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.

35 thoughts on “How I cured my own chronic hair pulling, Trichotillomania, (OCD?, ICD?)

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for your post and your update!! I am a 47 year old woman who suffered with trich for over 35 years. Tried everything, wore wigs, hats, weaves my whole life. Shaved my head several times. Tried many drugs and therapies. Shamans, diets, 12 steps, hypnosis, you name it.
    After reading your post I had only the tiniest bit of hope that taking a probiotic capsule would have an effect on me. But I figured it couldn’t hurt. I started taking refrigerated capsules, 50 billion strength around January, 2016. In May, my hairdresser said…”You know what? I think we could take your wig off.” I was terrified because I thought I would just immediately go back to pulling. Thought the hair growth was just a fluke. But I did take the wig off. And no pulling. No urge. Nothing. Days turned into weeks and months… and now here it is October and I have a full lovely head of hair. Just in time to go swimming and sailing in Cabo. Something I can barely recall doing in my life because of my trich. So, thank you for your blog. Thank you for giving me my life back. Thank you for the hundreds, possibly thousands of people that you will set free from this!! For me, it feels like a miracle. GOD BLESS YOU!! With love, Rebecca

    Liked by 1 person

    • Antonella says:

      Buongiorno Rebecca, sono la mamma di una ragazza di 23 anni, anche lei si chiama Rebecca, da quando ha 4 anni strappa i capelli….siamo disperate, siccome non smetto di navigare in internet per cercare di aiutarla, ho trovato questo blog e quindi anche la tua testimonianza. Vorrei sapere, se possibile, se adesso agosto 2019, tu continui a NON strappare i tuoi capelli e quindi se ti sei davvero liberata dalla TRICOTILLOMANIA.
      Ti prego fammi informazioni 💕

      Hello Rebecca, I am the mother of a 23 year old girl, her name is Rebecca too, since she was 4 she tears her hair …. we are desperate, since I don’t stop surfing the internet to try to help her, I found this blog and therefore also your testimony. I would like to know, if possible, if now in August 2019, you continue NOT to tear your hair and therefore if you have really freed yourself from TRICOTILLOMANIA.
      Please let me know

      Like

  2. Honeygold says:

    I am a middle aged African American woman who has Suffered with trichotillomania for 31 years at the time of this posting (11/7/16). I find this article very encouraging, and am on my way out now to purchase this product. I will try to remember to post an update to let you know what happened. THANK YOU for sharing your story!

    Like

  3. Speedqueen says:

    Thanks so much for your encouraging information! I have been using a particular probiotic for the past 9 months & I, too, am being set free of this horrible nightmare (27+ years)! After what seems a lifetime of this horrible affliction, years of nothing that worked, I’ve found a system that DOES work & it includes a great probiotic! My hair is growing like crazy, my urge is gone! Thank you, Lord! If anyone is interested in what I’ve been using & will use for life, feel free to message me. I’m happy to share! There is hope for the hopeless! Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Isabella Rose says:

    I too can affirm that probiotics have helped my pulling. I have not pulled one hair in the one month I have been taking them. I ecstatic since I could not even go one hour without pulling. I am also taking 2 tsp of coconut oil daily. Not sure if it is combination one or the other but I won’t change my routine. I highly encourage anyone suffering from trichotillomania to try probiotics immediately. I was a 20 year puller….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. CAatherine says:

    HI I just wanted to say THANK YOU for posting this. After 17 years I am now also pull free. I was lucky from the second day of taking probiotics (50Billion CFU) I completely lost the urge to pull. I am pull free now for 4 weeks which is a big deal for me. Cant believe the answer was so simple… thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rukhshar says:

    Hi!
    I am suffering with TTM since I was 14 yrs old. I am 32 today and am fed up of it. I don’t understand what I could do to just stop this annoying habit. I came across your helpful blog and although I live in India, I ordered a pack of 90 billion ultra flora of renew Life from USA. I hope it will help me and my condition. I also suffer from anxiety and OCPD. I really want to try my best to get rid of this.

    I just wanted to know, is your story really true? Do you still take the probiotics? Do you still once in a blue moon tend to pull out your hair?

    Pls do reply to me….

    Like

  7. Matt says:

    I admit I was super skeptical in trying this. BUT I’m now taking 50 billion CFU probiotic twice a day (as labeled on bottle). Been taking these for ~ 2 weeks now. I’ve certainly seemed to decrease urges for hair pulling. I can’t say it’s completely gone. Sometimes when I reach to pull, if feels more like a “bad habit” versus an intrinsic need to pick. I’m hopeful for this to keep working.
    Would like to check-in a few months to give personal updates.
    Thank you to the original poster for spreading the word. If this is the answer for trick, you deserve a Nobel prize or something.
    Good luck all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tabby says:

      Agree with all of the above comments. I am 56 and started at 13. It started with stress and anxiety and no one I could talk to(or so I thought) and pulling became my outlet. Its been my go-to for 42 years. I will read about probiotics and if it works it will be a miracle. To young people, try to stop soon as possible. The longer you do this the harder it is to quit. You will be left with permanent baldness at some point (the 50’s for me). Your hair, eyelashes and eyebrows are a protectant from the sun. I had skin cancer removed from my lower eyelid and I think it was caused from having no eyelashes to shield the lid. Good luck to all and I hope there is a cure out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jenn says:

    Thank you for sharing this information. I have had Trichotillomania for over 30 years, and Nothing seemed to help. I have been taking probiotics for two weeks now haven’t touched my hair. Thank you so much !

