Do Herbs Work for Hair Loss?

Research shows rosemary and other botanicals can halt hair loss.

| September/October 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow. Such is the common lament of many men and women entering midlife. By age 50, more than half of Caucasian men will have some degree of balding. And about 40 percent of women, in general, will be affected by the time they settle into their 70s. Aside from surgical plugs or drugs, is there hope for your formerly thick mane? Can herbs or nutrition help?

What Is Normal—and What Isn’t?

Hair is produced by follicles, tiny bulb-shaped appendages embedded in your scalp. Most of these miniscule factories are busily sprouting hair, but at any given time about 10 to 15 percent of them are resting. A resting follicle sheds its hair after a few months, then normally resumes production again. Each day, you shed about 50 to 100 of the more than 100,000 hairs on your head. If too many follicles enter rest or are damaged or killed, your rate of replacement may not keep up, eventually causing your hair to thin out visibly. This excessive hair loss is called alopecia.

The most common form of alopecia is a gradual thinning that develops over several years. Androgenetic alopecia, as it usually is called, is most conspicuous in men as a receding hairline or balding crown. Women also may be affected, though their hair tends to thin more diffusely. Susceptibility in men likely is linked to genetics and to conversion of the male hormone testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which drives too many follicles into early retirement. In women, hormonal changes arising from menopause, aging and thyroid sluggishness might be at play. Many drugs—including beta blockers, anti-cholesterol medications and blood thinners—also can aggravate hair loss.

A less common form of hair loss, called alopecia areata, tends to be patchy. Appearing over weeks or months, it usually results from acute disturbances that induce follicles to go dormant. Common triggers are chemotherapy, advanced infections, severe allergies, autoimmune flare-ups and acute emotional stress, according to a 2006 study from Autoimmunity Reviews. Remove the acute trigger, and hair usually grows back eventually with good nutrition.

Healthy Compounds Block: Hair-Growth Inhibitors

We’re hearing a lot about a family of flavonoids known as procyanidins—antioxidants present in many plants, such as apples, barley, grape seeds, cocoa, blueberries, green tea and rosehips. Japanese researchers have found procyanidins help hair to regrow in some balding men. Working with an apple procyanidin called B-2, the Japanese double-blind trial, reported in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, said that a twice-daily topical application of a 0.7 percent solution increased new hair production, whereas untreated men continued to lose hair. After six months, men receiving the treatment sprouted on average about three new hairs per square centimeter of treated scalp. However, the researchers don’t claim B-2 will work for everyone.

Because procyanidins (also called oligomeric proanthocyanidins) are antioxidants,  they act to neutralize damaging free radicals that can cause inflammation and damage hair follicles. They also obstruct the production or action of hair growth inhibitors formed from testosterone. Those inhibitors bind to hair follicles, redirecting them from active growth to rest. So far, the research has focused on men, but procyanidins might help some women whose alopecia is linked to an estrogen-testosterone imbalance (e.g., from menopause).

10/3/2015 1:49:49 AM

Thank you.

Edward Campb
1/28/2014 4:09:03 AM

Ayurveda is the best treatment of the prevention of every diseases. One of the problem is the hair loss problem . The worst problem is the Hair loss and is has prevention. Most women face hair-problems like dry hair, damaged hair, split ends, graying etc. and to cure these, they spend a lot of time and money on expensive hair-products. Hair loss, thinning of hair and balding are some of the common hair problems. Many of us suffer from disaster ailments problems. Ayurveda treatment is the best good treatment and you should follow it thoroughly . Maintaining it properly and delicately. It is the best

1/13/2014 11:40:52 AM

I think that cannot work on baldness sort of damages. The critical factor to give rise to my approach is that these products cannot change weaknesses in our DNA. However, the normal hair loss can be reduced considerably.

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