Vera Peiffer

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.

61 thoughts on “Leaky Gut Syndrome and hair loss”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. 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 and I’ll give you a discount for checking with a nail sample from you exactly which supplements you need to take.

    2. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  6. Hello,
    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.


  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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

  9. 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?

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  10. Hi, I am a 51 years old woman. I’ve been suffering form hair thinning since my early’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.

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Rosario Roman sinn

    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.

    1. 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.

  14. This article and thread of comments is a gold mine of info!

    What is your opinion on the carnivore diet (mainly meat only and maybe some animal based products like eggs, butter, or dairy if one can tolerate it). I switched to carnivore to heal my gut in an attempt to stop my acne breakouts, but it just occurred to me that it may also help my thinning hair.

    My average meals include steaks, ground beef, beef liver, salt, butter, and sometimes cheese to taste. I also take a gut probiotic suppliment which I know would help, but what are your thoughts on a strict meat only diet?

    1. Hi there! Meat is definitely important to heal your gut, both for skin and hair health. Meat is a MUST if you have hair loss problems as hair loss is often due to metal toxicity. You cannot get metals out of the body without the amino acids from meat, fish and/or eggs. That’s why I don’t accept anyone for my tests if they are vegan. Even if you are vegetarian and eat eggs but not meat, your chances of regrowing your hair are significantly reduced. Beans, pulses and other vegetable proteins do not work in the same way. Amino acids in vegetables are different from amino acids in meat. Dairy is a problem for 99% of my clients, especially male clients. Don’t go overboard with meat though. Always have some vegetables or salad with it to damp down the protein hit, especially that of red meat. Generally, buy the best possible meat you can afford, i.e. organic, especially if you eat liver. The liver is a major detox organ and you don’t want to consume the antibiotics and hormones when you eat the liver. Generally, yes, do have meat, but vary your meats more and also have some white meat, and do add some plant foods as well. Check your gut probiotic to make sure it is not made/does not contain dairy. The only other thing that you will have to do is to provide your body with supplements that can bind toxins such as toxic metals (from vaccinations), fillings in your teeth etc) to carry them out of your body. Also drink good quality water to help the transport of toxins out of the body. Without water, your supplements cannot go into the cells, and without water, toxins cannot be carried out of the cells.

  15. Good artikel
    Vera, what would you prefer
    Washing hair with cold or warm water?
    I heard that vold water is the best but my hair feels lifeless, oily and dull and no volume if i wash my hair with cold of lukewarm water

  16. Wow i got a good information from you
    Vera, how many hairs per day to fall is normaal?
    I have dandruff and i sometimes when im nervous i try to strach the dandruff with my fingers
    Or when im stress
    The second day i notice much more hair loss is that because im playing with my scalp? I dont scrach it hard but i play and get the dandruff out
    Im trying to stop this but icant specifically whem im nerves

    1. Vera Peiffer

      Try Tissue Salt Kali.Sulph. which helps with dandruff as an interim solution. Ultimately, you need to find out why your nervous system is so hyped up and how to calm it down. There will also be a toxicity in your body or you are eating something that won’t allow your nervous system to calm down, so coffee, even decaffeinated, is definitely out for you.

  17. Is that the same as sea salt? I actually don’t like to take any capsules of tablets
    I just wanna stay snd eat natuur food is sea salt or hamalaya work the same as tissue salt tablets?

    1. Vera Peiffer

      No, Tissue Salts are homeopathic type dissolvable tablets whereas sea salt or himalaya salt are condiments.

  18. Dear Vera,
    1. Is it normaal to lose 30 hair aday?
    2. Very somtimes i loss 3 hair but they are all from 1 follicle is that normal?
    3. Is there any hair wash routine which good is? Because some people goes too hard while they washing there hair, others using silicon brush in the shower ect..

    Thank you

    1. Dear Muna, losing 30 hairs a day is very little, so nothing to worry about. If you have three hairs growing from one follicle, you may have a rare disorder called pili multigemini. This condition happens more frequently in children but is unusual in adult women.
      Concerning a wash routine, if you don’t have hair loss problems, you can continue to wash your hair as you always have.
      If you DO have hair loss problems, never comb/brush your hair when it is wet.

