Turmeric for Hair Growth

The human head normally loses up to 100 hairs per day and is not a cause for concern. This is because the hairs on a human head are all in different stages of the hair cycle. The first of the cycles is caused the Anagen Phase where the hair grows at about half an inch per month. The Anagen phase (the growing phase) lasts between three and five years until the hair follicle enters the Catagen phase. The Catagen phase is thought to be a very brief period of time of up to three weeks in which the hair follicle becomes separated from its blood supply. The last stage is known as the Telogen phase. This is the phase that everybody notices in the hair brush or the bathroom plug hole, the phase when the hair falls out. The follicle then stays dormant between three months to nine months where no cell division occurs until the follicle reenters the Anagen phase and the cycle restarts.

Hair loss effects both men and woman can be extremely distressing. The causes are numerous and include traction alopecia, diet, metabolic imbalances, fungal infections, illness, surgery and stress. The treatment of hair loss is determined by the cause. The most common cause is male pattern baldness, so called as it follows and a unique and predictable pattern of hair loss in men. Male Pattern Baldness is also known as Androgenic Alopecia and effects up to 70% of men. The difference between hair loss in men and women is that where women typically display diffuse thinning over their heads, men show the typical pattern of hair loss receding at the temples and at the vertex which eventually joins together.

Male Pattern Baldness is measured using the Hamilton - Norwood scale which was developed to gauge the amount of hair loss by the originator of the scale Dr. James Hamilton in the 1950s. The scale was later updated and improved by Dr. O'Tar Norwood who added 3a, 3 vertex, 4a and 5a to the existing scale. Male Pattern Baldness is measured on the scale from 1 to o 7 with 1 being little or no sign of hair loss and 7 being severe.

One particular theory of hair loss is that the human hair sufferers from miniaturisation due to its exposure to dihydrotestosterone which is a derivative of testosterone. Over time the hair follicle miniaturises until there is no hair left. This has led many hair loss sufferers to attempt to stop the conversion or aromatisation of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. A popular prescription drug known as Propecia whose generic name is finasteride helps stop the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Unfortunately this prescription drug is not without side effects including gynecomastia, acne and erectile dysfunction.

Caffeine Hair Growth

The treatment of male pattern baldness and the search for a baldness cure often involves the use of a shampoo treatments using vasodilation for increased blood flow, DHT reduction, vitamin therapy or possibly all of them. There are an amazing variety and array of shampoos available. One of the most popular hair loss treatment shampoos is called Alpecin which was developed by Dr Adolf Klenk. Every day millions of people consume various quantities of the humble cup of coffee and the caffeine contained within is one of the most commonly used stimulants in the world. Dr Klenk thought that as caffeine has been used in the past by athletes for doping then its function in the human body must be involved in the supply of energy. As the human hair requires vast quantities of energy and at least ten times more during the growth phase, then caffeine would possibly be a fruitful area of research.

Dr Klenk has pioneered the use of caffeine in hair loss, specifically adding caffeine to shampoo. Dr Klenk's shampoo, Alpecin, also contains niacin which is also implicated in energy production in the human body as it is a B Vitamin. Alpecin also contains zinc which has also been shown to be important in the growth and maintenance of hair. It is preferable to buy Dr Klenk's Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo because pouring a cup of coffee over your head wouldn't be advised and would not give the same effect, in fact you would need 50 cups of coffee to get the same effect.

It is also believed that Alpecin shampoo mitigates against the effects of testosterone, protecting the hair follicle and lengthening the hair growth phase. Another shampoo designed to mitigate against the effects of testosterone Ultrax Labs Hair Surge Caffeine Hair Loss Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo was the top rated 2012 shampoo for hair regrowth stimulation.The Ultrax shampoo also contains Ketoconazole as an active ingredient has been shown to have a mild anti-androgen effect.

Another interesting shampoo that is used as an adjunct in the fight against hair loss is PhytoWorx Organic Hair Loss Shampoo With Plant Stem Cells for Hair Recovery and Regrowth. As the name implies, Phytoworx contains plant stem cells which to give the Latin name is Malus Domestica. This shampoo's ingredients contain no sulphates with natural substances such as tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and rosemary oils. All substances believed to be helpful to the health of the scalp.

