One of the things about male pattern baldness is, those whom choose to treat it generally do their research. They know all about the pharmaceuticals they can get from their doctor to manipulate DHT. But oftentimes the mind will get stuck somehow that the drugs of modern medicine are the best way to go. They somehow must be more potent. But really — hasn’t the planet been producing plants with in incredible diversity of natural chemicals for millions of years? And hasn’t man been using these plants as medicines for many thousands of years? Could they possibly do an even better job at stopping hair loss? Yes, yes and yes!
Why do we tend to think that synthetic pharmaceutical medicines will be more effective than herbs? It’s the money! It seems like these giant, hi-tech, well-funded companies — who have lots of cash to throw at formal research studies — should be able to produce the most effective medicines on the planet. But why? Why should they be better than plant extracts? When you think about it, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever. It’s just that the makers of plant extracts can’t afford the huge clinical trials the pharmaceutical companies can. So an herbal medicine can actually be much more effective than a synthetic one, but if the synthetic one is even just slightly better than a placebo, it’s the only one legally allowed to be labeled as “effective in treating hair loss”.
There are in-fact small-scale studies revealing the efficacy of herbs and other natural supplements — they just don’t happen to be so large as to be allowed to advertise as a cure for baldness. Typically these studies are done “in the test tube”, meaning they show that a particular supplement can inhibit the conversion of testosterone to DHT, or prevent the binding of DHT to sites on hair follicles. Because there’s restrictions on being able to patent natural treatments (because the company didn’t “invent”, they can’t patent it, and any other company can benefit from all the work they’d done), these studies usually won’t involve large populations of human users, and be placebo controlled. So you have to somewhat take it on faith that because the herb or nutrient blocks inhibition in the test tube, it’ll do so in your scalp as well (there’s good reason to believe this, actually, which we’ll get to).
Based on the clear evidence that certain herbs, oils and vitamins affect the biochemical pathways necessary to prevent hair loss, here’s some supplements you may consider using. This paper focuses on internal use — there may likely be more topically applied preparations as well, which you can research elsewhere. Preventing hair loss and regrowing hair for men with MPB focuses on three specific areas: preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT (while ensuring testosterone levels are still high), reducing inflammation at a cellular level at the follicle, and ensuring an adequate supply of nutrients for hair growth.
To prevent DHT formation and block its binding at hair follicles, the big supplements are saw palmetto berry extract, nettle root extract, flax seed lignans, and soy isoflavones. There are more, but these are the ones that everyone agrees upon will do what you need. Note that the saw palmetto berry should always be an extract, not just the berry itself (it won’t be strong enough). Same with the nettle root.
These supplements actually work together in synergy — some will block formation and some will block binding. Typically these are available together, with the lignans as well, in formulas which support the prostate gland. Interestingly, the same nutrients which prevent prostate swelling also prevent hair loss — so if you want to choose the single most effective supplement, choose a high quality gel-cap (oil-based, for best absorption) prostate support formula. It is actually because we know that these work to reduce prostate swelling resulting from DHT production and binding (the symptoms are alleviated quickly) that it’s safe to believe the same actions will help prevent further hair loss.
Soy isoflavones (specifically one called “daidzein”) have recently been discovered to potentially be the most potent inhibitors of DHT formation. They work in combination with “good” bacteria in the gut to form a chemical called “equol”. This synergy appears to be enhanced with the addition of green tea extract. So the next two supplements on your list are soy isoflavones and green tea extract. Because these work with beneficial bacteria in the gut, a high quality, multiple species probiotic can also be useful.
Finally, much of the death of hair follicles seems to the the result of inflammation. Reducing inflammation throughout your body is not only a good idea for treating hair loss, but important for overall anti-aging benefits. The best choice for supplementation is an easily absorbed form of curcumin, an extract from the spice turmeric. Just look for a brand that’s been formulated specifically to be easily absorbed by the body. One company is patenting a combination of resveratrol (the anti-aging nutrient found in red wine) with curcumin, so adding resveratrol won’t hurt either.
A smattering of other nutrients are worth considering as well — particularly if you favor the “shotgun approach” — that of including every possible helpful nutrient, expecting that at least some will do the job. Here’s a quick rundown: The B-vitamins biotin and inositol, the mineral sulfur (either from the amino acid methionine or MSM), the amino acids taurine (thought to prevent hardening of the follicle), arginine (thought to signal hair growth — can be taken alone or sourced from raw chocolate or pomegranate extract) and lysine (which seems to boost all other natural supplements). Finally, a tablespoon of coconut oil either eaten or massaged into the scalp on a regular basis has a lot of support from the community supporting natural treatments.
While these seem like a lot, if you choose to take them all, you can simplify the process by spending some time dividing up your daily doses into a vitamin box. This way you won’t have to open 5 bottles a day — just reach in, grab your handful and go. All the supplements her have some sort of scientific support for treating male pattern baldness, and putting them altogether is really likely to have some positive effect on your hair growth if consistently used for 3 months or more. Finally, consider combining them with a topical treatment containing natural hair growth stimulating ingredients such as rosemary, sage and lavender essential oils (yes, they’re not just great scents, they’re medicines as well). You find excellent recipes for blends of these oils as hair treatments, which can be even more effective when combined with the internal supplement program described here.