Alopecia + Auto-Immune

Part 3- The Effect of the Auto-immune Diet for Alopecia Areata and How I Grew My Hair Back.

What really happened on the autoimmune inflammation diet with my alopecia areata?

Month 1 and 2– I didn’t see much hair growth but I felt GREAT. I wasn’t tired, sluggish and any sort of mind fuzz was gone. I had incredible energy and my body snapped into some muscular super hero shape. Mind you I was riding horses three times a week and doing heavy manual labor (I was a tour manager) but the diet change really turned me into a health mutant. I am already in shape but I had to make sure I was eating A LOT to keep me at a healthy weight and not waste away. I already have a crazy good metabolism from my many years as a dancer.  Incredibly this diet really trains your body to burn fat and not carbs. To recap the crap I was dealing with:

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When I tell you I was eating an avocado a day I’m not kidding. I needed those nutrients!

Month 3 and 4– I started to see thin strands coming in like when you can start to see new grass come through the soil. It was happening and boy was it exciting. I wish I took pictures for everyone but I never expected to one day write about all this. Such is life!

Month 4 and 5-By the end of the fourth month my patch was filling in with super soft baby hair! It was about an inch or two and it was growing FAST. I also noticed though that I had a smaller patch falling out right above the Mega patch. In fact that is the left over patch I’m growing in now. See below.

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Month 6- By month five I was on a hair regrowth role and decided to continue following the diet into the sixth month. I had also started towards the end of month five to work in some of the foods I had cut out to see if my body was ready to handle them. I worked back beans and eggs and all was well.

Month 6 and 7- The end of month six I went out for pizza. No hair fell out, I didn’t die, my body didn’t panic, so I decided slowly I would work back in other foods.

Month 8- By this time I decided I was going to let my body do wha it needed to do and I was not going to worry about my hair unless I started to see constant hair loss which I did not.

*Any time I put myself through extreme stress or really negative thoughts, the next day a bunch of strands would fall out. Luckily I’m semi- shallow so I’ve learned to cut that shit out real quick. For Latina woman, hair is our thing. Not to mention my Mother has gorgeous locks as well so the one thing I love that I got from my Mom I was not about to completely sabotage.

How to work back in foods on the autoimmune inflammation diet:

When I say work back a food item, go with the least inflammation causing foods first. For me it was beans. Eat a small amount and pay attention to your body for the next day or two. Some fine it helpful to journal their experience during this time and keep records. I just went for it.

If nothing happens eat another slightly larger amount and repeat the few day inspection period. Hopefully by this time a lot of the internal inflammation will have gone down and you won’t have any huge reactions. At month three I tried to work back eggs in my system and my sciatica flared up like crazy. Remember your body is not normally at an inflamed state so when you eat these things and your body is “normal” and “healthy” you won’t have any reactions. In an inflamed state common foods can cause discomfort or a flare up.  If you have a sunburn you can’t but your normal lotion on your body because your skin is inflamed but when you aren’t sunburned that lotion is just fine.

After month six ended I was careful what I ate but was pretty much eating all foods. I didn’t eat fast food except for Wendys (Wendy’s is my go to “healthier” fast food option) and wasn’t a huge fan of eating out at restaurants because by now I preferred a simpler less seasoned taste.

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My current hair sitch:

This last patch has been doing its own thing. I haven’t been diligent in taking supplements or following the AIP diet anymore as I wanted to see what my body would do. I would say it’s been now almost a year since little patch started falling out and only recently have small strands started appearing.

I plan to once again do the AIP diet to grow back this baby patch as I saw results fairly quickly and after testing and letting my body do its thing- a boost of vitamins and nutrients certainly jump-started my progress.

Everyone on this journey will have their own experiences and beliefs. This is my specific journey and if it works for you GREAT and if does not, I’m not a Dr. and of course do your own research, surely you are capable. Good luck to you and may the hair growth be with you!

Download the AIP lists below to get the AIP Diet run down!

