Two dietary measures that are fairly easy to implement will likely have a positive impact on your hair growth, even if you did nothing else.
Flax meal and Coconut Oil systemically consumed, appear to regulate androgen activity in a way that helps to facilitate hair growth.
In a nutshell, Flax increases enterolactone production and downregulates 17B-HSD, decreasing androstendione, a significant, but little known (thus rarely addressed) player in male and female pattern hair loss. Given these known mechanisms, the results of the study featured in this article seem hardly surprising.
Flax lignans: a cure for hair loss?
For many men, losing their hair is a frustrating but inevitable part of the aging process. But a pilot study carried out by Dutch ingredients company Acatris suggests that taking flax lignans could put an end to their plight, reports Jess Halliday.
Technical specialist Jocelyn Mathern explained to NutraIngredients-USA.com that androgenetic alopecia, the most common from of hair loss, is a hormonal as well as a genetic issue. It affects 50 percent of 50 year-old men.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent form of the male hormone testosterone, can get inside hair follicles and make them shrink so that they produce thinner hair and eventually none at all, she said. Secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), the main flax lignan, can help prevent this by inhibiting production of the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, called 5-alpha reductase.
The study took place at a health company in Taiwan over a six-month period. Ten male sufferers of androgenetic alopecia aged between 20- and 70- years received a 50mg daily dose of SDG in the form of one 250 mg capsule of Acatris’ LinumLife Extra.
The condition of their hair was documented at the beginning of the study by photographs and the men measured their hair loss throughout the period by counting the number of hairs on their pillows each morning.
Initial effects of the flax lignans were noticed on average one to two months into the study, says the company, and the end of the period, eight of the participants reported a modest improvement in their hair loss condition, one reported a great improvement and one reported no effect at all. The more severe the participant’s hairloss condition at the start of the trial, the more noticeable the improvement.
Half the subjects also noted decreased oil secretion in their scalp. No adverse effects were reported.
“This pilot study confirms earlier research on flax lignans with respect to their promise in the care of AGA and without the sometimes harmful effects of a prescription medication,” said Mathern.
“In addition to benefits for hormone related conditions, such as hair loss, lignans have long been reported to help improve prostate health, reduce menopausal symptoms, promote heart health and have benefits for breast health.”
The pilot study’s results mean Acatris is going ahead with sponsoring a clinical trial at a research center in Maastricht, The Netherlands, this year.
In this case 100mg SDG will be used, which may give an indication of whether the lignan’s effects on hair loss are commensurate with dose.
As well as androgenetic alopecia, participants selected for this trial will have an inflamed prostate. The researchers will also measure the flax lignans’ effects on this health condition.
An equivalent or larger amount of lignans could be easily obtained by eating 2 or more tablespoons of ground flaxseeds, available at any health food store and some supermarkets. For those whom don’t care for flax, you can use HMRlignan, an exract from the Norway spruce in a dose of 30mg for essentially the same effect.
Red Palm and Coconut Oil
Tropical oils, in particular Red Palm and Coconut Oil, have gotten a bad rap for years from the medical establishment simply because they are “saturated fats ” and are blamed for raising cholesterol.
On the contrary, these oils, in particular Coconut, systemically consumed, have been shown to promote heart health, facilitate weight loss, regulate thyroid function and metabolism, improve immune function, and for our purposes inhibit both 17B-HSD and 5 alpha reductase ,precursors to both androstendione (a big player in Hair Loss.) and DHT activity.
Reprod Biol. 2002 Nov;2(3):277-93. Influence of dietary fatty acids composition, level of dietary fat and feeding period on some parameters of androgen metabolism in male rats.
Gromadzka-Ostrowska J, Przepirka M, Romanowicz K.
Department of Dietetics and Functional Foods, Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, Warsaw Agricultural University, Warsaw, Poland.