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jan says:

    I was HIGHLY skeptical and although for 4 months i saw barely any difference (and was about to stop) I am now into my 5th month of sticking with 50 mill probiotics – one a day – and my urge has decreased dramatically within the last couple of weeks. This is not normal for me and I have pulled for 32 years. My hair has almost grown back and although I am still weary of completely pinning my hopes on this, I did find some links where doctor claim TTM is caused by an overgrowth of yeast – candida and, mainly ‘Malassezia’ growth.Anti – fungal diets, anti-fungal shampoos and scalp medications have been recommended. And pro-biotics would make sense in helping to alleviate and/or cure the symptoms! I am astounded right now that it is working but I WILL update in a few months one way or the other!

    Like

  10. Probiotics worked for me as well. It wasn’t immediate and I got quite sick at first (tummy issues from the probiotics) but after a while, I noticed one day — “omg, I don’t know when the last time I pulled was!” I cannot even describe how happy I am… Pulling had taken over my life and I am literally urge free now that I take probiotics consistently. Who would have thought?? If you are reading this and haven’t tried this, I hope you will try them and stick with them for a while! They didn’t work right away for me but I am so so happy I stuck with them. Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Anonymous says:

    I found this blog in July, 2018, and came here to thank the author. This does seem to genuinely work. I wanted to post my experience with this after taking probiotics for 9 months.

    I’m a middle-aged, professional male. I compulsively pulled my eyebrows for 25 years and tried everything to stop in that time. Nothing worked. I’ve spent more than half of my life embarrassed because of the bald spots in my eyebrows, and have covered the bald spots every day with an eyebrow pencil.

    Like others here, I was tremendously skeptical that taking probiotics could cure my trichotillomania. It sounded like new-age pseudo-science like homeopathy. But, I had tried everything else, and there did seem to be some medical evidence that it could work (author’s link above, and some studies on mice showing a reduction in anxiety after taking probiotics), so I figured I’d give it a try. I started taking one probiotic pill (bought on Amazon) and two different probiotic gummies (both from Costco) per day.

    There was no change for 4 months. From about 4 months to 7 months, I started to have periods where I didn’t pull for a couple of weeks, and then pulled for a couple of weeks or had a short, intensive pulling episode. The intervals where I didn’t pull got longer and longer, and my eyebrows grew back in, despite the pulling episodes. It has now been 9 months, and my eyebrows have fully regrown, and I have had almost no pulling for the past month. I no longer rub, touch, and pick at my eyebrows for hours a day. Some days, I didn’t touch them at all, anymore.

    There’s no way for me to know whether this change is due to a placebo effect, a lifestyle change, or a genuine effect of taking probiotics, but I don’t care. Nothing else has worked for me for decades, and this is working. The urge to pull has mostly gone away, and I no longer suffer from the compulsion to pull or the embarrassment of missing large parts of my eyebrows.

    I hope that this information is helpful to others who suffer from trichotillomania and decide to give this a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m interested in trying this out! I found relief with NAC for a while but it stopped working. I also deal with anxiety but mainly physical symptoms that trigger obsession over fear of anxiety. Feels very stupid. I’ve been on ssri for 10 years but that doesn’t help that much. Does anyone know if there is a link between trich and generalisized anxiety? Could probiotics help both?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is true that there is a gut-brain connection. Heal the gut and see what happens. Not just probiotics though, a gut healing diet is key. If you don’t know how to begin a real food way of eating, contact me, I have a free group on FB with plans, videos, recipes – please mention this post as my group is not public and I screen people out who don’t say where they heard about our community.
    Here’s an article that explains more,
    https://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/articles-1/2016/8/10/examining-the-gut-brain-connection-and-its-implications-for-trichotillomania-treatment

    Like

  14. ryza23 says:

    Hello wonderful humans,
    27yr old Male and I have been pulling ever since I can remember.
    Reading this article and all of your comments has been very inspiring.
    I would love if some of you could share your insights or give any updates with how you are currently going?
    I’m about to start today, so wish me luck.
    Love and light,
    Ryan

    Like

  15. Melinda says:

    I started taking three weeks ago and the urges to pull stopped immediately. I take a 30 billion probiotic.

    I tried to stop many times before but always was overpowered with the urge to pull.

