Leaky Gut Syndrome and hair loss

Nutrients that have been properly digested will normally pass through the  lining of the gut into the bloodstream.  The blood then carries the nutrients through the body to the various organs and glands of the body, and in the process, the roots of your hair are also supplied with nutrients.

Normally, the cells of the gut walls are tightly packed, but when the intestinal lining becomes irritated, holes develop in the gut wall (“leaky gut”) which allow unwanted larger food particles into the bloodstream. These unwanted substances are seen as ‘foreign’ by the immune system, and this triggers an antibody reaction.

When the intestinal lining becomes further damaged, larger substances such as bacteria, undigested food particles and toxins pass directly through into the bloodstream. This in turn alarms the immune system even further, so more antibodies are released. This fight produces oxidants which cause inflammation throughout the body. You now have a situation where you will develop an auto-immune disease.

The most common causes for a leaky gut are antibiotics, NSAIDS, excess alcohol, constant stress, toxic metals, invasive organisms and eating foods you are intolerant to. The main foods that are irritating the gut are grains, dairy products, sugar and soya.

In my experience, the only way to heal the gut is to change the way you are eating. Especially if you are suffering with alopecia areata, alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis, you have to eat small amounts of meat or fish, vegetables and some well-chosen carbohydrates. If you don’t eat meat or fish, you need to at least be able/ willing to eat eggs and cheese. I have not found any way to heal the gut without some animal proteins. Animal proteins contain vital nutrients that nourish the body while the gut is repairing itself. Once the gut is healed, the inflammations in the body stop and the hair can grow again.

If you think you might have a leaky gut, you can have a Polyethelyne Glycol (PEG) test done where you drink a solution of mannitol and lactulose (two types of sugar) and then collect your urine. If the levels of mannitol and lactulose in the collected urine sample are high, it is indicative of leaky gut syndrome.

 A colonoscopy will not be able to determine whether you have a leaky gut.



31 comments to this article

  1. HGadmin

    on April 1, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Thanks for your comment, Rebecca. Leaky gut is at the bottom of many chronic illnesses but is rarely recognised by doctors, so I’m hoping that this post will help other people with hair loss or other conditions.

  2. Sam

    on December 27, 2012 at 3:44 am - Reply

    No cheese!! all dairy is toxic for leaky gut

    • HGadmin

      on December 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Not so. Quite a few of my clients are eating raw/unpasteurised cheese (in moderation of course) and have regrown their hair which seems to indicate that the gut can heal even if you have a little cheese. If you are of course intolerant to cheese you cannot have it, and that is why I’m doing the food intolerance tests.

  3. L.Inceoglu

    on January 27, 2013 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    Hi there, I have frontal fibrosing alopecia and am on cortisone treatment for it. I was diagnosed after a biopsy and the hair loss has slowed down although it is still clearly active. I am now looking at how I can change my diet to help heal this rather than just slow it down. My friend told me about leaky gut and how treating herself through a strict diet helped heal her symptoms/problem. I was searching and found your post which links it to auto immune diseases. It makes a lot of sense to me. I will try to get tested (Peg test). In the meantime, do you have any knowledge about this particular form of hair loss and whether it can be linked to leaky gut. I have always had issues with digestion so it seems highly possible to me.

    • HGadmin

      on January 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Hi there,
      I have found that all hair loss issues, no matter which type, have leaky gut as a component. The difference is merely how compromised the gut is. If you have hair loss that is particularly grave, the leaky gut will be more pronounced than in someone who only has slight hair loss or hair thinning. It is definitely worth your while to go on a specific leaky gut diet. Do read the book by Dr. Campbell-McBride about the Gut and Psychology Syndrome which has lots of very good information about the topic. However, make sure you find out what else you need to do. A leaky gut does not happen out of the blue. Toxic metals and invasive organisms can cause or aggravate a leaky gut, so that will have to be dealt with as well.
      All the very best to you. You can beat this, but you need to take massive action!

  4. Cleansing Body Cleanse

    on April 8, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

    I couldn’t leave your web site without saying how much I loved the info for your guests. I will be back regularly in order to check out new posts.