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22 Comments

  • Marion

    Thank you thank you thank you! Reading about your experience is giving me the boost of courage I needed to go back on the diet. I’ve been celiac for 6 years, and now I’m dealing with complications even though I’ve been on a strict gluten free diet from day 1. I have leaky gut which results in digestive issues, joint pain, fatigue, and hair loss. I have a small patch on the top of my head and I’m grateful for it because if all my symptoms were invisible I’d lack the motivation to do anything about them. I do great on the diet unless my boyfriend is around. He’s a musician and he’s been on tour a lot which is fucking great because each time he leaves it’s my chance to focus on my health 100% with no distractions. But when he comes home and wants to have some fun I feel bad for being such a downer and suddenly I’m drinking wine and doing drugs like an idiot. Of course my body freaks out and I get pretty sick. From there it’s a vicious circle. I give into one thing (usually tortilla chips, ha) and from there it escalates until I crash completely and I’m super disappointed in myself. Boyriend just left for a 5 week tour so I’m back on my healing horse. It’s so hard to make people understand what we go through. I love becoming healthier, I’m essentially learning to love myself. I’ve battled an eating disorder for 12 years, which makes it even harder to stick to the diet but I’m optimistic. I wish my will were strong enough that I didn’t drop everything in order to meet someone else’s needs (or my own ego’s needs). I’m going to get there eventually though, no doubt. I wish you health and happiness <3

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi Marion! First let me say how beautiful you are for sharing your experience and commenting! And we are all in some fighting a personal or interpersonal battle on top of our health issues and no matter what it is it can be difficult. Tortilla chips are also one of my fav- I make healthy nachos during my better times:) Tha’s great you’ve been gluten free- have you noticed a big difference in symptoms? Sometimes we need an extra boost and cutting those nightshades can really help. Are you in the US? I understand sometimes it may be harder to stick to something when others have a different lifestyle. Usually it can go two ways- if one person in the household gets sick they change the entire family the family eats in support of them (either choice or not lol-my case) or the household does not change the diet/methods and so the “Ill” person needs to come up with methods to make sure they are honoring themselves and illness. I would say you’re prolly #2. So if you are in the states there are groceries delivery services like instacart you can schedule that way even when ur bf does come back you still have ur consistent healthy food delivery service. How long have you been with him? Is he aware of how you feel and whats going on, sometimes our lvoed one arent and communicating a bit more can help them understand? You can also eat separately from him, and also put up a saying or poster that keeps you motivated and reminds you ” you are eating for health. The body gives us messages whether we can hear it or not, and so if your body is letting you know it’s not well, trust me, its best you listen now before the messages get louder and your health really gets in a bad place:/ As far as drinking maybe if he has fiends over while drinking, you go see a movie, or stay with a friend so you can keep yourself balanced and calm. Or perhaps enjoy one glass of wine instead. And drugs.. you do have to be really really careful with any autoimmune issue because you are affecting the chemistry of the body. Your nervous system is really important and sending it up and down completely removes your bodies grounding. I’m sure it’s tough if it’s been a comfort or it’s hard when it’s in your environment. It sounds from what you said you really really love the idea and actual practice of taking care of yourself. It sounds like you want to put yourself in the best possible state and you may be ready to put yourself first. You sound like you are super loving and I bet your body would benefit from that love just even a little bit more. Based on what you said, you ARE on your way to a healthier place in all ways. It can be tough to look at it as a “diet” maybe replace it with a better word that feels better for you and your body, like “I’m on a nurturing plan”. You can also ask him to join you on this healing journey, it could be healing in many different ways for both of you. I wish you all the very best and may your mind be as clear as your heart:) Keep me posted how everything goes:)

      • Marion

        Hello 🙂
        Ah, tortilla chips. I’ll have to do without them. But I made delicious plantain chips last night!
        The gluten-free diet unfortunately is not enough to reverse celiac disease. In the long run my body is being destroyed due to my leaky gut. Most celiacs have that problem (sometimes unknowingly, very scary!). That’s why I want to heal so bad. I know my current symptoms are basically the emergence of a myriad of complications that could eventually put my life at risk. So, having realized that, I am determined to get better. (If you are interested in celiac disease and gut inflammation, this was pretty eye-opening for me : https://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/the-gluten-free-lie-why-most-celiacs-are-slowly-dying/)
        Being aware also of the psychological aspect, I’ve been diving deep in my childhood memories to help trauma resurface. I’m planning to ask my mom about our family history because transgenerational trauma is the culprit behind many health issues and I’m definitely affected by it.
        I’m not in the US, I live in Germany at the moment and they’re slightly behind with the whole health food thing, but I manage. I order some of my supplements online, and organic supermarkets have pretty good products also.
        And yes, I feel so much better without nightshades! Cutting nuts also made a huge difference. I’ve been sticking very strictly to the diet for 5 days, I feel okay but my body is really struggling to eliminate toxins. I’m going to focus on that and see how it evolves. I’m learning something every day! It’s pretty amazing, when you have to pay such close attention to your body you develop a loving relationship with it and it’s going to make all the difference.
        I like what you said about love and nurturing. It’s all true. I am just now learning how to give some of that love to myself. Funny how when you’re able to do that, you have even more love to give others as a result. I am going to have a good talk with my boyfriend. I need his support and I also want him to be happy. We’ve been together for 5 years, we are very close and love each other very much. I will help him understand so that he becomes more supportive. I will help him help me 🙂
        And I am staying AWAY from alcohol and other evil things.
        <3
        Marion

