With so many scare stories circulating about hair loss drugs such as finasteride, dutasteride and spironolactone, it is hardly surprising that many people turn to natural herbal remedies for a solution
Hair loss can happen to anyone at any age and when it does, it can have a devastating effect on the individual. It can affect their work, social life and even sleep pattern. Hair is an important part of how we look and feel and if it is starting to thin or the scalp is going bald it can cause depression, stress and anxiety. When hair loss is noticed, maybe by more hair in the brush or in the plug after washing, the first step is to diagnose the cause.
Genetic hair loss is passed down through the generations and whilst at one time it was a natural course today there are medications and surgery to counteract the process. Other causes of hair loss can be down to stress, medication, hormones and shock to name a few. There are just two medications on the market that are licensed as hair loss treatments. These are finasteride which is taken in tablet form and acts as a DHT inhibitor, and minoxidil which is a foam or lotion and is a vasodilator, helping the blood to flow easily through the arteries. Spironolactone is also used, however it is not licensed or approved as a hair loss treatment.
Some do not want to use strong medications to stop hair loss, or are concerned about experiencing serious side effects, so look for herbal remedies to prevent the loss. There is no proof that any of the herbal solutions used are effective and should always be discussed with an expert before use. Although they are herbal, some herbs can cause damage to the body.
The herb Saw Palmetto is said to improve and stimulate hair growth whilst slowing down hair loss. It is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, the enzyme responsible for changing testosterone into DHT. DHT is the cause of male pattern hair loss and when the hormone is at too high a level it stops the hair follicles from functioning and hair is lost due to the shrinkage. Can the herb have the same effect? There is no proof but does apparently work for some.
Ginkgo biloba is another popular herbal remedy which is supposed to increase the flow of blood to the scalp which in turn increases the nutrients to the hair follicles. The approved medication minoxidil is proven to increase the blood flow through the arteries therefore increasing the nutrients to the hair follicles, although real-world results are questionable.
Chamomile is a calming herb often used in tea to help promote sleep and relaxation. Some have found it clears dandruff and keeps the scalp healthy. Dong Quai is a Chinese herb containing phytoestrogens. These are thought to help minimize DHT which could help with genetic hair loss. Again this is not scientifically proven and may have no effect for many.
Rosemary is a popular herb that is used for culinary purposes as well medical purposes, and has been used throughout the centuries. It is also well known for helping with hair growth, although there is no evidence linked specifically linked to the prevention of hair loss.
There are numerous herbs that are added to products sold over the counter, but care needs to be taken. It can depend on a person’s hair type as to whether the shampoos and conditioners will do more damage than good. Avoid any product that contains synthetic oils as they may give a shiny look but the skin cannot absorb the oil and so it blocks the cells and dirt clings to the hair.
Finally, remember that when choosing a hair loss product (herbal or otherwise), it is important to separate the hype from the reality. Many companies are over-zealous in their effort to sell as many lotions, potions and pills as possible, and many of their claims are misleading. Always seek out independently verifiable results before making any purchase.
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