  5. Bonnie Anderson

    on February 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    I feel as though a weight has been lifted. I was diagnosed with candida and leaky gut almost one year ago. I walked into my doctors office in July of 2013 and by looking at me said my candida was gone. No test to confirm. At the same meeting..I told her my hair was falling out. She gave me vitamins and never connected the leaky gut which was obviously still present as well as hypothyroidism…food alllergies…year rou d allergies…mold..dust mites..cats. (are the3 most severe)…..muscle spasms in my legs..and confirmed un- scarred alopecia areata….8 months later still dealing with hairloss and all these symptoms…although for a short while was able to discontinue my armour meds. Her incompetence left me discouraged. I am eating bone broth and will find the correct alternative physician who truly cares . Thank you again. I finally feel like there is hope. Regards.

  6. arun b

    on February 9, 2015 at 3:14 am - Reply

    Hey, this is a great article! I’m a 28yr old male and within the last 6 months I have lost all of my hair (head, eyebrows, lashes, and a majority of my body hair). Autoimmune condtions run in the family and I suffered from bad eczema in the past for several years. I think a key aggrivating factor was a mercury amalgam filling that fell out right around when the hair-loss started. I remember digesting quite a bit of a metalic substance. The rest of it was removed by a dentist who didn’t believe that mercury was a big deal. Now, i’m following an autoimmune paleo diet and am working on healing my gut. I believe my hair will grow back. Any advice?

    • Vera Peiffer

      on February 13, 2015 at 9:04 am - Reply

      You’ve done a lot of the right things already, Arun. Sadly, your dentist who doesn’t believe amalgam is a big deal may not have used any protective gear while changing the fillings which might have exposed you (and him!) to mercury fumes. Paleo diet is excellent, good thinking! The only thing that will have to happen in addition is that you will need to take supplements to get the mercury (and any other toxins) out of the body so that your gut can recover which in turn will give your hair a chance to recover as well. E-mail me at hairgrowth@peiffer.co.uk and I’ll give you a discount for checking with a nail sample from you exactly which supplements you need to take.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on May 13, 2016 at 8:23 am - Reply

      The paleo diet is excellent, so keep with it. Depending on which book/s you have read about paleo, you will find that some authors say that it is OK to microwave your food which is not true. Never ever microwave any food because it will destroy the nutrients. Other than that, you will need to know which toxins have caused the autoimmune response (eczema and then alopecia) in the first place and then take supplements to get these toxins out of the body. Without doing a specific detox, you will not be able to heal the gut.

  7. Andrea

    on June 2, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Hi. My 7 year old daughter has suffered alopecia totalis. She has lost her entire hair including body hair. I am so desperate to help her. The dermatologists have just suggested using protopic creams but I reckon she needs healing from within. I want to try a special diet to help rid any toxins etc and rebuild her gut. Have you any tips for someone so young. I must point out she has been using steroid creams for eczema since birth and has to use inhalers regularly for her asthma. Thanks.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on June 2, 2015 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      You are definitely on the right track with the leaky gut connection.
      If you want to get recipes, I recommend the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride The Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
      However, it will also be very important to find out which toxicities are in the body because with alopecia, there is always toxicity from metals, invasive organisms and/or food intolerances, and just going on the right diet will not be enough. You will need to find out exactly what the toxicities are and then your daughter will also have to take supplements that will help carry the toxins out of the body. This is what we are doing here with the hair sample/nail sample testing. Have a look at the order form in the ‘Services’ section of my website for more information.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on May 13, 2016 at 8:20 am - Reply

      Dear Andrea, steroids can make hair fall out and they will also contribute to a great host of other problems. I cannot give you any qualified advice without checking what is actually going on in your daughter’s body and which toxicities started the eczema in the first place (often caused by food intolerances and/or metal toxicities that can come from the mother’s amalgam fillings which are passed on to the fetus in the womb). I don’t know whether your daughter’s alopecia can be reversed after all these years, but it is worth a try as the steroids are really very damaging to the body. – To find out more about the hair/nail sample test, please see my website in the Services section.

