Thursday, December 13, 2012

Growing Back that Gorgeous Head of Hair

A friend wrote me to ask my advice about her thinning hair. As you can imagine, losing your hair is never easy, and when you're a woman is devastating. I've lost my hair three times now during lupus attacks; sometimes most of it, sometimes just 2/3 of it. It's a big problem with lupus patients (most of whom are women, by the way), so I wanted to share our conversation with all of you.

Hi Carla,
Hope all is well with you and Joe.

After seeing my rheumatologist, he wants to put me on Plaquenil, mostly because I complained of recent onset of thinning/loss of hair which is freaking me out. But then I read about Plaquenil and its side effects and really freaked out. Would appreciate any insight if you have it if you've ever been on this drug and any comments you care to share.

My dermatologist had suggested Rogaine but my rheum said I'll be stuck on it for life (and it's expensive) and it only works "less than 60% of the time" according to its own website. He suggested my complex autoimmune disease along with my hypothyroidism (which is being monitored and medicated) are most likely the cause (and genetics, of course, like duh….).

Any insight?
(name deleted)

hi there-

Good to hear from you. Yes, I have a little experience with placquenil and a lot of experience with hair loss (and, happy to say, hair regrowth).

Placquenil. You probably know this but it's an antimalarial and they don't know why it works on lupus, but it does help with skin and joint problems, so they use it. I was on it for about 6 months back in 1994, but because of the risk to eyesight (possible blindness) i just couldn't make myself stay on it. I had no problems with it during the time i was actually on it.

I have no knowledge about rogaine, but I'm not a fan of anything that I have to stay on for life.
especially with such a low success rate.

Is hair-thinning one of the side effects of your hypothyroidism and/ or meds for that?

If you're looking to improve your hair health, I would go at it from a nutritional angle rather than throwing drugs at it. Doctors in general only have 2 ideas: drugs and surgery. So, I'm not surprised he offered you drugs. He probably thinks that is his job: diagnose and prescribe.

Nutritionally, I'm a big fan of ground flaxseed. I put it on smoothies, on top of salads, in (dairy-free) yogurt. Flaxseed will most definitely make your hair grow, nice and healthy. I actually find organic flaxseed at my local stop n shop. Back when I was a serious classical guitar player, I used to eat jello because the gelatin made my nails strong. That would probably work on hair as well. It is not vegan. Gelatin is made from horses. Just FYI. Vitamin E is another skin/ hair/ nail- benefiting supplement. Seeing results with your hair can take up to 6 weeks, so it will take consistency and patience.

One other thought- have you ever done an elimination diet?
7 days with none of the top allergens in your diet?
gluten dairy, soy, eggs, corn, yeast, and peanuts. Some people are sensitive to soy, so you can also cut that out.

Food allergies are common with autoimmunity, and if you eliminate the offending foods, the autoimmunity quiets down, and as a result your hair health will improve as  your overall health improves. As long as I stay gluten-free and dairy-free, my lupus blood tests are negative and I have no headaches, no joint swelling, very few tendon problems (I think sometimes the dairy sneaks into my food when I eat away from home, and dairy causes my tendon problems). Eating allergy-free has improved my health and quality of life tremendously.

Here's an article by Dr Mark Hyman that I like very much- 9 steps to heal autoimmune disease:

Hope some of this is helpful to you-
Happy Holidays!

Carla Ulbrich
The Singing Patient: Author, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer
_____________ performance  info and dates - funny songs
get Carla's book!

Post a Comment