• Celiac & Alopecia (Hair loss), Gluten Free Diva In my wildest dreams, I never thought being gluten free had anything to do with hair loss. I was diagnosed with Alopecia in early 2005. The dermatologist had no prescription for hair regrowth other then to have massive shots of Cortizone injected into my scalp. And he couldn’t guarantee whether it would even work. Waaaa!!! You’ve got to be kidding! I was not interested. Six months later, after a lot of online research, I asked my internist to test me for Celiac, as my sister had been diagnosed with it about 8 years before but her doctor never suggested the rest of the family be tested, so we all figured we had dodged the Celiac bullet. My Celiac diagnosis was confirmed in November 2005. By blood test, with further confirmation by endoscopy in January 2006. That was all I needed to know. I went completely 100% gluten free. I wanted my hair to grow back. I wasn’t even thinking about how bloated I’d been FOR YEARS. I always assumed everyone felt like a stuffed boar every time they ate a bagel or pasta or pizza. It was my normal. All I cared about at the time was my vanity. I was crazy gluten free. Not a crumb passed my lips. It took the better part of 3 years for my bald patches to regrow. Is it completely regrown? No, but I’m totally fine with where I am now. It is about 80% regrown and the parts that are still bald are hidden by my hair, thanks to my wonderful hairdresser. You can read more about it here. I am certain that the combination of steps I took for my healing are what made all the difference. 1. I went completely 100% gluten-free. No exceptions. 2. I began eating a very clean diet. It didn’t happen overnight but gradually my diet has become very clean. What does that mean? I eat very little packaged foods and most of the food I eat comes from the perimeter of the grocery store. I’m VERY creative and love cooking, and that helps, for sure. I plan my food/meals like it’s my job. Why? I want to be healthy and safe. 3. I take a probiotic And digestive enzymes every day. 4. I slowed down. I learned to take deep, cleansing breaths. 5. I made getting enough sleep a priority. 6. I do a detox every season. I am very happy, very confident and quite sure that this path I am on, as a result of the steps I’ve taken over the last 8 years, is responsible for it. It did not happen overnight, but little by inches I’ve made changes that have made me feel like a new woman. And guess what? I get compliments on my hair every single day.

    • Dana


      I just wanted to tell you that I had an unbelievably identical experience to yours. I was first diagnosed with Alopecia Areata at the age of 18. I wasn’t diagnosed with celiac disease until my mid-20’s. As soon as I cleaned up my diet, I started to clear up all of my GI symptoms, but I was still losing patches of hair here and there. Like you, I had “symptoms” that I didn’t know were even symptoms until they started disappearing. But, I was still going out to eat and getting contaminated about once a week. I didn’t see the connection between the alopecia and the minute gluten exposure until I moved to another country where I rarely to almost never go out to eat (it’s 3rd world, so there aren’t a lot of options) and 100% of my food is prepared at home. Since then, it’s been 2.5 years and I haven’t lost a single patch and my hair has grown back. It seems far fetched to believe until you look at the science behind the connection. Basically, when gluten is ingested and antibodies are made against it, there is an excess auto-immune response that doesn’t just stay localized in the gut. These antibodies go and attack other things, like hair follicles. Ofcourse, this is just a theory, but alopecia areata is listed as a T-cell mediated auto-immune disease, so it makes sense to me that the initial trigger could be a misidentified antigen.

      Thanks for writing this post, I think its extremely important to get this kind of information on the internet for others to see and draw their own conclusions. How much sooner would we have been diagnosed if there were more articles like this one floating around at the time?

