Can Gluten Cause Hair Loss?

By: Ava Alderman:  I sometimes hear from folks who have been suffering from hair loss and who are attempting to exhaust all possible causes.  Many have seen doctors and dermatologists.  Many have gotten a clean bill of health and yet are still seeing hair loss.  So, as a result, some will look at their diets and might begin to suspect that some substances that they eat might contribute to the hair loss.  One example is gluten, which has gotten a lot of press lately because of the popularity of gluten free diets.  Someone might ask: “is it possible for gluten to cause hair loss?  I have been shedding for over four months.  My dermatologist believes that I have telogen effluvium, but we can not find any cause for it.  I had my primary care physician do blood work.  My hormonal and thyroid levels are fine.  Apparently I am completely healthy.  The only thing that I can remotely suspect is that I recently ended a diet where I was eating low carb.  Now that I am eating carbohydrates again, I am probably taking in a lot of gluten.  Could gluten be causing my hair loss?”

I researched this and the only think that I found between gluten and hair loss was in those individuals who have celiac disease.  People with this condition generally have other symptoms besides hair loss, such as extreme gastrointestinal issues, itchy skin, mouth sores, and weight loss.  Some have joint pain.  It is thought that celiac disease contributes to hair loss because it brings about an autoimmune response in the body.  As a result, people who have celiac disease are more likely to have alopecia areata instead of telogen effluvium.  Sometimes though, celiac disease causes malnourishment, which could also result in hair loss.

Someone who does not have celiac disease would probably not have these autoimmune or malnourishment issues and therefore, it is probably not gluten that is causing the hair loss.  What might be causing it in this case is changing your diet.  Sometimes, making major dietary changes can throw off your body and cause telogen effluvium, especially diets that are restrictive.  The reason is that when you diet, your body starts to think that it needs to store its reserves.  As a result, it will go into resting mode where your hair is concerned and this is when you will see the shedding.  Of course, you should ask your doctor about this, but my research indicates that unless you have celiac disease, gluten has less of a chance of being a contributing factor to the hair loss.

In my experience, you have to be really careful with changing your diet if you’re vulnerable to telogen effluvium.  However, assuming that you are dealing with telogen effluvium and don’t have inflammation, once your hair follicles reset, you should hopefully see some improvement.   If it helps, you can read more about about my own experience on my blog at

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