Ecklonia cava: a natural alternative to finasteride and minoxidil Ecklonia cava is an edible brown seaweed, harvested in the oceans around Jeju-island, South Korea. This seaweed is broadly studied for its health properties. Already since the 11th century, people believe that it is helpful for beauty and growth of hair. Recent studies show that topical treatment with Ecklonia cava extract can have a positive effect on hair growth. Ecklonia cava and hair growth Hairs are produced from hair follicles which are embedded in the inner layer of the skin (dermis). Hair follicles are made up of dermal papilla cells. Growth of hairs is closely associated with the status of the dermal papilla cells. Ecklonia cava elicits several pathways involved in the multiplication of dermal papilla cells, which ultimately results in hair growth. Studies show that Ecklonia cava enhances the lengthening of the hair shaft, the growth of dermal papilla cells and the release of the Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Ecklonia cava also decreases the activity of 5α-reductase and therefore reduces the amount of DHT (di-hydro testosterone) in the body. Ecklonia cava compared to minoxidil and finasteride Ecklonia cava has been studied against two well-known drugs for the treatment of hair loss: finasteride and minoxidil. Finasteride inhibits the activity of 5α-reductase, which reduces the amount of DHT (di-hydro testosterone) in the body. Minoxidil promotes the growth of dermal papilla cells (hair follicles are made up of these cells). Studies verify that Ecklonia cava performs both of these functions: After 37 days of treatment, Ecklonia cava shows an increase in the size, depth and length of hair follicles. Whereas the hair follicles of the control group were still in the telogen (resting) stage, those in the Ecklonia cava and minoxidil treated groups were in the anagen (growing) stage. Ecklonia cava has a 14% stronger effect on the increase of hair follicle length than Minoxdil (1 ug/ml of Ecklonia cava: +12,4%, 1 ug/ml of Minoxidil +10,9%). Ecklonia cava inhibits the 5 α-reductase by over 66% and shows the same level of inhibition of 5 α-reductase as finasteride. STUDY: AIM: We evaluated the effect of E. cava and one of its components, dioxinodehydroeckol, on hair-shaft growth in cultured human hair follicles and on hair growth in mice. METHODS: The MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay was used to check cell viability of human dermal papilla cells (DPCs) and outer root sheath (ORS) cells after treatment with E. cava and its metabolite, dioxinodehydroeckol. Hair-shaft growth was measured using the in vitro hair-follicle organ-culture system, in the presence or absence of E. cava and dioxinodehydroeckol. Anagen induction activity was examined by topical application of E. cava to the dorsal skin of C57BL/6 mice. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 expression was measured by reverse transcriptase PCR and ELISA. RESULTS: The proliferation activity was found to be highest for the ethyl acetate-soluble fraction of E. cava (EAFE) in DPCs and in ORS cells. Treatment with EAFE resulted in elongation of the hair shaft in cultured human hair follicles, and promoted transition of the hair cycle from the telogen to the anagen phase in the dorsal skin of C57BL/6 mice. In addition, EAFE induced an increase in IGF-1 expression in DPCs. Dioxinodehydroeckol, a component of E. cava, induced elongation of the hair shaft, an increase in proliferation of DPCs and ORS cells, and an increase in expression of IGF-1 in DPCs. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that E. cava containing dioxinodehydroeckol promotes hair growth through stimulation of DPCs and ORS cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/24252083/ STUDY: Abstract This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of Ecklonia cava, a marine alga native to Jeju Island in Korea, on the promotion of hair growth. When vibrissa follicles were cultured in the presence of E. cava enzymatic extract (which contains more than 35% of dieckol) for 21 days, E. cava enzymatic extract increased hair-fiber length. In addition, after topical application of the 0.5% E. cava enzymatic extract onto the back of C57BL/6 mice, anagen progression of the hair-shaft was induced. The treatment with E. cava enzymatic extract resulted in the proliferation of immortalized vibrissa dermal papilla cells (DPC). Especially, dieckol, among the isolated compounds from the E. cava enzymatic extract, showed activity that increased the proliferation of DPC. When NIH3T3 fibroblasts were treated with the E. cava enzymatic extract and the isolated compounds from the E. cava enzymatic extract, the E. cava enzymatic extract increased the proliferation of NIH3T3 fibroblasts, but the isolated compounds such as eckol, dieckol, phloroglucinol and triphlorethol-A did not affect the proliferation of NIH3T3 fibroblasts. On the other hand, the E. cava enzymatic extract and dieckol significantly inhibited 5α-reductase activity. These results suggest that dieckol from E. cava can stimulate hair growth by the proliferation of DPC and/or the inhibition of 5α-reductase activity.