    • Becca

      Hi Ellen,

      I would love to know which doTERRA oils you use! I just bought some for the first time a few weeks ago. I have the OnGuard and Breathe, but am really interested to start trying other ones. :) I am assuming that most of these are dairy and gluten free also since you use them? I just found your blog today, as I have just recently changed to dairy and gluten free lifestyle. Thank you so much, I am loving all the inspiration I have found through your blog so far! :)


    • http://www.goodiegoodiegluten-free.blogspot.com Julie Rosenthal

      I also have had a similar experience. Actually I have been gluten free since 2006 when I was diagnosed Celiac, but from June-December I was constantly traveling and I was super strict but somehow gluten got into my diet. I got so sick during that time, and also was diagnosed with a form of non-permanent Alopecia. I went to 4 hair doctors and a Trichiologist. I did cortisone shots all over my head, anti-inflamatory drops, and now I am on a medication called Spirolactone or something like that. I lost a LOT of hair. And we also couldn’t figure out what had happened. My story is a bit different, because I already have the Celiac diagnosis but-I also had never had this happen to me before, and I happened to stumble on this article, and I guess it all goes back to Celiac.

    • Gina

      I am 29 and when I was 18 I had a minor battle with alopecia areata but it resolved . . . About a year ago I started losing my hair and blamed my thyroid (hashimotos) it started with small patches and I went for the extremely painful cortisone injections and at first they worked but then the patches would grow back and I would lose next to it. About 6 months ago it got bad. My hair rapidly fell out and I now have to wear a wig as I have lost 90% of my hair. It’s heartbreaking. I went to a naturopath who suggested I go GF and told me to take a probiotic- like you. I was going ho for three months and felt amazing. Hubby was super supportive and all was well… Then summer hit and I had nothing but excuses and failed miserably at GF. This is not an easy change for someone who works 60hrs as week as an attorney who is always on the go. I am struggling big time…

    • Gabby

      Thank you, Ellen. I am excited to try some of your tips. For years, doctors have just told me “It’s Alopecia or Male Pattern Baldness.” I am a female and my hair isn’t actually receding. I just have a large rounded forehead. Regardless of that, giving my problem a name or diagnosis didn’t help me at all. I remember sitting there on the examining table thinking “Okay. You gave it a name. Now, what?” No tests. No suggestions. Nothing. Frankly, this coupled with other doctor experiences has made me lost faith in most of them.

    • macarena

      hi ive been told I might have celiac so I just got tested but haven’t heard from the doc yet ,a few months back I lost 50 % of my hair in 2 months and now is getting worse I told my husband I would leave him if I go bald because I don’t want him to feel emberrasd to be with an ugly wife im loosing my mind I cry everyday and im loosing hope im going to try to go 100% gluten free and see if that helps but I don’t know if is going to work .I went to the dermatologist to find out why I was losing all my hair no one in my family is bald expept my dad and his father so he said to use rogain for the rest of my life ,never gave me a reason why I was going bald and rogein hasn’t help .I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism but all the test they do now show normal so I cant even get help for that .

    • Jo

      Hi Ellen,

      Thank you for your very interesting article. I’m 36 and have been to see various doctors about my hair loss, which has been going on for the past 4 months. I’ve been prescribed topical creams and lotions, antibiotics, and told to exercise more. Every doctor I’ve seen has blamed my hair loss on stress, despite the fact that I’ve been managing my stress pretty well recently. I just don’t believe it’s stress, especially since the rate at which my hair is falling out has become disturbingly worse in the past 2 weeks. Whenever I take a shower, my hair literally washes off of my head in a neverending connected thread. It’s especially bad at the back of my head where the bald spots are getting bigger and can no longer be hidden by artful hair arrangements. I have to wear a hat to work and am becoming extremely depressed and tired by the back and forth with the doctors. Could my sudden hair loss be related to gluten intolerance? I also have painful cystic acne on my face and scalp (also a recent thing) and am lactose intolerant.

    • Jen

      Ellen, I have not been diagnosed yet with alopecia but I am pretty sure that is what I am experiencing. I am definitely going to look into a gluten free diet and other options but I also wanted to mention a trick for those like me still trying to figure all of this out! My sister was a genius finding a colored dry shampoo. I am a brunette and by using a brown tinted dry shampoo on my bald patches it has completely eased my mind about the beginning stages I am going through. At this point you would never know I had alopecia unless I told you. This is a wonderfully harmless quick fix until I decide what avenue works for me for treatment. I would so appreciate it if you got this information out to others on your blog…it has extremely changed my confidence level and mental state in dealing with alopecia.

