There are a number of herbal remedies said to combat hair loss by blocking 5-alpha-reductase enzymes. Many of these herbal products such as saw palmetto, Zinc, Azelaic Acid, etc. are “clinically proven” to reduce the amount of 5-alpha-reductase enzymes in the body which ultimately reduces Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – the hormone responsible for genetic hair loss. Some of these herbal medications are applied topically and some are taken orally.
Clinically Proven For Treating Hair Loss?
Keep in mind however, that “clinically proven” 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are not necessarily “clinically proven” to treat hair loss.
In order for it to be proven as a hair loss treatment – a product must be tested for that very purpose. Most of these products have not been. In my opinion, the “theory” of a hair loss treatment for 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors sound good but there are too many unanswered questions that only a formal study can answer.
Some of these include:
- What is the recommended dosage?
- How often a day should it be applied or taken?
- Should it be taken orally, topically, or both?
- Will it regrow hair or reverse the hair miniaturization process?
- Will it protect against future hair loss?
5-alpha-reductase inhibition tests on a product supports the POSSIBILITY of treating hair loss. But it can only be considered a “proven” treatment for hair loss if the above questions can be answered based on clinical evidence and visual proof.
Oral verses Topical Treatments:
As I stated above, there is no clinical proof available to support or deny the possibility of the majority of these herbal products for treating hair loss. However, as I think about the difference between oral and topical treatments, more questions and thoughts arise. The below is conjecture.
It is my opinion that it makes more logical sense for an oral 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor to successfully block DHT more than a topical DHT inhibitor. We know that DHT is created when the hormone testosterone combined with the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. We also know that azelaic acid (among many other things) inhibits 5-alpha-reductase enzymes because it is clinically proven.
But if DHT has already been formed in the skin – what does a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor really do when applied topically? Would it attack the 5-alpha-reductase within the DHT or only the stand alone enzymes? I would suspect that 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors taken orally might be more effective because it can potentially reduce the overall amount of DHT in the body. Less 5-alpha-reductase should mean less DHT. But by the time a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor is applied topically – it might be too late since the DHT is already formed. In theory however, it might block more from being created in the area where the topical has been applied.
Whether taken orally or topically however, one has to address the questions that only a clinical test on hair loss can answer. One must determine just how long the “effect” lasts on the enzyme and at what point the effectiveness will wear off. Answers to this question will determine the required dosage and frequency needed of the herbal hair loss treatment.
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