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Exactly what to expect from these natural supplements as part of your regimen...
I know the internet discussion forums on the various hair loss sites have so much information from people who have taken things like: MSM, beta-sitosterol, and of course my long time favorite is biotin, not to mention a half-dozen others or more. I will try to review some of the frequently used herbal/nutritional supplements such as: MSM (Methyl-sulfonyl-methane), beta-sitosterol, pygeum, nettles, green tea, biotin and fish oil (Omega-3) in a series of 5 or 6 articles for HairlossTalk.com. This article will address Beta-Sitosterol and Biotin.
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. In the human scalp hair cycle we know that when men start to lose hair, there is a subsequent regrowth of that same hair, where it grows back 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, and which many people attribute to treatments and herbal supplements, is really just a part of the ongoing ebb and flow of loss and regrowth. As for some of these herbal agents, let’s review Beta-Sisterol and Biotin with regard to hair growth.
Beta-Sitosterol for hair loss
There are hundreds of compounds that are thought to “block DHT”. This is the oldest story in the book, and I’ve tested hundreds of these in the laboratory where we look for their effects in the steroid hormone pathway. Many of these products also make claims to help benign prostate hypertrophy (BPH) and lower cholesterol because DHT goes “hand in hand” with hair and prostate and has even been associated with heart disease. We do know that the same androgens affect the prostate (enlarging it) and scalp hair (miniaturizing it). These compounds usually have the steroid backbone chemical structure, but the side groups are changed, trying to mimic certain hormones in the pathway, therefore, being “so-called inhibitors”. It’s so easy to make these claims, and when you read the company literature, you realize they haven’t really been tested and they don’t really know an enzyme from a receptor.
The website, www.wholehealthmd.com, describes studies done with beta-sitosterol for 200 men with BPH, and states, “significant improvements in urinary difficulties”. These men took 20 mg of the compound, three times a day for 6-months. From there, the Hair Genesis Company makes claims for the product to be a DHT “blocker” and grow hair. There should be concern over these claims, like so many other products
that have made these same claims. If you want something to block DHT, or inhibit DHT production, then you should use finasteride/Propecia, since it inhibits the 5a-reductase enzyme type II.
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