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Can acupuncture help with alapeisha

Q:  I have, in the past had localised alapeisha. I believe  this was caused by stress, which unfortunately my character is prone to. However,  new responsibilities at work have lead to better pay and I am reasonably happy with my 'lot'. Just wondering whether acupucture could be beneficial to me?

A: The evidence for the treatment of alopecia with acupuncture is a bit thin. We were asked by a Portuguese doctor some time ago about treating alopecia as a primary condition, and the answer we gave her was:

There is not a great deal of literature to assist you, we're sorry to say. We tend to undertake the same sorts of literature searches which you might do using the 'ncbi' resource to access most of the Pubmed resource, mainly because we are constrained under UK advertising law to be very clear about the existing evidence for the treatment of specific conditions and extremely clear about what level of certainty this generates. Given that traditional acupuncture and randomised control trials are not a happy mix, the evidence is generally scant. In the case of the acupuncture treatment of alopecial there are only two or three articles in English and these date back to the 1980s and 1990s. There are undoubtedly hundreds in Chinese but we do not have the resources to translate them and assess them carefully for their methodological soundness.

There are a number of articles available in the traditional acupuncture press, such as
but if your training is in medical or western acupuncture, as we suspect it might be, then much of what these articles say will be largely incomprensible.
Certainly from an eastern or traditional acupuncture perspective we would be likely to see what else was happening in the patient's system which might place the symptom of alopecia in a wider and more informative context. Although the problem might be a local one the chances are that there are wider patterns of disharmony and imbalance, and correcting or addressing these patterns might offer the best chance of sustainable improvement. That said, there are a number of treatments which do involve the insertion of a number of needles both within and on the margins of the affected area. From an eastern perspective this is seen as encouraging the local flow of 'qi', and from a western perspective is understood in neurophysiologial and segmental terms, and there is an outside chance that this may help to reduce or reverse the condition. Our experience, however, is that alopecia is not very easy to treat, and we tend to ensure that patient expectations are as realistic as possible.

The fact that you can track your alopecia to stress, however, suggests that treatment may well be of benefit. We have a great many more studies for the use of acupuncture with anxiety and stress, and the factsheet on anxiety

while falling a long way short of conclusive is certainly very encouraging.

As always, we believe that you are best served by arranging to see a BAcC member local to you for a brief chat and face to face assessment of the potential benefit. Most members do this  without charge,  and this  also gives you a chance to meet them and see where they work.

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