    • Heidi

      on April 5, 2018 at 2:06 am - Reply

      Andrea, vaccine injury can and does cause all of those things. Please don’t get her any more vaccines. Prayers for her!

  8. Fionna

    on July 16, 2016 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I went to a bioresonance centre and the doctor said I had many allergies and lactose intolerance. I was suffering from diarrhea and hair loss (hair loss did still not go away). My diarrhea went away after I stopped eating dairy products. I also suffer from vaginal infection (I think it is somehow linked to candida overgrowth). I think I have the leaky gut syndrome but I am not sure because I can’t make a PEG test due to the fact that there is nobody who makes this test in my country and in the border countries. Do you think I have the leaky gut syndrome?
    My sister started losing her her at the same age as me and she has now very little hair. Now I fear that will happen to me because my hair are falling out rapidly. I started drinking bone broth and changed my food consumption for a bit. I lose hair on my head but I do not lose hair anywhere else.

    Thank you for your time reading this.


  9. Vera Peiffer

    on April 5, 2018 at 7:01 am - Reply

    You are doing the right thing about changing your diet, but dairy may not be your only problem. If your hair is falling out, you definitely have a leaky gut. Apart from the dairy intolerance, you may also have a wheat or gluten intolerance, so your best bet is to eliminate gluten (=wheat, rye, barley/malt, oats, cous cous, spelt) from your diet. However, just changing your diet is not enough. You will also need to take supplements to heal the gut, and these supplements are different for each person. Without the supplements, your gut cannot heal. This is something I learnt over the last 19 years of working with hair loss clients, and that is why testing for toxins, food intolerances AND supplements is part of my treatment program.

  10. Sofia Wheatley

    on September 12, 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

    OMWord I finally fell like there’s an solution and hope at the end of the tunnel for me and my hair loss.
    All the Doctors I see think I’m crazy and there’s nothing I can do apart from buying a wig and wear it.
    I’m also developed dermatitis on my hand and it’s been there for a year with no signs of getting better.
    I just recently started keto diet, to help with weight issues and health factors but with all my searches for keto I stumbled across leaky gut and finally lead me here.
    I have had hair loss problems for quite a few years now and it’s getting worse.
    I’ve booked myself an appointment with a dermatologist and depending on how well he takes my new approach to leaky gut I would love to see you for a consultation.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on September 12, 2018 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      Please let me know what your dermatologist says and whether s/he is familiar with leaky gut problems in conjunction with hair and skin problems.
      If you have no luck there, let’s speak via Skype or Facetime or WhatsApp and I can explain to you what needs doing about the leaky gut other than cutting out certain foods. Good luck, Sofia! x

  11. Sofia Wheatley

    on September 12, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much Vera, will do.

  12. Delois

    on September 21, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Ms. Peiffer

    Reading your article has given me hope. I’m 49 years old and I had a hysterectomy about 8 years ago. My cravings for sugar and carbs increased and shortly after,I started noticing my hair was thinning and itching constantly in the center of my scalp. I have gone to several dermatologist and everything topical they have recommended, has only made my itching and hair loss worse. I now believe that I need to detox and change my diet. Do you think treating my leaky gut could help with my hormone imbalance?

    • Vera Peiffer

      on September 27, 2018 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Hello Delois! Yes, it will be necessary to change your diet and also help your body to detox by drinking plenty of good quality water and taking supplements to help the detox process. Once the gut has been repaired, the organs and glands in the body can be supplied with all the right nutrients again. If you have carbs, have gluten-free carbs (=no wheat, rye, oats, barley, spelt, cous cous). It’s not so much a problem if you have a bit of wheat flour in a sauce, but avoid bread, cakes, muesli with gluten grains in it, biscuits etc. I hope this helps!

  13. Alberto

    on September 29, 2018 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Do hair ever grow back after leaky gut is fixed with proper diet?

