This Morning: Liz Earle discusses supplements for hair loss
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There are many forces that drive hair loss but 5-alpha reductase is thought to be the primary cause of male pattern baldness – the most common type of hair loss in men. The enzyme 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) converts testosterone into the much more potent androgen, DHT. If 5-AR levels increase, more testosterone will be converted into DHT, and greater hair loss will result.
This process is stubborn but natural solutions have been shown to thwart it.
Pumpkin seed oil, for example, has been shown to block the action of 5-alpha reductase in rats, thereby promoting hair growth.
Researchers in a study published in the journal Hindawi sought to repeat these results in humans.
They investigated the efficacy and tolerability of pumpkin seed oil for treatment of hair growth in male patients with mild to moderate male pattern baldness.
For the study, 76 male patients with male pattern baldness received 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil per day or a placebo for 24 weeks.
Change over time in scalp hair growth was evaluated by four outcomes: assessment of standardised clinical photographs by a blinded investigator; patient self-assessment scores; scalp hair thickness; and scalp hair counts.
Reports of adverse events were collected throughout the study.
What did the researchers find out?
After 24 weeks of treatment, self-rated improvement score and self-rated satisfaction scores in the pumpkin seed oil-treated group were higher than in the placebo group.
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The pumpkin seed oil-treated group had more hair after treatment than at baseline, compared to the placebo group.
Remarkably, mean hair count increases of 40 percent were observed in pumpkin seed oil-treated men at “24 weeks”, wrote the researchers.
In contrast, increases of 10 percent were observed in placebo-treated men.
What’s more, adverse effects were not different in the two groups.
General tips to promote hair growth
According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.
“Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women should not use finasteride,” explains the NHS.
- Do not work for everyone
- Only work for as long as they’re used
- Are not available on the NHS
- Can be expensive.
Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.
Other hair loss treatments include:
- Steroid injections – 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 these treatments may not be available on the NHS.
Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, their hair is an important part of who they are.
“If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling,” advises the NHS.
The health body adds: “You may also benefit from joining a support group, or speaking to other people in the same situation on online forums.”
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