    • Samantha

      I sincerely hope that my story will have a happy ending like yours. I’ve been losing my hair since I was 15, and I’m 23 now. It has never been patches, but even loss all throughout the top of my head. It has been attributed to stress, pcos, being overweight, etc. I went on birth control for 6 months. A week after I stopped taking it I became severely allergic to the sun. That has been going on for 3 years now. Last week I was diagnosed with celiac. I’ve been gluten free for 9 days and it has been tough. I have been wearing a wig for nearly a year now since I’ve lost about 70% of my hair. Gluten doesn’t make me sick, but may possibly be showing its effects through my hair. I’ve had so many negative diagnoses that its hard to believe that this could possibly be the true problem.

    • Eva

      Hi Ellen,

      First of all, thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story. I actually randomly came across the gluten intolerance -alopecia association only today, while surfing the internet. It’s amazing that through my 9 years of Alopecia exprience this possibility never came up, no doctor ever mentioned it… They’d just send me to numerous tests and check-ups and prescribe some ointments, injections.. It all started with eyebrow loss at the age of 13 and by the time I was 18 it developed into accelerating scalp hair loss.. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis and was told there was only 10 percent chance for my hair regrowth, so I lost all hope and tried getting used to the fact I was going to live bald for the rest of my life.

      But now this.. I’ve been browing this new possibility for the last few hours and I’ve decided to go gluten free starting now. It’s worth trying, it’s absurd to not try an option that doesnt involve doctors and huge medical bills..

      Thank you again, Ellen, and best of luck with keeping up the good work. May I just ask after how long exactly after starting the GF diet did your hair start coming back consistently?


    • http://aglutenfreediet.blogspot.com/ gluten free diet for kindle

      Great article. awesome content I look forward to reading your other posts.


    • http://Www.kidsmadehealthy.com Cat bond

      Hi Ellen I have a 3 year old that was exposed to high dose antibiotics at 5 months. Wasn’t my favorite choice, but at the time I felt I had no other choice.
      I wasn’t so wise about gluten and probiotics at the time so I didn’t notice any problems until her hair wasn’t growing. Her hair is still very short for a 3 year old. After much research and tons of trial and error, I feel the connection bt gluten and her hair growth is strong. She has a chronic dry scalp as wel and I’m sure it’s all related. We have managed to get it growing somewhat again with gluten free for a bit and probiotics. But it feels near impossible to go gf with kids and school and all the other activities that involve crappy snacks and food. Especially when the rest of the family eats it as well as her big sister! I don’t want her to grow up with a complex about her hair, which I begin to see already. She focuses on it alot and it makes me sad.
      Do u have any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Sara

      I’ve been losing my hair over the past two years, but it has accelerated in the past few months. I can easily say I’ve lost half the hair on my hair, if not more. I am going to try do the gluten free diet starting today. I don’t eat soy and barely any dairy. I love eggs. I eat them everyday. Is there way to get a blood test for wheat, egg, soy, and dairy allergies? I find your story inspiring. Any ideas for me?

    • Lauree K.

