Hair Loss

Can Microbes Help Hair Loss?


September 25, 2018

A research study completed in 2017 found that two people with chronic digestive disease and a hair loss condition called alopecia universalis were unexpectedly able to regrow their hair. Both patients had a procedure done to restore healthy bacteria (microbes) in their guts. After their procedures, the patients, who had experienced a total loss of hair on their scalps and bodies, regrew some of their hair over time.

What Are the Microbes in Our Guts?

We generally think of microbes, also called microorganisms or bacteria, as bugs that make us ill. However, there are trillions of microbes that live in our bodies, and most of them are beneficial. In fact, microbes outnumber our cells by ten to one.

The collection of microbes in our bodies—including bacteria, viruses and fungi—is called the microbiome. These bugs help with digestion, immune function and skin health. Scientists believe the microbiome in our guts may also help regrow hair in the future, though more research is needed.

Research on the Microbiome and Hair Regrowth

In the 2017 study, both patients with chronic digestive conditions underwent fecal transplantation—a medical procedure where stool is collected from a healthy donor and transferred to a patient’s intestinal track. The transplantations helped replace good bacteria that was missing in their guts.

Both patients had alopecia universalis, an advanced type of alopecia areata, at the time of their transplants. This hair loss condition is an autoimmune disease where a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks their hair follicles, resulting in the loss of hair. Eight weeks after the transplant, one patient reported that hair started to grow on his scalp, face and arms. Three years after the procedure, the same patient continued to have hair growth in these areas. The second patient achieved significant hair regrowth on his scalp and body after his transplant, going from 95-99% hair loss to 25-49% hair loss.

Evidence connecting a healthy microbiome with healthy immune function is growing. Since alopecia universalis, a form of alopecia areata, is an autoimmune condition, there is a possibility that replacing good bacteria in the gut of a person with alopecia may help them regrow hair in the future.

Is Fecal Transplantation the Answer for Hair Loss?

This procedure is still in the early phases of research, so it’s not yet available as a treatment for hair loss. More research is needed to determine if fecal transplantation could address certain types of hair loss.

In the meantime, you don’t have to accept losing your hair. There are options available now. Hair Club offers proven solutions that work for men and women of every age and ethnicity with every level of hair loss. Make an appointment for a free, private consultation at your local Hair Club center and learn which solution is right for your needs.