Gluten’s Role in Trichotillomania

I found this sweet little image online and it breaks my heart

Trichotillomania (TTM) is a type of compulsive behavior in which people with this condition feel an overwhelming urge to pull their hair. They may also have other compulsive habits, such as nail biting, skin picking, depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Compulsive behaviors like trichotillomania involve brain chemistry and may be genetic. TTM has also been found to be linked to food allergies. One food substance in particular has increasingly been associated with neurological symptoms- Gluten.

Some people are very aware of their pulling, while others seem to do it without noticing. It might be hard to understand why people would pull out their own hair or eyelashes, or why they won’t just stop. TTM isn’t just an ordinary habit that a person can easily stop. Some people notice sensations in their scalp or skin which may be a tingling feeling that can only be relieved by pulling. Similar to the feeling of relief that comes from scratching an itch. Some people say they notice a satisfying feeling when they pull their hair.

Any relief that comes with hair pulling usually only lasts for a moment, however, the urge almost always returns. This happens because the mind becomes used to giving in to the powerful urges that go along with compulsive behaviors. This behavior is then reinforced, which in turn becomes a habit. The mind gets trapped in a cycle of expecting to have satisfaction. The longer this persists, the harder it may become to resist the urge.

“People with trichotillomania may feel embarrassment, frustration, shame, or depression about the condition. They may worry about what others will think or say. They may feel nagged by people who don’t understand that they’re not doing this on purpose. They usually try to hide the behavior from others — even their families. This can make it difficult to get help.

Having trichotillomania can affect how people feel about themselves. Some are self-conscious about how hair pulling affects their appearance. Because of this, they might feel less confident about making friends or dating. Others might feel powerless to control the urge to pull or blame themselves for not being able to stop. Feelings like these can cause a person’s self-image to suffer.” -Teenshealth.org

TTM is commonly found to be developed in young children and teenagers. Studies have shown that those who pull from eyelashes and eyebrows are more likely to recover than those who pull from the scalp. As a child, I started to pull out my eyelashes. I have been able to manage this behavior with time, but unfortunately depending on any given life circumstance, I will occasionally still have flair ups.

This behavior eventually also turned into pulling from my eyebrows. I was extremely embarrassed, and I didn’t understand why I did it. As a teenager, my parents took me to see a psychologist about it. He told me that it was very common amongst many patients, it’s just that people don’t talk about it much as they feel ashamed. I was comforted to know that I wasn’t alone, and for many years thought it was only brought on by stress. Many environmental factors can cause a person to have an urge to pull. For example, irritation to an allergic environment, anxiety, sleeplessness, exhaustion, stress, certain foods, and there are many more.

Me with no eyelashes and hardly any eyebrows left

After years of reading about this, I had finally come across information which linked TTM to food allergies. I found out that I had Celiac Disease, and that gluten happened to be a common culprit. After removing gluten from my diet, I lost a significant amount of the desire to pull my hair. I then started to search for information about others who had food allergies and TTM. The information I found was that those who didn’t know they had allergies soon discovered the exact same results as I had. This knowledge brought great relief to me, just knowing that there were so many other people out there who suffered as I did.

A friend of mine, who also suffers with TTM, told me she pulls hair form her scalp, usually in the same place, and it often happens when she “zones out” while watching television. Other similar compulsive habits can be picking and biting. I knew a girl who would constantly bite at the inside of her mouth which made sores. I also knew people who had an issue with picking at their skin until it bled, especially on their face and the skin around their nails. They thought they had a blemish and would feel compelled to pick at it.

My hypothesis is this; there are certain factors that may cause a person to feel an urge to pull, which then would make this a milder form of having a compulsive habit, such as myself. Without those stresses or irritations, I do not have any desire to pull. However, there are many, many people who have more extreme cases of constant urges which become obsessive. I am lucky to have been able to trigger my own urges with food allergies and stress.

Stress, among many other symptoms, can also be caused by food allergies/intolerances which have been linked to gut disorders, and when you think about it this totally makes sense. When your gut is not functioning properly then the brain cannot fully function due to malabsorption. This is explained quite exquisitely in Gut and Psychology Syndrome, a book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I have found this diet to be the true answer and most natural way to heal your gut when issues like these arise. I strongly urge you to look into this further if this sounds like something that you may be dealing with. You can start here to read more about this book and the GAPS Diet.