    • Vera Peiffer

      on October 1, 2018 at 8:04 am - Reply

      Hair can grow back after fixing a leaky gut, but diet alone is not enough. Depending on what toxicities in the body have caused the leaky gut, you will also need to take supplements to deal with the toxicities. If toxicity comes from fillings in your teeth, for example through amalgams or through amalgam in old root canal fillings, these have to be removed as well.

  14. Amparo

    on September 17, 2019 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am a 51 years old woman. I’ve been suffering form hair thinning since my early twenties.doctor’s said this might be a genetic issue since my mother and father suffered form hair lost. I’ve been using minidoxidil for quiet some time now (which seems the only thing that has reduced the thinning). But I’ve noticed an increment on the thinning hair after entering the pre-menopause. Recently, I had a hair dyed done professionally which also provoked quiet a lot of hair lost. I’ve also increased consumption of grains in my diet as moved to another country. My amalgam fillings were removed when in my twenties. In general, I enjoy of good health. Do you think leaky gut or any type of toxicity, or others, are affecting my hair thinning and lost, apart from what it seems to be a genetic issue? Thank you.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on September 18, 2019 at 7:13 am - Reply

      Please stop eating grains immediately. I have not seen one single case of hair loss in the last 20 years where the client has not been intolerant to gluten-containing grains (cous cous, wheat, rye, barley, spelt etc) and often also to other grains like millet or quinoa. Rice is normally OK. What will be essential is that you eat small amounts of meat, fish and/or eggs every day. Without animal protein, the body cannot build keratin for hair. Plant proteins do not work, and most people with hair loss don’t tolerate milk products, so this is not an option either.
      If hair loss is in your familly, what you might have inherited are toxicities that were passed on to you in the womb. I would certainly recommend you have toxic metals, invasive organisms and food intolerances tested to see which supplements you need to get toxicities out of the body. These supplements vary from person to person. No two people need the same supplements.
      Entering the menopause, you are losing a valuable detox facility. With the monthly blood, toxins are expelled from the body, so if your hair loss got worse with the absence of your period, it makes sense to help the body with the detoxification process by taking relevant supplements. – I hope this information is of help.

  15. Amparo

    on September 26, 2019 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    Thank you Dr Vera for your kind and valuable advice.

    I just have a couple of mor queries with regards to my case. Do Kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas are also highly harmful for hair lost? as they are the main grains I am currently consuming.

    Also, do you think the Minoxidil usage has somehow incremented the level of toxicity in my body? Should I stop it’s usage?

    Thanks in advance I really appreciate your advice.

  16. Vera Peiffer

    on September 30, 2019 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Hello again, and thank you for your new questions. Beans, peas and legumes are very difficult to digest, and it would be really helpful if you could reduce eating them to only a couple of times a week maximum. If your body cannot digest a food, it will prevent the digestive tract from working properly, and that in turn means that nutrients cannot get to your hair. Apart from greatly reducing the amount of beans, peas and legumes, I recommend that before eating them, soak them for AT LEAST 12 hours in filtered water, and then put some bicarbonate of soda into the cooking water to help break down the skin of the beans. – Instead of beans and peas, have a little meat which will be more helpful for your hair.
    Concerning Minoxidil, this is a pharmaceutical drug which will end up in your body, even if you only use it on your scalp, so it is definitely adding to toxicity levels. If you want to discontinue it, do so VERY slowly over at least 12 weeks, reducing the amount of Minoxidil that you apply to the scalp week by week.

  17. Amparo

    on October 19, 2019 at 1:23 am - Reply

    Thank you. You’ve given me back hope.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on October 19, 2019 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      You are very welcome.

  18. Rosario Roman sinn

    on November 19, 2019 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Hello Vera Peiffer, i just discoverd your website, i have been loosing my hair and thinning hair for about 7 years now, it seems at times to get better but then it starts up again, i have try everything out there to correct this situation…but nothing seems to help, i would like to get a hair anylissis done, please send me the information…thank you, so very much.

    • Vera Peiffer

      on November 20, 2019 at 8:45 am - Reply

      The order form has just gone out to you, Rosario. Please note that there is a reduced rate for the tests if we receive your order form, hair/nail sample and payment by 29th November.

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