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MPB - In addition to being considered one of the world's foremost authorities on bodybuilding, you are also considered the "Hair Guru" by many. You've even been referred to as the best source of inside information by such notables as Dan Duchaine. I guess you've been researching hair growth for some time.
WB - In the late eighties, when I started to become involved, one of the most common complaints among bodybuilders was hair loss. Even before I started thinning, it was something I looked into to help the athletes I trained who were losing their hair.
MPB - Is DHT the sole cause of hair loss?
WB - No, clearly DHT is not the ultimate cause of hair loss. It could be a major environmental trigger, but it is clearly not the sole and only cause of hair loss, and we know that's true by many different routes. Probably the most obvious example is that DHT blocking compounds are not particularly effective at growing hair by themselves. They help for sure, but they dont stop it or regrow hair. We know there are other mechanisms of hair loss, immune reponse and there are other directions of research going on that don't even address localized immune responses that look very promising.
MPB - What is your assessment of Propecia?
WB - My experience with Propecia is much like a lot of other compounds; they promise a lot and deliver little. Propecia is, of course, just a 1 mg version of Proscar, which is a five mg pill. So, by itself it's helpful, but not very dramatic. Used in combination with other compounds it appears to be useful, but some particularly good researchers who know about DHT blockers will tell you that the real world results have been less impressive.
MPB - There is a limited number of practitioners who specialize in the treatment of hair loss. Most notably Dr. Proctor, Dr. Sewaya, Dr. Pentagatacos, etc... Who do you feel really has the leading edge?
WB - Practitioner wise, I think you named most of the ones I would think of. There are a lot of guys who are not M.D.'s but are up on different avenues of hair loss such as Michael Mooney, you, and myself amongst others. I can think of various people who are not practitioners but are researchers who know more about real world treatments for hair loss than most M.D.'s out there.
MPB - Your groundbreaking article "Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow" in th March '97 issue of MuscleMag made some treatment recommendations that seemed light years ahead of any article that was or has since been written on the subject. We've literally gotten numerous reports of guys growing hair on the frontal hairline, especially those who strictly adhered to your protocol. What, essentially, did that protocol entail and have you made any subsequent modifications?
WB - For people who are interested in reading the full article, you can find it at my website: www.Brinkzone.com. The article itself went into the etiology of hair loss, which appears to be a localized immune response mediated by DHT. It went into the effects of anabolic steroids on hair loss. It points out which do and which do not cause hair loss. It went into treatments and which to use in certain combinations. It discusses the use of Proscar, which I talked about years before Propecia or any of these products became available. I also talked to some researchers who figured out that 1 mg was as potent as 5 mg and for the same effect. That lead Merck to come out with the 1 mg "Propecia". I also talked about the fact that these products can raise estrogen levels in men. I believe I was the first to do that and it then became listed as a side effect in the Physians Desk Reference, which it had not been before then. I learned pretty fast from several sources that you can increase estrogen with these products and that, of course, can lead to numerous problems: possible bodyfat accumulation, gynecomastia, other similar effects. So, I laid out a schedule of Proscar divided into 4 parts using 1.25 mg for 5 to 7 days, using a 5 mg tablet every 7th day. I discussed some of the new copper peptide medications, such as Iamine, Tricomin, and an OTC product made by Dr. Pickart called Folligen. These are products that reduce inflammation and therefore address the immune rejection of the genetically targeted hair follicle. There has been mixed feedback on these products as to their effectiveness. I talked about good ol' minoxodil thrown into the mix now only because it's cheap and over the counter. It wasn't very useful, but now that it's over the counter and cheap, it's better than nothing and should help some people. I would add now that there is a 5% minoxodil also available OTC that is much more useful than the old 2%.
I also spoke about a particularly interesting compound called RU58841 made by Roussel, a large french pharmaceutical company. It appears to be the most promising topical antiandrogen product ever made for hair loss that, unfortunately, to this day is not being made. My understanding is that part of Roussel was purchased by another pharmaceutical company that had no interest in hair loss, so the product was basically shelved. I also heard that another pharmaceutical company purchased that formula from them. What became of that venture is, at this point, unknown. I do, however, know a wealthy individual who contacted a chemist friend of his and had a batch made for himself and was very happy with it. He raved and raved about it even though it cost him a bundle to have a personal batch made up. If you have a half decent chemist, I mean a real chemist, not someone who took a few chemistry courses, it's not a particularly hard thing to make. You do, however, have to have an expensive lab for it; it's not something you can make in your kitchen.
Another thing I talked about was Nizoral shampoo, which sort of popped on the scene a few years ago. It was brought into the spotlight by Michael Mooney, whose doctor friend swore that it dramatically prevented hair loss due to "unknown mechanisms at this time". It doesn't appear to be a strong DHT blocker, so it might be addressing immune response.
I then outlined how to use all these products, a hair growth stack so to speak, such as a supplement stack or a steroid stack. I outlined a very specific regimen of how to use these products to their best advantage. I know a number of people who have followed it to the letter and gotten dramatic results, especially bodybuilders. Although, there are occasional non-responders, the vast majority who have followed my regimen have gotten very positive results.
MPB - There seems to be a plethora of products out there that claim to grow hair by "unclogging" clogged hair follicles. Is there any validity to these types of products?
WB - I would say that the "blocked follicle" theory is not given any credence whatsoever with any of the serious researchers. I never met a person yet who reported even minimal hair growth from using Polysorbates or any of the follicle "cleaning" products. Again, I tend to look at certain things as a cost to benefit. If it's scientifically validated, doesn't cost a lot of money, and is easy to use, well then why not use it? For example, a bottle of Polysorbate 80 costs nothing and is easy to use. As a part of a comprehensive program, the compound couldn't hurt and it might help. For any of the other treatments that make outlandish claims for follicle unclogging...there's better money spent on other treatments.
MPB - In your opinion, what steroids aggravate balding and which ones are safe to use?
WB - Well, there's a problem with that particular question in that in the lab there are steroids and in the real world... well one of the problem with people taking steroids is that they have bought into the goofy "don't confuse us with the facts" media hype about steroids and hair loss and stuff. People have to get over the brainwashing first before they can examine steroids in an objective manner. The answer to that question is some ways difficult because we know that on paper and in the lab there are some steroids that look as though they should not and won't convert to DHT, but in fact in the real world body builders will find that they do make hair fall out. At the same time, there are some steroids that are produced from DHT that don't necessarily covert back to DHT that don't appear to cause hair loss so it is difficult to make an across the board statement on that issue. It's not black and white, which steroid will and which one won't causes hair loss. However, one can say very safely that the testosterones will certainly increase hair loss in susceptible individuals. That's a very important point that the moronic media doesn't want to acknowledge... that is the fact that steroids will only accelerate balding in people who would be already losing their hair. It just makes it happen faster. But generally, if people do not have a genetic predisposition to lose hair, then steroids do not seem to increase hair loss. That's the part the media doesn't tell you, and they also tend to leave out the part that some steroids will cause this and some will not. But we can safely say that testosterones in susceptible individuals are famous for hair loss but in the lab it appears it should not be terribly hard on hair. But again, it comes down to something of a steroid by steroid problem and something of real world feedback versus what the lab says should happen.
MPB - Deca Durabolin has a reputation for being a safe choice for those concerned about balding, would you agree?
WB - Again, Deca is one of those steroids that in the lab, and in the real world, appears that it should not have any negative effects on hair.