Gluten

The following is an excerpt taken from the article Gluten Free Choice Consulting by Wendy L Cohan, RN, November, 2010:

“Gluten sensitivity can lead to neurological and mental health effects in various ways, including: Triggering inflammatory autoimmune responses throughout the nervous system; Producing narcotizing effects on the brain; Inducing changes in brain perfusion, or blood flow; And, through celiac disease, causing the malabsorption of key nutrients necessary for optimum neurological and mental health.

We know that certain foods, including gluten, can trigger neurological and behavioral symptoms. People can change their diets and overcome previous behavioral patterns to live healthy, productive lives.”

“Among a sample of 184 young people being evaluated for psychiatric disorders and allergies, 105 (57 percent) had a history of allergic disorders. “These findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting an association between anxiety, depressive, and allergic disorders.” -Journal Clinical Psychiatry, September 2007.

The following is an excerpt taken from the TLC newsletter “InTouch” in August 1999 by John Kender and Mike Grant:

“Nutrition and TTM

Seven years ago, by keeping careful records of what I ate, I noticed that
certain foods tended to increase my urges to pull. By avoiding those foods, I
began what is now a seven year remission: no urges, and no hair pulling.
Numerous experiments, some even with my dog who had a problem with compulsive
paw licking, confirmed that some foods were “bad”, meaning that they increased
hair pulling urges and sometimes increased an itchy “this hair is out of place”
feeling.

As of the Summer of 1999, over 100 people, including about a dozen children and adolescents, and several dogs, have reported or have been reported as obtaining from “good” to “total” relief. At the same time, the number of people reporting increased urges and hair pulling after eating “bad” foods has been so numerous (on the order of several
hundred) that I have stopped keeping track of them, even electronically. On
the other hand, we have received a few reports of earnest attempts at dietary
control measures that have failed, most of them appearing to be from lash
pullers.

According to several polls we have taken on the TTM remailer list, we have
gathered the following information. About one-half of pullers who responded to
the polls do experience strong hair pulling reactions to one or more of sugar,
caffeine, cola and/or chocolate, egg yolks, legumes (peanuts, mostly), or
fatty fish (tuna, mostly). First preceded by an growing internal feeling of
agitation, the hair pulling urges begin increasing a few hours after eating
sugar or caffeine, or about one to two days after eating the others.

The increased urges usually peak after about twice that amount of time. Often
these urges, particularly the ones due to egg yolk and legumes, take as much
as a week to fully subside down to their usual level. Although stress
aggravates such food-related pulling, it is not necessary for it: after “bad”
foods, people report they pull regardless of their mental state.”

WIthdrawal

Below is a quote from my article Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with the Addictive Nature of Gluten which relates very well with the information in this article. For those who experience an addiction to certain foods I suggest you read it!

“There are cycles that are associated with gluten itself and the entire process of going gluten-free. It starts out by eliminating all gluten from your diet. This is not easy to keep up as you begin to feel the withdrawal symptoms associated with the detoxification from 
gluten. The gluten-derived opioid effects our brain, causing neurochemical imbalances. So in other terms, gluten releases a drug-like effect on your brain (exorphins) that urges you to keep eating, and it makes gluten-allergic sufferers crave more food. This then causes you to form destructive eating habits.”

Treatment

For me, I have dealt with this condition in association to celiac disease off and on throughout my life. I have found a change in diet to be my cure. For this reason, I find it extremely important for those who suffer with mild TTM, to find out whether or not it is related to a food allergy. I strongly believe that this and other types of behavioral and mental issues can be cured through diet. With the proper diet and medical guidance, people can overcome their hair-pulling urges. When someone is able to stop pulling, hair usually grows back. As for me, my eyelashes and brows always grow back, however it does take time.

However, for the more extreme cases, therapy and drugs may be the proper route when diagnosed by a medical professional. Some medications can help the brain deal better with urges, making them easier to resist. Prozac is a commonly used medication which is said to help alleviate the urge to pull. Overcoming TTM may involve cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Therapists can teach people with TTM special behavior techniques that help them to recognize when they feel the urge to pull hair. By doing so, they learn to identify situations, places, or times that have become connected with the behavior. This can help someone resist the urges, and eventually the urges will grow weaker and go away. A great way to keep track of this behavior is by keeping a journal. That way you can monitor when you do it and how often. Often times just looking in the journal can be motivation to pay more attention.

