Hair Loss – Cause, Prevention and Treatment

The adult scalp contains about 100,000 hair follicles. Everyday the scalp loses about 100 hairs and they will grow back in 5-6 weeks. Starting at age 40, the levels of by-product prolactin of testosterone of men increases, stimulating the production of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase that causes the conversion of testosterone to gihydro-testosterones DHT causing our hair to grow back thinner or not grown back at all. This causes an androgenic alopecia hair loss problem, since DHT shrinks the follicles causing hair thins and hair receding at the forehead, crown and temple for men and thins over the entire scalp for women. What causes hair loss.

1. The Causes of Hair Loss

a) Aging
Human aging is the biological process that is unavoidable but controllable with healthy diet with complex carbohydrates, green foods, garlic, onion, water and juices that will help to decrease the aging process in some degree. It also helps to reduce the amount of DHT produced in our body, result in postponing hair loss to our scalp.

b) Mineral deficiency
Minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, chromium, iodine, zinc, and magnesium are necessary to maintain healthy hair growth. Mineral deficiency will reduce the chance to regulate the blood circulation that promotes healthy hair growth and thyroid hormones that prevent dry hair and hair loss as well as defects in hair color. Too much iron is toxic to your body. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any mineral supplement.

c) Oxygen deficiency
Oxygen deficiency in your blood weakens the hair follicles, leading to dryness of the scalp and hair loss. Uncontrolled diet that is high in saturated fat causes cholesterol building up in your arteries resulting in less oxygen in your blood stream. Also cigarette smoking and second hand smoke reduces the blood flow and increases the blood clotting activity of cells which would clog the blood flow and damage arteries causing oxygen deficiency and results in weaken of the hair follicles.

d) Side affects of medication taken
Some medications contains elements that might cause hair loss such as lithium, warfarin, heparin, and amphetamines. When hair loss is a side effect of a medication, hair growth usually returns to normal once the drug is stopped.

e) Genetic hair loss
Hair loss is due to heredity. It is passed down from generation to generation. Genetic hair loss appears predominately in men, but may also appear in a few select women.

2. Food to Avoid

Foods that can cause hair loss and diminish hair growth.

a) Saturated and Trans fat
Foods such as meat, poultry, and fried foods contain high saturated fat. Foods such as margarine, cheese, and butter contain high amounts of trans fat. These foods cause cholesterol to build up in your arteries and small veins in your scalp resulting in less oxygen being delivered to the cell in your body, including the cells on the follicles.

b) Foods that contain Aspartame and Monosodium Glutamate
Monosodium Glutamate contain chemicals that causes weight gain, increased appetite and also causes various kinds of health problems such as hair loss.
Aspartame contains toxic chemicals that make you gain weight, increases hunger and causes medical problems like migraines and poor blood circulation.

c) Smoking
As we mentioned in the previous article, smoking can reduce blood flow to the scalp causing hardening in the arteries, limit blood flow and make hair loss worse.

d) Artificial Color
Artifiicial color contains chemical compounds that take their toll on the body’s natural balance.
Specific foods to avoid include colored drinks, color-coated candies, gummy and chewy candies, and many colored cereals.

e) Preservatives
These are potentially toxic to the liver and kidneys that cause hair loss and prevent hair growth as we mentioned in the article “Hair loss part IV–regrow hair with Chinese herbs”.

f) Food Packaging
Polyvinyl chloride is a known carcinogen, and it’s often used as plastic food wrap. It is toxic with high amounts causing damage to the kidney and liver resulting in hair loss.

g) Salt
Eating too much salt can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure that cause less oxygen to be delivered to the body’s cells including cells in your scalp in result of losing hair.

