How I cured my own chronic hair pulling, Trichotillomania, (OCD?, ICD?)

Hey everyone,

I am not selling anything here!  Not selling any books, not selling any products, nor services. Not selling anything at all. I started this free WordPress.com blog simply to tell others out there who may be suffering with chronic hair pulling, aka Trichotillomania, how I cured myself of this obsessive compulsive disorder, once and for all.    I am posting this account of what happened to me simply because I am so overwhelmed that this approach worked for me and I want to help other sufferers, to see if it works for them.

First off, I am not a doctor.  I am not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist.  I am not a nurse.  I am not a paramedic.  In fact, I am not a medical professional of any kind, and have had absolutely no medical training, ever.

Nothing written in this blog is intended as medical advice or any kind of advice for that matter. This blog is simply an attempt to share my experience with suffering with chronic hair pulling, aka Trichotillomania, and how I cured myself, completely.  This post will be a one time posting.  I’ll tell my experience, and will not be updating this blog site.

I am a middle aged Caucasian male, and my first history of chronic hair pulling was when I had a very brief episode years ago when I was in the 7th grade, at 13 years old in 7th grade.  The shame of people asking me why I had a bald spot in the front of my hair, just above my forehead, shocked me into forcing myself to stop pulling.  It was a struggle, pure will power, but I did manage to stop back then after experiencing the disorder for maybe 3 months.  The urges slowly diminished.  I to this day have no idea what cause me to do this back then.  It just started one day.

Fast forward to 15 years ago.  I first started pulling out my own hair again back then, 15 years ago.  I do not have any idea what caused this disorder for me.  No idea at all, except the fact that I was on a number of unusual medications at the time, but still I can not positively attribute it to that.

Long story short, I will now explain how I seem to have cured this for myself.  That is, let me say I HOPE I am cured.  It has been over 6 months since I last picked/pulled even one hair and I do indeed at this point believe the plague is gone from me.

First off, let me explain what I tried to do in the past, all unsuccessfully, to find a solution.  I tried pure willpower.  I tried discussing my hair pulling with my family doctor.  My family doctor said right away that chronic hair pulling was beyond the scope of a family doctor and that I needed to consult a competent psychiatrist for help with it.  I went to a psychiatrist, one of the most talented psychiatrists in the field, and he told me that there was nothing that psychiatry could do for me. He told me that the only thing the controlled medical clinical trials have shown to work was Prozac, but at a dose which is higher than the legal limit any doctor is allowed to prescribe.  Due to that dose being so high, he of course told me he could not prescribe it for me, nor would any pharmacy fill the prescription if he did write me a prescription for so high a dose.

Cut to the chase…  I just happened to stumble onto an article on the web, last November, about a psychiatrist in the Boston, Massachusetts area that was successfully treating some of this patients with various Obsessive Compulsive disorder symptoms with Probiotics!  The article did not mention any type of OCD, or ICD in particular, and certainly did not mention chronic hair pulling at all. If the web link stays online, you can read the article for yourself here:

http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/21/4595712/gut-feelings-the-future-of-psychiatry-may-be-inside-your-stomach

I do not know the person who wrote the above mentioned article, I just accidentally stumbled onto it one day while surfing the web.

Even though the above linked article did not mention chronic hair pulling, I reasoned to myself, “Well, this article discusses success in treating patients with OCD’s, and hair pulling is certainly an OCD (or maybe ICD) in my opinion, so, what the hell, I will try it”.  That was back the week of Thanksgiving last year in 2013.  I went to the various pharmacies in my area, as well as the health food stores, even Walmart to see what was available as far as probiotics.  What I found was that most of the brands were pills with about 1 million “Colony Forming Units”, (CFU’s). Each brand I looked at for that concentration and 30 pills per bottle were priced at between $15 and $20 per bottle.  I then found this product at Walmart, manufactured by a company by the name of ________ (I’m intentionally not mentioning any brand names here, so as to avoid any skepticism of my story in case people mistakenly think I am selling something), but if you google around, or shop around your local Walmart or Walgreens, you will find the strong 25-30 billion CFU brands of probiotics if you are curious what brand I used.

