The hair growth cycle undergoes four stages. These are the anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen stages. The anagen or growth stage is the longest out of all of them lasting anywhere between two to eight years with eighty five percent of the hair strands on the scalp being in this phase. The cycle changes into the catagen or transition stage where the hair follicle starts to shrink and form club hair. This phase lasts for about ten to fifteen days while the hair strand gradually detaches from the dermal papilla. Next comes the telogen or resting stage where the club hair is fully formed and is slowly being eased out of the scalp. New hair starts to form as well during this phase and lasts for about three months. About ten to fifteen percent of hair strands are at this stage. The final stage is the exogen or the new hair phase. It is at this time that the club hair is fully shed which is characterized by a hard, round, yellowish tip at the end of the hair strand. There are normally about fifty to one hundred fifty hairs being shed daily while being replaced by new hair at the same time. The hair growth cycle then returns to the anagen stage to complete the entire hair growth cycle.
The hair growth cycle is a balanced system that repeats over the lifetime of a person. Hair loss will only take place once there are more hairs that are lost than being replaced. A multitude of remedies have been created to try to address this situation. Some have been effective though most have not. The methods that had some success range from products such as shampoos, concealers and medication to services such as hair transplants and of course our own scalp micropigmentation (SMP) treatments.
There are other means that have been devised to treat hair loss in the form of natural supplements or alternative medicine. Though none have established therapeutic claims nor the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) backing, it has gained a steady market in the anti hair loss industry.
An example would be saw palmetto extract. This supplement claims to block the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme from binding with testosterone to form dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Hair loss occurs when DHT binds with the androgen receptors of the hair follicle, actively blocking it from receiving nutrients from the blood. As a result, the hair follicles shrink and hair is shed in the process. Saw palmetto is said to work how the FDA approved Propecia does. Propecia however, is clinically proven to work though it does carry some side effects such as impotency and low sperm count. Saw palmetto does not have FDA backing. It also has the following side effects such as stomach irritation, vomiting and headaches.
Another natural plant remedy is rosemary oil that is said to stimulate blood circulation. Again there have been no tests to prove that this actually works in treating hair loss. It is not advised to use it during pregnancy as well as those who suffer from epileptic seizures and high blood pressure.
The next natural remedy is coconut oil. It is said that its use locks in the proteins of the hair shaft keeping it healthy and full-bodied. Aside from the fact that it smells nice, coconut oil also does not have any FDA approved backing nor does it have any solid evidence that it really does treat hair loss.
Additional popular natural remedies such as: onion juice, aloe vera, fenugreek, Indian gooseberry and licorice root are well known to treat hair loss. These do not however, have any clinically established proof linking it to anti hair loss effectiveness. What should probably be taken into consideration before treating hair loss is the cause itself. Any treatment, natural or otherwise will prove to be a pointless exercise if it does not address the reason for hair loss. A doctor’s opinion should first be sought before engaging in any remedy.