Herbal Hair Restoration: First Know Hair Loss Causes
The first step to tackling hair loss is to identify specific contributors that affect each person, individually. From this information, more relevant treatment decisions can be made.
The most common form of hair loss is common baldness (androgenic alopecia) which is due to genetics. DNA contains coding instructions for creating all the proteins in our bodies.
This includes androgen protein receptors on the hair follicles. Those with androgenic alopecia will have weaker receptors which make them more sensitive to the detrimental effects DHT (dehydrotestosterone) which is a byproduct of testosterone. This vulnerability causes the follicles to shrink. Thus a possible herbal restoration pathway would be to use a herbal product that inhibits or blocks DHT.
According to Dr. U, environmental factors can actually affect the rate of hair loss, on top of genetics. This can slow down or speed up hair shedding. And in women, hormonal changes associated with physiological events like pregnancy and menopause are strong contributors to diminishing hair.
Sometimes medical conditions like thyroid imbalances or immune disorders can lead to the depletion of hair. Or side effects from prescription medications like anti-depressants, birth control pills and countless other drugs can be problematic as well.
In more rare cases, hair loss can be linked to various forms of gluten intolerance. This includes Celiac’s disease where gluten triggers the onslaught of antibodies which erodes the inner lining of the small intestines. The individual is not able to receive the full potential of nutrients that they consume from their food. This can wreak havoc on the follicles and lead to hair shedding.
Hair loss due to food allergies is more commonly seen in animals. But this occurrence can occur in humans and should not be ruled out.
Nutritional deficiencies can impair the ability of follicles to grow new hair. These issues can also elicit a type of physiological stress which cause these structures to enter a resting phase before shedding hair.
Cause Of Hair Loss Individuals
In some people, the effects of DHT and genetics plays a more central role in their condition. However, in others, other dynamics are far more prominent. Therefore, it can be argued that hair loss should be addressed through a highly individualized approach.
Considering A Natural and Herbal Hair Restoration Approach
The concept of reversing hair loss naturally can mean several things. Here are a few examples:
(1) Eliminating the cause of hair loss
Many drugs list hair loss as a possible side effects. Therefore, it is often the case where stopping the medication, lowering the dosage or using an alternative can actually regrow hair.
Likewise, if a person who notices that they lose more hair when they eat a certain food, they may choose to eliminate it from their diet. And they may witness a rather effortless restoration of hair from this approach.
Besides drugs and food related issues, various forms of environmental factors may also be targeted within a larger and more comprehensive treatment program. This may include exposure to toxins (including air pollution, cigarettes and alcohol)
(2) Eating a healthier more nutritious diet
Healthy nutrition is important for regulating numerous functions within the body. For example iron is needed to make a compound called hemoglobin which transports oxygen through the blood stream. Therefore, it is very likely that deficiencies contribute to a reduced availability of oxygen. And this can impair the ability of hair follicles to function properly.
Generally the consumption of a well rounded diet, rich in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals is needed to regulate cellular processes and usage of energy in the body. A long term adherence to healthy eating habits creates a strong foundation of health for the entire body, including the hair follicles.
(3) Using supplements with natural ingredients
When it comes to treating a specific condition, most people are interested in targeting it using a specific supplement.
The concept of natural ingredients generally has to do with the use of non-synthetic active agents. This can be derived from plants, or even animals (e.g. fish oil).
According to Dr. U, There are currently 2 medications approved by the FDA for treating hair loss. Currently no natural hair treatment is FDA approved. Individuals who resort to natural hair products for their hair loss treatment must also consider the level of processing that the natural components have been subjected to. For example, plant extracts which have been exposed to high amounts of heat will yield minimal benefits, if any.
Also, the demand for natural treatments leads to the overuse of misleading terms. For example, some natural hair treatment products may highlight the fact that they contain Biotin or saw palmetto to benefit hair growth. But factors like quantity, concentration and chemical or heat processing can undermine the effectiveness of these agents.
Further, Dr U cautions that natural does not mean devoid of side effects. Some people are allergic to plant extracts and oils for instance.