      • greenbananagirl

        Hey Marion! Go girl YES! I LOVE plantain chips- I also grew up with plantains as my one true love, since I’m half Puerto Rican (half German as well)! Yes usually there is a lot more affecting our systems than just gluten- and honestly for some it really doesn’t have major negative effects. Oh the dreaded leaky gut- I would say there is a large number of autoimmune folks who struggle with leaky gut for sure. Yes when the health goes, nothing else matters-truly. Yes that link is totally true- while gluten free is a good start if you aren’t working on bringing the inflammation down, or rebuilding and rebalancing the rest of the body it’s a limited strategy:/ Our childhood always comes back to mess with us doesn’t it! I hope it goes well and you are able to be in a place of observation where you feel heard and seen by your parents. And if not you come back here and comment, and I will validate your feelings! Online is the way to go if you don’t have immediate access- do they also have grocery delivery services that can deliver like instacart or Amazon fresh? I mean this site could be called “Autoimmune? Don’t eat nightshades” lol That’s great you are feeling a difference regarding nuts as well- they are another one of those food items that may not affect everyone but you sound like you really know whats right for your body. Elimination is huge and is a major part of the feeling process. Are you exercising and getting some motion and circulation in your body? And of course, it takes time- most of us are backed up. I love how excited you are for your healing process, you are totally in the right mindset! I mean I totally see the self- love in everything you have said, even from across the internet you feel lighter and more peaceful. Please totally keep me posted on how everything goes. Yes communication about what you need for yourself to be healthy is so important and your life can match up to that. “Is this in service of my healing?” Yes you do it! Not everyone is able to have supportive surroundings so at the very least, we can make this a place for that! I just know you are on your healing way already though!

  • neta

    Hello, I so glad I found you site. I’ve been on the AIP diet for 2.5 months. I don’t see any improvements so far. And just a few day ago, I have discovery 2 new spots. How long did it take for your patch to stop increasing? Thank you for your blog!

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi Neta! So I had hair following out for about 5-6 months before I started the diet. Within 2-3, end of 3 I started seeing serious growth. It is different for everyone of course. I also was out in the sun everyday for work and sun is amazing for skin and hair not just for the vitamin D but because it’s healing. So I think the sun was a huge factor in that. My second bald patch is really trying to be stubborn! It’s been dormant for about a year. (I was not on the diet during this time because I wanted to see if my body would take over- which it wasn’t healed enough to yet) Started the AIP diet for my second round, woop woop, and it’s been about two months and have about 5 glorious sprigs but I know it’s happening. My hair hurts which is the inflammation that my body is using to heal, and the remainder of the dormant “club hairs” have fallen. So no new patches but I know this second round of healing is deeper and longer. I am feeling and seeing things that I didn’t have the energetic space for the first time that a re ready to come up. So shut answer it took about totally with starting the diet 9-10 months. The last little patch hasn’t increased more it just stopped which I think was also due to the fact that I was on the AIP diet and throwing nutrients at it like crazy. Keep me posted though for sure!

      • neta

        Thank you very much! Your story is very inspiring! It gives me some hope and energy to continue my diet. I will try to do the AIP for 4 months and then decide if I want to continue. I really appreciate your answer and support! Good luck on your journey!

      • greenbananagirl

        Neta I think that is a perfect amount of time to see how you feel! Sometimes having deadline can help us as well. Hopefully you will get some results you’re hoping for and if not then you know you will have to go down a different avenue. No problem I am excited that my hairless journey can help anyone lol! Keep me posted and best of luck!

