autoimmune dysfunction. Those numbers are going up and the average age is going down. Since then research has now connected hair loss as another Long Haul Covid symptom, as well. Biomedicine has only one effective drug to address this growing problem and studies show that is has only a 60% effectiveness rate while acupuncture has over 90% effectiveness rate at slowing and reversing (Zhu, 2011)

What causes hair loss?

Hair loss is not just specific to the scalp, it can show up across the entire body. There are many causes for hair loss including family history, stress, improper diet, hormonal changes, reaction to medications/chemotherapy, and even autoimmune disorders. Depending on the cause, the loss of body or head hair can sometimes be permanent. However, with the use of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, hair loss can often be slowed or even reversed.

Symptoms of hair loss:

  • Gradual thinning on top of the head or along the hairline is the most common type and tends to affect both men and women as they age. Gradual thinning can become permanent if not treated early on.
  • It is somewhat less common that some people will lose hair in circular or patchy bald spots on the scalp, beard, or eyebrows. This is sometimes associated with itching or redness. This type of hair loss can be temporary or permanent.
  • Physical or emotional shock as well as Long Haul Post Covid Syndrome can trigger a loosening of the hair follicles causing handfuls of hair to fall out. This is typically seen while combing or washing hair. This type of hair loss usually causes overall hair thinning but is typically temporary.
  • Full-body hair loss is typically caused by medical treatments, such as chemotherapy for cancer. More often than not, when the treatments are completed, the hair usually grows back.

Acupuncture and Hair Loss

Research has demonstrated that acupuncture aids in the regrowth of lost hair by promoting blood circulation, especially to the skin. By increasing blood flow to the affected areas of the body, it also increases the delivery of nutrient and fluids necessary to stimulate and encourage hair growth. Additional research demonstrates that acupuncture regulates the neuroendocrine and benefits the immune systemystem. (Ganlu, 2015) When combining acupuncture with raw herbal teas and formulas, researchers have document recovery rates at 90% with a recurrence rates about 10%. (HealthCMi, 2015) Studies are also showing that Microneedle Therapy, a cosmetic procedure that uses small, sterilized needles to prick the skin, is confirmed to have significant positive effects on both hair growth and skin improvement.

How long does it take to recover from hair loss?

This is a something patients will want to discuss with their acupuncturist. Depending on the severity and duration of symptoms, treating noticeable hair loss can take as little as 3-months of regular weekly treatments and herbal supplements to as much as a year or longer. It is important to remember that consistency is the key when treating any serious condition in the body. Patients should expect to come in 3 times/week till the hair loss has slowed and then shift to 2 times/week till hair regrowth is healthy and staying attached to the follicles.

Acupuncture cannot effectively reverse hair loss on its own. It is important that patients are prescribed herbal formulas (preferably in raw form as the healing characteristics are more bio available) and that the formulas are taken consistently throughout the treatment. In some cases, it may be necessary to make dietary and/or lifestyle changes as well to increase the overall physical and emotional health of the patients.

Please call our office for more information or to schedule a consult to find out if you would be a good candidate for acupuncture.

Ganlu, C. (2015). Clinical effects of acupuncture plus the Huoxue Shengfa decoction on alopecia areata. Clinical
Journal of Chinese Medicine, 13.
HealthCMi. (2015, 7 26). Acupuncture And Herbs Regenerate Hair For Alopecia Areata Patients. Retrieved from
Healthcare Medical Institute:
The Hair Society. (2015, January 19). Hair Loss Statistics. Retrieved from The Hair Society:
Zhu, Q. W. (2011, June 5). Clinical observation on acupuncture treatment of alopecia areata. Journal of Acupuncture
and Tuina Science, 9, 162–164 .

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