Another new clinical study is set to evaluate treating a number of health issues in both men and women – including hair loss – with fecal transplants.
This is a process whereby fecal matter is taken from healthy donors and ‘infused’ into the patient to balance the gut’s microbiota. In doing so, the effects may treat conditions – especially autoimmune disorders – as varied as hair loss, coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis and alcoholic hepatitis.
This innovation certainly throws up a host of questions, one of the most common being, even if it turns out it does work to regrow hair and can prevent baldness, would you have a poo transplant..?
Fecal microbiota transplant
The Chinese University of Hong Kong is the latest institution to explore the potential of fecal microbiota transplants for health reasons.
It is a theory that comes from the basis that our general health is managed by our gut and, therefore, gut health is essential to humans’ wellbeing.
Most recently a May 2019 study specifically linked the onset of the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, which causes sudden hair fall to various degrees in hair-bearing areas of the head and, in some cases, body, to the effect of social stress on the gut.
According to its new trial registration submission, “The gut microbiota is critical to health and functions with a level of complexity comparable to that of an organ system. Dysbiosis [microbial imbalance], or alterations of this gut microbiota ecology, have been implicated in a number of disease states.
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) defined as infusion of faeces from healthy donors to affected subjects, is a method to restore a balanced gut microbiota and has attracted great interest in recent years due to its efficacy and ease of use. FMT is now recommended as the most effective therapy for CDI not responding to standard therapies.”
Investigators will be conducting this pilot study to establish the efficacy and safety of FMT in certain dysbiosis-associated disorders, including ‘alopecia’.
Type of hair loss still unconfirmed
Possibly due to a translation issue, the specific hair loss condition due to be explored as part of this Chinese trial has not been provided; rather, the more general medical term of hairloss of any kind, ‘alopecia’ has been listed.
As the lineup of conditions and diseases to be researched include a number of autoimmune disorders such as ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes mellitus, this could suggest that autoimmune alopecia, eg. Alopecia Areata and its more extreme phenotypes, Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis, are the most relevant hair loss conditions.
These occur when the hair growth cycle is disrupted, often by a shock or sudden trauma, but other triggers are understood to include allergies, hormones and infections. They present as patchy hair loss of the scalp only (mild – Alopecia Areata), total baldness of the head, including scalp and facial hair (Alopecia Totalis) and all hair being shed from head to toe (Alopecia Universalis). Currently the only Alopecia Areata treatments to show significant results are those given to adults with the mild form.
A 2017 faecal microbiota transplant was already seen to provide promising results for a patient with both Crohn’s Disease and Alopecia Universalis, so further study of this novel approach was to be expected.
However, there are a number of other health problems that are not autoimmune in nature also listed, these include obesity, alcohol dependency and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome. This does potentially leave the door open for hereditary androgenetic alopecia – the most common form of hair loss worldwide, which is perhaps better known as Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss – to be addressed.
The majority do, however, have links to the immune system, even if they are not classed as autoimmune diseases, for example, autism and hepatic encephalopathy. It, therefore, seems more likely that Alopecia Areata is the most fitting condition to be studied.
We look forward to hearing more on this innovative year-long trial, which is due to complete its study by the end of October 2024, both in order to confirm our hypothesis and to learn about its findings.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. 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 world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.