      1. Hello Vera, is drinking coffee and green tea good for hair? Of it cause hair loss?
        1 cup koffie aday i dont drink more

  19. Christina Zaitouna

    Hi Vera, thank you for this amazing website
    Want please to know the following from you

    1. Some says i lose like 20 hair and some says 40 and again like 30 and some days 50 is that normal?

    2. Do sport and weightlifting cause hair loss ?

    3. Does biotin helps with hair loss?

    4. Washing hair with very warm water is that ok?

    5. Do we really need to comb hair and scalp daily?

    6. Its ok to loss more gair during period?

    1. Dear Christina, I’ll answer your questions in the same order as you have asked them.
      1. Losing up to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. 2. Doing sport and weightlifting does not cause hair loss, but taking steroids to improve your performance DOES cause hair loss. 3. Biotin is good for hair but it will not restore your hair growth. 4. Washing hair with very warm water is fine. 5. No. 6. It is normal to lose more hair during your period.
      I hope this helps.

  20. Good morning Vera,
    I want to know if the sun can burn the scalp and damaging the hair and can cause hair loss ?
    Thank you

  21. Vera is using head & shoulders shampoo cause hair loss?
    And if i stop using it with the hair grow again if the hair loss was only because of the shampoo?

    1. Head & Shoulders shampoo is very harsh on the scalp so I would suggest you stop using it for four weeks and check whether your hair loss stops during these four weeks. I cannot tell you how your hair is reacting to stopping the shampoo or whether your hair will grow again. If your hair was falling out or was thinning BEFORE you started H&S, then the shampoo is NOT the cause of your hair loss.

  22. Hi Dear vera! What a website! Thank you for all those informations!
    I have some questions if you like to answer me will be very thankful
    1. From internet i read that drinking rose mary tea daily will stops hair loss, is that real? I’m woman 35 years old
    I just tried that for one week and also i tried the hair supplements (hairtamin) but i accually feel like i lose more hair than before (without rosemary & hairtamin capsules)
    Why is that happened?

    1. You are losing more hair because your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. The tea you are drinking and the hair vitamins you are taking are clearly not addressing your hair loss problem or your hair would stop falling out. You need to find out WHY your hair is falling out, and that’s what I am doing by testing your hair sample. There is something in your body that makes your hair fall out, and there is definitely something you are eating that will make your hair loss worse. You will find more information on my website in the Sample Testing section that tells you what the problems could be and what I’m testing for.

  23. Hi Vera, why we lose more hair during few days before and during period?
    How much hairs is normaal to lose in this period?

    1. Hi Kate, The loss of up to 100 hairs a day is considered normal. You lose more hair before and during your period because of the hormonal changes that happen during that time of your month.

      1. Thank you Vera for answering me but i mean that i loss more than 100 hairs during my period so maybe 2 of 3 days more that 100 hairs and after period i loss about 40-50 hairs aday is that normaal amount?

        1. Dear Kate, the increased hair loss during several days of the period is normal, provided your overall amount of hair does not go down over several months. If you find that your overall amount of hair gets less over a period of several months, then you will have to start doing something about it. So observe this carefully. Sometimes, looking at photographs of yourself from the year before can also give you an idea whether your hair has become thinner or less voluminous.

  24. Marianne van Nifterik

    I want to know if shampoo nioxin good for hair and if it’s ok to use
    Here are the ingredients
    Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamide MEA, Sodium Benzoate, Salicylic Acid, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Menthol, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Propylene Glycol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cystine Bis-Pg-Propyl Silanetriol, Lecithin, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Serenoa Serrulata Fruit Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Saccharomyces/​Magnesium Ferment, Biotin/​Folic Acid/​Cyanocobalamin/​Niacinamide/​Pantothenic Acid/​Pyridoxine/​Riboflavin/​Thiamine/​Yeast Polypeptides, Yeast Extract, Saccharomyces/​Iron Ferment, Saccharomyces/​Copper Ferment, Yellow 5, Saccharomyces/​Silicon Ferment, Saccharomyces/​Zinc Ferment, Phenoxyethanol, Blue 1, Red

    1. Hi Marianne,
      Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfates are harsh on your scalp and you would be better off to find a shampoo without these chemicals. Also, avoid any shampoos with artificial colours which Nioxin contains.

  25. Hallo Vera Peifer
    I eat about 2 times a day rice with meat and some vegetables
    Can rice cause hair loss if i eat like 1 cup aday (non cooked) so actually i eat a bout 3 cups aday
    Is that oke or it will make my hair fall out? I eat only white rice because. Don’t eat gluren

    1. Normally, rice is OK and will not cause hair loss, but it’s a problem if you eat the same foods every day. It is likely that you have now become intolerant to rice if you eat it three times a day. Vary your diet more. Have a little bit of fruit a few times a week, vary your vegetables as well (I suspect you eat the same vegetables every day), have some gluten-free bread or pasta with a sauce, and have some brown rice as well or other starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.

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