Research on Herbal Hair Restoration
In recent years, more researchers have been investigating various plant extracts for herbal hair restoration. Many promising findings are now emerging. Here are a few:
(1) Polygonum Multiflorum Extract
Polygonum multiflorum extract has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. It is also known as Fo Ti. Researchers who observed 507 participants found that administering the supplement led to significant regrowth of hair in 90% of subjects after six months. Also 95% of the subjects experienced the cessation of rapid hair loss.
(2) Asiasari Radix
Researchers observed 45 plant extracts on hair growth in mice. Topical Asiasari radix out perfomed all of them. Upon further inspection, it was found that the extract stimulated protein synthesis (for the hair shafts), and increased the number cells involved hair production. These included:
- derma papilla cells
These findings have raised the prospect of using Asiasari Radix in herbal hair restoration.
(3) Essential Oils
In the late 90s, the Archives of Dermatology published a study on the hair restoration effects of essential oils. In particular, they used a blend consisting of:
- rosemary oil
- cedarwood oil
- thyme oil
- lavendar oil
Jojoba and grapeseed oil were also incorporated into the mixture as carriers to dilute the effects of the essential oils. Nearly 44% of the participants experienced noticeable hair growth.
(4) Pumpkin Seed Oil
A South Korean research study found that the intake of pumpkin seed oil gel capsules helped 44% of subjects regrow their hair. After analyzing the biochemical properties of the oil, experts concluded that the supplement works by blocking the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. This prevents testosterone from breaking down into DHT. It may be interesting to note that Finasteride also operates on this pathway. Some products are incorporating pumpkin seed for use as an herbal hair restoration agent.
Other Herbal Hair Restoration Treatments
Promoting fuller, healthier hair is an endeavor that should be thought of in terms of both prevention and treatment. Here are several options to consider:
(1) Increasing the intake of fatty acids
Fatty acids promote healthier skin and the production of sebum which forms a protective barrier around the hair shaft. Two forms of recommended supplementation for the hair include 500 mg of the following, twice a day:
- GLA (gamma linolenic acid). Sources include black currant oil or evening primrose oil
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Sources include fish, walnuts and flaxseeds
(2) Eating foods rich in vitamin C
Vitamin C helps stimulate the formation of collagen. Collagen not only forms a layer which surrounds the hair shafts, but is also a component of the hair follicle. This tissue connects to smaller blood vessels which help to nourish the hair.
Besides oranges, richly colored fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamin C
(3) Taking Saw Palmetto supplements
Saw Palmetto is a commonly recommended herb for hair loss and many are using it as a herbal hair loss treatment. Like pumpkin seed oil and even Finasteride, it works by blocking the enzyme which forms DHT from testosterone. Minimally processed supplements will be more likely to be effective.
According to the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, subjects who took 400mg of standardized saw palmetto extract along with 100mg of beta-sitosterol (derived from saw palmetto) were able to experience an improvement in hair growth.
(4) Reducing Consumption of Meat
Diets high in meat intake can lead to hormonal imbalances which are often linked to hair loss. Furthermore, fats from animal sources may elevate the production of sebum, according to Japanese researchers. And high levels of sebum also correlate with high concentrations of 5-alpha-reductase in the body. Again this is the enzyme which breaks down testosterone into DHT.
(5) Supplementing Intake of B Vitamins and MSM
B Complex supplements which include vitamin B6 and biotin can increase circulation to the scalp and enhance the health of the hair follicles.
MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) fortifies the hair follicles and enhances keratin production which is necessary for healthy hair strands. One research study showed that every participant (100%) who took MSM supplements found that their hair loss was reduced and experienced new growth in a matter of only six weeks.
Dr. Andrew Weil also believes that mind-body methods can benefit conditions related to auto immune disorders. He suggests the use of hypnotherapy, guided imagery and psychotherapy.
According to Dr. U, natural herbal hair restoration treatments may have lesser potential for unwanted side effects. However, the main key to their effectiveness is ongoing consistency and a long term commitment. Moreover, some individuals may be allergic to some plant extracts.
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