As far as food allergies are concerned, it’s unfortunate that much of what we are exposed to in restaurants and super markets are highly contaminated and bad for our health. (I suggest watching the documentary “Food Fight” which can be found on Netflix.)

“The hundreds of millions of people who suffer daily from neurological and mental health disorders linked to substances found in common, everyday foods, can make dietary choices that will have a positive impact on their health, ease the difficulty with which they live their lives, and, in some cases, help them to achieve complete recovery. It is time for the public to be made more aware of this important connection–that what we eat has such a powerful effect on simply who we are as individuals. We are what we eat, and it is vitally important to include diet as an integral part of any treatment plan, and to avoid jumping immediately and exclusively to pharmaceuticals when considering treatment of chronic neurological and mental illness.” -Gluten Free Choice Consulting by Wendy L Cohan, RN, November, 2010

If you are interested in seeing if your hair pulling is food related, there
is a simple test: eat as much bad food as you can stand, such as refined sugars, chocolate, gluten, and caffeine. If in 1-2 days there is a noticeable increase in hair pulling urges, then you could consider abstaining from bad foods. (See more about an elimination diet) I have also found that using all-natural, hypo-allergenic skin, haircare, and detergent products help. I use all hypo-allergenic make-up as well as body wash. Click here for a list of gluten-free, all-natural, hypo-allergenic beauty products.

Also, check out my reviews about products I use for hair growth and make-up. For hair growth I use a brow serum and will add more about make-up soon.

I hope that you can find this information helpful to you. If you suffer from TTM, I encourage you to tell us your story. The more we know from each individual’s experiences and journeys, the more we will inspire others! You may write anonymously if you choose, as your information is private and will not be solicited. The comment box automatically asks for you to enter an email address, however it will not be shown. This is a safe place for you to share and feel happy, loved, and accepted.

XOXOX F

Sources:
Teen Health, Reviewed Fred Penzel, PhD, and D’Arcy Lyness, PhD in May 2009
Journal Clinical Psychiatry, by Dr. Mauricio Infante, September 2007
TLC newsletter “InTouch” in August 1999 by John Kender and Mike Grant
Gluten Free Choice Consulting by Wendy L Cohan, RN, November, 2010
The Hair Pulling Problem – A Guide To Trichotillomania

  • moorleen

    Thank you for all the good information. I haven been on a low carb diet for a couple of weeks now and have found that my urge to pull hair is much less. I am not sure if it because of the lack of gluten or sugar that I cut out of my diet. Either way I know that I do not get the bad migraines, and back pain I used to get as well when I was eating those “bad” foods. This article definitely is helping me to stick with the diet and also understand what can trigger my urge to pull.

    • Fallon

      Hi Moorleen,

      I am so glad that this article has helped you and thank you for sharing your story! I am able to relate with the symptoms you have experienced. I’m sure others will be able to as well.

      XOXOX F

  • Megan

    I am in my mid-20′s and I have had trich since I was about 13 years old. That’s when I first remember wrapping my fingers around my hair as I watched TV. I’d get up and see a ton of hair on the floor! It was very upsetting, and I usually wasn’t aware I was doing it. It started with my just running my fingers through my hair as a form of relaxation. Before I knew it, I was finding “wiry hairs”, that would drive me crazy and I had to pull them out. 2-3 pulls turned into many, many more. I started to form bald spots on my head. Being a young teenage girl, this was a huge down fall to my esteem. I hated getting my hair cut and being asked why I had such short hairs here, or there. Little did they know how much effort it took me to get those short little hairs so long! It truly has been a challenge. I’ve told very few people that I have this issue. When I do, some look at me weird and some are supportive. They will see me going for my hair and remind me not to. That’s been the best for me. I had stopped for almost a whole year and started again as my life became very stressful. So I know I can somewhat control it, but it is stress induced. I have many other symptoms of gluten allergies. Reading this blog has really helped me open up my eyes to all these “issues” I thought I just was cursed with. Now I’m starting to see a bigger picture and working towards some answers. It’d be great to live a life without feeling like such an odd ball. If gluten is causing all my issues, it really can make you feel crazy. It’s nice to know you’re not alone.

