Your hair is said to be your crowning glory, and it’s normal to want to improve your hair if it’s not to your satisfaction. If you’re trying to regrow hair that you’ve lost or would simply like to improve the hair that you have, try some of these natural remedies. Their proven benefits can help to stimulate growth and enhance the hair that you have.
Since birth control pills decrease the production of ovarian androgens, they can be used to treat women's androgenetic alopecia. Keep in mind, however, that the same cautions must be followed whether a woman takes contraceptive pills solely to prevent contraception or to treat female pattern baldness. For example, smokers age 35 and older who take the Pill are at higher risk for blood clots and other serious conditions.
“While nutritious eating isn’t going to bring your hair back by any means, eating plenty of protein-rich foods and healthy fats can make the hair that you still have look thicker and shinier.” Skimping on the B vitamins in particular can interfere with the formation of hair cells and, therefore, hair growth. The best sources of Bs are protein-packed foods like chicken, fish, eggs, and pork, as well as leafy greens such as spinach. (These foods are also good for melting belly fat, so it’s a win win).
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
For example, if your hair is thinning because you’ve recently started a new medication or a diet, your approach might be to take an oral supplement or use a laser light device. But if you have hair loss from psoriasis or chemical treatments, you might try a new shampoo and invest in a moisturizing scalp treatment. Throwing everything possible at the problem might not be the most effective method.
Male pattern baldness (also known as androgenic alopecia) is estimated to affect about 50 million men in the United States. It starts with hair loss above the temples generating the typical "M" shape. Over time, the loss of hair continues around the top of the head and sometimes claims the hair on the sides and rear of the head as well, leading to complete baldness. If you experience male pattern baldness and do not feel comfortable with your appearance, there are certain treatment options available.
Even though modern folklore, and even some limited scientific studies, have suggested that the mother's side of the family is largely responsible for a genetic predisposition toward baldness, the truth is balding is not all our mothers' fault. In fact, doctors now say baldness patterns are inherited from a combination of many genes on both sides of the family. There are some environmental factors that come into play, too.
Some treatments in development hold particular promise for women. Angela Christiano, a hair geneticist and Columbia University professor of dermatology, is hoping to begin clinical trials in a year or two on a procedure in which she dissects hair-follicle stem cells, grows them in the lab until she has several million, then injects them into the scalp, where, a very small study done with a human skin model has shown, they induce new hairs.
Hair doesn’t make the man. Remind yourself of everything else you have to offer. Or take care of things you can control, like staying in shape. It’s OK to look to others for support. And if you need a little inspiration, think of bald men or guys with shaved heads who ooze confidence, like The Rock, Vin Diesel, and Pitbull. Consider yourself in good company.
There are several different types of medication you can buy to help treat hair loss. Procepia and Finasteride are currently the only approved drugs you can take that will effectively treat hair loss. The active ingredient in both treatments (finasteride) works by blocking DHT (the male hormone dihydrotestosterone) that causes hair loss by shrinking hair follicles on your scalp. It has been proven to lead to hair regrowth or to stop hair loss in around 9 out of 10 men in clinical trials.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Most women with pattern hair loss don't get a receding hairline or bald spot on top of the scalp as is common in men. Instead, there is visible thinning over the crown. In men and women, hairs are miniaturized because of a shortened growth cycle where the hair stays on the head for a shorter period of time. These wispy hairs, which resemble forearm hairs, do not achieve their usual length.
Oral supplements can also be effective if the result of the problem that causes the hair loss in the first place. For example, women with a lack of iron or zinc in their diet may have thinning hair. Or persons taking certain medications may not absorb enough nutrients from food to support healthy hair growth. Also, remedies like saw palmetto and Fo-Ti appear to block the production of DHT.
Nizoral should be used in conjunction with finasteride and minoxidil. Don’t use it on its own and expect to see immense results. In the “Nizoral studies”, men with MPB who were using Nizoral lost significantly fewer hairs over the months compared to those who weren’t. Don’t expect to regrow hair using it, but rest assured you hair loss progression is slowed down.
Both minoxidil and finasteride require a lifelong commitment, but for users looking for a treatment with permanent results, hair transplant surgery may be the solution. Over the years, surgeons have developed techniques to deliver natural-looking results that are a far cry from early hair transplants, which had a cornrow-like appearance. These procedures are costly and may require multiple sessions depending on the patient.
Cimetidine, brand name Tagamet, belongs to a class of histamine blockers used mainly to treat gastrointestinal ulcers. The histamine-blocking action prevents the stomach from producing excess acid, allowing the body to heal the ulcer. Cimetidine also has a fairly powerful anti-androgenic effect and has been shown to block dihydrotestosterone from binding the follicle receptor sites.
Thanks for the article with great info. I’ve been taking minoxidil 5% for the last 2 years. I’ve tried a generic minoxidil brand and also Kirkland to no effect. I’ve been hoping it’s maybe slowed the hair loss process. The hair around my crown just keeps getting thinner. Do you think changing to another “better quality” brand like Lipogaine or Rogaine could work? Or does it appear that any minoxidil brand is not going to work?
The test involves plucking about 50 hairs from the head, typically at the back of the scalp, so your dermatologist can look at them under a microscope and determine how much of the hair is in the resting, growth, and fall-out phases. Next, a vial of blood is sent to a lab to check hormone and nutrient levels ($100 and up, depending on insurance). If low levels of iron, or high levels of male hormones, like androgens, are contributing to your hair loss, for example, both can be treated through oral supplements or medication.
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
Oral supplements like Viviscal Extra Strength dietary supplements (Est. $50 per month) have also been proven to have a measurable effect on hair regrowth; a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that the nutritional supplement significantly increased hair growth among women with thinning hair.
For those concerned that the existing treatments lack a certain sci-fi quality, behold the Laser Comb. The Laser Comb recently became only the third hair loss treatment to receive FDA approval. And it is the first that doesn’t use drugs or surgery. By stimulating follicles with a low-level laser, the hand-held device was shown in test trials to increase hair volume in a majority of patients.