Updated on December 10, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes excessive hair loss and balding throughout the body. Although it’s normal to lose strands of hair every day as the body prepares to grow newer, stronger locks, alopecia causes abnormally high levels of hair loss that may range from thinning to more extensive and apparent bald patches across the scalp. This more extreme form of hair loss is commonly referred to as alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is a disease that stimulates hair loss in otherwise healthy individuals. Although it is more common to lose hair gradually with age, alopecia areata can affect patients at any age. Hair loss can occur sporadically or happen over several years, depending on the severity of symptoms. In addition to losing their hair, patients with this disorder often experience tingling, discomfort or itching in the areas where hair loss is occurring.
This autoimmune disorder can create a significant degree of emotional stress, causing the patient to develop psychological issues, such as anxiety or depression, as a result. To prevent the side effects of alopecia from worsening, many patients with this reaction seek a treatment plan that targets the body’s autoimmune responses.
However, many prescriptions can induce adverse or unwanted effects. Research studies suggest medical cannabis could provide a possible treatment option for patients. Not only does marijuana lessen stress and assist the immune system, but it also demonstrates relatively little to no negative effects on patients.
Because alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder, it has an impact on the immune system. When the body’s immune system is weakened or irregular, it attacks specific tissues in the body. In the case of alopecia areata, an attack occurs on the hair follicles, causing interference in typical hair functioning.
Although genetics can play a role in the formation of alopecia areata, immune system diseases and disorders are a common cause of hair growth issues, as well. The following autoimmune conditions can increase one’s likelihood of experiencing alopecia areata:
Another reason for increased alopecia areata is the increased levels of stress felt by patients undergoing this condition. Hair loss can greatly impact one’s self-confidence and happiness, causing a cycle of higher levels of stress and resulting balding in the process.
Marijuana is now prescribed as a viable treatment option for a plethora of conditions and issues, including immune system diseases. Because a weak or irregular immune system stimulates the hair loss, thinning and balding associated with alopecia areata, it’s crucial to consider medical cannabis whenever necessary.
How does cannabis help boost the immune system of patients experiencing adverse effects from this irregularity? Many of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana result from how this substance interacts with the endocannabinoid system — a crucial system in the body responsible for regulating complex networks of receptors and lipids.
Marijuana is made up of cannabinoids that interact with receptors scattered throughout the endocannabinoid system. This fundamental act promotes optimal health by ensuring the receptors can efficiently fulfill the body’s daily functioning. Inflammation responses, pain management and even moods rely on the proper operation of the endocannabinoid system to work effectively.
Once the cannabinoids in marijuana reduce inflammatory responses, the patients’ immune response becomes much more normalized. In patients with alopecia areata, the body can begin to recover from previous hair loss while providing a protective barrier against future balding.
Did you know many doctors consider medical cannabis a viable treatment option for immune disorders and diseases? If you or a loved one are currently experiencing alopecia areata as a result of immune system issues, consider contacting a medical marijuana doctor in your state for more information on how you can find relief. Under their guidance, you can apply for your states medical marijuana program to receive the care and medication you need.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat alopecia areata , check out our resources: