Question: What about LDN for immune system disorders and diseases? My son has Alopecia Universalis. he is 19. Has anyone tried LDN? (and had success?) Has anyone tested for correlation between metal levels in the body and Alopecia? I am particularly curious about a study that mentioned various immune system disorders appearing in people that had had joint replacement surgeries, where metal joints were put in. My mother is a perfect example, developed Sjogrens Syndrome a few years after getting two knees replaced. My son has had a chest operation and has had two metal bars in his chest now for 2 years. He developed Alopecia Universalis rapidly over the past 6 months.
Answer: Hi, Leah. There are currently no MHRA licensed nor FDA approved treatments for Alopecia Universalis, however, many are currently in development. Indeed, a number look promising and have been granted 'fast track' or 'breakthrough' status by the FDA, indicating they will work with companies towards accelerating the development and approvals process. It is currently estimated that the first medications for this autoimmune disorder - which are believed to be both topical and oral - should be ready to release by 2022, if all remaining clinical trials to prove their safety, efficacy and tolerability, go to plan.
With regards to LDN - low-dose naltrexone, which is generally used for treating opiate addiction - this is not something we offer at Belgravia and not something we are particularly familiar with. However, in a January 2018 article by Natasha Atanaskova Mesinkovska of the Department of Dermatology at the University of California, USA, entitled 'Emerging Unconventional Therapies for Alopecia Areata' published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, a compelling argument is made for treatment with low-dose naltrexone.
That said, many more clinical trials are needed to properly establish a fuller picture of potential benefits and any negatives for autoimmune alopecia, including long-term side effects, safety and tolerability.
If you would like to explore LDN treatment for hair loss further, your son may be able to access this type of treatment via a dermatologist or his GP, particularly if you are based in the USA. As it is a fairly novel approach, patients will need to be monitored closely throughout.
With regards your query concerning metal joints and their links to autoimmune disease, it is not a common concern, however it is possible to be allergic to the metal used in joint replacements. This could then trigger various reactions within the body as it seeks to protect its critical functions. If the reaction came as a shock to the body or caused a 'traumatic' reaction, this could certainly trigger Alopecia Areata in any of its forms, however, we are unsure of any other autoimmune disorders may be set off in the same way.
Autoimmune issues are still an enigmatic area of biology and, whilst our understanding of them is slowly increasing, there is a lot that - for now, at least - remains unaccounted for by science.
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