    A few of my other symptoms include: digestive issues, keratosis pilaris (had that ALL my life, hate it), depression, anxiety, fatigue, foot numbness, sleep troubles (I sleep walk and have mild apnea). I try to take actions in my life, mostly diet related to help all my symptoms. The best thing so far, has been eliminating bread and wheat. Everything gets worse when I go off bread/wheat for awhile and then eat it again. I have yet to be tested for gluten allergies, but it’s next on my list. To think most of my life, I just though I was plagued with these things… but now I know it might really mean something. Although there is no cure to this, it’s still good to know what’s going on with your body!

    • Fallon

      Hi Megan,

      Thank you so much for telling your story. I know it will help others and that they will be able to relate to it. As you said, you are not alone in your struggle. I have heard so many stories of fellow “trichsters” who have dealt with many of the same issues. I am so glad to hear that going gluten-free has helped to reduce your symptoms and urges to pull. Going off gluten entirely can take some time. Many people go off and on at first and don’t fully commit to a GF lifestyle until something really gets them to change their mind. Usually it’s a symptom or a collaboration of symptoms. For me it was the DH rash. Once I began getting that I was adamant about remaining GF for life!

      Stay strong, you can do this!

      XOXOX F

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  • Jane

    Have pulled since I was 11 (started with a cut on my scalp which itched), also have coeliac disease so have followed a gf diet most of my life so the gluten does not cause my pulling however I can state categorically that caffeine does! If I drink caffeine after miday I can guarentee a 6 hr pull fest that evening so, naturally, I try to avoid caffeine. The worst thing about this curse is that you can be pull free for 3 months, have a decent amount of grow back and be given a non decaf coffee resulting in patches all over your head by dawn… I find that hard to cope with… Still it could be worse.. At least we’re not hurting anyone but ourselves eh :) Oh, another highly amusing thing is I am now solidly grey.. My Dad said my hair’s in shock, none of my sisters have grey hair :D

    • Fallon

      Hi Jane!

      Thank you for sharing your experience with trich. I am glad to hear that you have figured out the trigger (caffeine) however saddened at the same time. I know how frustrating this is to live with. Hopefully you can avoid the “non-decaf” coffee! That is very interesting about your hair color changing and cute that your dad relates it to trich ;) I am not sure of a correlation between the two, however that would be interesting to find out. Stay focused and hang in there!

      XOXOX F

  • Emma Moody

    I’ve been pulling out my hair since I was about 11 years old. My first memories of it, we’re sitting in fifth grade, pulling at my eyebrows in math class zoned out and my best friend across the room mouthing “Stop it!!” at me. Eventually my parents decided it’d be best to see a physician who told them simply “Well, if she pulls long enough it won’t ever grow back.”, of course I was on and off with this habit for years after seeing a therapist. I’ve never fully stopped, just pulled what I “felt didn’t belong there”, for years I maintained “normal enough” eyebrows thanks to their true thickness. My parents never fully understood my pulling, and constantly said “Why can’t you just STOP?”, and it’s been ever aggravating every time they’d catch me and tell me to stop. When simply, I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop. Minimal pulling was the farthest I’d ever gotten. Ever since last October, my eyebrows have been non-existant. It’s been a huge downfall in my confidence, and a pain to draw them on everyday only to still have to explain my lack of eyebrows. Ever since then, I have been consuming way too much sugar, caffine, gluten, and recently found out about a peanut allergy. So, I’ve decided to go get allergy testing done this week. It was kind of a miracle to find this article, since it all makes sense now. Stress levels led me to eating unhealthy again, and it’s been a cycle since. So, starting today, I begin my journey on testing this out myself. Hoping to come back out with at least some eyebrows and being proud and confident of myself once again.

    • Fallon

      Hi Emma!

      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your struggle with trich, but very happy that this post was able to help you! That is wonderful that you are looking into getting tested for food allergies. I suggest you read my post about past experiences with doctors here: http://myglutenfreequest.com/mygoldenadvice/ I also talk about doing an elimination diet which is key for finding out what you are allergic to! I will be writing more on this topic as well so stay tuned! I also updated this article a bit because you and others who also pull may benefit from the brow serum I use. You can read about it above!

