Over the last several years, there's been a big growth in the amount of data showing the potential of natural treatments to stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth in the case of male pattern baldness. So where men have been relying on synthetic drugs to help their condition — mostly because large companies invested a lot of money both in production of these drugs, and their marketing — they can now confidently take the natural route. This is an overview of the supplements, herbs, oils and nutrients one should investigate for self treatment of hair loss.
The overall cause of male pattern baldness (MPB) is now well-known: this type of hair loss seen in about a third of the male population is mediated by the androgenic metabolite of testosterone known as dihydrotestosterone or DHT. The production of this now-infamous hormone increases later in life for many men, along with changes with the receptors for this hormone at the hair follicles. It is also the case that lower overall levels of “regular” testosterone are related to MPB as well.
With regards to male pattern baldness, DHT binds to receptor sites on certain hair follicles. Though the exact means is not yet known, the hair follicle stops growing hair normally, shrinking and sometimes dying completely.
Regrowth of hair should be addressed on two fronts. First, the overproduction of DHT should be addressed and binding of DHT at follicle receptor sites should be blocked. Second, hair growth should be stimulated with the topical application of nutrients and other natural substances. Some may wish to enhance their regrowth by supplementing with nutrients needed for hair growth as well.
Combinations of natural herbal extracts have been studied extensively in Europe with these important effects: conversion of DHT to testosterone is lessened, as is binding of DHT to follicle receptor sites. The most well-known herbs and nutriceuticals are Saw Palmetto Berry extract, Pygeum Africanum bark extract, and Nettle Root extract. You'll often see these herbs together in men's health formulas. Look for high potency extracts of these herbs, along with other supportive nutrients designed to keep the prostate gland healthy — yes, these same nutrients are the one's that will keep your hair from falling out. Also, it has recently been discovered that soy isoflavones can have a significant affect at balancing DHT levels as well. The are converted to another substance in the body which directly leads to a reduction of DHT production.
Polyphenols — very potent natural antioxidants — can inhibit DHT production systemically, and stimulate hair growth when applied topically (as have certain essential oils, which we'll get to). The most popular of these polyphenols is from grape seed extract, while the most effective for regrowing hair is from green apple skins (though “apple polyphenols” are hard to come by). These are not commonly available in topical formulations. There is a product available on the Internet called “Apple PolyTM”, and you could mix up your own in a base of water, vodka and/or glycerin. A simple solution would be a 5% by weight of the powder (look for bulk grape seed extract, polyphenols, or apple polyphenols online, or just open capsules of the product) in a base of equal parts of all three liquids, applied daily. Taking them internally is a wise choice as well.
Other proven-effective natural products include Emu oil, Flax lignans, green tea extract, taurine, coconut oil, and certain essential oils. Emu oil, massaged into the scalp daily has been shown to stimulate hair growth, even in frontal areas (though some folks are not fond of using animal products in this way). Flax lignans (a DHT production inhibitor) can be found as a supplement, or ground flax seeds can be ingested instead. Green tea extract reduces inflammation (suggested as the cause of hair follicle shrinkage), and taurine, an amino acid, inhibits the stiffening of hair follicles exposed to DHT.
Essential oils combined with therapeutic seed or nut oils have been proven to regrown hair for patients with alopecia areata. While this is a different condition, several essential oils have long been considered potential candidates for hair regrowth treatments. The best way to use these oils is to create your own oil treatment formula. Here's an excellent recipe, which you can increase or decrease all volumes according to your needs. You'll use about 1 milliliter each day, or about 1 ounce per month. The recipe: in a 1 ounce bottle with an eye dropper (or larger, again just multiply up all the numbers as necessary) add 12 drops rosemary verbenone, 12 drops lavender, 12 drops sage, and 24 drops sea buckthorn. Then finish filling the bottle with approximately 1/3rd melted virgin coconut, 1/3rd rosehip seed and 1/3rd tamanu (also called Foraha).
So, how does one combine all these into an effective, natural personal hair growth program? Remember: hair loss should again be addressed on two fronts — the hormones and the growth stimulation. Many supplements are available for “prostate health” that contain many of the herbal extracts that limit DHT production and its binding on hair follicles — so you can get many of these in one shot. You also might find several hair growth supportive nutrients in “healthy hair” vitamin formulas. These, in combination with a soy extract, polyphenol supplement, coconut oil and MSM, and you're off to an excellent start. You'll just want to make a home made formula of essential oils or polyphenols (or both) and you'll be set!
When you embark on a program for hair regrowth, be confident in the potency of natural medicines. The body of evidence showing that they work is growing, as are the number of patents applied for that combine several of these herbs and nutrients in one product. Whatever your choices, be consistent for several months to give yourself the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labors!
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