3. Hair Loss Prevention and Treatment

I. Here are some important minerals that may help to prevent hair loss and promote hair re-growth:

a) Iron
Iron is involved in the oxygenation of your body’s red blood cells. It is essential for normal hair growth and maintaining healthy hair. If the amount of iron can not be replaced with food intake, iron deficiency will cause hair loss because of oxygen deficiency.

b) Zinc
It helps to secrete the scalp with much needed oil and avoid dandruff that may cause hair loss.

c) Copper
Study shows that these tripeptide complexes may actually be able to regrow hair, even in patients with total hair loss due to alopecia. Healthy tissue concentrations of copper lie between 1. 7 and 3. 5 milligrams. Everything else will cause hair loss.

d) B vitamins
The deficiency of B vitamins (especially B6, B3, B5 and folic acid) in your diet may lead to hair loss.

e) Biotin
Biotin works as an anti aging agent and helps to produce keratin in preventing gray hair and hair loss.
Sources of biotin are: whole grains, egg yolks, liver, rice and milk.

f) Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for over-all good health. It’s also beneficial to hair follicles, as it keeps the hair root lubricated. Too much vitamin A might result in hair loss.

g) Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that aids effective circulation in the scalp due to increased oxygen uptake in blood, therefore it plays an important role in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss.

h) CQ-10
Coenzyme Q10 (CQ-10) is an essential vitamin that provides our body with the nutrients needed to grow healthy hair. They also promote overall vitality, and contribute to beautiful skin and strong nails.

II. Here are some daily foods that might help to prevent hair loss and promote hair re-growth

1. Yogurt and soy
Yogurt and soy contain high amounts of protein that is needed to maintain hair growth. Study shows that soy protein reinforces hair and stimulates its growth.

2. Dark green vegetable
Dark green vegetable contains high amounts of iron that are needed to restore oxygen levels in the blood stream as well as nurturing the body’s cells.

3. Whole grain products
Whole grain contains zinc which is needed to maintain healthy hair. Zinc deficiency can lead to dry hair and oily skin.

4. Essential fatty acid
Essential fatty acid can be found abundant in cold water fish. It helps to maintain healthy cholesterol and reduce triglyceride in result of increasing circulation of blood flow in our body.

6. Nut and seed
Nuts and seeds are fatty foods which are typically the best sources of vitamin E, an immune enhancing antioxidant and nerve protector. Deficiency of vitamin E can lead to skin disorders, dry hair and loss of hair.

7. Carrots
Carrots contain high amounts of vitamin A. It is an antioxidant that helps produce healthy sebum in the scalp. Having too much vitamin A can lead to hair loss.
There are many other foods that help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, such as fruits, egg, spinach, and broccoli.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking large amounts of the above foods. There may be side effects, such as overdoses of vitamin A in carrot might result in hair loss.

III. Traditionally, herbs have been around for over thousands of years and offer much success to prevent or cure diseases well before the discovery of western medicine. Here are some herbs thathave been proven in treating hair loss and promoting hair growth

a) Shikakai
Acacia Concinna is a small shrub-like tree that grows in India. It’s pod-like fruit is collected, dried and then grounded into a fine powder. It is used to cleanse hair, and is known to promote hair growth and get rid of dandruff. Due to these benefits, this powder was named shikakai which means “fruit for the hair”.

b) Grape seed extract
Grape seed extract is a very strong antioxidant that some use as a supplement or remedy to various conditions. It contains high levels of vitamin E and essential fatty acids that are essential for maintaining hair growth and preventing hair loss.

c) Kirin Brewery new discovery
Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido working with Kirin Brewery has discovered a unique property of an extract of hops that can help to activate the melanocyte cells that generate hair pigment.

d) Saw palmetto
As we mentioned in another article, Saw palmetto is the number one choice for men. Saw palmetto helps to block the formation of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that causes the conversion of testosterone to DHT that causes hair loss.

e) Basil extract
Basil Extract from the natural flowers of the basil plant, works to quickly soothe and calm skin of the scalp.

f) Pumpkin Seed
Pumpkin seeds help to block DHT, which is responsible for genetic hair loss. This common seed is loaded with zinc and magnesium that have the ability to block enzymes which yield DHT causing damage to follicles and resulting in hair loss.

g) Buddleja Davidii Extract
Buddleja Davidii extract contain active ingredients protecting the skin against toxic radicals. It can also help reduce skin aging and protect the skin against the damage caused from stresses and toxins.

h) Green Tea
Green tea contains the chemical globulin that helps to reduce levels of free testosterone, so that it cannot be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicle.
Be sure to talk to your doctor or dermatologist before taking any herb supplement.

