Alopecia Areata and Medical Cannabis Treatment
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes loss of hair. In most cases, the hair falls out in small patches on the scalp. However, it can be more extreme in some cases, resulting in the complete loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia totails) or even more extreme cases, loss of hair in the entire body (alopecia universalis). Over 6 million people are affected by this disorder in the United States.
The exact cause of this disorder is still unknown but it is believed that it is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s defense system wrongly attacks the hair follicles, a sac from which hair grows. The possible causes of alopecia and most believed among the scientists are genetics and family history. One in five people with this disorder has a family member who has also developed alopecia. It is a common belief that stress is one of the causes of alopecia areata, but there is almost no scientific evidence that stress causes this disease.
The only noticeable symptom of alopecia areata is hair loss, and regrowth of the hair may or may not occur. Most of the cases include hair loss in the areas of the head and face, leaving the body to the most extreme cases of alopecia. The hair loss can take little time, developing in just a few days or it can take weeks. The area of the hair loss can be itching or burning before the hair starts to fall.
This disorder is not a sign of a serious or a life-threatening disease. Half of the patients with alopecia areata recover within a year but many will experience other episodes of alopecia during their lifetime, and around 10% of people will develop alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis.
Alopecia areata can also affect fingernails and toenails, and sometimes these are one of the first signs that you are developing alopecia. One of the changes that can occur with your nails is the appearing of white spots and lines on the nails, loss of shine, nails becoming thin and split, and more.
There is no cure for alopecia areata, although there are several forms of treatments suggested by doctors to help your hair grow back quicker. The use of corticosteroids and other medications like Minoxidil, DPCP, Anthralin and others that promotes hair growth are some of the most common ways of treating alopecia areata.
With the rising interest of people in alternative medicine, the number of people investing in researchers about the effects of cannabis in the treatment of several diseases keeps growing and researchers and patients have currently testified the benefits of cannabis.
In a study about the endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease, the ability of the “recently” discovered endocannabinoid system was analyzed by the author. “It seems that the main physiological function of the cutaneous ECS is to constitutively control the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells.” When this system is unbalanced, it may facilitate the development of multiple conditions of the skin like acne, psoriasis, alopecia areata, etc.
The results of the study showed that the endocannabinoid system could help treating alopecia areata by stimulating the hair shaft elongation, suppress intrafollicular apoptosis and catagen regression, and also help with two of the symptoms of alopecia, itch, and pain.
Although there isn’t much scientific evidence, with time, we may have enough researchers to testify cannabis effects on treating this disorder. Maybe soon enough, alopecia areata may enter the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana treatment in many the U.S. states with a medical marijuana program.