      Thanks for this. I’ve always had nice thick hair and while my hairdresser still tells me I have a lot of hair I know it’s not what it used to be. When I was a teenager my hairdresser noticed several bald spots and told me they were caused by stress. I went to a specialist and was told it was hereditary and was given steroid shots which made it grow back. However, there are no major cases of baldness on either of my parents sides. My grandpa (mother’s father) is actually the first man I’ve known to not have a full head of hair and mountain man beard going off of pictures going back to my great, great, great grandfather. Now, since Christmas, I have been sick and ended up so nauseous and in pain that I ended up in the ER New Year’s Eve. I was told it was probably my gallbladder and I’d have to get it out. I had an ultrasound that surprisingly came back fine so my doctor scheduled a HIDA scan. It came back at 24% so not horrible but it was the most pain I had ever had in my life (and that includes labor) so my doctor suggested getting my gallbladder out and set up an appt. with the surgeon. A week before my appt. I had a really healthy breakfast (made with whole wheat, coconut oil, plain yogurt and fruit) and an hour later I was sick and for the rest of the day. I started paying attention and it seemed any time I had wheat I was sick, tired, aggitated, etc. within a short period of time. When I met with the surgeon (who is also a digestive health doctor), I told him I wasn’t comfortable having my gallbladder removed since other than pain the tests all came back pretty good (I know some medicines can contain gluten and I’m wondering if the HIDA drug is one of them). I told him my symptoms and he thought checking for Celiac sounded like a good step and scheduled a biopsy of my small intestine, which I have tomorrow. I have an appt. Feb. 6 to get the results and am looking forward to getting answers.

    • http://www.balivitality.com annamaree

      hi..great article.now im determined to go GF.Ihave hashimotos, wellcontrolled ,bioidentical thyroid, had one swing from 1` up to 5 tsh in august, in october over 3 weeks lost 90% of my hair!! tsh is no 0.5 ,normal .. hvent had a btest for celiac..have you heard of such amajor sudden loss. eyelashes,eyebrows,some pubic hair :(.a

    • SC

      I appreciate this conversation. I have had alopecia areata since I was 5 (I’m 29 now) and it began to worsen significantly right around the time I was diagnosed at age 26. I had high hopes that going gluten free would resolve everything, including the hair loss. Unfortunately, my hair loss continued to accelerate despite me feeling 500% better than I ever have in my whole life. Brain fog, nausea, bloating, fatigue, migraines, you name it… all gone or very much improved!

      I finally just took control and got a wig. Wigs are amazing these days, and look completely natural! I have a synthetic heat-friendly piece that I can curl just like my original hair. I get tons of compliments all the time and I don’t think anyone suspects anything when they meet me (they ask if I just had my hair done or if my color is natural or if I dye it!). As much as I am hopeful that one day my hair may “reset” and come back, I have come to terms with it. Based on research I have done, there is a strong connection between all autoimmune diseases, and they can worsen with undiagnosed celiac. I have a feeling that I may have stopped the hair loss had I been diagnosed earlier in life. That said, I’m much happier to be healthy!

      I don’t mean to scare anyone, but just want people to know not to get their hopes up too much until they see what their own body does. FYI, I had just gotten married before being diagnosed and losing my hair, and I felt awful for my husband to lose the appearance I originally had, with beautiful curly hair. He has been fabulous through it all and loves my wig!

    • Sharon

      I don’t usually respond to posts but this really hit home. I have lost half my hair over the last 2 years and was blaming it on aging, 65 yo female. Finally I went to an allergist for stomach problems and was dx with dairy and egg allergies PLUS waiting to have biopsy for gluten. Unbelievable that no one made the connection. It makes so much sense now with everything that I am feeling. Maybe I an not a hypochondriac after all!! To think my MD keeps suggesting it is all stress!!!! TY for a wonderful article that I am printing out to show my MD.

    • http://www.blackhorsecreations.com kim

      OMG I have had alopecia Universalis for 8 years! It grows and then falls out! Long story short after LOTS of medical and holistic advice ,I had what was left of my hair tested about a month ago!! I am now on a super STRICT eating plan of NO GLUTEN and NO sugar!! I even have to watch the sugars and carbs in my fruits and Veggies!! It has been 3 weeks now and I am on a bunch of supplements(all natural I refuse to go to a medical doc) to get my system regulated again! I came across this site looking for a bunch of recipes since eating is now super boring!! :) I came across the info about the hair loss and I am so happy I am not alone with this issue and it is more then likely food related(which most issues are) Thank you again for your article!!!

