A guest blog from Gutsy’s partner Aimee; on her experiences with alopecia areata:
Back in January my hair started to fall out. As you can imagine, I wasn’t best pleased; no one wants a mini bald island on the front of their hairline. After an inital freakout, Amanda kindly contacted her friend, who’s dad is a trichologist ; a scalp doctor. This wonderful man, over the next three months would become my saviour. I learnt more from him about my body and wellbeing than I’d ever cared to give thought to before.
My whole life, I’ve always been susceptible to patches of eczema. My brother too. It comes and goes, and I never gave any thought as to why it appears – always lumping it into the stress category. But there’s so much more to it than that. Alopecia actually goes hand in hand with eczema, allergies and asthma too. The latter, thankfully I don’t suffer with, but the other three are my body’s way of saying, ‘you’re doing something wrong Aimee’. What I learnt most from my mate’s dad (let’s call him Stephen, because that is his name) is that it’s all centred around the gut. My balance of gut flora was out; I was putting things into my body that upset the balance further, and my skin and hair were reacting as a result. This is commonly known as; an auto immune response.
Unsurprisingly, this period of time happened to be of great interest to my partner (you all know her as Gutsy; co-author of this blog) as we both came to the realisation that we shared auto immune issues. Granted they were based in different areas, but the principals were the same, and the root of the problems came from the same place; a cocktail of misplaced white blood cell behaviour and an environmental trigger or two; such as diet, anxiety or allergens. The difference is; Amanda’s disease is an invisible one – people don’t see the fatigue, the bleeding and multiple night time trips to the toilet. My responses; were much more noticeable – having brazen red skin and a reflective scalp are not easy things to hide. Perhaps all the more reason for my eagerness to see Stephen, and try anything he threw at me.
Thankfully, in him I found an inquisitive healer; someone who wanted to not only treat the effects, but find and analyse the cause. First we had a long chat – one that revealed that my recent carb heavy diet due to endless nights in hotel basement dungeons, working at corporate events – was not doing me any favours. He also told me to book a holiday, as he was sure that a hefty dose of vitamin D would really help. In asking more questions, we found out that my Auntie and Grandmother had suffered from alopecia back in the day too. * Faulty genes alert! *
Since booking a holiday wasn’t possible at that moment, we started with some herbal supplements; ginkgo and zinc. Adding to that, a slightly adjusted diet – spices, plain yoghurt, plenty of herbal teas, no dairy, no gluten or wheat. Pre-biotics were also on the menu. So that, in turn would sort out my gut imbalance and feed the good bacteria so they would multiply. After a few weeks of this, nothing much was happening, so we stepped the treatment it up a notch, and I started to add a small amount of steroid ointment to the area to calm the immune flare. Again, no effect, still a shiny bald island.
We then had another chat, and that was really the turning point in my recovery. He explained; ‘your white blood cells simply need distracting’. He sent me away with a pot of weird paste that smelt bad and irritated like a bitch. Luckily the paste dyed my scalp brown, so at least now, my island was blending in more. After applying this to my head for a few weeks, the area became insanely itchy. At this point I stopped and once recovered from the itch I re-applied the paste. This time it took only a day or two for the irritation to come back. Loe and behold, a few days later, I had my first sproutlings. How did it work? The white blood cells that were originally attacking my hair follicles had gone into full retreat – they were too distracted and now busy attacking this new stinky irritant instead. Add to this a short course of UVB light therapy to the area for some added repairing Vitamin D, and my cute hair seedlings were coming along nicely.
Stephen’s approach to my healing helped awaken and reaffirm our thoughts about Amanda’s condition, as well as my own. Long had we tried natural remedies to help alleviate the effects of Crohns, but this opened up a whole new world of thought. It also meant that we had a million more questions about drugs, causes, effects, genes, family history, pharmaceuticals and consultants. The list is endless, and that’s exactly why this blog is here. We realised that our cases although seen as vastly different issues, behave very similarly.
If you look at alternative medicine, anything can be healed. There are seemingly radical theories out there, that you can cure yourself of anything, even cancer, but if you look into this stuff and the thinking behind it; it’s fascinating.
If you can take anything from my example, it should be to question theories, question doctors, and most importantly; listen to your body’s little voice telling you that maybe somewhere along the line, you too may have got the balance slightly wrong.