IV. Traditionally Chinese herbs have been around for over 4000 years and have offered much success to prevent or cure diseases well before the discovery of western medicine. Hair loss is directly linked to kidney deficiency syndrome in Chinese traditional medicine. People with hair loss problems especially in their early life may have a weak Kidney. Here are some Chinese herbs that have been proven in treating hair loss and promoting hair growth

a) Dong Quai
Traditionally, Chinese woman used Dong Quai to restore blood cells and increase the circulation of oxygen in the bloodstream to cells after period. Dong Quai contains phytoestrogen that helps to block the androgen receptor site in result of blocking the conversion of testerone to DHT, therefore reducing the chance of hair loss due to aging.

b) Ginseng
Ginseng is said to have the power of rejuvenating and energizing the body. It also helps to stimulate circulation of oxygen in our bloodstream to the cells of our body as well as the cells in our scalp.

c) Shou wu (polygonum)
Shou Wu is a polygonum multiflorum plant. It is now being used in conjuncture with other herbals, as an active ingredient in shampoos and orally administered to prevent hair loss as well as aiding the restoration of roots and production of new hair.

d) Psoralea seeds
Study shows that psoralea extract and exposure to ultra violet light will help to restore hair loss and promote hair regrowth with a 33% success rate.

e) Mulberry
Chinese herbalists believe that mulberry is an excellent tonic for the kidney, liver and blood that provides more oxygen in the bloodstream as well as small blood vessels in the scalp.

f) Chinese Yam
Numerous successful studies have been performed in examining the benefits of the Chinese yam. Chinese yam can help to nourish the liver, kidney and blood in result of preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth.

g) Green tea
Green tea containing catechins inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into hair-unfriendly DHT. So drinking great tea everyday is an effective treatment for male pattern baldness.

h) Chinese foxblove root
Chinese foxblove root contains cornus, the chemical that help to nurture the kidney, liver and blood in result of promoting hair growth.

i) Wolf berry
One of the natural superfoods has been used in traditional Chinese cooking. Wolf berry helps to eliminate toxins in the body in result of better function of the kidney, liver and blood that help to promote hair growth.

Chinese medicine believes that the benefit of nourishing the kidney and blood tonic helps for healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.

V. Here are some prescription and over the counter drugs that might help prevent further hair loss and promote hair growth.

1. Minoxidil
Minoxidil is an over the counter drug and is a spray or lotion that you put directly on your scalp twice a day. It is available without a prescription. It is believed to work by affecting potassium- regulating mechanisms in the hair follicle. Study shows that it helps to slow and stop hair loss and regrow new hair with over 60 % success rate. Be sure talk to your doctor or dermatologist before taking minoxidil. It might cause rash to some patients.

2. Finasteride
Finastteride is an oral prescription medication. Finasteride is a synthetic hormone that halts hair loss and stimulates new hair growth. It is a medication that selectively inhibits the activity of an enzyme that converts the “male hormone” testosterone into a form that is active in hair follicles.

3. Rogaine
Rogaine is a clear alcohol-based solution and should be applied to a person’s thinning area with it’s supplied dropper or spray twice a day. It helps about 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women to grow back moderate amounts of hair very gradually, mostly on the very top of the head. They must keep using Rogaine indefinitely to keep the new hair.

4. Retin-A
Retin-A is only available by prescription in the US. In the right doses and when combined with Minoxidil it can be a hair growth stimulator. Studies shows that Retin- A can result in moderate hair growth in some patients.

5. Proscar
Proscar contains the same active ingredient finasteride. Proscar has the effect of lowering the hormone DHT, which interacts with bald vulnerable hair follicles and causes hair loss. By reducing the DHT in the patient’s body the finasteride in the Proscar proved to slow and even stop or reverse hair loss in many men.

