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Monday, October 30, 2006

Treating Hair Loss with Essential Oils and Other Natural Methods

For many years now, there have been pharmaceutical preparations available that have helped some men in maintaining, and even sometimes regrowing, hair affected by male pattern baldness. These treatments have not always been pleasant, and the long-term effects of the usage of some of the drugs is not well known. At the same time, many men looking for help have turned away from natural treatments because of the lack of proven efficacy. Well, 'the times they are a-changing!' With significant scientific research being performed around the world, answers have come to light on how men (and women!) can treat male pattern baldness naturally and effectively.

The general culprit of genetically-related baldness is now well-known. The process is mediated by the androgenic hormone known as dihydrotestosterone. This is a metabolite of testosterone which increases in many men as they age. DHT as it is otherwise known, binds to receptor sites on particular cells within the body, affecting the metabolic activity of those cells.

With regards to male pattern baldness, DHT binds to receptor sites on certain hair follicles. Though the exact means is not yet known, the hair follicle stops growing hair normally, shrinking and sometimes dying completely.

Whether using a pharmaceutical, natural, or combination regimen to re-grow hair, genetically-related hair loss should be addressed on two fronts: reducing the production and effects of DHT, and stimulating the hair follicles themselves back into action.

The prescription drugs Finasteride and Dutasteride, both used for limiting benign prostate enlargement by reducing the production of DHT in the body have also been shown effective at preventing hair loss. Now, though years of study around the world, herbal extract combinations have also been found to have the same effect on the production and activity of DHT. The most important are Saw Palmetto, Pygeum and Nettle Root. These extracts work together to both inhibit DHT production and limit it's ability to bind at sites like those on hair follicles. These herb extracts are commonly found together in supplements designed to support health of the prostate gland - they are best absorbed if found in an oil-base capsule.

As for the growth stimulators, Japanese researchers tested over a thousand various compounds to determine their effect on hair growth - first on rats, then on humans. Their results showed that compounds known as polyphenols, found in grape seed extract, red wine and green tea were at least as effective at hair growth stimulation as Rogaine. Further, the most potent of these was found to be extracted from the skins of unripe green apples, high in a particular compound known as procyanidin b-2; in fact, the growth rate produced was more than twice that of Rogaine. Finally, the addition of Forskolin, another herbal extract, enhanced the growth rate even more!

In addition to the polyphenols, certain essential oils alone and in combination can be effective at hair growth stimulation. In a Scottish study on alopecia areata patients, a blend of Lavender oil, Thyme oil, Cedarwood oil and Rosemary oils based in Jojoba and Grapeseed was found to significantly enhance the regrowth of hair compared to an application of just the base oils alone. Many essential oils, including lavender and rosemary, contain 'ketones', molecules that have been found to cause the skin to regenerate. Further, these oils could be enhanced with the addition of Rosehip Seed oil, which contains compounds similar to Retin-A, a pharmaceutical which has been used in combination with Rogaine for faster effects. Helichrysum essential oil warrants further investigation as well, as it is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory essential oils known, and also contains unique regenerative ketones.

So, how does one combine all these into an effective, natural personal hair growth program? Hair loss should again be addressed on two fronts - the hormones and the growth stimulation. For limiting DHT's production and activity, find a high-quality oil-based supplement including the herbs mentioned above. A good multivitamin is also smart, as it ensures you're getting enough vitamins for your follicles to even grow hair!

For the topical applications, a solution of apple polyphenols at about 3% by weight is best, with a 1% solution of grape seed extract coming a close second. An additional 1% of Foslean, containing Forskolin, could be added as well. These could be simply blended in water, or a strong Nettle Root tea, which can further inhibit DHT activity in the scalp. Products can be found pre-mixed, or you can purchase the components individually and mix them yourself. Apply two to three times daily, being sure to get the entire affected area saturated.

For the essential oils, 3 drops of each oil into a total of 1/4 cup base oils was used in the alopecia areata study. This is a fairly low concentration; up to a 3% dilution of the essential oils in the base can be well tolerated by most individuals (there are about 25 drops in one milliliter, and 30 milliliters in one ounce). Massage your blend into your scalp for a couple of minutes every day or every other day and leave in as long as possible. Also, if you are using an oil-based supplement of Saw Palmetto, Pygeum and Nettle Root, adding the contents of a few capsules to your blend could also help DHT inhibition in the scalp.

These are the basics for creating your own natural 'alternative health and wellness' hair loss prevention and growth routine. However you combine these methods, be sure to stick with your program for at least three months before making a judgment call - it takes a little time to get those dormant hair follicles up and running again!


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