An holistic approach to alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is a highly unpredictable, auto - immune condition effecting the scalp and occasionally elsewhere on the body. There is a predicted 1:7% of the population effected by this condition.

Although the cause is not known it is believed that the hair follicles are mistakenly attacked by the persons own immune system resulting in the arrest of the hair growth stage. Usually one or more round small smooth bald patches develop on the scalp and this can progress to total scalp and body hair loss. Apart from the loss of hair and sometimes eyebrows and eyelashes, the only other part of the body effected are the nails which develop a stippling effect.

Although Alopecia is not life threatening, it is life altering. Because of its sudden onset, recurrent episodes and unpredictable course, it has a profound psychological impact on the lives of those disrupted by this condition. Alopecia has a immense impact on one's life and functional status both at work and at home.

Research has indicated that something triggers the immune system to suppress the hair follicle. It is not known what that trigger is, whether it is from outside the body such as a virus or from inside. There has been some advance into heredity in the U.S.A. where genetic markers have shown that there could be an increase in susceptibility to develop Alopecia Areata. There appears to be a 1:5 chance in developing Alopecia if there is a family history of Asthma, Hay Fever, Atopic Eczema or other auto immune diseases such as Thyroid, Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, Vitaligo, Anaemia and Addison's Disease.

The National Alopecia Foundation of the U.S.A. have a substantial website, plus many support groups with safe comfortable and trusting environments in which the individual can share personal experiences. The aim of the foundation is to raise public awareness through the media, particularly T.V. using known celebrities. Sadly there is not the same level of support available in the U.K.

I first met Pauline when a client asked me to give her friend a Reiki treatment as she had been suffering a great deal of stress. Pauline was extremely nervous at the first session but appeared to relax comfortably after a short chat and the placing of crystals in each hand to help allay the stress.

The first session accomplished a level of relaxation that Pauline had begun to think impossible and later described it as a loosening of her skin all over the body. During the Reiki I felt empowered to add crystals to the chakra points and I feel this enhanced the whole process.

Reiki is a form of gentle hands on healing, performed by an individual who has been attuned to the Reiki energy by a Reiki Master. The hands are placed generally around the area of the seven major chakras which are in the vicinity of the endocrine glands. In this way energy is transferred to the chakras which are then able to utilise the energy for the highest good of the body.

At the end of each session I always checked the status of the major chakras, using a crystal pendulum. Each chakra ought to swing at the same rate and size as each other. In an imbalance a chakra may be larger than the others or may swing in an erratic fashion. Each of these occurences happened at different times over Paulines chakras. By using the pendulum regularly the chakras can be balanced and this can help in the overall well- being of the client.

Pauline attended regularly for the first month for Reiki, then several events disturbed the pattern and she was unable to receive Reiki for around one month. Re-establishing the pattern Pauline told me she was interested in Indian Head Massage so it was arranged that she have this at her next visit. I gave a lot of thought to this treatment and decided to use the following essential oils:

Rosemary(Rosemarinus Officinalis)
This oil has a stimulating effect on the nervous system and is often used where there is a loss or reduction of function. It is also reputed to improve mental clarity. Traditionally used in skin and hair care, being a constituent of Hungary Water which is reputed to be rejuvenating. It has been shown to be invaluable for hair loss especially after a period of illness.

Lavender (Lavendula Officinalis)
A versatile oil, Lavender was used chiefly for its anti-depressive and balancing nature. Aimed at balancing the mind and body to encourage healing to take place.

Ylang Ylang (Cananga Odorata)
Used for its calming effect and its stabilising effect on anxiety. It was once used in hair oil for its tonic effect on the scalp.

Clary Sage.(Salvia Sclarea)
Although reputed to have a euphoric effect Clary Sage was used for its relaxing effect, with the hope it would assist with stress and tension.

I made up an oil blend with Peach Kernal carrier oil and also a spray for the hair using the same oils but in Lavender Water. This was used in the treatment at my clinic and also for home use, which Pauline applied regularly.

Initially, Pauline had lost her eyelashes which had grown back sporadically. This had been approximately two years previously. Then the hairdresser had noticed a loss of hair behind the ears and around the occiput. The hair loss had then extended to the forehead where there was a substantial loss from the level of the ears forward. Pauline had had her long hair cut into a fringe so that it extended forward in an attempt to cover up the loss. However in the wind the hair would be blown back to reveal the loss and she had taken to not going out of the house unless absolutely necessary. Shopping was done at an all night supermarket where there were less people around to observe her plight.

