Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Alopecia Areata

Frank J. H. M. van den Biggelaar, Joost Smolders, Jacobus F. A. Jansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Dermatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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