Other shampoos use vitamins and minerals thought to be essential to healthy hair growth and the fight against baldness. Nexxus VitaTress Biotin Shampoo uses biotin as an active ingredient, which as a B Vitamin provides the hair with much needed carbohydrates and proteins. In fact the practice of putting eggs on to of the scalp has some merit, as eggs are a rich source of biotin and other vitamins and nutrients necessary for healthy hair growth and retention. Cauliflower is also a rich source of biotin but the benefits of applying a cauliflower to your head are doubtful. Avalon Organics Shampoo Biotin B-Complex is also a biotin shampoo containing the B complex vitamins. The Avalon shampoo is marketed as an organic environmentally friendly product.

Types of Hair Loss

Androgenic Alopecia

Androgenic Alopecia can be found in both men and women but despite this fact, it is often called male pattern baldness. In men, the hair loss proceeds in a well known and well defined pattern usually creating an M shape of baldness. However, in women, the hair loss does not follow this pattern and the loss is diffuse a cross all of the scalp. As the name implies, Androgenic Alopecia is a result of the scalp's sensitivity to androgens. Androgens are hormones and the conversion of testosterone to the harmful DHT is the cause of this type of hair loss. Androgenic Alopecia in women can be mediated with the use of Regaine for women which acts as a vasodiolator bringing extra blood flow to the scalp.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is caused by the over production of androgens in women. The increased male hormones in women's bodies causes many symptoms including Irregular or missing periods, heavy periods, severe pain in the pelvic area, increased body hair and facial hair. As indicated previously, an increase in androgens in women would make more available for conversion to DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which is the killer of scalp hair in men and women alike.

Polycystic ovary syndrome which is also known as PCOS and Stein-Leventhal syndrome also cause further complications such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep disturbance and cancer. whilst it has no cure, it is believed by medical professionals that changes in diet including weight reduction programs may help. Medication such as Metformin and anti-androgens are also thought to be of use.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a disorder that is included in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. People with the disorder have the uncontrollable urge to pluck their hair out from the scalp and also eyebrows. This results in bald patches on the head and in worst case scenarios, total hair loss. This is considered to be similar to self harming whereby people may cut themselves and hurt themselves in order to reduce a build of psychological and emotional stress. The plucking of the hair acts as a psychological release. However, the pre-existing psychological and emotional distress is then further exacerbated by the presence of bald patches and resultant reactions from others. Treatment for trichotillomania is normally in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy. However, because curcumin has been found to help treat depression and anxiety, it may well help  in the treatment of trichotillomania. The mechanism in which curcumin treats anxiety and depression is by elevating serotonin levels in the brain.

Telogen Effluvium

When people suffer a physical or emotional shock or severe trauma, the hair go can quickly change from the growing (anagen) phase straight to the resting (telogen) phase which will result in severe hair loss known as telogen effluvium.

A woman's body goes through many changes during pregnancy and the the hormonal profiles can change drastically with increased levels of estrogen during pregnancy, in fact the levels of estrogen are at the highest during pregnancy than any other time. With such drastic changes in the body, hair loss is not unusual during pregnancy. Additionally, the birth itself can be quite traumatic resulting in telogen effluvium which has a delayed effect of about three months before the hair loss appears. This is also why most hair loss treatments take at least three months before results can be seen because of the hair growth cycles.

Hair Transplant

When all else has failed, many men opt for the last option...the hair transplant! Transplantation, which has been in use in the United States since the 1950s, uses grafts from the part of the head that is not normally effected by hair loss such as the very back of the scalp or the temples.

There are two types of hair transplant available. Firstly there is Follicular Unit Transfer known as F.U.T which is considered the old fashioned way of transferring hair from one part of the scalp to the other. F.U.T is performed by the removal of a strip of scalp of about 5 to 10 inches, after which the gap in the scalp is sewn back together. The piece of removed scalp including hair is then divided into possibly hundreds of separate grafts which are then implanted in the locations on the scalp as required.