      Stay positive and let me know how it goes :)

      XOXOX F

  • Elaine

    Holy cow!! this article makes so much sense to me! Hi I am 16 years old and have recently started the investigation of something i used to think I was totally alone in. The TV show “My strnage addiction” and some other show gave me the name of Trichillomania, and I started looking on the internet soon after. This blog has been very helpful and explains so much, I am very thankful. The food allergy, espechially bread, caffine and sugar seem to really make sense as I have had a really bad week with pulling. I have had easter candy and donuts and coffee for about three weeks strait, both for stress releif and pleasure. Of course, me not knowing the problem with over indulging other than the fact that its not good to do so and stuff (blah blah blah), I could not understand why i was having such a crazy, hair pulling wack job week. I have no leg hair or eyebrows, and just since last month I started pulling from my scalp. I am so going to try this GF diet because I need to stop, it is really becoming a problem in my life and I don’t want to be a slave to it. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Alison

    Hi i am 31 and have pulled my eyebrows & eyelashes since about age 9yrs.Its bad enough that i constantly have no eyebrows atall now and sparse eyelashes,although they try to grow back.
    This is the first time i have ever come across the evidence of food being apart of it!!
    I am so exited to try,i have tried Cbt and am on medication for anxiety & depression,i have to add i am overweight,and intake chocolate,sugar,caffine,gluten regularly!
    I have only considered these a factor to being overweight,not to my ttm issues.
    My Ttm makes my self esteem so low that its a contributing factor as to why im anxious/depressed.Thankyou for sharing so much insight ,i cannot wait to get started with reading and food changes!!

    • Fallon

      Hi Alison!

      Thank you for your story. I know where you are coming from and hope that I can offer some helpful advice. Often times the foods we crave are foods that aren’t good for us. Sugar and gluten are addictive and can cause us to feel withdrawal symptoms without them! They have a very similar reaction in our brains as drugs do. For instance, gluten releases a drug-like effect on your brain (exorphins) that urges you to keep eating, and it makes gluten-allergic sufferers crave more food. This then causes you to form destructive eating habits. You may be interested in reading more about this http://myglutenfreequest.com/withdrawal-symptoms-associated-with-the-addictive-nature-of-gluten/ Stress is a big factor with TTM as well, and as you may know, poor eating habits can cause stress so it’s all related into a vicious cycle. You are on the right track with seeking answers! One of the biggest things that helped my confidence was realizing that it’s very common and to not be ashamed of it. The more I read other stories and talk to people about it the easier it is to not worry so much. Also to accept that it’s a long journey and that you will have ups and downs. We’re all in this together!

      XOXOX F

  • Niki

    Thank you so much for posting this. Recently my 4 year old daughter started pulling her eyelashes and eyebrows out. I’m at a loss for how to help someone so young. Most therapists do not work with this age, don’t have the experience, and are not covered by insurance. We have definitely started looking at our diets. It’s going to be hard to change a young child’s diet, as they are so picky at this age, but we’re willing to try anything! You can read our story here: http://trichstarmom.blogspot.com
    I am new with this whole blogging thing so bear with me! We are taking her to a Naturopathic Dr. today and I am curious to see what they have to say. I know it’s going to be a long road for my little girl, and I just want to make sure I am helping her the best way I can!

  • E

    Hi! I’m 26 and have had trich since I was about 6-7 years old! My very first memory of it was when I had a little itch on my eyelash line! Scratching it was not relieving it. So I would press my fingernail into the itching spot, and that was so satisfying, I kept doing it! My eyelid eventually felt bruised. Physically it was puffy and red. Then one night, it itched in a tingly kind of way… But since it was a little puffed, pulling my eyelashes out felt amazing! As I type this, I’m quite disturbed that I could even use that word to describe! My eyelash pulling was so constant, that it got to the point that whenever I would see a couple of black stumps on my eyelash less eyelash line, I had to get them out! Later when I was in school… I would absent mindedly start pulling the scalp hair behind my ears. Eventually the pulling traveled to my front hair that it looked like I had the highest and weirdest widows peak!! I already had terribly low self esteem because I have big eyes and got made fun of alot. In retrospect, trich didn’t help. When I was in late middle school, I had stopped pulling my scalp my my lashes were a different story. High school came along and I noticed I started pulling my scalp again. You know, the very top where your hair naturally looks like its spinning in growth? That spot. Luckily… I was able to have some what of a control to where the bald spot was only the size of a quarter. Still noticable but not bad. Back then I had frizzy curly hair so I felt that covered it up, but to be safe… I took a black sharpie and colored in the bald spot. Bad idea if your scalp is raw from pulling because it burnt. When I was 20ish, I had stopped pulling my lashes completely for the first time since I ever started! That’s about the same time I was on my “bad girl” phase in life and was constantly going out and partying. I remember buying mascara for the first time…. No greater joy! :) to this day… I have a good set if long eyelashes and have had no urge to pull. I do wish I could say the same about my scalp. The year I met my husband and later married him… Pull free! But since we have been financially stressed, the scalp pulling came back. It was so bad that I had to pull my ready thin hair back in a pony rail. My natural curls from my earlier years had slowly straightened today!thin straight hair doesn’t help covering up my shame of bald spots. When I started religiously working out and… My bald spots started to patch up. While my normal past shoulder length hair was sleek and dark brown, the new 2-3 inch hair patches were jet black and crinkly! I now have to find every hair that I believe doesn’t belong there! I spend hours looking for and feeling for this verycrinkly hair and pull it out. And within the past year, I have also started for looking white hairs to pull out… And I’ve found at least 30!! There are times when I have this urge to find a particular strand of hair that I KNOW has a jelly like glob around the tip. It’s when I pull those out now that I feel immensely satisfied as weird as it sounds. The whole gluten thing is beginning to make a lot of sense. When I was working out every single day… I also maintained a healthy eating habit! Im definitely going to have to do this again and cut gluten out in desperate attempts to have my hair grow back!!!!

