Acupuncture for hair loss treatment
In traditional acupuncture, your health depends on a good qi, an energy-giving life force that flows through your body. When your qi is blocked, you may become sick. Acupuncture helps restore a healthy energy flow by releasing those roadblocks. During an acupuncture session, a practitioner stimulates specific points on your body with very fine needles. These spots correspond to the symptoms youâ€™re trying to treat.
Acupuncture sometimes gets credit as a treatment for a wide variety of ills â€” some warranted, some not. Research does back up acupuncture proponentsâ€™ claims in a few treatment areas, specifically relieving low-back pain and neck pain.
In other areas, such as hair loss, the research is less conclusive. Still, thereâ€™s some evidence to suggest acupuncture might be useful for at least one type of hair loss.
Acupuncture for male pattern baldness
No research supports the use of acupuncture to treat male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness is often the result of genetic factors and hormonal changes. Acupuncture is unlikely to affect these conditions.
In one study, however, researchers did find that acupuncture is sometimes better than medicine for the treatment of another type of hair loss: Alopecia areata. Alopecia areata occurs when your bodyâ€™s immune system attacks your hair follicles. The follicle attacks lead to hair loss, often in small patches all over your scalp.
Itâ€™s unclear why acupuncture is effective at treating this condition. It may be related to increased blood flow and improved circulation in the skin, a common benefit of acupuncture. That could help stimulate hair follicles, nerves, and blood vessels so the hair loss will stop. Then, regrowth may begin again with additional treatment.
Acupuncture for hair loss in females
Female pattern hair loss, a common type of hair loss in women, is also the result of genetic factors and changes in hormones. Here again, research does not support the use of acupuncture to treat hair loss in women.
However, women experiencing alopecia areata may see improvement in hair loss and regrowth with the use of acupuncture. The tiny needles may help stimulate the scalp and improve the chances of hair returning.
How it works
During an acupuncture session, a practitioner will insert thin needles in specific points of your body. These points are aligned to ailments, symptoms, or conditions youâ€™re experiencing. While you may be looking for relief from back pain, for example, itâ€™s possible the practitioner will put needles in your arms, feet, neck, and elsewhere.
The needles are intended to stimulate nerve-rich areas of your body. This includes the skin, tissues, and glands. The needles can also improve blood circulation. For hair growth, the needles may also stimulate hair follicles, which could encourage hair growth.
Side effects of getting acupuncture on the head
In general, acupuncture is a well-tolerated alternative medical therapy. Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the needles or any products used during the acupuncture session. This may include oils, lotions, or aromatherapy products.
Traditional hair loss treatment includes hormone therapy, prescription medicine, laser therapy, even surgery. Compared to some of these, acupuncture has very few possible side effects or complications and may be a way to treat hair loss along with medication.
Side effects of acupuncture on the head may include:
- muscle twitching
- minor bleeding
Side effects of acupuncture may be worse if youâ€™re not working with a licensed professional. You put yourself at risk for infection and injury if the person administering your acupuncture is not licensed and experienced. If using a trained and qualified practitioner, there are few risks.
Can acupuncture cause hair loss?
No research has found evidence that acupuncture can cause hair loss. However, there are no case studies of people who have lost hair related to acupuncture to prove or disprove this possibility.
Choosing a practitioner
If youâ€™re experiencing hair loss, you have a variety of treatment options available to you depending on the reason for your hair loss. These options range from traditional medication to alternative therapy, such as acupuncture. While research has not found that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of hair loss, there are few side effects associated with this form of therapy.
Before you decide to use acupuncture to stop your hair loss or to regrow hair, weigh your options with a doctor and a licensed acupuncturist. For many people, acupuncture is a long-term, ongoing treatment plan. You shouldnâ€™t expect results overnight. However, if you feel comfortable with this option, you may see some success for alopecia areata.
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