Understanding Hair Loss
Studies show that over 30 million women in the country are experiencing hair loss, with 70% of that 30 million being African American Women.
It is normal to lose between 50-100 hairs a day, this is part of the hair renewal process. However, most people suffer from excessive hair loss at one time in their life. There are many reasons for this including medication, radiation, chemotherapy, exposure to chemicals, hormonal and nutritional factors, thyroid disease, generalized or local skin disease, and stress. Many of these causes are temporary and a few are permanent. Many dermatologists are recommending that their patients take hair vitamins.
Since hormones both stimulate hair growth and cause hair loss, hormonal changes by far have the biggest impact on hair loss. Men generally have hair loss concentrated in a specific pattern from the front through to the crown. Women tend to have thinning throughout their head without being in any specific pattern. This type of hair loss is caused by the androgen DHT, or Dihydrotestosterone. Child birth and birth control also plays a role in hair loss.
Disease Or Illness
Since the follicle is a very sensitive it does respond to imbalances in the body. Most hair loss causes by disease or illness is temporary and resolves itself after the body has returned to a healthy condition.
Other Factors are: Major surgery/chronic illness, Alopecia Areata Fungus Infection (Ringworm) of the scalp, Stress
Solving Hair Loss
5 Alpha Reductase inhibitors
Drugs in this class work by inhibiting the enzyme 5 alpha reductase, which limits the conversion of testosterone to DHT (Chen et al., 1996) Finasteride (propecia) is the first drug in this class to undergo extensive clinical trials in men. Finasteride has selective activity against 5 alpha reductase. As a result, serum and follicular DHT levels are significantly reduced (Dallob et al., 1994).
Saw Palmetto extract
Studies have shown that saw palmetto is an effective anti-androgen. It acts in a similar way that propecia does. Firstly it lowers levels of DHT in the body by blocking 5 alpa-reductase. Secondly Saw Palmetto blocks receptors sites on cell membranes required for cells to absorb DHT. Although no studies have been carried out on saw palmetto and its relation to hair growth, studies have been performed on the use of Saw Palmetto in the treatment of benign prostatic disease, which is similar to androgenetic alopecia in that it also depends on the production of dihydrotestosterone. All of the studies that have been performed to date show that Saw Palmetto is an effective anti-androgen and has shown conclusively to be effective in the treatment of benign prostatic disease.
One may assume from this that since Saw Palmetto is an effective anti-androgen and is used in the treatment of prostatic disease then it may also be effective in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.
Some vitamins have been show to inhibit the activity of 5 alpha reductase and subsequent production of DHT. These vitamins therefore may be of great benefit in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia or preventing baldness. There has been studies in which zinc is shown to inhibit 5 alpha reductase activity and it has therefore been concluded that zinc is beneficial in disease and disorders related to an excess in DHT. There has also been studies which have show that vitamin B6, Zinc and azelaic combined together even in low concentrations resulted in a 90% inhibition of 5 alpha reductase activity.
Propecia has been tested and found to be effective in the treatment of AGA. However, its list of possible side effects include sexual adverse experiences. It also affects PSA levels, which is the screening indicator for prostrate cancer. Propecia must be prescribed by a dermatologist or doctor.
Saw Palmetto has been proven safe to use. It has no known drug interactions and is well tolerated by most people. The only noted side effect in a very small percent of people is upset stomach. Saw Palmetto can be taken with zinc, vitamin b6, and azelaic acid for a synergistic effect.
Normal healthy hair grows about 1/2 inch per month. It may take several months before any effects are noticed. Where the area is completely bald, hair may not grow, if the follicles are dead. It takes years for the hair to thin, so one must assume that it will take time to also reverse the process. Keeping the hair from further thinning is success in itself.
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