    • http://EllenAllardGlutenFreeDiva Tracy Tattam

      My daughter and husband both suffer chronic constipation and I set about to find out why both would have this. As a child my daughter would vomit in her sleep after eating chicken chippies ,chicken pieces in breadcrumb. Her constipation and other unusual symptoms started around 16 but many visits to the doctor ended up no conclusions. A racing heart beat, stomack pain keratosis pilaris on her arms and then Bells Palsy to top it off.With that chronic fatigue. 1 year after Bellls now and her hair has started falling out by the brush full. I work in pharmacy and had a customer who’s daughter had chronic constipation and was given diagnosis of Cealeac . So about a month ago we started eliminating gluten and every day since my daughter has had bowel movements which started almost immediately. She’s 23, so for over a year she’s been recovering from Bells and the tiredness that came with that, and then discovering that gluten was probably the reason for a lot of other issues. Time will tell but hubby is only half following because he just won’t have it that he will have to give up his beer but I’m working on that.

    • Lisa Fields

      Hi Ellen,

      Thank you for sharing your story, I came across your website doing a search on gluten free and hair growth. I’m 50 and over the last 24 months my hair has been coming out! I lost like 50% of my hair density. I also started experiencing inflammation of the scalp. I have been going to dermatologists and none of them have been able to tell me why I have been losing hair (especially at the temple and the crown of my head). All they want to do is throw a bottle of Rogaine at me or some steroid cream (though none of them see any visual issues with scalp).

      I addressed my ferritin level and Vitamin D and got them both in the normal range to see if that was a contributing factor to the hair loss. It’s been over a year that my iron has been in a good range and my vitamin D3 is now normal. Yet I don’t see any significant hair growth and I’m still dealing with inflammatory pain on my scalp. So I decided to try and research this issue and find a solution for myself because it was crystal clear to me these doctors were not going to be of any use in finding a cause for the hair loss. After much research on-line I started feeling like my hair loss could be related to my stomach / gastric issues which also started around the same time as the hair loss and that perhaps I could have gluten intolerance which would send off inflammation as an immune response. I’ve been taking probotics for a while but if I’m not feeding my stomach with organic whole foods to help the good bacteria grow, am wasting my money. I mean you can’t take probotics and then eat bagels, refined sugar and other fungal, gluten and yeast friendly crap, right?

      Though I have not been tested, I decided to go strictly gluten-free two weeks ago. Since doing so the scalp inflammation has ease up some and my hot-flashes and night sweat have also eased up. I’m not sure how long it takes for my body to rid the gluten that may still be in my digestive tract but I’m giving this 6 months to see if the scalp inflammation goes away and if I start to see some regrowth or at the very least a decrease in shedding. I’m also going to see a gastroenterologist to see if I have IBS or Leaky Gut Syndrome as a result of eating GMO foods over the last several years (before I knew about GMOs) and gluten products.

      I hope and pray I experience the success you have had (I would love to get back 80% of my hair but would settle for just getting the thin areas to grow again) if gluten is indeed the culprit for my hair loss, which I feel pretty certain it is because I was consuming a lot of wheat, refined sugar and other carbs. Please share your experience with the hair loss after going gluten-free for 6-12 months. When did you see some of your hair start to come back in. I know you said it took 3 years but I’m curious as to when you noticed regrowth? Thank you again for this wonderful resource.

    • Andrea L.

      Hi Ellen:
      I was diagnosed with alopecia 5 years ago and have tried everything for years but nothing worked. In January 2014, I decided to go gluten free and my hair has returned about 80% now. I am beyond thrilled. Once in a while I still have pain (feels like I bruised my head) and I worry that it’s going to fall out again but so far so good. I am wondering if that has to do with eating dairy since I am extremely strict on my gluten free diet but I eat cheese almost every day. You mentioned that you gave up dairy. Why did you decide to give that up? Did it make a noticeable difference with your hair? Did you cut out eggs too? I don’t drink cow’s milk, but I do eat a lot of cheese. Thank you in advance for your reply.

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