What Causes Alopecia Areata and Universalis?

Read the transcript to this video below on what causes Alopecia areata and universalis:

Greetings, friends. This is Dr. Nik Hedberg and today I’m going to be taking about all the possible causes of alopecia areata and alopecia universalis. Autoimmune diseases are significantly on the rise, and alopecia can be a devastating condition, not only personally but also professionally. And there are a lot of holistic options out there for alopecia. And I’ve had some great success over the years identifying the underlying causes of alopecia and helping patients regrow their hair. So I wanted to share some of my knowledge about alopecia and what I’ve found to be, really, the main causes of alopecia. So I’ve created this diagram for you with all of the main potential causes of alopecia.

Now, if you’ve been watching any of my YouTube videos over the years, I talk a lot about the Epstein-Barr virus as a potential trigger for autoimmune disease, and also a perpetuator of autoimmune disease. So, there’s a lot of research on the connection between the Epstein-Barr virus and autoimmune diseases, including alopecia. And we test for the Epstein-Barr virus through blood testing, and if it’s reactivated we have some holistic protocols to manage that virus.

Stress and adrenal imbalances, I’ve seen a lot of patients who develop alopecia after a very, very stressful event. So we want to evaluate their adrenal function, their cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol can cause significant dysfunction to the immune system and can just really break down the body and create hair loss. So that’s the second thing that we’ll look at.

Alopecia Areata and Universalis

Helicobacter pylori, the second infection that we’re going to discuss connected with alopecia. Helicobacter pylori is found in the stomach of most individuals. But when they’re been under a lot of stress or if their immune system is compromised, then H. pylori will begin to overgrow. And if you know any one who’s ever had an ulcer after a very stressful period of time, H. pylori is usually the culprit. But there’s a lot of research out there connecting H. pylori and alopecia. So, there’s three ways to test for H. pylori, a stool test, a breath test, and blood testing. And we’ll usually do the breath test because that’s the most sensitive test to identify H. pylori activity, although the other two methods can be highly effective as well.

Excessive estrogen levels are going to be a problem with pretty much every autoimmune disease. This isn’t going to be specific to alopecia. And the connection there is that too much estrogen inhibits the body’s ability to control chronic infections. And sometimes chronic infections are the cause of autoimmune disease. So, estrogen levels rise, a particular part of the immune system is suppressed, and the infection is able to take hold and stay active. So, we’ll test estrogen levels as well, to see if those are elevated. And then use some holistic protocols to decrease those estrogen levels.

Retroviral activity, especially the human intracisternal A-type particle. Unfortunately, there’s no good testing for this particular particle at the time of this recording, but retroviral activity can be connected with autoimmune disease, especially alopecia. And if we don’t really find any other infections then we may just treat the patient as if they have retroviral activity. But we will usually see this on blood testing, where it’s just clear that the immune system is chronically fighting an infection, especially a virus.

Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, can trigger alopecia.


Folliculitis, mainly meaning that the hair follicles are inflammed.

Celiac disease – so celiac disease is, of course, the disease involved with gluten, and people with celiac disease cannot eat gluten. But if you have celiac disease, you do have a higher risk for having alopecia. And some patients will do much, much better on a gluten-free diet if they have alopecia.

Fungal infection.

Excessive androgens, so PCOS (that stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome). This happens in women. They usually have too much testosterone. They may be insulin resistant. Hair loss is a common side effect of having PCOS, too many androgens. One of the ways you’ll know if you have this is if you have an abnormal menstrual cycle, if you have really oily skin, if you have acne, those are the main signs of PCOS. But definitely a connection there with alopecia.

Nutrient deficiencies, this basically means the basic building blocks for growing hair and making hair just aren’t there. That would be things like vitamin A, and some of the B vitamins, iron, and making sure that you have enough protein in your diet. All of those can be connected with alopecia.

Dental infections, often overlooked if you have a bad root canal. You can have what’s called a cavitation, which is an infection in the tooth, in the gum area, or in the root canal. And dental infections are connected with, not only autoimmune disease, but also cardiovascular disease as well. So, your dental health should be another thing that you’d want to have evaluated if you have alopecia.

Thyroid disorders are a really big factor. We’ll see the autoimmune thyroid disease known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is the number one cause of hypothyroidism in the world. Autoimmune thyroid disease is the most common autoimmune disease in the world. And the other side of Hashimoto’s is Graves’ disease, which creates hyperthyroidism. And patients with Graves’ disease have way too much thyroid hormone, and that can also create hair loss. And then, you can also have hypothyroidism that’s not autoimmune, and that can also create hair loss as well because there’s a deficiency of thyroid hormone that’s very difficult for your body to function properly and manufacture hair. You should always have your thyroid checked in detail, not just your thyroid numbers, but you should also be tested for the autoimmune diseases that are connected with the thyroid.

The flu, some people will develop alopecia after a really bad flu outbreak, really bad flu virus.

So those are, really, the main causes that I’ve found over the years, and also, what I’ve found in my research through the published, peer reviewed medical literature on the connections with alopecia areata and universalis. There is a new drug available that’s been showen to be highly effective for alopecia. In cases where conventional medicine isn’t really working, we have had some excellent success with a number of patients when we’re able to identify the underlying cause, and just get the immune system in balance so the body is no longer attacking the hair follicle. And that’s basically what alopecia is, when there’s autoimmunity, is your body’s immune system is making antibodies against the hair follicle, so the hair falls out and it can’t grow. So, the objective is to identify the underlying cause of the autoimmunity, address that cause, also use some holistic methods to balance the immune system, and just get the patient healthier and feeling better overall. In some cases, we’ll get excellent results and the hair will grow back and stay that way.

So, for more cutting edge information, visit my website drhedberg.com. I do have a newsletter all about thyroid, but I also cover information about various autoimmune diseases and a lot of other health topics, including alopecia. So you can learn more about the thyroid connection with alopecia, as well as alopecia areata and alopecia universalis itself. So check that out. I hope you enjoyed this video. I’ll see you next time. Take care.

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