      • neta

        Hello GreenBananaGirl, what foods were causing your alopecia? Did you eliminate those foods from your diet? Thank you

      • greenbananagirl

        Hi Neta! So no foods CAUSE autoimmune issues, per say. Science hasn’t really caught up to any causes whether it be environment or genetic. I have my own theories of course based on my own experiences and talking to so many folks:) The reason people go on an elimination diet is to remove foods that “mimic” the inflammation or can “increase” inflammation beyond the norm. Inflammation in of itself is not a bad thing, that’s how your body heals! It is when it gets stuck in that inflammatory state when autoimmune issues occur. One thing to definitely eliminate though are NIGHTSHADES. Those are tomatoes, potatoes (white not sweet), peppers of any sort including pepper based spices, paprika, eggplant, ashwagandha. I immediately have eliminated those and didn’t work them back in until I had full hair growth the first round. My mother also completely eliminated those while healing her Psoriasis. It’s really all about eliminating those nightshades initially!

  • AA Newbie

    I’m so happy that I found your blog! I am a 31 year old woman and I’ve never had hair loss or alopecia or anything like that until I noticed my first small bald patch in December 2017 but it was so small that I just assumed it would grow back but now (today in January 2018) the bald patch has gotten much bigger and I’m really freaking out since it seems to be a lot of loss in a short amount of time.

    However, Google brought me to your blog and I’m feeling a sense of relief. I am making an appointment to my general doctor to get tested for vitamin deficiencies and then I will ask for a referral to a dermatologist but I am also into mind-body-spirit health approaches, in fact, my diet is already very healthy (mostly unprocessed fresh veggies/fruits) but now I would like to try a strict anti inflammatory diet (although I don’t eat meat).

    In late August and early September 2017, my parents/family were going through a crisis and I took it very hard, I was very sad and depressed and crying a lot and I did *not* seek therapy or other tools/support for myself although I should have done that 🙁 I strongly think that this family crisis triggered my hair loss although I didn’t notice it until December 2017. Since this is an autoimmune disorder, this is also a wake-up call for me to prioritize my health and listen to my gut and heal and get to the root causes rather than suppress my emotions or not seek the support/tools/services that I need.

    Thank you again!!!

    • greenbananagirl

      I’m so happy you found it too! I had a similar experience:) I think you are doing great and so much farther ahead than you realize! My patch did get bigger as it had to finish it’s “attack” process but then once that finished we, my body and I were ready to start the healing process! Yes dermatologists can definitely tell you what it is and isn’t- which sometimes is good to know! It’s totally okay that you don’t eat meat as veggies are a huge part of this! I will say make sure you are getting enough of the vitamins like iron and other things that will aid your gut rebuilding such as Omega 3’s. If you don’t eat fish either- I’m assuming you don’t- then def chia and flax will be your best friends! I’m sorry to hear about your families crisis and that can be extraordinarily traumatic for someone who seems to be open and good hearted. Sometimes when we are the most empathetic we definitely feel the most. It’s okay that you didn’t seek tools/therapy/support, we don’t always and maybe you weren’t ready for it. I would bet that your intuition is exactly right and I think your resolve and gentleness about healing yourself is going to be wonderful. I so feel that you are doing so good for yourself already and that this is just the start to something amazing! Good luck and keep me posted!

      • AA Newbie

        Thank you so much for your reply!!! It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement. My counselor told me a similar thing, that when I talk, I tend to blame myself i.e. feeling so guilty that I didn’t seek help before. But, he reminded me that it’s a huge deal that I am now seeking resources.

        And thanks for all this information, I’m not sure if my patch is getting bigger than the last time I wrote but my hair feels so dry and it’s a lot thinner and my scalp feels a little painful/sensitive 🙁 I have an appointment with a dermatologist (although I don’t really want to do the shots/creams due to side effects and they of course don’t address my immune system issue) as well as an acupuncturist soon so we will see what happens. The good news is that I got blood work results which shows that my iron is normal, I don’t have lupus, and my thyroid is fine.

        As for food to heal my immune system, I am all in!! I read your blogs carefully and I am reading the book “The Immune System Recovery Plan” by Susan Blum. I’m going to give the vegan autoimmune diet a try and see what happens, and I will include flax and chia as well for the Omega 3s, thanks for the tip. My biggest weaknesses/splurges are chips and french fries (I don’t eat them often but they are so good) but I need to give a chance for my body to truly heal. It will be tough to stick with the diet but I am reading lots of information and formulating meal plans.

        Most of all, the alopecia shows me that my body-mind-spirit needs healing and I’m willing to try what it takes with the resources that I have. I’m doing meditation, gentle exercise, committing to therapy, trying acupuncture, and I even booked an appointment with a holistic healer. I’ve been really emotional when telling friends and family about the alopecia, and it’s because I associate the hair loss/alopecia with my family’s crisis that made me so sad/scared for months. But I know this condition is for the long heal and eventually I hope to heal it, although it does scare me that some people do not have regrowth and some eventually lose most or all of their hair—which I know isn’t the end of the world, but I do have a fear since it’s all a wait-and-see game.

