Growing older brings many physical changes, one of which is hair loss. While this change is commonly associated with men, numerous cases have also been noted in women, too. This brings us to some very basic yet important questions: Is hair loss preventable? And, if it has occurred already, can something be done about it?
Before we get an answer to the two questions above, it is important to establish the fact that losing one’s hair can be caused by various things. Genetics, stress, life events, certain medical conditions or effects of prescription drugs, products or external stimuli are just a few of them.
While there are many causes, one of the main reasons for hair loss among men and women is due to Androgenic Alopecia.
What is Androgenic Alopecia?
Androgenic Alopecia is a hair loss condition that is caused by how your body (or your hair follicles, specifically) reacts to dihydrotestosterone or DHT. This hormone is present in everybody; however, there are individuals who are genetically predisposed to have hair follicles that are sensitive to it. This sensitivity leads to a reaction where the follicles shrink, reducing blood flow to the area and thereby causing hair to fall out.
What are the common causes of hair loss?
Until now, science still hasn’t completely explained the main reason for hair loss. However, there are several correlations that seem to increase the likelihood of the condition. These include the following:
- Genetics – Perhaps the biggest determining factor for your chances of losing hair, as explained above. If you have family members with obvious hair loss, you are more likely to suffer from it as well.
- Stress – Stress can be one of the biggest triggers for premature hair loss due to the imbalance of hormones it causes. Anxiety can also cause hair loss. Hair loss can also be due to other life factors such as illness, mental conditions, poor diet and pregnancy too.
- Estrogen Levels – Another factor for men is your estrogen levels in your body. There is evidence that high estrogen levels may also cause an increase in DHT levels in the body since DHT prevents feminization and opposes estrogens effects. You could see it has your bodies way of trying to cope with estrogen dominance. DHT creams has been used in studies in Europe as a treatment for BPH in men (benign prostatic hyperplasia), a condition often associated with high estrogen levels. Making sure you get your estrogen levels back in normal range can benefit your hair loss greatly.
- Prescription Medication – some drugs affect the way hair grows by interfering the hair growth cycle. Or, they may also lower certain hormones like testosterone that play a role in hair loss. Other drugs that may cause hair loss include those that contain retinoids, drugs that suppress the immune system, hormone replacement therapy and thyroid medication, among others.
- Health conditions – Some conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, scalp infections and skin disorders may also cause hair loss among men and women.
Combat your hair loss with these 5 treatments…
If you have started to experience some degree of hair loss, you may want to jump right into treating it by buying hair loss products. Before doing so, it is important to pinpoint the most probable cause. While most cases may really be genetic (or the way your follicles react to DHT), it would also be a good idea to rule out other factors such as any medication you’re taking or other underlying health conditions, which you can deal with specifically.
For Androgenic Alopecia related hair loss (most common reason in men), here are our recommended effective treatments that we think both ladies and gents should consider:
1. Ketoconazole – Originally formulated as an anti-fungal treatment, Ketoconazole has powerful anti-androgenic properties in the scalp. It works by binding itself to androgen receptors in your follicle, preventing DHT from causing follicle shrinkage. Aside from that, it also combats hair loss due to skin conditions caused by fungal infection.
2. Minoxidil – Minoxidil does not prevent hair from falling out or stops DHT from interacting with your follicles. What it does, however, is promote nitric oxide synthesis and increase blood flow to your follicles. Minoxidil solution is a vasodilator that means it promotes the dilation of blood vessels. It is possible that Minoxidil dilates blood vessels in the scalp, which can subsequently improve the hair follicle function and stimulate the scalps hair growth. Minoxidil is readily available over the counter at most drugstores. Carnitine is also an interesting option to Minoxidil that can work in a similar way to promote hair growth.
3. Spironolactone – Originally created to treat hypertension, this works similarly to ketoconazole by binding itself to androgen receptors in the follicle and preventing the negative effects of DHT. Spironolactone is available in topical form, and is best used in this form, since taking it orally may have strong feminizing effects in men.
4. Soy Isoflavones – Soy Isoflavones can be defined as polyphenolic compounds that are capable of exerting oestrogen-like effects. So why are they good for hair loss treatment? They are particularly good for hair loss treatments because soy isoflavones can effectively reduce DHT in humans. About 60 mg of soy isoflavones daily-reduced serum DHT in healthy young men by 15% in a recent experiment. You can supplement effectively with soy isoflavones in tablet or capsule forms and they are usually easy to purchase from any herbal remedy store. This particular method of hair loss treatment appears to be very efficient in promoting actual new hair growth so it is definitely worth a try.
5. Essential oils – Sometimes nature can provide you with all the answers when it comes to hair growth. Two nourishing essential oils you should try include is rosemary and Cedarwood oil. Firstly rosemary oil is thought to increase cellular metabolism thus stimulating hair growth, which is why it's been used for centuries to enhance hair growth naturally and also help to thicken the hair. Cedarwood essential oil is also another age-old remedy that can help stimulate the hair follicles by increasing circulation to the scalp. These two essential oils are not only excellent for hair growth they are also great for boosting the health of your scalp. Massaged into your scalp until your fingers ache will also boost circulation to your scalp encouraging skin renewal. A healthy scalp means, healthy, flake free hair.
The above five treatments are a healthy mixture of natural and over the counter treatments for hair and are amongst the best treatments you can get your hands on today. We don’t recommend decreasing DHT systemically by using medications such as Finasteride since it can have permanent side effects in men. DHT is actually needed for healthy libido and mental health, we just want less of it in our scalps. Aside from these medications, there are also more natural alternative treatments that you might want to consider such as capsaicin and raspberry ketones . Capsaicin (chili pepper extract) stimulates blood flow to the follicles, while raspberry ketones are known to increase “IGF-1” through sensory nerve action. Researchers believe that these natural extracts are of medical value in the treatment of aging skin and preventing or even curing baldness for some people.
Enhance all treatments with a scalp massage
Have you ever been to the hairdressers or beauty salon and seen a scalp or Indian head massage on offer? This isn’t just another add-on, this treatment is offered for its effectiveness in promoting hair growth and a healthy scalp. A properly done scalp massage, one where it is done with ample pressure and circular movements can increase blood circulation to the hair follicles on your head conditioning the scalp and boosting the strength of the hair roots. At the same time, it can increase relaxation and decrease stress levels, which is of great benefit because stress can be a main factor of hair loss. Massaging your scalp with jojoba oil is also an excellent treatment to enhance the skin health of your scalp. If you suffer from a dry, scaly scalp then using jojoba oil can help mimic your scalps natural oils leaving it feeling revived, healthy and smooth.
What’s the best treatment?
While we have lined up some of the most effective treatments for hair loss, there is really no “best” single treatment out there. This is not to say that the ones mentioned above don’t work, but that they can actually all be used together to create a potent and effective treatment method.
To address hair loss effectively, you would want to use a therapy that targets the effect of DHT on the scalp, in the form of spironolactone and ketoconazole and then follow up with Minoxidil, carnitine or capsaicin to boost blood flow and promote hair growth once more. Or, if you’re a bit wary about pharmaceutical products, you might consider alternative treatments such as Soy isoflavones and scalp massage which can produce similar effects in the long term. Whichever you choose, all the mentioned treatments are proven to help fight your hair loss.
About the Author
Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to provide honest and research backed advice for maintaining optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out www.anabolichealth.com to learn more about Alex and his work.