Before taking any hair loss medication over the counter, please consult first with your doctor or dermatologist.

I hope this information will help. If you need more information of the above subject, please visit my home page at:

Kyle J. Norton

Normal Hair Growth and Common Hair Loss

Normal Hair Growth Cycles

Undisturbed, each terminal scalp hair usually grows continuously for about approximately three to five years. Then, the hair transitions into a resting state where the visible portion above the skin is shed. No hair grows from the follicle for 90 days. Once this time has passed, a new hair begins growing through the skin and continues for another three to five years at a rate of approximately 1/2 inch per month.

It is thought that as many as 100 genes are involved in regulating the creation, construction and cycling of scalp hair. To date, very few of these genes have been identified.

Common Pattern Hair Loss

Hamilton-Norwood Hair Loss Scale

For those concerned about hair loss, many myths and half-truths abound, but useful information can be difficult to obtain. Therefore, an objective overview of pattern hair loss is presented herein.

In healthy well-nourished individuals of both genders, the most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia (AGA), also known as pattern hair loss. The disorder affects approximately 40 million American men. Perhaps surprisingly, the same disorder affects about 20 million American women. The difference between men and women is that a woman suffering hair loss usually retains her feminine hairline and experiences thinning behind this leading edge. In men, a distinct “pattern” of loss manifests where the frontal edge recedes at the same time that a thinning zone expands from the posterior crown. In more pronounced cases, these zones meet and the person is said to be clinically bald.

Three Triggers

Importantly, three things need to occur in order for one to be affected by AGA. First, one must inherit the genetic predisposition. This means that the problem comes from one or both sides of the family. Second, one needs to attain a certain age. Nine year old children do not experience pattern hair loss. And third, one needs to have the circulating hormones that precipitate onset and progression of the disorder.

Typically, the earliest onset of AGA occurs in late puberty or one’s early 20′s. As a general rule, the earlier hair loss begins, the more pronounced it is likely to become.

Hormones, Enzymes & Other Factors

Crystallography of DHT molecule
From a susceptibility standpoint, the principle hormonal trigger linked to pattern hair loss is 5-alpha dihydrotestosterone, commonly referred to as DHT. Intriguingly, it has been shown that in persons genetically insensitive to DHT, pattern hair loss does not occur. DHT is synthesized from the androgen hormone testosterone and is useful early in life and during puberty.

In adults, DHT is thought to cause significant harm, but very little good. Disorders as disparate as benign prostatic hyperplasia and pattern hair loss are both triggered by DHT. The synthesis of DHT occurs via two closely related forms of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Hair loss treatment options that efficiently interfere with the interaction between 5-alpha reductase and androgen hormones like testosterone have been shown to offer clinical benefit in treating pattern hair loss.

Because hair growth is regulated by multiple genes and attendant biochemical pathways, the underlying factors are extremely complex. Another challenge to understanding hair loss has been the fact that humans, alone among mammals, suffer from androgenetic alopecia. Thus, no efficient animal model exists that would otherwise tend to shed light upon the key factors at work.

Hair Loss Variations Other Than AGA

In either gender, the differential diagnosis is typically made based on the patient’s history and clinical presentation. The common differentials for AGA include alopecia areata (AA), Trichotillomania, and telogen effluvium. Less often, the cause of hair loss may be associated with disorders such as lupus erythematosis, scabies or other skin manifesting disease processes. Scalp biopsy and lab assay may be useful in ascertaining a definitive diagnosis, but, in such cases, should generally only follow an initial clinical evaluation by a qualified treating physician.

Pattern Hair Loss Treatment Options

It has wryly been observed that the choices for dealing with hair loss are “rugs, plugs, or drugs”. This quip articulates three treatment options that are more kindly referred to as non-surgical hair systems, surgical hair restoration, and pharmacotherapy. A fourth option has recently evolved, which will also be touched on herein. This is non-drug based therapy.