The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the composition of dietary fatty acids, the duration of feeding period and dietary fat level on androgen metabolism in male rats. One hundred and twelve Wistar rats were divided into 18 groups which were fed three diets containing different types of fat (rapeseed [R], palm [P] and fish [F] oil) at either normal fat level (w/w; 5%) or high fat level (20%) during one, three or six weeks. Blood plasma level of androgen (testosterone+dihydrotestosterone) and testicular activity of 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17beta-HSD) were investigated. In addition, androgen content in cytosol of the heart, the target organ, was measured. Androgen concentration in both blood plasma and heart cytosol extracts was measured by radioimmunoassay. The activity of 17Beta-HSD was expressed as a conversion of [3H]androstendione to [3H]testosterone in soluble fraction of gonadal homogenates. Plasma androgen concentration was influenced by a type of dietary fat (p<0.05). The highest plasma level of androgen was observed in animals fed R diets rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Significantly lower androgen concentration was demonstrated in rats fed P diets rich in saturated fatty acids. Only the feeding period factor significantly influenced androgen content in cytosol fraction of heart muscle cells (p<0.01). A positive correlation was found between plasma androgen concentration in plasma and cytosol fraction of the heart muscle cells (r=0.63, p<0.001). The feeding period (p<0.001) and dietary fat type (p<0.05) significantly affected the activity of 17beta-HSD. The least 17beta-HSD activity was observed in animals consuming the P-20% diet for six weeks. In summary, dietary fat type and feeding period, but not fat level, significantly affected both testosterone production and testosterone uptake by the target organ in male rats. It was found that a rapeseed diet rich in unsaturated fatty acids stimulated the testicular function in rats.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Jul;59(7):995-9. Effects of coconut oil on testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia in Sprague-Dawley rats. de Lourdes Arruzazabala M, Molina V, Mas R, Carbajal D, Marrero D, Gonzalez V, Rodriguez E. Centre of Natural Products, National Centre for Scientific Research, Cubanacan, Playa, Havana City, Cuba.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the benign uncontrolled growth of the prostate gland, leading to difficulty with urination. Saw palmetto lipid extracts (SPLE), used to treat BPH, have been shown to inhibit prostate 5a-reductase, and some major components, such as lauric, myristic and oleic acids also inhibit this enzyme. Coconut oil (CO) is also rich in fatty acids, mainly lauric and myristic acids. We investigated whether CO prevents testosterone-induced prostate hyperplasia (PH) in Sprague-Dawley rats. Animals were distributed into seven groups (10 rats each). A negative control group were injected with soya oil; six groups were injected with testosterone (3 mg kg(-1)) to induce PH: a positive control group, and five groups treated orally with SPLE (400 mg kg(-1)), CO or sunflower oil (SO) (400 and 800 mg kg(-1)). Treatments were given for 14 days. Rats were weighed before treatment and weekly thereafter. Rats were then killed and the prostates were removed and weighed. CO (400 and 800 mg kg(-1)), SPLE (400 mg kg(-1)) and SO at 800 mg kg(-1), but not at 400 mg kg(-1), significantly reduced the increase in prostate weight (PW) and PW:body weight (BW) ratio induced by testosterone (% inhibition 61.5%, 82.0%, 43.8% and 28.2%, respectively). Since CO and SPLE, but not SO, contain appreciable concentrations of lauric and myristic acids, these results could be attributed to this fact. In conclusion, this study shows that CO reduced the increase of both PW and PW:BW ratio, markers of testosterone-induced PH in rats.
In Ayurvedic medicine it is said that topical application of Coconut Oil stimulates hair growth. There is currently no data to either support or negate this claim.
So there you have it. The simple addition of 2 tablespoons of Flaxmeal and 2 or more tablespoons of Virgin Coconut Oil or Red Palm Oil will improve your health, likely help you keep your hair and enhance the effectiveness of your existing treatment regime. Both Coconut Oil and Flaxmeal are cheaply available in nutrition stores and some supermarkets.
*Due to the high fiber content of Flaxmeal it would be recommended to consume it several hours apart from any oils, including Red Palm, Coconut and Fish oils. The fiber in Flax could theoretically bind to and reduce the absorption of these oils if concurrently used.