  • Mel

    Morning. I’m 32 and have been struggling with this since I was about 7. My first memory of this was when my eczema popped up on my arm and just below my knee. I had to find out what the little white things were attached to the hairs. Which led to pulling leg hair in class. Second grades a great place to start that right? Parents divorced later that year which added to it, and started my head hair pulling. Later that year I found the joy of tweezers. Now I’m pulling leg hairs with tweezers and head hair with hands. Oddly enough, I’m right handed and pull hair with tweezers with my right hand, but only pull head hair with my left hand. Conscious and subconscious working together. Oh did I tell you how I obsessed about the root? Yeah, I would collect those. Is that weird? Eh, probably not. Either way I zoned out. Jr high started the eye brow and eye lash pulling but that only lasted a year, but became obsessed with “perfect” eyebrows and would be in the bathroom several times a day searching for stumps. Anyways, I got so bad that anywhere that the hair was not peach fuzz it got pulled. Yes, bikini line and armpit, and really where do you draw the line for bikini?Because I never found that line. Nose hairs are the worst! I’m so worried I’m going to pull a hair from to deep and get an infection close to my brain. But does that stop me? No. (Yes I know that is odd, but I know of a man who had that happen. Was scary.) It was bad, leading to infections and major ingrown hairs, painful holes. I can say I have been tweezer obsessed free for going on 2 years. My hubby actually “lost” my old awesome pair of tweezers, but recently bought me new crappy ones that he holds onto and I hate them with a passion! They hurt, and pinch and its not a fun feeling like it was before. It actually makes me sick to my stomach to pull my eyebrows. I’m kinda thankful for that. We shaved my head a year and a half ago, not completely bald, but short enough that I wasn’t able to grab the hair. So keeping up with haircuts is a must or I slip, and I slip bad. I head for the crown, it is my weakness. I have very thick curly hair which helps to cover the thinness, but its the kinky curly that I dread.

    I had never heard of any food allergies as a reason. So that really interesting to me. Makes me what to try. I’ve been heavily medicated, and behavioral therapy( I think my doc was a quack) But nothing since I was in my early teens. I always felt alone in this. I still to this day have never met anyone with it. I’ve talked with several people who know a girl or someone in their family has it. But otherwise still very lonely. I guess now would be a god time to look up the GF way of life and give it a shot, cause as I have been sitting here I have pulled several and my head is sensitive at the moment. Thanks for sharing, I loved reading how its working for you. There is always hope.
    Now I realize that this was a lot of info and you may or may not have had any experience with these issues, but if someone does read it and they have then maybe they wont feel as alone. Sorry if it was a tad TMI. I’m an all or nothing kind of girl and I tell people I have Trich but I don’t like showing it off.

    • http://www.myglutenfreequest.com/ Fallon

      Hi Mel,

      Thank you so much for telling your story. It is so similar to so many that I’ve heard. You are right in looking into diet. From my experience diet plays a major role in how our brains and bodies function. I fell in love with the testimonials I read from those who were on the GAPS Diet. That stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The gut and brain are so connected and often times just need to be carefully healed or managed in order to see some life changing results. I don’t think GAPS is for everyone, but I do think it’s worth looking into. I hope this information helps.

