Supplemental Iodine Caused Alopecia Areata
After having longer hair for a few years I decided to revamp my look and get it cleaned up, cut short on top and tight against the sides and back like a real Cali hipster. My hairdresser began the task of cutting 3-4 inches of hair off of my head. When she came to my right side she asked, “where did you get this scar?” and touched an area of my head where I never remembered having a scar. I figured it was from some bump or abrasion I had
forgotten in the tumult of younger days and responded simply, “I don’t know.”
Later I looked at the “scar” in the mirror. It was hard to get a good eye on it because of it’s location, half way back on the right side. But I could see it was pale, hairless, and about the size of the tip of my thumb. I touched the spot and it was perfectly smooth and soft and did not feel like scar tissue which generally feels puffy and raised. I began monitoring the spot and after a few days it was clear the spot was growing. After only two weeks it had about doubled in size and I was starting to get worried.
After googling “random hair loss” amongst a couple links discussing hair loss as symptoms of syphilis (which I got tested for just in case and was negative) and extreme malnourishment, I found a myriad of links pointing towards alopecia areata (AA). I went to the dermatologist a couple days later who confirmed that the spot was a manifestation of AA. Being a health professional I immediately began doing research.
I found that AA is classified as an auto-immune disease, typically found in children with a family history of hair loss. Why then, at age 30, in the best shape of my life, eating a clean, nutrient rich, primarily raw, calorie-saturated vegan diet for 2 years, exercising 30-40 hours a month, with not even a distant uncle with AA, was I suddenly showing symptoms.
I went through the possibilities as they occurred to me. The first I thought of was the chlorinated and flouridated public water supply I was using to shower. But I had been using the water for almost a year now without visual effect. Although filtering this water for showers would be ideal, it seemed like a stretch to link it to rapid AA manifestation.
Then I thought it may be the hair product I was using on my scalp. But I had been using the product for some time and after doing research on the individual ingredients I didn’t find anything that led me to believe it could be linked.
So I turned internally. What have I been ingesting recently. For 2 years I had been eating a primarily raw, high-fruit diet and having fantastic results. My skin cleared up, I no longer had dandruff, my digestion was phenomenal, I slept like a baby, I could exercise for long periods and I rarely got sick. Over all I felt fantastic and was in the best shape of my life. None the less, I started thinking if there was anything I had began to ingest recently that I had not been ingesting before. Then, like a flash, it occurred to me: iodine.
Iodine, b12, and d3 are the most common nutrient deficiencies worldwide. Although I had never been tested for deficiency I had noticed feeling better when supplementing b12 and d3. I had been taking b12 for over a year and d3 intermittently. After thumbing through a book entitled The Iodine Crisis, which points out iodine deficiency as an epidemic responsible for a host of diseases, I bought J. Crow Company lugol’s iodine solution.
I began supplementing slightly higher than average doses of the solution without any noticeable side-effects, the most common of which is a change in body odor. So, I increased the dose and maintained it daily. As it turns out I had started this regiment only a few weeks before my hair cut. I returned to google and began to search for a connection.
I found hundreds of pages on iodine and AA but they were not what I expected. Interestingly, the most common page suggested one “alternative” treatment for AA is applying white-iodine solution to bald spots. In addition, many pages linked iodine deficiency to hair loss. However, I did find pages that discussed the flip-side. Iodine detoxes bromine, a very common toxin which the human body naturally detoxes through hair. Some have found that supplementing iodine causes some hair loss due to detoxing bromine-rich hair follicles but this does not occur in spot balding like AA. Then I found a blog that backed up my theory.
A woman named Dana describes her battle with AA that was triggered after supplementing iodine. Her blog can be found here http://danachronicallyliving.blogspot.com/2008/10/pictures-of-my-hair-loss.html. As can be seen in the photo, at the height of her AA attack, she had lost about one third ofthe hair from her head. She notes that although she doesn’t understand the science behind it, she is absolutely certain iodine triggered AA. She had never had AA symptoms before and does not report any family member ever showing symptoms. She goes on to discuss how chelation therapy (heavy-metal detox) finally brought her hair back after years of struggling with the disease.
I do not write this article to suggest that iodine should not be supplemented. Nor do I write this article to frighten those who are supplementing or interested in supplementing iodine. Iodine deficiencies have been linked to serious health issues and if you have been found to be iodine-deficient you may want to consider safe supplementation. The reason I write this article is to bring my personal experience to the public eye and warn those who may be considering iodine to take it seriously and do your research.
I am currently monitoring my alopecia spot and although it seems to continue to grow it has slowed and I have some new hair growth in the center of the spot since discontinuing iodine. As my personal journey and addition research unfold I will provide appropriate updates.
I would love to hear from you. Are you supplementing with iodine? Are you considering supplementation? Are you suffering from AA? What has been your course of treatment?
Original Article Published May 16, 2014