    Thank God the cure was simple!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Zsófi says:

    Hello 🙂 Please, write us, is it still working? This is very interesting!!! I use amino acids at the moment, i have had trich for 25 years.

    Like

  17. Zsófi says:

    Dear All! 🙂 This is fantastic, what we can read here…I will try this too.. I also would like to share my recovery from trich, because I have had for 25 years. This is my blog, I used amino acids, mainly Taurine and I don’t feel the urge at all for 8 months :)) http://trichrecovery.simplesite.com/ I wish the best to you!!

    Like

  18. khadijah daniels says:

    Hi everyone..Came across this sight on the 29th March 2020.

    Been tearing my since age 15 and heading for 47 yrs old this year.

    Tried every possible therapy, healthy diets, quit smoking several time and shaved off all my hair numerous times.

    After I read this on the Sunday am I went to the pharmacy and bought the probiotics with the 20 billion cfu’s and started taking 2 in the am upon waking..The results was amazing and I was pull free for a week and suddenly felt nauseated, kept strong and after a visit to ER to stop the nausea yesterday, Tests showed clear blood result and no unusual concerns with my abdomen. Constipated still but least of my worries..This am I completely relapsed and feeling a bit low and depressed..However will not give up..Just need some moral support and prayers that this normal phase of my recovery from this Battle of Hair Pulling

    Kind regards, Keep Safe and Indoors during Lockdown time following the Global Pandemic Crisis.

    Like

    • I understand and I am sending you love and positive energy. I am 51 and I have been pulling since age 10 and have tried everything as well. It is horrible. I am taking probiotics for the last 6 months and although I feel like it may have slowed down sometimes, I relapse so much that it does not make a difference. I am desperately trying to grow some hair in the front especially now that I seem to be losing hair with menopause. It is just a shitshow, so I wear wigs most of the time now. This is also hard because I live in a very warm climate. Most of the time I feel cursed, but I try to remind myself that I am blessed and things can always be worse. Take care, Kim

      Like

      • Hello Khadijah, Kim,
        I have read both your posts and my heart went out for you. I have been struggling since 2013 on and off so I am intimately familiar just how broken and defeated one feels after resisting for such a long time.
        I am sending you all my best wishes on your current recovery.
        I don’t know if it’ll work for you – or for anyone else here – but I have just made two changes in my life that really seemed to improve my symptoms.
        Firstly, I have started doing one of the keto diets. I believe there are couple of different ones but I am just restricting my carbohydrate intake to 20 gr per day. It is quite an uphill battle 🙂 Though I really cannot be 100% sure of their credibility, many articles I have come across while researching have mentioned how high fat diets like Atkins boosts gut health and increases the absorption of vitamins etc. in the body. I thought maybe it boosted the effectiveness of the probiotics I have been taking and eased the symptoms a little bit.
        Secondly, I have just started taking amino-acid supplements – another supplement that seems to help with trich. Trich kind of happens in random bouts for me so I should have an idea on how effective it is around June-July. I hesitate to add any labels but I just chose mine by carefully reading and comparing user comments, and I am just following the recommended dosage at the back of the box.
        I hope you’ll stay strong and healthy in these weird times and emerge from the quarantine as fully cured ❤

        Like

  19. Jennifre' D says:

    🙏😇😍 OMG!! I thought I was losing my mind when I started noticing a connection between my outbreaks and my gut health… but since 3/2020- I’ve been very sick . Started with mysterious “something” in my hair follicle (derm thought parasite) very long long story & frustration because happened right when Covid broke – so literally had to wait 4 months to get into an Infectious Disease Dr.. ( so crazy, crappy insurance too) .. but now back waiting for another derm to help me with one last “ area” that is just not healing .. BUT. In middle of this all my first derm put me on Ivermectin to treat what he thought was parasite . That ( so gross sorry! 🙄🤦🏼‍♀️) Led me to pass a Tapeworm!! Yes, in middle of World Pandemic.. ugh!
    So after dismissed from UCLA Er & another – finally got into a new Smart Primary Care dr – who ran tests & found out I had “ C Diff” ( gut bacteria – can google lol) – prob from antibiotics also from first Derm..
    now ( July) been Vancomycin , Flagyl, Cipro – 3 weeks done – was suggested to take Probiotics With all that – to help out back in GOOD bacteria & although my condition compromised more than norm & MUCH MUCH online research – & my own findings – from pulled out “ roots” , gross ( ugh sorry stool stuff” I DEF think there is a connection with Trich outbreaks AND Gut Health!!
    & this makes total sense!
    So upping my probiotic intake …. & Def see a difference!!

    After coming to this realization, I decided to just google trich & gut health and found the original article the poster was referring to by Dr. James Greenblatt , which then led me here & WOW!!
    I’m so happy to see this & see everybody’s positive results !

    I Def think this needs to be exploited & shared & researched !!
    Xx
    J

    Like

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