Case of the disappearing eyebrows

I once saw a 5 or 6-year-old patient whose eyebrows were “falling out”. Her mother told me that she had brought her daughter to see a variety of doctors- GPs, endocrinologists, etc.- but none of them could figure out why the hair on her eyebrows were disappearing.

After talking to the young patient, asking her mother about family history, life at home, life at school, etc. and examining her sparse eyebrows, I told the mother that the diagnosis was trichotillomania, i.e. the girl was pulling out her eyebrows herself, as a coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and tension (mainly at home, in her case).

The mother’s reaction was shock and denial. She had spent all this time seeing so many doctors who ran so many tests but couldn’t find out what was wrong with her daughter, and here I was telling her that her daughter was doing this to herself. She just couldn’t believe it. I told her to observe her daughter (from a distance) for one week. If my assessment was right, they could come back to see me in a week’s time for treatment. If my assessment was wrong, they didn’t need to come back.

The mother came back with her daughter to see me in a week’s time and confirmed what I had suspected.  

Things aren’t what they seem sometimes. When “stuck” in a situation, we often need to think outside the box to figure out what’s really happening. I guess that goes for health ailments as well as everything else in life.

霸王Bawang shampoo contains cancer-causing agents

News released today reveals that 霸王Bawang shampoo (the 4th most popular shampoo manufacturer in China) contains cancer-causing agents. Its shares, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, have since plummeted.

霸王Bawang claims that their shampoos contain Chinese herbal medicine which nourish and prevent hair loss. They also have an anti-dandruff line. International movie star Jackie Chan is their spokesperson, and you often see him promoting 霸王Bawang shampoo products on TV.

Once again, this reminds us all that products made in China (and worldwide, for that matter) should be tested for quality assurance. This particular study revealing carcinogens in the shampoo was done by Hong Kong scientists. In my practice, patients who have taken Chinese herbal medicine (herbs taken from China) usually have some form of heavy metal toxicity. They often have lead, mercury and/ or arsenic levels in their body and need heavy metal detoxification. So, I advise my patients not to take Chinese herbal medicine from their TCM practitioners for a long period of time, or better yet, to find a source/ supplier who uses independently-tested herbs not made or cultivated in China. The herbal medicine (Chinese and Western herbs) I use in practice are wild-crafted and tested for heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, microbial levels, and aflatoxins for safety and quality assurance. Herbal medicine is effective and can help treat many conditions, but if it contains traces of heavy metals or other harmful substances, it may do more harm than good.

Lose weight to lose hot flushes

Intensive weight loss intervention may lead to fewer hot flushes during menopause in women who are overweight or obese. According to a  6-month randomized controlled study in the July 12th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, women who lost 7 to 9% of their body weight reported an improvement in hot flushes.

The women in the intensive intervention group were assigned to an exercise, nutrition and behavioural change program for 6 months. The participants were encouraged to engage in physical activity for at least 200 minutes per week using brisk walking or activities of a similar intensity. They also followed a reduced-calorie diet and were given sample meal plans providing appropriate food selections as well as meal-replacement products.

The study revealed that a decrease in weight, abdominal circumference and BMI (body mass index) were each associated with improvement in self-reported hot flushes during 6 months. 

“Our findings indicate that women who are overweight or obese and experience bothersome hot flushes may also experience improvement in these symptoms after pursuing behavioral weight loss strategies; however, improvements in weight or body composition may not be the only mediators of this effect,” the authors from the study conclude.  

(Source: Archives of Internal Medicine)


Welcome to the official website of Dr. Ardyce Yik, a Canadian-licensed naturopathic physician helping people attain optimal health naturally in Hong Kong, China. Here, you will find a wealth of information on health, wellness and disease. You will also learn more about a doctor who listens and medicines that work. Please note that all information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any condition.