        Anyway, thank you again so much, your blog and your words are really inspiring.

      • greenbananagirl

        You are inspiring! The past is a pain in the ass to say the least but we can always nail it in the future! Yes my scalp felt super sensitive like my actual hair hurt when I moved it. That’s so great on the blood work! Iron isn’t usually the culprit. Well trust how you feel re. dermatologist…your gut! I am all for an acupuncturist- even my horse gets acupuncture and the results are HUGE. For chips or fries- make friends with Plantain chips and you can also make homemade yucca chips. It’s a nice substitute and you can throw some iodized salt in there and bam there ya go. I’m doing the diet again as we speak for my second round and I LOVE it- so reach out if you need help because we are all in this together! I think you are making all the moves and taking care of yourself in the most wonderful ways. I’ve done more research on my own and the more I find I really believe with every fiber of my being- except maybe not that one bald spot I have lol… that Alopecia is from relationship related trauma. Whether that be family, romantic, or even with self. I’m just waiting on the science at this point lol. You will or won’t tell your family when you are ready- you’ll know when the time is right. Don’t let the tough stories scare you…You are doing all the things you can and need to keep your mindset towards healing. Send the energy where it’s needed! You’re kicking ass already!

  • Codename 47

    Hi!
    Thanks for sharing your findings and your diet regarding alopecia areata.
    I have had this since 2010 and I have always had regrowth.
    Mine gets triggered when I have Whey, Creatine, sugar and stress.
    I had developed a huge patch on my crown area and noticed it on 4th december. From 5th of december I have altered my diet after reading about Gluten, sugar and dairy effects on body.
    I have eliminated gluten, sugar and dairy and it’s 24th december today and I have small white hair growing in the patch.
    My regime included Fish oils (8gms), Vitamin D (10,000iu), Vitamin E (1000iu), Hair-nail-skin capsule, Zinc, Milk thistle and consumic Turmeric powder 2 times daily.
    I applied onion + garlic juice topically every night. I have seen more hair growing in my scalp due to this which is good.
    One important drink or meal of a day I have is fruit and veg smoothie a day.It will have Watermelon, fresh spinach and betroot leaves, mixed salads and turmeric with half a glass of water in nutribullet.
    I am into fitness so I workout 4 days a week.

    Just wanted to thank you and share my story 🙂

    • greenbananagirl

      Stress for sure! Maybe we all just need more massages! That is half the battle I think in realizing what works with your body and what doesn’t, and being disciplined and wanting to create a different reality for yourself. Fish oils 100% I feel were a direct influence. That’s interesting that your hair grew back white- I read about that happening but mine came back brown like the rest of my hair. I also did the onion juice and think that is a miracle worker because of the sulfur and stimulating the follicles. I love your daily routine- that is basically what I did although I only took slippery elm and fish oil and tried to solely have my other vitamins and nutrients come from food as I didn’t want to over do it. I am so glad you’re seeing some success! Keep going and isn’t it crazy how it changes your perspective of food and relationships surrounding food, not just on how we look to others?! I noticed how my communication was centered around food most of the time and when I had to change my diet, I had a lot more quiet time for myself, which was a total blessing in disguise:)

      • Codename 47

        Thank you for your Reply.
        Absolutely, your lookout and views towards life and people changes. My approach to life changed heaps.
        Have you got your Vitamin D levels checked ?
        Often alopecia or hairfall is linked to Vitamin D deficiency. Also, if you have one auto immune problem you may have others. I used to have swollen finger joints during winters. Fish oils have worked great for me.
        I had patches on my beard too they have started filling already, so I am 100% confirmed that I have allergy to something. I am waiting on allergy test results, hopefully will know the culprit soon and keep you updated.

      • greenbananagirl

        Hello! I actually didn’t go through any level checking as I knew where it started, which unfortunately was my own stress induction after quite a few emotional/life traumas. Being raised on homeopathy teaches you to not necessarily go down one direct path but work through the whole so it never occurred to me and I probably won’t to be honest. But thats just my preference. Yes Fish Oils are so important for autoimmune issues as well as rebuilding that gut for sure! Oh please let me know the results I would be totally curious! I’m going to add more articles soon- I’ve just been allowing my body to hibernate and rest which we all need to do:) I’m so glad that you are seeing some results!

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