It is all too easy to change something in your life and then attribute any positive results to that action – which is why there are probably one two stories out there about people giving up lettuce or fish-fingers and then seeing their hair loss “suddenly improve”. But it’s also the kind of thing that will send doctors in a tizzy.
‘Gluten-free regime’ complaint
Writing in the letters page of the Toronto Star, dermatologist Dr Eric L Eisenberg took umbrage with an article the newspaper had previously published about a Canadian TV chef named Mary Jo Eustace, who had visited the newspaper to promote her new book about gluten-free cooking.
According to the original article, Mary Jo had turned to gluten-free cooking when looking to reverse the Alopecia Areata that had stripped her 10-year-old daughter Lola of more than half of her hair.
Having heard anecdotal evidence suggesting that a gluten-free diet could help, Mary Jo devised a series of gluten-free recipes for her daughter. The Star article reported that, “the gluten-free regime seems to have worked. The Alopecia is gone and Lola’s hair is stunning.”
Improvement is ‘personal view’
Dr Eisenberg says that the journalist who wrote the story “should not be lending credibility to Eustace’s personal view that a gluten-free diet will improve Alopecia Areata. To do so is irresponsible as there is absolutely no good evidence-based medicine or clinical experience to recommend a gluten-free diet for this condition. The public is not well-served with this unsound and unsubtantiated anecdotal claim.”
For the record, Eustace doesn’t make any direct claims that her recipes led to her daughter’s recovery in the article.
In around half of Alopecia Areata cases, hair will grow back on its own within a year or so – a situation which makes it difficult to conclusively attribute any regrowth to lifestyle changes.
In fact, when journalist Alexandra Martell spent a gluten-free year to try and cure her own Alopecia Areata, she saw no change whatsoever.
“From what I read, people had about a 50-50 success rate (with a gluten-free diet),” she wrote, pointing out that this is also the rate at which the condition will spontaneously go away of its own accord.
After 375 days on her gluten-free diet, the writer reported that “not only did my hair not grow back, I didn’t experience any of the other purported benefits of going gluten-free.”
When Alopecia Areata strikes, many people initially notice a small, coin-shaped bald patch on their scalp, often around the crown. The best course of action if this happens is not normally to change your diet, but for adults to visit to a hair loss clinic. Following examination, a dedicated specialist can make a diagnosis, look at your lifestyle and can explain the various alopecia areata treatment options available.
For children, a dermatologist or doctor can help and hair loss charities can provide a wealth of additional information and support for both the child and their family and friends.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.