Secondly, there is Follicular Unit Extraction known as F.U.E. F.U.E is considered to be the better option and differs from F.U.T in that after the patient has had his hair shaved, the doctor then removes hair follicles one by one. The doctor creates small holes in the bald area of the scalp with a needle and then the extracted hair follicles are then individually inserted into the waiting holes. Both techniques are quite time consuming with F.U.E being the lengthiest due to the extraction of single hair follicles. Treatments can take up to 8 hours with numerous doctors taking part in the procedure which can be undertaken in the doctor's surgery.

The amount of celebrities who have admitted to transplants or who have miraculously reversed hair loss reads like a who's who of the entertainment world with such stars as Steve Carell, Jamie Foxx, Sean Penn, Christian Slater, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Al Pacino, Bono from U2, Gordon Ramsay, James Nesbitt, Rob Brydon, Mel Gibson, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Gardiner, John Cleese, Simon Pegg, Enrique Iglesias, Brendan Fraser, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hanks, Shane Warne, Jude Law, Sylvester Stallone, Tommy Lee Jones, Elton John, Declan Donnelly, Chris Martin of Coldplay, the late Robbie Williams, Nicolas Cage, Louis Walsh, Mickey Rourke, Hugh Laurie and Kevin Costner to name but a few.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees that the newly transplanted hair won't fall out as well, as the underlying cause of hair loss remains. In fact, there are reports in the media about celebrities who have had two and three transplants. In particular the Manchester United footballer, Wayne Rooney, freely admits to having hair transplants in 2011 and 2013, with a third transplant looking likely. The son of the late George Best, Callum Best, has reportedly said that he wouldn't rule out a fourth transplant. with costs varying widely in the United Kingdom between £1,000 to £10,000, such costs are well within the means of the rich and famous.

Laser Therapy

February 2007 saw the 'Hairmax LaserComb' gain the approval of the American Food and Drug Administration. After many years of research and clinical studies, the low level laser therapy was approved for use as an hair retention aid. The history of low level laser light therapy is synonymous with the work of the Hungarian scientist Endre Mester. During the 1960s, Mester studied the effects of low level radiation and found that it had profound effects on wound healing and pain relief. Studies using rats and rabbits found that the use of low level radiation increased wound healing more quickly than controls. One of the reasons for this is that the laser improves vasodilatation (blood flow) to the area of the wound which is also the principal behind the use of Minoxidil as a hair loss treatment because Minoxidil is a chemical vasodilator.

Laser light therapy has been used for the treatment of hair loss in many salons and health clinics for many years but until the product's launch, the treatment was inaccessible to many due to the cost and the size of the machines used made home use impractical. The introduction of the Hairmax LaserComb made the treatment of hair loss for both men and women safe and cost effective for use at home.

Minoxidil

A 2% and 5% Minoxidil topical version was developed by Upjohn Corporation for the treatment of Baldness with the brand name Rogaine in the United States and Regaine in Europe. It is believed that Minoxidil helps hair grow because it acts as a blood vessel dilator or vasodilator. This means it allows more oxygen get to the hair follicle which helps it grow. What do the athletes and sportsmen Zach Lund, Nemanja Vucicevic, Mariano Hood, Alessandro Pissilli, Borja Criado, Stan Lazaridis and Romario all have in common? If you're scratching your head for an answer, then you're closer than you think. They have all used Propecia (Finasteride) in order to stop hair loss (male pattern baldness). Romario was suspended from playing football (soccer) for a while but was later acquitted of doping charges. Romario said that he had taken Propecia for ten years in order to stave off baldness and this was attested to by his club Vasco de Gama. It is believed that Romario saw hair retention as a way of staying attractive to women and joked after his court hearing "What I like the most in life, besides sex, is playing football".

Finasteride is generic Propecia. Scientists believe that finasteride counteracts male pattern baldness by working against dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a chemical thought to play an important part in hair loss. DHT is thought to miniaturize hair follicles until they eventually disappear. Finasteride interrupts this process. A scientific study conducted over two years showed that taking 1mg pill per day of finasteride maintained hair count in 83% of the participants compared to 28% of those in the placebo group.

