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Dr. Marty Sawaya reviews the legitimacy of Green Tea as a hair loss supplement and the reasons why some people feel it may help. She also covers the potential side effects and its correlations with Minoxidil...
One of the most popular herbal agents being used these days is green tea. The
plant name for green tea is Camellia sinensis, which originates in China, but
very popular in Japan and other Asian countries. Green tea comes from the dried
leaves of the tea plant; while black tea is fermented tea leaves from the same
plant. Green tea has been used in the last few years to combat skin aging, intestinal
ailments, as well as androgenetic alopecia.
No published studies have been done to demonstrate efficacy for hair growth
by using green tea, whether taken orally or topically. Most people
infer that if it has all these wonderful anti-oxidant effects, it must also
be good for aging and hair loss.
Purine alkaloids are in green tea, which is a big name for caffeine, not to
mention theobromine and theophylline, the other ingredients you find in most
other teas. The catechins are the important compounds found in the unfermented
tea leaves, and the primary ingredients thought to be so helpful for Green Tea.
Catechins are known to have several medicinal properties, such as causing vasorelaxation
of blood vessels, so that it may help cardiovascular activity. Catechins are
also known to inhibit and kill certain bacteria, so it has antibacterial effects.
Most importantly, it is the anti-oxidant effects that people seem so enthralled
with to help skin wrinkles, aging, energy and stamina, and yes, also hair growth.
Green tea is also thought to help and be protective against cancers, such as
stomach and colon cancers.
Green Tea and Hair Loss
Using green tea to grow hair probably relates to the evidence for influencing
circulating hormones in the body. A high intake of green tea correlates to higher
levels of sex hormone-binding protein - or globulin, which carries hormones
like testosterone around the body in a bound, unusable form so that tissues
cannot use it directly. Testosterone is usually carried around the body by this
binding protein, therefore, reducing levels of free testosterone, so that it
cannot be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicle, which
is thought to shorten the hair cycle and cause hair loss in men. Green
tea is thought to effect the 5a-reductase type I enzyme,
which converts testosterone to DHT. There are two forms of 5a-reductase, and
type I is the enzyme in higher amounts around the body, but it
is the type II enzyme, which is thought to be responsible for
most of the DHT formed in the hair follicle. Finasteride/Propecia effects
or inhibits the type II form found in hair follicle.
In any case, the 5a-reductase enzymes can be confusing when you try to figure
out what type I does and what type II does and what the difference is for hair
growth. From a hair growth perspective, both can be important, it is just that
Merck makes a big hype about the fact that their product, finasteride/Propecia
inhibits type II and this is supposed to be the main enzyme form found in hair
follicle, however, research work done in my lab a few years ago, revealed both
forms in hair follicle, and also sebaceous glands. If anything, the type I enzyme
is found mostly in sebaceous gland, which is just next door to the hair follicle
and can also effect the level of male hormones around the hair follicle.
Again, no clinical studies have been done to show efficacy of green tea for
hair loss, so it is up to the user to be aware of the cost, side effects, the
fact that no proper dose level is known to effect hair growth, etc.
(Continued on next page...)
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