trichotillomania research

People with trichotillomania and other BFRBs may have difficulty in metabolising sugar or glucose. In 1990, Zametkin discovered that people with A.D.D metabolised glucose at rates 8% lower than those without A.D.D. The strong associations between A.D.D. and BFRBs lead us to believe the same is likely to be true of us.

The areas most affected by delayed metabolism in Zametkin’s tests, were the regions which control cognitive behaviour, enable the control of IMPULSES, forward planning, action and attention: which may well explain why many people with BFRBs have a strong tendency to procrastinate and have concerns surrounding planning.

Our research indicates that hair pulling and skin picking are stress related. We do know there are emotional and therapeutic factors which need to be addressed before a person can become BFRB free. Sugar causes a rapid rise in blood-glucose levels followed by a crash as the sugar is quickly metabolised. Stress can increase, when blood sugar levels crash, perhaps you’ve noticed yourself getting tetchy when this happens?


If you think this is all nonsense, take 3 tablespoons of sugar and observe what happens to your skin, hair, brows or lashes. If it drives you crazy with an urge to pick within about an hour, as it does for me, STEER CLEAR OF SUGAR in your diet! Perhaps you’d rather not take that risk…read these people’s accounts of how sugar affects their urges:

Intolerances and allergies
One of my biggest problems has always been a complete lack of energy. It would take me all day to wake up and by the only time I really felt alert it was the middle of the night!!! I would often pull as a method of causing sensation to stay awake. I couldn’t take naps in the day because I’d wake up feeling even worse. Last year, as a new year’s resolution, I gave up chocolate completely. I decided I didn’t know anybody who had managed a year chocolate free and I wanted to see if I could do it. I managed it, and then by the end of the year I was looking forward to eating chocolate on 1st January. Except then I remembered, I don’t do ANYTHING by halves, so I decided not to start eating chocolate again. I also decided that this year’s New Year’s Resolution would be not to eat ANYTHING with artificial sugars in. Bizarrely, even after just a few days, I found I would wake up alert. There’s no question in my mind, that I have a brain allergy to sugar, although I’ve been tested many times for diabetes and found that I don’t have it. The zone-out pulling just doesn’t happen any more! I’m FREE! Leo

Read more on how diet affects trichotillomania here.


Updated 17 July 2022 review 18 July 2023