Herbs That Neutralize DHT in Hair Follicles

The berries of the saw palmetto plant often are said to help combat hair loss.

Photo: Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images

Lots of ladies dream of hair that flows more easily than good wine at a party. The reality, though, is that some ladies end up with thinning hair, which can halt their hair fantasies. Some subsequently start looking for remedies to their thinning problem. Those who go the natural route sometimes opt for herbs that are supposed to block DHT in the hair follicle.

About DHT

Short for dihydrotestosterone, DHT is a chemical derived from the naturally occurring androgen, or "male" hormone, testosterone. Both male and female bodies produce testosterone, although guys usually have higher testosterone levels than gals. Because testosterone is present in everyone, everyone has the potential to have some DHT. DHT is a beauty yuck because it shrinks follicles and makes it ultra-hard for the follicle to keep producing hair. The result is hair thinning or hair loss. Doctors and scientists thus think controlling DHT levels is a key to keeping your locks lusciously thick.

The Evidence – Or Lack Thereof

Dozens of websites and books shout from the rooftops that various herbs have the ability to block DHT in hair follicles. People think herbs show promise for hair loss treatment because some research shows that certain plants can impact the production of androgens, including testosterone and DHT, in the hair follicle. For example, studies have shown that saw palmetto, the herb people perhaps most often associate with hair loss treatment, is somewhat effective in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate. This disease causes androgen levels to rise. The drug finasteride was developed for enlarged prostate treatment but now is used to treat hair loss because of its ability to control androgens. Saw palmetto is supposed to work much like this drug. The trouble is, there just isn't enough research to support most of the claims people make about herbs and DHT blocking. Even saw palmetto has no clinical trial to back up its use as an effective hair loss treatment, according to WebMD.

Examples

Many different herbs are being explored for their tendency to block DHT in follicles. Aside from saw palmetto, hair care experts also have investigated the impact of common herbs such as sage and thyme on androgen levels. Nettle, licorice extract, horsetail, fenugreek and even green tea also are thought to have some impact on DHT. Many of the herbs people are studying to treat DHT problems and hair loss are considered very safe, but doctors do know that certain herbs aren't so great for you in higher doses. Without more research to pin down exactly what dose you should use to treat a DHT problem and how the dose will interact with medications, using herbs for hair loss is risky. This doesn't mean doctors won't eventually prove herbs are effective. It just means that, at this point, no one definitively can say any herb will get your hair loss under control.

Current Use

Even though evidence to support the use of herbs as a hair loss remedy is scant at best, some people still are willing to try different plants. They usually use the herbs within basic hair care products such as shampoos and conditioners, but they also take herbs as supplements, too. This is largely just a matter of preference, although the expense of the product sometimes impacts which method an individual chooses.

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