(Last Updated on March 4, 2022)
Have you noticed your hair starting to thin?
Do you often wonder what could be the cause; genetics, diet, or behavioral factors?
Most men perceived to be dominant and have more power have something in common, baldness – the likes of Jeff Bezos, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Andre Agassi, and Michael Jordan.
For a long time, baldness was associated with more testosterone levels, but this was not supported by evidence.
Hair loss is not directly associated with testosterone but with DHT-an androgen that is derived from testosterone.
The National Institutes of Health says that androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) affects roughly 50 million men and 30 million women in America.
So, why do you lose hair?
Abnormally, high levels of DHT may connect to hair follicles receptors leading to hair shrinkage and dormant follicles.
Let’s dig deeper.
Testosterone And Hair Loss: What’s The Connection?
Testosterone and hair loss have a complicated relationship.
Hair loss is caused by Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-a hormone obtained from testosterone by 5-alpha reductase enzyme.
Besides, it can be derived from DHEA, a hormone in women.
But, baldness is not as a result of too much testosterone or DHT hormone but due to the sensitivity of your hair follicles.
Your genes establish sensitivity.
Thus, if your hair follicles receptors are sensitive, they are prone to binding to DHT, leading to hair loss.
However, it does not mean that men with hair loss have higher levels of testosterone.
They may have low free testosterone levels but elevated levels of 5-alpha reductase-the enzyme that changes testosterone to DHT.
Besides, you may also experience hair loss if your genes are particularly susceptible to sensitive hair follicles.
Testosterone vs. DHT
Testosterone is the most active androgen hormone in the body.
It is responsible for:
- Sex drive.
- Fat loss.
- Bone health.
- Muscle growth.
- Sperm production.
- Mood and cognitive function.
On the other hand, DHT is a by-product of testosterone.
Yet it is stronger.
It binds longer to androgen receptors, which may cause less circulating testosterone in the body.
How Do You Lower DHT?
Various medications are proven for DHT-related hair loss.
They work by altering receptor binding and DHT production.
Also, diet and lifestyle changes may help to manage DHT levels.
Finasteride is an FDA approved oral prescription-only drug that blocks DHT and prevents hair loss.
Finasteride binds to 5-Alpha reductase and inhibits the enzyme from linking to DHT.
A 2012 study 1 showed that men with androgenetic alopecia noticed an 87.1 percent increase in hair growth following finasteride use.
But, some experienced the following side effects.
- Abnormal ejaculation.
- Loss of sexual interest.
- Tenderness in your breast.
- Cold sweats and chills.
- Skin rash.
- Abnormal weight changes.
- Erectile dysfunction.
Pregnant women should not use finasteride because it causes congenital disabilities in male babies.
Minoxidil is commonly known as Rogaine.
It is a vasodilator that widens blood vessels and allows more blood flow.
It comes in a topical solution applied on the scalp to accelerate hair growth.
Minoxidil is also FDA approved to treat hair loss.
However, it may cause side effects such as:
- Unwanted facial hair.
- Tingly feeling or redness.
- Scalp irritation.
- Heart palpitations.
However, not all users experience these side effects.
If they occur, you should seek medical attention.
Saw Palmetto has been long used as a therapeutic remedy for symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
A 2009 study 2 shows that Saw Palmetto works by blocking the enzyme 5- alpha-reductase and lowering inflammation.
Therefore, its mechanism on inhibiting 5a-reductase may help alleviate hair loss.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
The pumpkin seed oil has been seen to inhibit the activity of 5-alpha reductase and portray antiandrogenic effects.
A 2014 study 3 involving 76 men with mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia showed that pumpkin seed oil increases hair growth by almost 40 percent within 24 weeks of treatment.
How much do you love your morning coffee?
If you love your coffee for energy, you may love it more if you discover it is healthy for hair growth when applied topically,
Caffeine in particular.
Caffeine has been seen to block the effects of DHT, resulting in wider hair roots, prolongs anagen duration-hair growth stage, and elongates hair shaft.
Also, it increases blood circulation to the scalp promoting healthy hair follicles and thicker hair.
A 2012 study 4 showed that topical application of caffeine counteracts the effects of DHT in men with androgenetic alopecia.
Vitamin B6 binds to testosterone receptors, thus reducing the production of DHT.
This supports hair growth.
Research also shows that B6 prevents loss of hair loss in the telogen phase-resting phase.
Vitamin B3 supports healthy hair by increasing blood circulation on the scalp.
Lack of enough blood flow to the hair follicles compounds the effects of DHT.
This means excess DHT will not be removed from hair follicles.
Blood flushes out excess chemicals in hair follicles, including DHT.
Besides, research shows that individuals with male pattern baldness had 2.6 times less blood flow than men with healthy hair.
Red Ginseng Extract
Several studies on rats show that red ginseng may promote hair growth.
A study 5 published in the journal of medicinal food involving cultured human hair follicles showed that red ginseng extract promotes hair growth by inhibiting 5a-reductase- an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.
DHT Blocking Foods
Foods rich in lycopene
Lycopene blocks the production of DHT.
It is found in the following foods.
Foods rich in zinc
Zinc contains phytosterol, which blocks the production of DHT.
You can obtain zinc from:
- Cooked white mushroom.
- Wheat germ.
Foods rich in L-lysine
L-lysine is a potent DHT inhibitor.
You can obtain it from:
Foods rich in biotin
Biotin prepares a healthy environment for hair growth by conditioning the scalp.
Biotin rich foods include berries, salmon, liver, swiss chard, legumes, cooked egg yolk, bananas, and tuna.
DHT, a derivative of testosterone, causes hair loss.
However, your genes and other factors, such as aging, may accelerate hair loss.
If your genetic makeup makes your hair follicles sensitive to DHT, then you are highly predisposed to hair loss.
DHT is a potent androgen responsible for many masculine characteristics, including puberty in boys.
However, excess levels of dihydrotestosterone may cause hair loss.
Finasteride and Minoxidil are FDA approved prescription medication for hair loss.
Besides, natural extracts and vitamins such as saw palmetto, caffeine, pumpkin seed oil, vitamin B6 &B3, and red ginseng extract might reduce the activity of 5a-reductase.
You can also inhibit DHT production by taking foods rich in zinc, Lycopene, L-lysine, and biotin.
Read next: 6 Foods That Kill Testosterone