Finasteride is one of only two US FDA approved hair loss medications, a new study has suggested it may offer benefits beyond saving your hair, like that isn't enough.
Sold under the brand names Propecia and Proscar, Finasteride was originally developed as a medication to treat an enlarged prostate back in 1992 before being approved as a hair loss medication in 1997. It has been shown, in clinical trials, to be able to halt hair loss and to be capable of returning up to 30% of lost hair... though it requires a lifetime commitment as cessation will see the hair loss return - there are a few cases where men have stopped taking the drug and not lost their hair.
History of Problems
Finasteride has been associated with a range of undesirable side effects. In fact, it is on the FDA classified list for women as it has been associated with birth defects when used by pregnant women. For men the list of potential problems can be intimidating, they include the risk of erectile dysfunction (+45%) and decreased sexual desire (+54%). While these are mostly short term there have been instances where men stopped taking the drug and saw these conditions persist.. it has forced a change in the label advice but a 2010 review suggested that these problems were typically experienced in the first year of use.
Beth Kozel MD, PhD led a team in Bethesda, Md studying Minoxidil for it's properties as a potassium channel opener... a drug that allows potassium to exit the cells in blood vessels and improve blood flow. Dr Kozel and her team wanted to see how minoxidil might be used to improve vascular health.
Their results, published by the American Physiological Society, suggest that minoxidil changes the structure of blood vessels and increased flexibility and blood flow. Dr Kozel said "We are looking forward to future clinical trials to test how this medication impacts blood flow in people."
HIS Hair Clinic
It is the first time we have read a good news story about minoxidil, that wasn't specifically about it's hair loss properties. We are far more used to reading about those side effects... which can include developing man boobs. The side effects are hard to ignore and it is testament to the drive we have to protect our hair that it remains so popular. So it is great to read about a positive trial which helps us understand both how minoxidil works at the chemical level and holds out the promise that, along with the side effects, there are upsides in terms of cardiovascular mortality and long-term cognitive function.
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