Thousands of years of investigation, from trial and error to deep science, have so far failed to produce an elixir for hair. A product or treatment that works the way we want it to. But some remarkable, accidental, discoveries might point to hair loss cures. We look closer.
Hair Loss Cure
Down the millennia there have been many attempts to overcome baldness. The ancient Egyptians had their treatments, as did the Greeks and Romans. The story since has been one of ever-growing demand set against a backdrop of limited viable solutions. So-called snake oil treatments had their heyday in the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th century as the power of press advertising saw the ability of manufacturers to reach new markets swell. Gone were the days of a man on a wagon touring towns and selling his wares.
But the days of snake oil salesman were far from over. With the advent of the internet, we have witnessed an explosion of wacky products with crazy credentials making unrealistic claims… and still capable of drawing in the unwary or desperate.
The facts remain pretty much unchanged. If you are among the one in four men who will start to go bald by the age of 30 due to genetics then the choices are limited. There are the two FDA approved hair loss treatments, one applied directly to the scalp and the other taken internally. Then there are transplants and hair systems. Today we have seen a range of treatments based on our improved understanding of the processes… most of them aimed at encouraging the body to work harder on your behalf. Laser therapy and microneedling are good examples, where the idea is that improved blood supply will provide higher levels of nutrients to the follicles.
Of course, what we are all waiting for is the “cure.” We do not mean something that might stop the advance, or improve density at a rate that can only really be measured by a dermatologist with a magnifying glass. We mean a treatment that will actually return us to the handsome, full head of hair that we enjoyed at its peak condition… or even better maybe.
The hunt for hair growth solutions that work is becoming a bigger business by the day. Biotech start-ups setting out to investigate hair loss spring up on an almost daily basis. Typically they are chasing down the optimal benefits of a new molecule found to have some benefit. As this research gets further down the road the requirements for large scale studies means deep pockets are required. So we find ourselves constantly monitoring these biotechs for their latest announcements, hoping for the positive results that will give both give us hope and give the researchers access to the funds they need to continue.
That said, our favourite articles are usually those where hair growth is found to be an unexpected side-effect of another treatment aimed at something altogether different…
Last year a teenage eczema sufferer was given a treatment called dupimolab. The patient had been completely bald since she was two years of age but within six weeks of starting the treatment, she grew a “significant” amount of brown hair. When she stopped the medication that hair fell out, only to regrow when she resumed treatment. This is far from the only example of hair growth as an unexpected outcome…
Osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease, was the subject of a research drug at Manchester University in the UK. WAY-316606 was the drug in question and during tests it was noted that it prompted a significant increase in hair growth… within just 2 days! It turns out the drug targets the same protein growth as an existing cancer treatment drug, which is used to suppress transplant rejection but has also been noted to cause rapid hair growth.
One of the more remarkable results came from using sandalwood oil. Researchers, also at Manchester University, applied the fragrance to the scalp and found that it both promoted hair growth and suppressed cell death. The results were “substantial, clinically relevant functional hair growth effects.” This research has implications for how our body processes smell, beyond using our nasal passages… but it is the effect on hair growth that stimulates us. It certainly seems to open up an entirely new field of hair loss research.
HIS Hair Clinic
The trick is getting to the bottom of why these treatments have triggered hair growth. Recent research has only resulted in showing us how deeply complex the business of hair growth is. While we wait patiently for hair loss solutions for male and female patients that really work, in the way we want them to, we can only hope that serendipity plays its part in accelerating us towards that happy day. The sandalwood oil results are particularly interesting, given that we had little or no appreciation for how we process scent beyond using our nose. The fact that a scent can trigger hair growth when applied to the scalp is fascinating and maybe an important way forward. As we said, we can only hope.
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