      You are not alone in your struggle, and by telling your story like you did it just goes to show how brave and strong you are! Continue with this strength and I wish you the best.

      XOXOX F

  • sandstorm

    I haven’t eaten gluten, grains, sugar, or starchy vegetables in eight weeks, and if anything, my trichotillomania has worsened. One of my objectives in altering my diet was to hopefully end pulling, which has plagued me intermittently since I was a child.

    Oh, well. I’m glad this works for some people. I wish it were a foolproof cure.

    • http://www.myglutenfreequest.com/ Fallon

      Hello,

      In my experience the transition and results take time, lots of time. It’s not foolproof, but you never know until you try. I would give it more than 8 weeks before giving up! Also, you may have had your symptoms worsen because of die off and or withdrawal. It’s common for things to get much worse before it gets better. It takes time to get used to the change. Hang in there and good luck!

  • http://www.myglutenfreequest.com/ Fallon

    Hi Niki,

    Thank you so much for writing. From my experience diet plays a major role in how our brains and bodies function. I think it is worth it for you too look into the GAPS Diet. fell in love with the testimonials of people who did it. That stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. The gut and brain are so connected and often times just need to be carefully healed or managed in order to see some life changing results. I hope this information helps. It’s a bummer changing our diets isn’t covered on insurance!

    Continue with this strength as a mother. You are on the right track with Naturopathy as well. I am a huge fan!

    XOXOX F

  • Jimmy Long

    I am a 49 year old man. I started pulling in my early 20′s. At that time I didn’t know I had Trich. The urge mostly went away until my late 30′s. My wife made a comment that she thought I looked handsome with a mustache and asked why I had shaved it off. I would just tell her I slipped and trimmed it unevenly to cover my compulsion. It is psychologically rewarding and humiliating at the same time when I pull. I then got in the habit of twisting my hair on my head until my wife commented that I had a bald spot on my head. I cut my hair short and kept it that way to stop the behavior, it worked. My heart goes out to women with this affliction. I’m sure that the majority of women do not want a #3 buzzcut. Now I have no eyebrows and this one I can not hide. I have always had a healthy self esteem but now it is so humiliating to look in the mirror. My wife wants the family to have a family photo taken but I am too embarrassed because of my appearance. I would do almost anything to put this compulsion to rest.
    Thank you Fallon for sharing your story with us. I will pay more attention to the foods that I eat and see what happens.

  • Revenwyn

    Gluten is a problem for me. I have a severe case of trich. Haven’t had a problem with caffeine or chocolate though.

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  • smile

    I must admit that this is a very interesting article that makes a lot of sense!! I am 29 and have been struggling with TTM for about 3 and a half years now. I’ve always had issues with my stomach and doctors have never been able to figure out what’s going on. Recently my stomach issues became severe and yet indescribable: it is something like feeling hungry, sometimes insanely hungry (even though I just ate), feeling like craving something that doesn’t exist and whatever I try can’t satisfy it … I finally had EGD and colonoscopy done and they really didn’t reveal anything alarming (duodenum “mild patchy erythema with mild decrease in folds”). I just got my food allergy tests scheduled, curious to see what they’ll show.
    I long suspected that these two have something to do with each other (TTM and my stomach issues), but have never really done any research until now. I came to this conclusion through my own experience with eating certain foods. I will definitely try gluten-free diet – will try to document the journey.
    Thanks so much for this article / post!!!

  • Michelle

    My hair used to be blonde but after pulling for years it is now brown and I’m only in my 30′s & also have some gray already too. My older sis has none. My hair was also always lighter than hers growing up and into my twenties & now it’s much much darker. I notice chocolate, caffeine and sugar are huge triggers for me. Chocolate being the WORST!! Also, sometime I wake up pulling in my sleep. I used to be a minor puller but now I actually have so much hair loss on top that I have to wear a wig. This has been so hard for me psychologically that I have withdrawn from life and stay indoors for the most part & have developed extreme anxiety & phobias bordering on agoraphobia. I’m trying to work on my diet and using natural things to help me overcome these huge issues but realize that I need to seek professional help because these remedies are not working for a case as serious as mine at this point. Thanks for the article though. It helped me to understand how diet can worsen my condition.