Alopecia is a cosmetically catastrophic disorder in which hair completely falls out in circular patches of varying sizes all over the scalp, usually necessitating a shaved head and in some cases a wig. To make the problem worse, there is no known, and there has been little to no headway in the last decades in the development of reliable treatments or a cure. What we do know is that Alopecia Areata is a fast acting, autoimmune, inflammatory disorder. It has also been established that many autoimmune, including dermatological disorders are strongly associated with Helicobacter Pylori infection. The following case study demonstrated a quick turnaround for a 43 year old man with an 8 year history of the disorder, following eradication of Helicobacter Pylori.

World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jul 14;17(26):3165-70. Cure of alopecia areata after eradication of Helicobacter pylori: A new association? Campuzano-Maya G.

Germán Campuzano-Maya, Faculty of Medicine, University of Antioquia. Medical Director, Laboratorio Clínico Hematológico, Carrera 43C No. 5-33, Medellín, Colombia.

Alopecia areata is a disease of the hair follicles, with strong evidence supporting autoimmune etiology. Alopecia areata is frequently associated with immune-mediated diseases with skin manifestations such as psoriasis and lichen planus, or without skin manifestations such as autoimmune thyroiditis and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection is present in around 50% of the world’s population and has been associated with a variety of immune-mediated extra-digestive disorders including autoimmune thyroiditis, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and psoriasis. A case of a 43-year old man with an 8-mo history of alopecia areata of the scalp and beard is presented. The patient was being treated by a dermatologist and had psychiatric support, without any improvement. He had a history of dyspepsia and the urea breath test confirmed H. pylori infection. The patient went into remission from alopecia areata after H. pylori eradication. If such an association is confirmed by epidemiological studies designed for this purpose, new therapeutic options could be available for these patients, especially in areas where infection with H. pylori is highly prevalent.

      The standard medical treatment regimen includes a medication called a proton pump inhibitor, along with 2 antibiotics. This medication decreases the stomach’s production of acid, which allows the tissues damaged by the infection to heal. Examples of proton pump inhibitors include lansoprazole (Prevacid®), omeprazole (Prilosec®), pantoprazole (Protonix®), rabeprazole (AcipHex®), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant®), and esomeprazole (Nexium®). 

      Proton pump inhibitors cause diminished absorption of nutrients and are known to cause side effects in at least 50% of those using them, including diffuse hair loss. 

      It has recently been discovered and published in the following study, by the pharmaceutical giant, Bristol-Myers Squibb, that Medium Chain Fats, such as those found in Coconut Oil, effectively eradicate H. Pylori. 

Susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to bactericidal properties of medium-chain monoglycerides and free fatty acids. B W Petschow, R P Batema and L L Ford

Mead Johnson Research Center, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Evansville, Indiana 47721, USA.ABSTRACT

Previous studies have shown that various short- and medium-chain free fatty acids (FFAs) and their corresponding monoacylglycerol esters (MGs) have antibacterial activity in vitro against primarily gram-positive bacteria. More recent studies have also shown that the growth of Helicobacter spp. is inhibited by linoleic acid and arachidonic acid. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to the in vitro bactericidal properties of medium-chain MGs and FFAs. Incubation of H. pylori with saturated MGs, ranging in carbon chain length from C10:0 to C14:0, at 1 mM caused a 4-log-unit or greater reduction in the number of viable bacteria after exposure for 1 h. Lower levels of bactericidal activity were observed with C9:0, C15:0, and C16:0 MGs. In contrast, lauric acid (C12:0) was the only medium-chain saturated FFA with bactericidal activity against H. pylori. The MGs and FFAs were bactericidal after incubation for as little as 15 min at neutral or acidic pHs. Higher levels of MGs and FFAs were required for bactericidal activity in the presence of higher amounts of protein in liquid diets. We also found that the frequency of spontaneous development of resistance by H. pylori was higher for metronidazole and tetracycline (10(-5) to 10(-6)) than for C10:0 MG, C12:0 MG, and C12:0 FFA (< 10). Collectively, our data demonstrate that H. pylori is rapidly inactivated by medium-chain MGs and lauric acid and exhibits a relatively low frequency of spontaneous development of resistance to the bactericidal activity of MGs. Further studies are needed to establish whether MGs may be useful either alone or with other known therapeutic agents in the management of H. pylori infections in humans.

      By far the best source of lauric acid, and also caprylic acid (another short-chain fatty acid effective against H Pylori), is Extra Virgin Coconut oil. Coconut Oil, via its Lauric acid content, also down regulates DHT, and is one of our dietary recommendations for anyone dealing with hormonal hair loss and acne. Alopecia Areata can now be added to that list. 2-3 tablespoons per day in divided doses would be optimal for health and hair, however doses as low as 1 teaspoon a day will still give some benefit. It is plausible to conclude that if this association is valid, a consistent consumption of lauric acid via dietary Coconut Oil would prevent the onset of Alopecia Areata in the first place. 

      Coconut Oil can be also topically used as a prewash conditioner, and is often combined with Emu Oil, for its hair growth stimulation effects. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is widely available at any nutrition store. Nutiva is my favorite brand as it is by far the best deal price wise and has a sweeter taste than the other brands.