Let me share with you my two years journey with Alopecia Areata in a aim to shed light on which treatments were helpful and worth considering for those who are in a similar situation.
Clarification: Alopecia Areata (AA) is an hair loss due to an autoimmune condition which shows as one or more bald patches on the scalp or elsewhere on the body (in more severe cases of AA hair loss can affect the entire head or even the entire body) – not to be confused with other types of hair loss.
I’m a guy who had Alopecia Areata in the form of hairless spot on my beard which finally came into remission after two years. I’ve tried many treatments to regrow the hair back of which I believe gently rubbing ginger juice on the hairless area was the most effective. With that in mind I believe that this regrowth was successful and sustainable in part thanks to a healthier immune system achieved by: improving gut flora by including more dietary fiber in the diet, avoiding chronic stress. In addition adjusting my vitamin D level may have also helped. Important: if you plan on trying any of these please keep on reading for some precautions later on this page and also in How NOT to Apply Ginger / Onion / Garlic and Natural Treatments.
I woke up one morning to discover a small coin sized patch without hair on the beard of my left cheek. I later discovered that this phenomena is called Alopecia Areata and although it usually manifests itself on the scalp it can show on the beard or any other place on the body where there’s hair.
During the time that followed I did some research and learned that the preferable conventional approach was to let this condition to resolve on its own since most patients with Alopecia Areata grow their hair back within 6 months (my doctor also suggested the option of receiving corticosteroids injections into the hairless area in order to suppress the immune system from attacking the hair follicles – the only problem with that being it’s an extremely bad option as the evidence suggests that almost always the regrowth is only temporary after which it comes back worse).
I waited for the condition to resolve itself as suggested, but the hairless spot on my beard expended three times its initial size in the passing three months. So, I began to seek for possible treatments.
Treatment #1 – Vitamin D:
After learning about the strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and Alopecia Areata I took a blood test to measure my vitamin D level and indeed I was found deficient (although this didn’t come as a surprise since most people in developed countries are not exposed enough to the sun and therefore are deficient in vitamin D) so I immediately began to take vitamin D and vitamin K2 supplements. Word of caution: When raising your vitamin D level either through supplementation or sun exposure it’s important to also supplement with vitamin K2 and magnesium since they work in synergy with vitamin D. Too high a level of vitamin D without them can cause calcium to collect in certain body tissues where it shouldn’t (I didn’t know about the importance of magnesium back when I was supplementing with vitamin D).
How to treat with vitamin D and precautions: Read here.
Results: During one month I raised my vitamin D level into the normal range (~35 ng/ml) and stopped taking it (too high a blood level of vitamin D is also not advised). I felt that the patch stopped expending in size which was a good sign although to be fair I cannot attribute it certainly to the vitamin D as it may have been unrelated.
Treatment #2 – Gently rubbing onion juice:
After learning about two studies in which rubbing onion juice over the hairless patch twice a day was found to regrow the hair in Alopecia Areata patients, I began to rub onion juice (which I made by simply grating an onion) on my hairless spot between 1-2 times a day everyday for about 1 month. Since the onion has a very strong smell I could only apply it when I was at home and not planning to go out anytime soon :).
How to treat with onion juice and precautions: Read here.
Results (2015 February): After one month the patch hasn’t change much in size although it seemed there were few new terminal hairs regrowing, so it may have helped a little bit but I stopped it since the results weren’t great considering the effort and since the onion’s smell wasn’t great either.
Never Ever Do!!! – Forcefully rubbing garlic clove:
After someone I know told me a story about a guy who had rubbed a garlic clove on his bald spot to successfully grow his hair back, I decided to give it a try but I with a twist – I though it would be a good idea to rub the garlic cloves very forcefully on my skin for more than 20 minutes because I wanted to make sure the garlic penetrated the skin in a large enough dose. Soon after I realized what a huge mistake it was since the area stung badly and within the hours got infected. To make a long story short I got a 2nd degree burn and was prescribed antibiotics and corticosteroids to treat the infection, and the burn took about two months to heal. To read the longer story (and watch the unsightly photos of the burn) see How NOT to Apply Ginger / Onion / Garlic.
Results (2015 May): Thankfully the burn healed after two months, but the bald spot expended as a result of the burn (to be frank I couldn’t care less since I was just happy to have the burn healed) and I decided to be prudent from now on.
Treatment #3 – PRP treatment:
After learning about a study in which Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments was found to regrow the hair in Alopecia Areata patients I did two PRP treatments – the first one in 2015 June and the second in 2015 September.
How to treat with PRP precautions: Read here.
Results (2015 October): I don’t know if these treatments helped or not, since if there was any improvement it was very modest. Anyway, because these treatments were expensive (more than 200$ for each treatment) I didn’t continue with them and I don’t recommend.
Treatment #4 – Avoid Stress and Chang Diet:
I traveled in the world for about 1.5 month. This had two main implications:
- I didn’t experience any chronic stress during that time (chronic stress is one of the worst enemies of a healthy immune system).
- My diet totally changed during the time of the travel since I was eating local food most of the time which guaranteed to change my gut microbiome. One change that I integrated into my diet even before the trip was eating more dietary fiber mostly in the form of fruits, vegetables and bread (the gut microbiome is maybe the most important modulator of the immune system in our body).
How to avoid stress and improve gut microbiome: Read here.
Results (2016 March): The purpose of the trip was simply to enjoy a great vacation so that the beneficial effects on the immune system were merely a positive side effect. The bald spot lessened a little bit in size.
Treatment #5 – Gently rubbing ginger juice:
After encountering (totally by mistake) a blog post where someone told that she had rubbed ginger juice on her bald patch which caused her hair to regrow, I thought I might as well try it (but this time take it easy and be cautious not to rub too hard). So I grated ginger and gently rubbed the pulp and juice on my hairless spot for about 5-7 minutes (which resulted in a warm tingling-stinging sensation which lasted for about 5-10 minutes after each time). I repeated this process every few days on average (I didn’t have a fixed schedule – I could apply it for few days in a raw and then not apply it for more than a week and than apply it again and so on – so that on average I applied it every few days).
How to treat with ginger juice and precautions: Read here (one important precaution is do not use other topical treatments concurrently during the weeks you treat with ginger as in theory it may cause some serious side effects).
How to apply ginger: Read here.
Results (2016 September): Within few weeks new terminal hair began to grow where the patch was and within 3 months (by August) almost all the hair came back and I stopped applying the ginger. One month later (by September), the entire missing hair regrew so I considered the case closed. Although the ginger was really helpful in what seemed like quelling the immune system and stimulating the hair to grow faster I believe it was possible due to a healthier immune system resulting from avoiding chronic stress, healthier gut flora and maybe better vitamin D levels.
I hope that this share of experience will be of benefit to others! As I said before if you gonna try any of the treatments above please play it safe and make sure to follow the precautions on this page and in How NOT to Apply Ginger / Onion / Garlic and Natural Treatments.
Last Updated: 2016.10