Monday, August 27, 2012

A Look at Alternative Medicine For Hair Loss - What Works, What Doesn't

Under the category of alternative medicine for hair loss (alopecia), you will find everything from onion juice to hypnosis. Massage, essential oils, dietary changes, aerobic exercise, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies are other alternatives. Some of these things have proven to be effective in clinical studies. But, does that mean they will work for you?

Depending on the cause, they might do, but one thing we need to remember is that the hair-producing follicles go through cycles. So, sometimes, all that is needed is a little patience. When a small clinical trial indicates that something like onion juice is beneficial, it could simply be that the follicles have cycled back into their productive phase. Or, it could be the placebo effect.

In any kind of condition, 20-40% of people will improve when they are using a placebo. When it comes to alopecia, anything that is massaged into the scalp may be beneficial, because massage stimulates circulation to the hair-producing follicles.

Along with improved blood flow comes more nutrients, and nutrients are among the most effective alternative medicine for hair loss. But, they should be taken orally.

Shampoos and other treatments that contain nutrients are not likely to be effective. The molecules of most nutrients are too large to penetrate the scalp. Protein molecules are particularly large.

Because human hairs are composed of protein, protein deficiencies are often cited as the causes of thin hairs and balding. But, topically applied protein treatments are just a waste of money.

Another thing that is important to remember is that preventing damage to the hair-producing follicles is easier than correcting it. Some of the effective alternative medicine for hair loss helps prevent damage that can be done by free radicals. If onion juice is effective, it is probably because of the antioxidants that it contains.

Increasing your antioxidant intake can improve your overall health. Another thing that you can do to prevent damage to the follicles, according to recent studies, is to reduce the number of simple carbs that you eat every day.

Simple carbs (potatoes, sugar, pasta, bread, rice, etc) cause a spike in blood sugar levels that set off a train reaction that eventually ends with the production of Advanced Glycation End-products, aptly referred to as AGEs, because they age the body. That's one of the reasons that dietary changes that include reduced intake of simple carbs are considered effective alternative medicine for hair loss.

The effectiveness of herbal remedies varies. Saw palmetto is very effective for male pattern baldness. Just as effective, some studies say, as finasteride, a prescription drug marketed as Propecia. The nutrients biotin and PABA are effective for women, as is an herb called horsetail silica.

The only topically applied treatment that has been proven to be effective, and the only treatment approved by the US FDA, is called Minoxidil. Some people have tried alternative medicine for hair loss, but they see better results when Minoxidil is part of the program.

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