The strongest product my local Walmart carried was a brand, I’ll just refer to it a “Brand X”.  It had a concentration of 30 Billion CFU’s per capsule with a recommended dose of 1 capsule per day.  To put that CFU count in it’s proper perspective, you would have to take 30 pills of the most popular products that are 1 million CFU’s per pill, so for a 30 pill per bottle of the other brands, you would need to take a whole bottle to equal the CFU count of just one capsule of the product I chose.  I started taking two capsules of the “Brand X” 30 billion CFU capsules a day on the day after Thanksgiving, 2013.

My results:

At first, my hair pulling got worse.  For the first 2 -3 weeks, I seemed to have picked more than usual.  I have no idea why I started pulling more than normal.  Maybe because I knew I was running an experiment and therefore was thinking about it more.  But anyway, I continued taking two capsules every day.  In the last week of January of 2014 I all of a sudden realized, one day, “Hey, wait a minute, I have not did hair pulling for the past 2 weeks now”.  It seems I had stopped hair pulling in mid January and didn’t even notice it until two weeks had gone by.  I was hopeful, but skeptical at that point.  Over the past 15 years, I have never, ever, had a more than 1 day period of time that I did not pull out my own hair, so  2 weeks without hair pulling was unprecedented for me.

I continued taking the “Brand X” 30 Billion probiotics every day,  As of the day I am writing this, today, July 17, 2014, I have not pulled even one hair since mid January.  Not only have I been symptom free, but I never had to apply any will power or focus on stopping the hair pulling to help me stop.  What happened is that the urges did not need to be fought off, they simply dissipated by themselves and have completely disappeared, all by themselves.  I did no counseling sessions, no coaching sessions, no group therapy, no psychiatric medications, no psychological treatments of any kind, nothing except the probiotics.

At this point, I continue to take one of the “Brand X” 30 billion CFU capsules every day,  I have no idea if the chronic hair pulling would start again if I stop taking the probiotcs.  Frankly, I don’t care to test it.  I am now, and have been since this past January, hair pulling free, and it is worth the approximately $1 a day for the probiotics to keep taking them.

Without endorsing any particular brand, you should be able to fine a 1 month supply of these high potency probiotics online if you google around.

P.S. I have absolutely no connection to any company that makes any of the probiotic products.  Furthermore, even though I shopped around and chose the strongest, most concentrated probiotics I could find, I have no idea is any lesser dose would also have worked for me.  I wasn’t out there trying to do a study on what dose was best.  I just picked the strongest and tried it.  IT WORKED!!  That doctor who wrote that article I read, and mentioned above deserves the real thanks on this.

If anyone tries this, or have a loved one suffering with chronic hair pulling and tries this solution that worked for me, feel free to comment with your results and I will post them.

Good luck!

A quick update Sept. 21, 2016

Many have emailed me asking the questions below, so I am posting this update to answer the questions.

  1. Have I ever had a relapse?  The answer is a resounding NO!  I have not ever, even for a moment had an urge, compulsion, or even a thought to pull.  Not even once.
  2. Am I still taking the probiotics?   The answer is YES, same dose, same one capsule a day as disclosed in the main body of this blog.  I have no idea whatsoever if the trichotillomania would come back or not if I stopped taking the probiotics.  Not the slightest clue.  After 15 years of suffering with this plague I am afraid to experiment with stopping the probiotics.
  3. What exact brand did I use?  I guess now that it’s been over 2 years since I first posted this blog, I think it is obvious that I am not selling any products or anything else.  The exact product I used was “Ultimate Flora Extra Care Probiotic 30 Billion” which I bought at my local Walmart, and is also available at the manufacturer’s website. http://www.renewlife.com/    I have no connection to this company whatsoever, and I am not claiming anything about what using their products may or may not do for anyone.  Just listing this to tell what my experience was.
  4. Have I heard from any readers of this blog that said they tried this.  Yes, one person, a middle aged married woman, mother of two who lives in Asia.  She had suffered with the trichotillomania for the past 20 years.  She tried what I did and it worked for her also, although it took her 6 months of taking the probiotics before it worked, as opposed to my case where it took 2 months.
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