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Dr. Marty Sawaya reviews the supplement MSM, and its ability to treat hair loss, naturally.
Overall, some of these things “may work for some people” and this just happens to be so, where about 10-15% of folks will swear it really helped their loss, and shedding, or helped to stabilize the hair loss. We don’t know why it works for some, and not others, except that with the human scalp hair cycle, there is a regrowth of the hair, then a cycle where the hair that grows back is thinner, shorter and less pigmented. The hair cycle becomes shorter and shorter with each successive cycle. The hair cycle is a very complex thing to understand, and there is variation to some extent in everyone, but once you understand the hair cycle, it is easier to understand hair loss and why the regrowth that we see is just a part of the shortened hair cycle.
As for some of these herbal agents, let’s review some of them and try to get a handle on them with regard to hair growth.
MSM for hair loss
Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM): a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in the body, as well as in various foods. Reviewing the website: www.msm.com, it states that MSM is found in milk, coffee, tea, vegetables, etc. It is sold as capsules, tablets, powders, as well as topical preparations. According to the website, MSM is supposed to maintain structural proteins, form keratin proteins which make up the hair fiber and help the immune system. MSM has also been stated to help with pain, inflammation, increase blood flow, soften scar tissue and reduce muscle spasms. Reviews on the website also mention studies using MSM to help those with arthritis. From these reports, the users stated improvement to their nails and hair. “Those taking MSM showed 50% increased nail length, thickness and growth compared with placebo, and 100% of the subjects showed increased hair growth compared with placebo. In addition, 30% of the subjects taking MSM showed improvement in hair brilliance”.
Wow, those are pretty good numbers, but I wish I could see their standardized photography, and how these parameters were assessed. I didn’t see any hair counts, computerized systems for hair counting, biopsies, macro or microphotography. It’s really tough to determine what they mean by “100% increased hair growth”. So, until you see the full-published report done by the most rigorous testing methods, it is best to be skeptical. The website describes physicians who conducted the study, but to be honest, family practitioners don’t know enough about dermatology and hair growth to conduct such a study. Many dermatologists in general, are not comfortable with hair disorders and will even tell you so. It’s probably best to get the few who know anything about hair to do these studies.
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