Review on March 19, 2009
A study, published by the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, has indicated that hypnosis could be a viable treatment option for those suffering from Alopecia Areata: a patchy form of hair loss usually caused by stress.
Until now, few studies have looked at the value of psychological treatments for hair loss. Dr Willemsen, of Free University in Brussels, who carried out the tests for the American Academy of Dermatology commented, 'Hypnotherapy may enhance the mental well-being of patients with Alopecia Areata (hair loss) and it may improve clinical outcome'.
Twenty-eight people, with severe hair loss on 30% or more of their scalp, were selected for the investigation. These individuals, for whom established medical treatments, such as steroids, had been fruitless, were given hypnotherapy treatment, and tracked for six months or more.
The treatments used involved a combination of hypnosis therapy for hair re-growth, and therapy to help reduce stress. Participants were given a minimum of three to four sessions of hypnotherapy, at three weekly intervals.
The results showed that for 12 of the 28 hair loss sufferers, hypnotherapy had a positive effect on their condition. Many found that they had new hair growth on at least 75% of their scalp. None of the participants, including the hair loss sufferers that did not experience an improvement, felt any negative side effects.
The results demonstrated that as well as combating hair loss, hypnotherapy also improved the participants stress levels and decreased their levels of depression. Just how hypnosis prevents hair loss is not known. The researchers, despite their positive initial findings, stress that it 'is still controversial' whether hypnosis can actually cure hair loss. They suggest that hypnosis helps those with hair loss by lowering anxiety levels and speculate that hypnosis stimulates beneficial changes within the immune system.
- Willemsen, R., & Vanderlinden, J. (2008, July). Hypnotic approaches for alopecia areata. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 56(3), 318-333.
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, August 2006.