Hair loss can be a puzzling phenomenon – it can be a response to both biological processes and environmental factors. In the former camp is a common cause of hair loss called alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune skin disease, causing hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes on other areas of the body.
Autoimmune diseases are the result of your immune system attacking healthy cells in your body by mistaking them for foreign cells.
In the case of alopecia areata, your body’s own immune system attacks your healthy hair follicles, causing them to become much smaller and drastically slow down production to the point that hair growth may stop, explains the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
It is typically by characterised by small, round (or oval) patches of hair loss on the scalp, beard area of the face or other areas of the body.
Evidence suggests alopecia areata is highly responsive to certain natural treatments.
One that has displayed particular promise is sesame oil, which is made from raw, pressed sesame seeds.
Forty patients with patchy alopecia areata were enrolled in a study published in the American Journal of Dermatology and Venereology.
The patients were divided into two groups according to type of treatment:
- Group A using topical pumpkin seed oil: twenty patients with 58 patches were included in this group and topical pumpkin seed oil was applied twice daily to the patches, treatment continued for three months.
- Group B using topical sesame oil: twenty patients with 64 patches were enrolled in this group and topical sesame oil was applied to the patches twice a day for three months duration.
All patients were seen every month to assess the response to treatment and to record the side effects.
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Within the sesame oil group, 25 (39.1 percent) of treated patches demonstrated complete hair regrowth at the end of third month of treatment while 30 (46.87 percent) patches with partial hair regrowth, seven (10.9 percent) patches with partial fine hair, and only two (3.1 percent) patches did not show any hair regrowth.
The researchers observed similar results in the pumpkin seed oil group.
It is not exactly clear why sesame oil targets the mechanisms involved in alopecia areata.
Although, sesame oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids – being deficient fatty acids may contribute to hair loss.
One study noted that being deficient in these fatty acids could impact hair loss, and that while more and rigorous research needed to be done, getting more of these essential fats could improve hair growth for some people.
More conventional methods
According to the NHS, the main drug treatments for hair loss are finasteride and minoxidil.
Although these drugs have been scientifically proven to help treat hair loss, they do come with drawbacks.
- Don’t work for everyone
- Only work for as long as they’re used
- Aren’t available on the NHS
- Can be expensive.
Alternatively, some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.
There are two types of wigs you can opt for and both have advantages and disadvantages.
As the NHS explains, synthetic wigs do not last as long as real-hair wigs but are easier to look after and cheaper.
Real-hair wigs can last three to four years (as opposed to six to nine months) and look more natural, but they are much more expensive and harder to maintain.
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