Hair loss treatments: Three natural solutions backed by concrete evidence

This Morning: Liz Earle discusses supplements for hair loss

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Hair loss is underpinned by complex processes in the body and intervening in these processes is a tricky business. However, certain extracts have been shown to block the mechanisms that contribute to hair loss. Some of the promising are those that inhibit the development of androgenic alopecia.

Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldnesss, involves the action of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is a potent form of testosterone that increases balding in the scalp.

The enzyme 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which gives rise to androgenetic alopecia.

Understanding this process has enabled researchers to inhibit 5α-reductase, thereby slowing down and in some cases reversing androgenetic alopecia.

A number of natural products have proven to be proficient at blocking this process.

According to research, pumpkin seed oil contains phytosterols (naturally occurring compounds) known to inhibit 5α-reductase, preventing the conversion of testosterone to active DHT.

A study compared 400 mg of oral pumpkin seed oil daily to placebo for 24 weeks in 76 patients with androgenetic alopecia.

The study demonstrated a mean increase in hair count of 40 percent versus 10 percent with placebo, with improved patient-reported satisfaction scores.

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Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil, which is extracted from an aromatic evergreen herb, has also been shown to help.

In an randomised-clinical trial with 100 androgenetic alopecia patients, topical rosemary oil lotion applied daily rivalled minoxidil.

Minoxidil is one of the main drug treatments for androgenetic alopecia.

Finally, saw palmetto – an extract from the berries of the saw palmetto tree palm tree- has also been shown to block DHT.

Twenty-six males with androgenetic alopecia treated with saw palmetto or placebo daily resulted in 60 percent of patients with “improved” outcomes compared to 11 percent of placebo.

There are other things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress.

But most treatments are not available on the NHS, so you’ll have to pay for them.

It is important to note that no treatment is 100 percent effective.

Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.

Other treatments include:

  • Steroid injection – injections given into bald patches
  • Steroid creams- cream applied to bald patches
  • Immunotherapy – chemical applied to bald patches
  • Light treatment – shining ultraviolet light on bald patches
  • Tattooing – tattoo used to look like short hair and eyebrows
  • Hair transplant – hair is removed from the back of the head and moved to thinning patches
  • Scalp reduction surgery – sections of scalp with hair are stretched and stitched together
  • Artificial hair transplant – surgery to implant artificial hairs.

Some of the above treatments may not be available on the NHS.

“If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling,” adds the NHS.

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