Reversing Baldness Naturally Similar to Natural Prostate Strategies
There is now enough scientific evidence to contend that baldness can be at least partly reversed naturally.
In 2011, we reported on research that mixed tocotrienols were found to increase hair growth in a placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trial. In this study of 28 men with male pattern balding, mixed tocopherols increased hair growth by more than 41%.
And research from Turkey’s Firat University found that patients with alopecia have significantly higher levels of lipid peroxidation were increased, and antioxidant levels were decreased in baldness.
New research from the Republic of Korea’s Pusan National University has found that pumpkin seed oil will increase hair growth among balding men.
The medical researchers tested the pumpkin seed oil on 76 male patients with moderate androgenic alopecia – male pattern hair loss. None of the patients had tried any previous medication, supplement or topical therapy for at least three months prior to the beginning of the study. The researchers recruited 90 patients, but excluded those with high liver enzyme levels.
The patients were divided into two groups and half were given a placebo. The treatment consisted of giving the patients 400 milligrams of the pumpkin seed oil per day in capsules. They were given two capsules before breakfast and two capsules before dinner.
After three months and at the end of the study at six months the patients were assessed using blinded practitioner analysis, and given a point score, which ranged from -3 (greatly decreased) to +3 (greatly increased).
Each scalp was also photographed using phototrichography – a polarizing technology, allowing the hair loss region to be targeted and measured from the center.
The researchers also conducted hair counts using two different lenses. In addition, the patients rated their own hair gain using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).
In the photographic analysis, the researchers found that 44% of the group taking the pumpkin seed oil slightly or moderately improved hair growth, while 51% were unchanged and 2.7% – actually just one patient – had slightly more baldness at the end of the six months.
In comparison, among the placebo group, 28% had increased baldness and 64% were unchanged, while only 7.7% were slightly or moderately improved in hair growth.
In the phototrichographic analysis, the pumpkin seed oil group had significantly higher hair counts – over three times more. The pumpkin seed oil group saw 30-40% increased hair counts while the placebo group showed 5-10% more hair count on average.
The researchers found the treatment to be safe, with only one report of mild stomach upset during the trial.
Other research has found pumpkin seed oil can inhibit the 5-alpha reductase enzyme – in studies testing pumpkin seed oil and prostate hyperplasia.
What causes male pattern baldness and how is it related to prostate hyperplasia?
This is because both male pattern baldness – androgenic alopecia – and prostate hyperplasia is typically caused by the increased conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – or 5-alpha- dihydrotestosterone (both of which are androgens). This is stimulated by the increased activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.
The 5-alpha reductase enzyme is involved in the conversion of a myriad of hormones, including aldosterone, testosterone, cortisol and others.
But when 5-alpha reductase is increased within the hair follicles and converts too much of a man’s testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), this can damage the hair follicles. The first sign is the hair begins to thin. As the damage becomes worse, the follicle goes into dormancy. At this point, there is complete hair loss at the follicle.
About 95% of hair loss is due to this increased level of 5-alpha reductase. While there are indications that this process is driven through heredity, there is significant evidence to believe that the heredity factor is related to the diets of our family lineage, which produced epidemic markers that increase the release of this enzyme.
While we cannot pose to reverse the genetic markers that increase 5-alpha reductase, there is ample evidence to indicate that dietary changes along with supplements can dramatically change not only our hair growth – but our risk of prostate enlargement.
This element of prostate enlargement is linked intimately with male pattern baldness because an increase in 5-alpha reductase – and its conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone in the prostate leads to prostate enlargement – benign prostatic hyperplasia and increases the risk of malignancy – prostate cancer.
This mechanism was confirmed in a study of 60 men over the age of 50 years who had prostate enlargement. The research found that dihydrotestosterone – and the subsequent lack of testosterone – “mediates” prostate enlargement.
And researchers from New York’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute found that not only does 5α-reductase increase prostate hyperplasia, but another form, 5α-reductase-3, is implicated. This, the researchers explained, is one reason for the lack of clinical success for pharmaceutical 5-alpha reductase inhibitors such as finasteride, and dutasterid.
Diet and 5-alpha reductase
A number of studies have shown that the western diet increases the risk of prostate hyperplasia and thus increased 5-alpha reductase activity. This has been shown in human epidemiological studies and animal studies. Americans and particularly African Americans have some of the highest rates of prostate hyperplasia and cancer, and Japanese and Chinese men have significantly less. Increased levels of saturated fats and red meats in the diet have been particularly related to prostate hyperplasia and malignancy.
For example, a study from Harvard followed 27,607 men between 1994 and 2008. They found that the risk of prostate hyperplasia and mortality from prostate cancer was increased significantly by those eating more eggs, poultry and more red meat. Another study from Harvard that followed 51,529 men also found these relationships.
Other research has confirmed these relationships. And because of these, researchers have proposed that increased animal fats and decreased fiber increases the expression of 5-alpha reductase.
While few studies have investigated this directly, we can conclude that diet also relates directly to alopecia because of the relationship between 5-alpha reductase and baldness.
This relationship was slightly proven out in a French study in 2010 that studied 42 allopecia patients together with 230 control subjects. The researchers found that increased protein intake was “directly associated with alopecia.”
To this we can add that diets high in soy and other phytoestrogen foods such as red clover – have been found to reduce 5-alpha reductase levels and prostate hyperplasia. This has been found in both animal research and human research. The phytoestrogens genistein, daidzein, equol, and glycetin have all been found to inhibit prostate hyperplasia. These appear to result from blocking androgen receptors.
And research from France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research has found in a 12-year study that increased intake of dietary fiber reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
Foods and Supplements
As far as specific foods and supplements go, a number of these have been shown to reverse prostate hyperplasia. Pomegranate has been found to reverse hyperplasia in several studies. Selenium has also been shown to help reverse hyperplasia. Lycopene from tomatoes has also shown this effect. And the herbs Saw Palmetto, Turmeric and others have been shown to reverse hyperplasia.
Vitamin D has also been shown to reverse prostate hyperplasia. Studies on vitamin D3 analog elocalcitol found it reduced hyperplasia more than the drug finasteride.
Saw palmetto and other herbs have also been shown to help reduce hyperplasia.
As to whether these will also reverse baldness is not known for sure. But because the mechanisms are similar, there is reason to believe these internally-taken herbs can reduce 5α-reductase in balding just as it does in prostate hyperplasia. Just as pumpkin seed oil has been found to reverse balding and prostate hyperplasia.
And in 2013 we reported a study that found several lifestyle factors also contributed to increased risk of male pattern baldness.
While pharmaceutical drugs targeted for prostate may or may not be applicable to alopecia, natural strategies such as diet and herbs are typically different in that they are not targeted, but rather, help adjust the metabolism issues involved in the condition.
In addition, because herbs and dietary strategies contain multiple compounds rather than just one active constituent as pharmaceuticals do, herbs and dietary strategies also tend to help resolve multiple conditions. As such, it is not foreign to natural practitioners that a particular herb or diet strategy will help resolve multiple conditions at the same time.
But of course, natural metabolic changes also take time. Months – even years – are typically required for natural strategies to have their effects. Thus, determination and patience are virtues in natural strategies.
This also reflects the notion that our physiology is not a separate operation of different components that happen to influence each other. The mind-body-spirit approach to health illustrates that our physiology is interconnected, and as a whole, is a reflection of our inner spirit.
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