Our crowning glory can lose its lustre over time. Called hereditary androgenic alopecia (AGA), male and female pattern baldness affects many of us as we age. To understand how herbal extracts target this condition, let us examine the science behind its cause.
The dermal papilla, a small bulb at the base of the hair follicle, is highly sensitive to hormones and other chemicals secreted by the body (or ingested as a medicine), which impacts hair growth.
The genetic predisposition to a receding hairline (most com-mon in men) or hair/follicle thinning over larger areas of scalp (more common in women) results from hormonal changes caused by an enzyme in the dermal papilla called 5-alpha-reductase.
This enzyme breaks down the hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In addition, their follicles have a greater number of androgen receptors to which the DHT attaches. Over a period of time, an overabundance of DHT causes the hair follicle to degrade and shortens the active phase of the hair, leading to thinner hair and eventual hair loss. Products that can inhibit this enzyme have the best chance of preventing, slowing down, or in some cases reversing hair loss.
Hold Onto Your Hair
A new ingredient to the hair care market is an extract of flaxseed lignans containing high amounts of a phytoestrogen called SDG. All of these are now known to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase. Additionally, ingredients that also contain compounds that remove excess cholesterol (the building blocks of testosterone), so excess DHT cannot be produced, are of benefit.
A mixture of B vitamins, folate, and biotin helps increase bio-availability and metabolize these herbal extracts, and supports the growth of strong and healthy-looking hair. The efficacy for various combinations of these ingredients is now being investigated in human clinical studies, in vitro, and preclinical tests.
Since hair grows only about one centimetre each month, it may take up to three months before reduced hair loss is apparent; new growth may be visible within four to six months. If treatment is stopped, the hair-loss pattern will slowly return to its original state.
Herbal Hair Helpers
Herbal ingredients used for over a thousand years to treat hair loss include:
- Extracts from fenugreek seeds
- Saw palmetto berries
- Pygeum bark
- Pumpkin seeds
- Burdock root
These products contain key ingredients such as:
- Free fatty acids