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Natural Supplements Shown To Work For Treating Hair Loss
There's been tons of research on the effects of Proscar, a pharmaceutical that prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT or "dihydrotestosterone". High levels of DHT have been implicated as a primary cause of male pattern baldness. But what is it that pharmaceuticals have over natural medicines in terms of efficacy? Could you do better using vitamins, minerals and herbs at lowering DHT levels -- and shifting other biochemical factors related to hair loss? You sure as heck can, and here's the supplements to investigate for the best support for your hair loss condition.
Why do we tend to think that synthetic pharmaceutical medicines will be more effective than herbs? It's the money! It seems like these giant, hi-tech, well-funded companies -- who have lots of cash to throw at formal research studies -- should be able to produce the most effective medicines on the planet. But why? Why should they be better than plant extracts? When you think about it, there's absolutely no reason whatsoever. It's just that the makers of plant extracts can't afford the huge clinical trials the pharmaceutical companies can. So an herbal medicine can actually be much more effective than a synthetic one, but if the synthetic one is even just slightly better than a placebo, it's the only one legally allowed to be labeled as "effective in treating hair loss".
And there are studies which clearly support the efficacy of natural treatments. They tend to be small in scale, and often focus on the effects of the herb extracts "in-vitro". This means than it can be shown that chemical X can inhibit the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. This is the same thing the pharmaceutical does. But the study to get 100 men involved to take the pill with the herb for six months and evaluate their hair loss (or re-growth) is very costly, and the herb companies can't afford it. (Though actually some small scale studies are in fact just producing the data we're looking for -- whether the FDA allows it to be used in marketing literature is still another matter).
Research on male pattern hair loss itself indicates three important considerations: blocking the formation and binding of DHT, reducing inflammation at the hair follicle, and ensuring an adequate supply of nutrients for hair growth (some of which seem to be important in signaling hair to grow, not just provide the necessary nutrients for the physical formation of hair).
To prevent DHT formation and block its binding at hair follicles, the big supplements are saw palmetto berry extract, nettle root extract, flax seed lignans, and soy isoflavones. There are more, but these are the ones that everyone agrees upon will do what you need. Note that the saw palmetto berry should always be an extract, not just the berry itself (it won't be strong enough). Same with the nettle root.
Your better off taking one or more off these supplements together, as they attack the source of hair loss from different angles. Some will block DHT production while others will prevent its binding at receptor sites. You can find high quality combinations of several of these supplements together in formulas for reducing prostate gland swelling. The same issues implicating DHT as the cause of swelling of the prostate gland are those involved in male pattern baldness. (And because these supplements very clearly work for reducing prostate swelling, they're more than likely going to have positive benefits for hair loss prevention.)
Soy isoflavones (specifically one called "daidzein") have recently been discovered to potentially be the most potent inhibitors of DHT formation. They work in combination with "good" bacteria in the gut to form a chemical called "equol". This synergy appears to be enhanced with the addition of green tea extract. So the next two supplements on your list are soy isoflavones and green tea extract. Because these work with beneficial bacteria in the gut, a high quality, multiple species probiotic can also be useful.
Much of the most recent research has noted hair follicle death being preceded by inflammation. Chronic cellular inflammation is actually implicated in aging, and is now becoming a primary focus of anti-aging medicines and therapies. Curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, is now widely available in easily-absorbed formulations (look for these, as otherwise the body will absorb very little of the nutrient). A hair-loss-prevention patent has been applied for with a simple combination of curcumin and red wine extract, so this is certainly worth a look.
As for nutrients that simply support, and perhaps signal the growth of hair: B-vitamins, specifically biotin and inositol; Sulfur sources such as methyl-sulfonyl-methane ("msm"); The amino acids l-taurine, l-arginine and l-lysine; essential fats from flaxseed oil, hempseed oil and coconut oil. All these play some roll in hair growth, and being deficient in any of them can lead to slower hair growth or potentially faster hair loss.
While these seem like a lot, if you choose to take them all, you can simplify the process by spending some time dividing up your daily doses into a vitamin box. This way you won't have to open 5 bottles a day -- just reach in, grab your handful and go. All the supplements her have some sort of scientific support for treating male pattern baldness, and putting them altogether is really likely to have some positive effect on your hair growth if consistently used for 3 months or more. Finally, consider combining them with a topical treatment containing natural hair growth stimulating ingredients such as rosemary, sage and lavender essential oils (yes, they're not just great scents, they're medicines as well). You find excellent recipes for blends of these oils as hair treatments, which can be even more effective when combined with the internal supplement program described here.