I continued to give Reiki to Pauline which I feel has changed her attitude towards her condition giving her a more balanced and positive outlook. Also Pauline received Indian Head Massage with the chosen oils and we began to see a dramatic growth of hair. At one stage within three days the hair had grown half an inch which was incredible for me to witness. One can only imagine how Pauline must have felt. She rang me once after a treatment to tell me that she felt like 'Miss. World'. Although the new growth is not as long as the rest of the hair it has grown substantially and at time of writing is around three inches long. It has taken four months to get to this position and it is difficult to ascertain just what has encouraged the hair to grow.

Allowing Pauline to disclose her feelings in a safe environment has I believed helped her to achieve some balance in her life. Pauline had also been on medication for eight years for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Events after this continued to establish a high level of stress in her life and had been prescribed both sleeping tablets and antidepressants by her G.P. Pauline was keen to cut these chemicals out of her life but I discouraged her from discontinuing them without first contacting her Dr. I did prescribe her some Bach Flower Remedies which she took religiously.

The Bach Flower Remedies I chose with Pauline were:

Gentian:
for discouragement, doubt and despondency. To help to take heart and have faith.

White Chestnut:
for unresolved, circling thoughts, (many of us experience this when we try to get to sleep) To create a calm and clear mind.

Walnut:
For protection from outside influences, change and stages of development. To break the link.

Crab Apple:
for feeling unclean, self disgust, getting small things out of proportion. The cleansing remedy. Once a beauty assistant working with cosmetics, Pauline found it difficult to accept and live with her altered image.

Cherry Plum:
for the thought of losing control, of doing dreaded things, to restore calmness and sanity. Pauline had been tempted to take an overdose in the past and it concerned her that she might feel so low again.

Star of Bethlehem:
for consolation and comfort in grief. Pauline had suffered a traumatic bereavement two years earlier which she had been unable to talk about with anyone who knew the circumstances.

Mustard:
for a deep dark gloom that descends on us, to bring clarity.

Usually up to six remedies are taken in a treatment bottle but occasionally if circumstances demand it then seven remedies can be added. I felt the state of health indicated that the seven remedies were necessary.

It wasn't until the middle of December, after four months of treatments, that Pauline informed me that she had not taken any of her prescribed medication for over one month. Pauline had been sleeping well and hadn't had any depressed episodes. Neither had she had any bowel problems. She was eating healthily, and had begun to gain some weight. Pauline had reduced to a size 8 and is now a size 10.

After several years visiting Specialists who had diagnosed Alopecia Areata and a Trichologist who felt that Pauline was pulling the hair out herself, which did very little in the way of reducing the stress caused by this condition especially as her family leaned towards this diagnosis rather than that given by the Medical Specialist. Pauline appears to have at last found the right treatment for her. The emotional pain of Alopecia Areata can be overcome with one's own inner reserves and the support of others. Occasionally professional counselling may be needed to develop ones self confidence and positive self image.

All in all it has been a real pleasure to work with this client to establish the right treatment for her. It is not everyday one meets an individual who is so strong and determined to get better no matter what. With very little support that she needed at the time of this distressing condition I feel that Pauline deserves the best and I look forward to continuing our work together towards this aim. Pauline has also found that the Thermo-Auricular Therapy(Hopi Ear Candles) helps with the holistic approach and has helped with the mind clearing , uplifting and heightened senses often experienced after this treatment. Traditionally used to cleanse and harmonise the different energy fields of the aura, the Hopi candles have complemented the whole approach taken by myself and Pauline in our search for clarity and healing.

I have now been approached by another lady who has suffered from Alopecia for several years. It is a challenge to see if the Holistic approach will be as effective this time around.

Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

AUSTIN J (1999) PRACTISING REIKI, GEDDES & GROSSET, NEW LANARK

BALLS (1996) FLOWER REMEDIES. AMAZON PUBLISHING, MIDDLESEX

DAVIS P (1996) AROMATHERAPY AN A - Z . C W DANIEL, SAFFRON WALDEN HARVEY C.G , COCHRANE A (1998) PRINCIPLES OF VIBRATIONAL HEALING, THORSONS, LONDON

KUSMEREKJ (1995) AROMATHERAPY FOR THE FAMILY. WIGMORE, LONDON

PARKES C & P (1998) REIKI, VERMILION, LONDON

SALMON P, JEOFFROY A (1998) DR BACH'S FLOWER REMEDIES AND THE CHAKRAS, ENERGY WORKS, HERTS.

SIMPSON L (1999) THE BOOK OF CHAKRA HEALING, GAIA, LONDON

TICHNER R, MONK S, POTTER R, STAINES P (1997) NEW VIBRATIONAL FLOWER ESSENCES OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND. WATERLILY BOOKS, SUFFOLK

About the author:

Article written by Celia Stanford

Website: http://www.stanford-aromatherapy.co.uk

Author: Celia Stanford
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Copyright © 2022 Celia Stanford. All rights reserved

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