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By Dr. Sajimon George BAMS. AAA. ATMS
Many people worry about Alopecia – the loss of hair.
Hair loss can be caused by different reasons, including damage to the hair shaft or follicles and fungal infections.
There are two main types of alopecia. When the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles and causes hair to fall out, it’s called alopecia areata.
Androgenetic alopecia, on the other hand, is a commonest cause of hair loss in both men and women. It is commonly known as male pattern baldness. It is caused by a combination of 3 factors – testosterone (the male hormone), age (after 20 years of age) and heredity. It usually affects women later in life than men.
About 60% of people with androgenetic alopecia are men. Hair loss caused by androgenetic alopecia is permanent according to modern medicine. The Ayurvedic system of medicine offers many treatments which can improve this situation.
Hair fall or thinning of hair is common amongst women. About 20%- 50% women face hair loss at some stages of her life.
Symptoms of Alopecia or Hair Loss
- Male pattern hair loss: Thinning or complete loss of hair at the hairline and top of the head.
- Female diffuse hair loss: A gradual thinning of hair, especially on the top of the head. The hairline usually stays the same.
- Alopecia areata : Broken hairs or hairs easily removed; one or more round or oval bald patches.
Causes of Alopecia and Hair Loss
- Some medications, such as chemotherapy
- Autoimmune disorder, in the case of alopecia areata
Ayurvedic view of Alopecia and Hair Loss
Ayurveda believes hair to originate from the “Asthi” or bone tissue, and therefore, to treat hair loss, medicines to strengthen bone are given orally on a long-term basis. This is the rationale of application of Vasthis or enemas with medicated milk in conditions of extensive hair loss.
Baldness or Alopecia is termed as “Khalitya” in Ayurveda. Alopecia areata is similar to “Indralupta” explained in Ayurvedic classics.
Ayurvedic treatment is aimed to treat local and systemic conditions resulting in hair loss, by achieving immuno modulation, correction of the local scalp conditions and reducing stress.
It is noteworthy to mention here that treatment is usually effective for premature hair loss, and where the cause is amenable to treatment.
In terms of Dosha involvement, vitiation of Pitha dosha in the body is the main cause of hair disorders but in some conditions other doshas may also be involved. Irregular bowel movement and constipation can indirectly affect hair health. A mild laxative can be useful in such cases.