The problem for the athletes and sportsmen is that the use of Finasteride is banned. Finasteride has been banned because although it doesn't improve physical performance, it does however mask the existence of other prohibited substances in the body. So athletes are left with a stark choice between keeping their hair or their careers. Once the hair follicles have disappeared there is no chance for Finasteride or any other medication to work and the window of opportunity has gone. Finasteride helps with those going bald but its best to start treatment before you start going bald. Finasteride can be seen as a hair retention medicine as well as a hair loss cure.

Hair Loss Vitamins

There are many vitamins and minerals involved in the maintenance of healthy hair such as Biotin, Vitamin D and Zinc. Vitamin D3 is implicated in a disease called Rickets which although the primary symptoms maybe deformed bones, those suffering from Rickets also suffered from severe hair loss. The cause of Rickets is the lack of Vitamin D in the blood stream. Vitamin D is usually created by the interaction of human skin with sunlight. People with darker skin therefore typically need an higher exposure to sunlight. This led scientists to investigate the implications of Vitamin D deficiency and its relationship to hair loss and hair growth.

Biotin is also known as vitamin B7 and all the B vitamins are considered to be helpful in hair growth and retention. In particular, Biotin helps with the regulation of sebaceous glands and is also heavily involved in Keratin synthesis, the building blocks of hair. As the sebaceous glands are involved in the maintenance of of the hair follicle and Keratin is the major protein found in hair, Biotin can be a significant adjunct in the fight against hair loss. It has been discovered that nursing mothers, the elderly and alcoholics have lower levels of biotin and hair loss in these groups could be a result of such a deficiency. Biotin can be found in foods such as bananas and carrots but is also popular as a supplement. Iron, L-Carnitine, Niacin, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Omega 6 Fatty Acids, Resveratrol, Saw Palmetto, Serrapeptase,Vitamin E and Zinc are also used for hair retention.

There are many supplements available that are believed to help with hair loss. It has been discovered that the scalp of bald males contains a substance called prostaglandin D2 in high concentrations. Studies suggest that Prostaglandin D2 also known as PGD2 strongly inhibits hair growth. This has led many to search for substances with anti PGD2 qualities. Such PGD2 inhibitors include the hay fever medication Cetirizine, Reseveratol and Luteolin to name but a few.

Curcumin for the Treatment of Hair Loss

Curcumin is believed to be a potent weapon in the fight against hair loss as it is a powerful anti inflammatory with inflammation being a major cause of hair loss.  Curcumin's ability to reduce  inflammation in the body is now thought to be a golden bullet for the treatment for many disorders. In terms of hair loss, curcumin behaves as a natural 5 - α reductase (5AR) inhibitor but without the side effects of finasteride which includes erectile dysfunction. In a 2015 study entitled 'Effect of curcumin on the interaction between androgen receptor and Wnt/β-catenin in LNCaP xenografts', it was stated that "Curcumin significantly decreased androgen receptor expression at both the mRNA and protein level". Curcumin not only inhibits the effects of androgen receptors but also its co-factors that are involved in harmful effects related to hair loss.

As well as dihydrotestosterone, another molecule that is thought to be damaging to human hair is Matrix metalloproteinase 9 or MMP-9. This molecule is believed to degrade the human hair follicle and studies have shown that curcumin helps suppress the expression of MMP-9 in the human body. In a 2001 study entitled 'Identification of clustered cells in human hair follicle responsible for MMP-9 gelatinolytic activity: consequences for the regulation of hair growth regulation of hair growth', scientists discovered that "upregulation of MMP-9 in the lower epithelial compartment of the human hair bulb is a major mechanism through which hair follicle involution, observed in alopecia, may occur". In lay terms, this means that the increases in MMP-9 found in the hair bulb increased shrinkage. Another study although investigating chronic periodontitis found that curcumin significantly decreased MMP-9 activity and compared better than the standard drug used for the condition.

Researchers have also discovered that when curcumin is combined with resveratrol, a powerful synergy is created with the combination of the two substances becoming greater than the sum of their parts. Not only does curcumin fight hair loss by itself but when taken together with resveratrol, it also increases the bioavailability of resveratrol which is also a potent hair loss treatment.  

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