Baldness Treatment Choices: From Drugs to Herbs
A great body of work has already been devoted to the study of hair loss and baldness treatment. Scientists and researchers want to know more about the mechanisms involved particularly in male pattern baldness (MBP) which is prevalent among men starting from age 30. Generally what is known to cause MBP is the hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an oversupply of which adversely affects the hair follicles responsible for hair growth.
Many hair loss cures now available in the market target DHT and how it accumulates in our body. One such baldness treatment is finasteride which is classified as a DHT inhibitor. Currently sold under the brands Propecia and Proscar, this drug was originally developed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. What this drug does is bind an enzyme scientifically known as 5-alpha-reductase which converts free testosterone to DHT. Subsequent tests for finasteride showed that it is also effective for thinning hair problems. The drug`s success rate, based on these tests, is remarkable in that 9 out of 10 male subjects showed appreciable results after taking the medication.
This drug, however, is not usually prescribed to women because of the purported birth defects it can bring to developing male fetuses. Some serious side effects such as allergies may also result from its intake, particularly in conjunction with other medicines, and hence, this drug for baldness treatment can be purchased only with a doctor`s prescription.
An alternative medication that works for both men and women is minoxidil which can be purchased without prescription from local drugstores or online pharmacies. Originally, minoxidil was developed as an oral pill to treat hypertension. This vasodilator-type of a drug was later discovered to produce the side-effect of hair growth, eventually leading to its market entry as a baldness treatment. Minoxidil as an aid to hair regrowth is not orally taken but topically administered to the scalp. Its mechanism of action is unknown, but it is said to be effective to treat hair loss at the top and the back of the scalp.
An approach quite similar to minoxidil is massaging the scalp with essential oils derived from certain medicinal plants. The curative power from these oils supposedly emanates from aroma compounds present in some raw plant material like berries, fruits, seeds, flowers, roots, leaves, wood, bark, or peel. The extracts from these materials that may serve as baldness treatment are not exclusively for direct application to the scalp. Some can be brewed into drinks that are supposed to cure or prevent hair loss. One such plant material is the Chinese herb he shou wu which is boiled into a brown-colored tea that is said to foster moderate hair regrowth. Green tea is another potent drink that can supposedly inhibit DHT production in the body as well as stimulate blood circulation to the scalp and hair follicles. These herbal benefits against hair loss are likewise the selling point for Hair Again, a food supplement which contains ginkgo biloba extract. This ingredient has been known to increase blood flow, a vital body function not only for hair regrowth but also for overall health and well-being.