Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment
Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment : The amino acid Cystine is used in creating the structure of actual hair shafts. Therefore it can be considered an important part of any hair restoration strategy, according to Dr. U. Hair loss sufferers may want to learn more about Cystine, particularly research studies which highlight its role in facilitating new growth.

Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment : What Is Cystine

Cystine is one of 22 amino acids that we need to build the protein structures within the body such as:

  • enzymes
  • hormones
  • neurotransmitters
  • tissues
  • organs
  • muscles
  • hair

There is actually another amino acid with a similar sounding name, known as Cysteine. Cysteine supplies sulfur to the cells of the hair follicles. It also transports iron, zinc and other minerals.

Cystine is made from two Cysteine molecules and makes up 10-14% of the skin and hair. Due to its disulfide bond, it contributes to the strength of the hair shaft.

Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment : Cystine and Keratin

Cystine is found rather prevalently in the hair, keratin and insulin. Keratin is a fibrous protein which forms the main structural component of the hair and contributes to its strength, explains Dr. U.

To understand the significance of cystine in the formation of the hair’s keratin, one study fed mice a diet deficient in this particular amino acid. According to the findings, the part of the hair’s cortex where keratin is normally very concentrated was found to be much smaller compared to the control group. Furthermore, regions of the hair with “sulphur-poor” substance, along with air cells and medullary cells was relatively much larger.

Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment : Research on Cystine and Hair Restoration

D’Agostini F, Fiallo P et. al researched the effects of administering L-Cystine and Vitamin B6 in mice. Their results generated attention from respected medical journals in dermatology.

  1. In 2007 The Journal of Dermatological Science published a study  called Chemoprevention of smoke-induced alopecia in mice by oral administration of L-cystine and vitamin B6.
  2. In 2013, The Archives of Dermatological Research published a study called  Chemoprevention of  doxorubicin-induced alopecia in mice by dietary administration of L-cystine and vitamin B6.

Between the two research endeavors, the following findings on hair loss were observed:

  1. Administering L-cystine and Vitamin B6 orally helped to control and inhibit hair loss. The results were contingent on the dosage.
  2. L-cystine was found to address alopecia. And Vitamin B6 helped the hair follicles take in and incorporate the amino acid.

Another study on cystine was conducted by Collin C, Gautier B, Gaillard O, et al. It is entitled, Protective effects of taurine on human hair follicle grown in vitro. Results were published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Researchers metabolized cystine and methoinine to produce the beta form of the amino acid, known as taurine. This compound helps keep the follicles safe from the detrimental effects of a protein known as TGF-B1 (Transforming Growth Factor, beta 1) and enhances the survival of the hair follicles.

One group of researchers (Hertel H, Gollnick H, Matthies C, et al.)observed the effects of taking an oral combination of L-Cystine (70mg) with 7000 mg of gelatin and 18,000 IE of retinol. This was shown to be effective against alopecia. More hair follicles entered the active growth phase, known as anagen. And the rate of hairs entering telogen (resting phase) was lowered as a result. Furthermore, hair density also increased. These findings were published in a German dermatology journal, known as Hautarzt in 1989.

Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment : Food Sources of Cystine

Again, cystine is formed from two cysteine molecules. It is actually a more stable form compared to its constituents. Cysteine, by itself is potentially toxic and is catabolized or even destroyed spontaneously in the gastrointestinal tract or the blood.

On the other hand, cysteine is also a precursor to a powerful antioxidant (and detoxifier) produced in the body, known as glutathione.

Typically speaking, natural food sources are best for making sure that you are getting enough of the amino acid, cysteine. Cysteine can generally be found in meat sources. Additionally, it can also be derived from foods like:

  • oats
  • red bell peppers
  • brussel sprouts
  • onions
  • Brussel sprouts
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • spirulina
  • soybeans

While the body makes cystine (from two molecules of cysteine), it can also be consumed from food as well. Here are some top sources of this amino acid:

  • egg white (raw, dried liquid substitute)
  • meat
  • milk
  • lentils
  • cottonseed meal
  • soy
  • seaweed
  • carrots
  • mustard greens
  • safflower seed meal

If the use of supplements for cysteine is desired, this should be discussed with a doctor. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, high doses (more than 7 grams) can have toxic effects for your body’s cells which can even result in death. Potential side effects may include the following:

  • heartburn
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • rectal bleeding
  • nausea
  • stomach discomfort

According to Dr. U, cystine can even be applied topically to help support hair restoration. But this would depend on how it was processed. Cystine, after all, is an amino acid. Therefore, it is subject to being denatured by heat.

Overall efforts to reverse hair loss should ideally include a well balanced strategy. This would include quality nutrition, the use of well researched supplements (which can be taken orally or applied topically) and if necessary, hair transplantation can be considered for long term, reliable results.

Pre-existing health conditions, such as thyroid imbalances or even food intolerances should be addressed by a physician. Appropriate diagnosis should also be issued as the starting point for restoring hair. This information is important for identifying specific causes of hair loss which may differ from person to person.

As an option to synthetic drugs, Dr. U encourages hair loss sufferers to consider the use of natural ingredients when possible to avoid the risks of hazardous side effects. Again, how these factors are processed should be an important consideration since this would affect their potency. Furthermore, their effectiveness should be supported by research studies, such as the ones noted above. Dr. U is committed to helping make this type of information available to those who are seeking knowledge about effective and safe ways to reverse thinning, shedding and balding.


Possible Role of Cystine in Hair treatment
(Image: Flickr/ Creative Commons) Lentils are an excellent source of cystine which helps optimize follicular health*

All information contained within this site is for reference purposes only. You must consult and follow the directions of your physician and licensed health care professionals. Natural products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease

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