Non-surgical Restoration

Typical Hair Piece

Hair replacement systems have been in regular use at least since the time of ancient Egypt. These products also go by the term hair integration systems, wigs, weaves, hair pieces, toupees and many other names. All have one thing in common—they are not growing out of one’s scalp. Thus, they must somehow be attached either with the bald skin or the fringe of hair remaining above the ears and in the back of the scalp.

Such attachment to the living scalp is almost never permanent, and for good reason. Aside from the fact that the unit itself wears out, basic hygiene dictates that the wearer regularly remove the unit to clean the underlying hair and scalp. There are almost always three basic elements to a hair replacement system. The first is the hair itself which may be synthetic, natural, or a combination thereof. The second element is the base of the unit. Typically, the hair is woven in to a fabric-like base which is then attached in some fashion to the scalp. This brings up the third element; which is the means of attachment. Methods include sewing the base to the fringe hair, gluing the base to the fringe hair, or gluing the base to the bald scalp.

Potential advantages to hair systems include the immediacy of achieving a full hair “look” that can appear, to the casual observer, to approximate a full head of hair. The potential disadvantages of hair systems are many and varied.

In persons who are actively losing hair, vs. those who are essentially bald, the hair system itself may rapidly accelerate the process of going bald. Another disadvantage is the hard leading edge that can give away the fact that a person is wearing a hair system. In the past, this problem has been addressed by using delicate lace front artificial hairlines that look quite natural but tend to be extremely fragile.

Because they are nonliving, hair systems must be serviced and eventually replaced themselves. The costs of servicing and maintaining a hair replacement system are not insubstantial–and such costs can dramatically exceed the initial price of acquisition.

Surgical Hair Restoration

Surgical hair restoration, commonly known as hair transplantation, exploits a phenomenon first described in the 1950′s. This phenomenon, donor dependence refers to the observation that hair bearing tissue, when relocated to a previously balding area of the same person’s scalp, continues to produce viable, vigorously hair that persists in its new location as it otherwise would, had it not been “relocated”. In appropriately selected patients, surgical hair restoration can constitute a positive solution to pattern hair loss

There are important caveats to hair transplantation. The first concerns supply and demand. At the present time, one may not transplant hair from one person to another without causing a florid and destructive foreign body response in the recipient. Thus, both operator and patient are relegated to whatever permanent hair bearing tissue is in place. Accordingly, it is highly important to conserve and strategically place this precious resource appropriately.

The second major caveat to hair transplantation concerns achieving clinically beneficial endpoint results. A hair line that is spotty or too abrupt may look worse than it did before it was restored. By the same token, hair behind the leading edge that is not restored in a fashion that yields meaningful density (e.g. 1 hair per mm/sq) often fails to approximate a full head of hair. Therefore, in selecting a transplant surgeon, artistic excellence is at least equal in importance to basic surgical skill.

The third caveat to hair transplantation refers to a problem known as chasing a receding hair line. Because hair loss is progressive and relentless, it is possible that donor hair restored integrated into an apparently intact area of scalp hair may end up as an island of hair because the hair behind it continues to erode. In this situation, patients are compelled to augment hair behind the restoration zone in order to retain a full appearance. This works reasonably well until either the hair stops thinning or one eventually runs out of donor hair.

Ideally, for persons undergoing transplant surgery, it would be helpful to incorporate a treatment option that safely and effectively arrested the progression of hair loss, allowing the treating surgeon to fill in the thin areas without the concern of chasing a receding hair line.

Drug-based Hair Loss Treatment Options

From a treatment perspective, the two most widely used therapeutic interventions against pattern hair loss have been topical minoxidil and oral finasteride.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil, first sold under the trade-name Rogaine(TM) was initially developed as the oral antihypertensive drug, Loniten(TM). In some patients who used minoxidil to treat blood pressure problems, it was observed that unusual hair growth occurred on the face and scalp. This was somewhat colloquially referred to as the werewolf affect. >From this observation, topical compositions containing minoxidil were successfully tested on balding scalps. Rogaine(TM) (2% minoxidil) was the first hair loss treatment drug approved by the FDA for use in men. Eventually, Rogaine(TM) (2% minoxidil) was approved for use in women. Extra Strength Rogaine(TM) (5% minoxidil) was approved by the FDA for use solely in men.

