American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 11–20 | Cite as

Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Alopecia Areata

  • Frank J. H. M. van den Biggelaar
  • Joost Smolders
  • Jacobus F. A. JansenEmail author
Review Article Alternative Medicine in Alopecia Areata


Alopecia areata is an unpredictable hair-loss condition. As there is no cure for alopecia areata and no effective conventional therapy, a substantial number of alopecia areata patients resort to complementary and alternative medical remedies and therapies (CAM). This review on the application of CAM in alopecia areata addresses two pertinent aspects. First, it provides a current overview of the published medical literature on CAM used in alopecia areata, and alopecia areata-related studies. Second, it presents a thorough assessment of the considerations and limitations of the use of CAM for the treatment of alopecia areata.

A systematic MEDLINE search yielded 13 studies of the clinical use of CAM in the management of alopecia areata, all belonging to one of the five main categories of CAM. Methodological quality was analyzed using objective assessment scores (Wilson and Lawrence scores). Unfortunately, no study was of sufficient internal validity to provide robust evidence of the benefit of CAM. This might be attributable to several specific disease characteristics of alopecia areata, which require an especially solid trial design to properly assess the therapeutic effects of CAM. The review concludes with some recommendations for improving the quality of trials incorporating CAM in the treatment of alopecia areata


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Alopecia Hair Growth Conventional Medicine Alopecia Areata 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank J. H. M. van den Biggelaar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joost Smolders
    • 3
  • Jacobus F. A. Jansen
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Alopecia Areata Patient OrganizationUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyMaastricht University Medical CenterMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.School for Mental Health and NeuroscienceMaastricht University Medical CenterMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Medical Physics and RadiologyMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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