Trichotillomania Treatment with natural supplements, herbs, vitamins by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 12 2016


Trichotillomania, a poorly understood disorder in which a person repeatedly pulls out their own hair, leading to visible hair loss. Trichotillomania is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and if left untreated generally does not improve on its own. Trichotillomania can interfere with a person's personal relationships, and lead people to avoid social and public activities. Trichotillomania can have a crippling effect on its sufferers. Up to 2 percent of adults may suffer from trichotillomania. There currently is no approved treatment for this  condition.


Acetylcysteine natural therapy, alternative treatment
Dr. Jon E. Grant and colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, note that N-acetylcysteine has shown promise in the treatment of repetitive or compulsive disorders and acts on the glutamate system, the largest neurotransmitter system in the human brain. Dr. Jon E. Grant evaluated the effects of N-acetylcysteine therapy in 50 adults with trichotillomania. Twenty-five were randomly assigned to receive 1,200 milligrams to 2,400 milligrams of N-acetylcysteine per day for 12 weeks; the other 25 received placebo. After 12 weeks, patients taking the active medication had significantly greater reductions in hair-pulling symptoms than those taking placebo. Archives of General Psychiatry, July 2009.


Trichotillomania treatment

Trichotillomania is characterized by the recurrent pulling out of one's hair, which results in noticeable hair loss; an increasing sense of tension immediately before pulling out the hair or when attempting to resist the behavior; and pleasure, gratification or relief when pulling out hair. A special type of cognitive behavioral therapy known as habit reversal training (HRT) has been shown to be effective for treating the disorder. Drugs for treating depression and OCD known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRIs have been prescribed. Behavioral therapy plus medication is one approach to treating trichotillomania. Among those who undergo treatment for trichotillomania -- most commonly SSRI drug treatment, usually with an antidepressant such as Prozac -- only a small percentage are much improved. The best option right now is cognitive behavioral therapy.


Cochrane Database Syst Review. 2013. Pharmacotherapy for trichotillomania. No particular medication class definitively demonstrates efficacy in the treatment of trichotillomania. Preliminary evidence suggests treatment effects of clomipramine, NAC and olanzapine based on three individual trials, albeit with very small sample sizes.


Trichotillomania cause
Hair-pulling appears to help people relieve tension, but little is known about why people develop the disorder or if it is related to other psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety.

Complications of Trichotillomania, bad outcomes
Sufferers may develop repetitive strain injury, while some who mouth or swallow their hair can damage their teeth and even develop potentially fatal balls of hair in their stomach. People may also feel guilty and out of control about not being able to stop pulling their hair.


Would 5-HTP which converts into serotonin help with Trichotillomania treatment?
   We don't have any experience with 5-HTP and Trichotillomania. However, the use of Prozac and SSRI drugs may help a small percentage of users, therefore 5-HTP is worth a try.


I came across your research last winter and it changed my life. I have suffered trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling) for TWENTY NINE years! On April 1, 2010, I started taking 500 mg. capsules of inositol, 3 times a day. Presto! I stopped cold turkey. I don't know if it's the placebo effect (I'm taking something, therefore I feel better.) or if the Inositol's truly a magic pill. But it works and I'm happily watching my hair grow back.