The advantages of Rogaine(TM) include the ability to arrest, and possibly reverse, pattern hair loss. Based on Pfizer’s own marketing materials, Rogaine(TM) has primarily been shown to be effective in treating hair loss in the vertex and posterior scalp, but not the anterior hairline. Minoxidil is a potent drug with potential side effects that include hypotension and skin irritation.

Finasteride

Finasteride, a selective type II 5-alpha reductase inhibitor was originally developed, in 5 mg oral dosage, under the trade name Proscar(TM) to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Because BPH is linked biochemically to the same metabolic pathways that trigger pattern hair loss, it was hypothesized that finasteride could be clinically useful in both pathologies. From this work, Propecia(TM) (1 mg finasteride) was developed. In placebo-controlled studies on men with mild to moderate hair loss, Propecia(TM) was shown to produce clinically relevant benefit in arresting, and in some cases, reversing the progression of the disorder. Propecia(TM) is not indicated for use in women. Noted side effects include reduced libido, as well as reduced ejaculate volume. Gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) is another potential side effect. Finasteride can also artificially lower the levels of a key protein (PSA) used to screen for prostate cancer. Finasteride is considered a teratogen (may cause feminizing birth defects) and should not be handled by pregnant women or even those persons who may come into contact with pregnant women.

Dutasteride

Like finasteride, dutasteride was originally developed to treat BPH. Unlike finasteride however, dutasteride inhibits both isoforms of 5-alpha reductase, while finasteride inhibits only type II 5-alpha reductase. Interestingly, a clinical study undertaken by GlaxoSmithKline, the EPICS trial, did not find dutasteride to be more effective than finasteride in treating BPH.

At the present time, dutasteride is approved to treat BPH. Clinical trials for dutasteride as a hair loss drug were undertaken, but halted in late 2002. Potential side effects noted with the use of dutasteride include gynecomastia, changes to PSA levels, teratogenic effects and others that closely parallel the negative side effect profile described by the makers of finasteride.

In December 2006, GlaxoSmithKline embarked on a new Phase III, six month study in Korea to test the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of a once-daily dose of dutasteride (0.5mg) for the treatment of AGA in the vertex region of the scalp (types IIIv, IV and V on the Hamilton-Norwood scale). The future impact that this study will have on the FDA’s approval or disapproval of Avodart for the treatment of male pattern baldness in the United States is yet to be determined.

Other Drugs

On occasion, but specifically in female patients drugs including spironalactone & flutamide have, on occasion been used off-label to treat various forms of hair loss. Each drug comes with a host of potential side effects, and none has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of pattern hair loss.

Non-drug based Hair Loss Treatment Options

Recently, botanically derived substances have come under serious investigation as potentially useful tools against AGA. This effort has been largely pioneered by the makers of HairGenesis(TM). After the creation of HairGenesis(TM) a number of other products came on the market. Some incorporated drugs like minoxidil. Others, used variations on the theme of non-drug based formulations. However, aside from HairGenesis(TM), none has been supported with a third party, IRB monitored, placebo-controlled, double blind study–published in the peer-reviewed medical literature. This makes HairGenesis(TM) unique in the category. For those wishing to see how HairGenesis(TM) is thought to compare to other hair loss treatment options, a review of the HairGenesis(TM) Comparison Page is encouraged.

Inasmuch as the bulk of this website focuses on the benefits associated with HairGenesis(TM), the numerous points in favor of HairGenesis(TM) treatment will not be reiterated herein. Two points are relevant to the present discussion, however, and will be concisely articulated.

First, the complex of naturally derived active substances used in HairGenesis(TM) have been shown to operate through pathways and mechanisms that are unique from one another, as well as separate and apart from those within which drug-based treatments work. Suffice to say that this observation has presented a unique opportunity to develop HairGenesis into a “cocktail” treatment wherein formulation synergy would most likely occur.