Contrary to what the medical community has been saying for years, there is finally some direct and compelling evidence that scalp massage may in fact, have a hair growth stimulating effect. Although it has been conclusively established that areas of the scalp affected by Androgenetic Hair loss are inflamed and have diminished circulation, it never occurred to me that a simple mechanical manipulation via massage or hair tugging would have any appreciable effect on the course of MPB. The proponents of using massage as a hair loss treatment have, however, been quite strident on their insistence that it is actually effective. This study conclusively and precisely identifies the mechanisms at a genetic and cellular level, by which mechanical forces,(stretching/massage) can produce a hair growth stimulating effect.

Effect of stretching force on human hair dermal papilla cells: possibility of manipulating mechanobiology to induce hair regeneration
T Koyama1,2, R Ogawa3, K Kobayashi1,2, T Hama4 and H Hyakusoku3 1Josai Clinic, Tokyo, Japan; 2NPO Future Medical Laboratory, Tokyo, Japan; 3Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan and 4ANGFA Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan

Introduction:Mechanical forces have an important role in regeneration of tissues, such as bone, cartilage, blood vessels, and myocardium. For hair regeneration, interaction of hair dermal papilla cells (HDPCs) with hair matrix cells is essential. Our hypothesis is that appropriate mechanical stimulation on the HDPCs may enhance its interaction with hair matrix cells to accelerate hair regrowth. As our first step, we evaluated the effect of a stretching force on HDPCs by analyzing the gene expression of stretch-stimulated HDPCs.;

Methods: A commercialized cell line of HDPCs was cultured with 10% fetal bovine serumcontaining Dulbecco’s Eagle medium. Thereafter, 1×105 of three-passaged cells were seeded on a silicone chamber that can be stretched cyclically by computer modulation. The stretching stimulation was set as 20% stretch, 10 cycles/min every 24 hrs. Thereafter, the cells were harvested and their gene expression was analyzed using cDNA microarray methods.

Results: The HDPCs aligned themselves perpendicularly to the stretching direction 72 hours after stretching, whereas the non-stretched cells showed a random distribution. After 24 hours of stretching, 373 and 407 genes were upregulated and downregulated, respectively (n=5). After 72 hours of stretching, 2655 and 2823 genes were upregulated and downregulated, respectively (n=5). The upregulated genes included hair growth genes such as VEGF, WNT, BMP, and PDGF, and the downregulated genes included hair-removing genes such as IL-6 and TNF.

Conclusion: An optimal stretching/stimulation force applied for a suitably long period can up-regulate hair growth genes and down-regulate hair removal genes in HDPCs. Thus,mechanical force may be useful in hair tissue engineering. In addition, mechanical stimulation and/or sufficient massage of the scalp may be a natural, easy, and economical way to stimulate hair growth. Further studies will be required to understand the effect of mechanical force in hair regeneration.

      Opinions as to the specific technique and duration of massage vary greatly. According to some, up to an hour is necessary, which in my opinion is impractical for anyone with some semblance of a life. Others maintain that certain massage techniques practiced for a minute or two several times a day are the most effective. 

      I have personally used a scalp massage technique regularly for several decades that comes from the Sivananda Yoga system that involves rhythmically tugging on the hair to stretch the scalp and stimulate hair growth. This technique, which originated in Ayurvedic Medicine, hundreds if not more years before any drugs were available, purportedly prevents further hair loss and stimulates re-growth. It takes only a minute, and applies a specific stretching force to the scalp alluded to in the study above. This simple technique is as follows:

      1. Grasp hair on both sides of head toward the top firmly at the roots.

      2. Make scalp move as much as possible, first forward, then backward, by pulling vigorously.

      3. Perform rhythmically and forcefully, but not too quickly. 25-50 times. Relax.

      At conclusion of movements, scalp should tingle, and feel alive.

      This simple movement applies a repeated stretching force to the scalp and will in so doing, according to the above study, up-regulate hair growth genes and down regulate genes involved in hair miniaturization. 

Since scalp massage and/or hair pulling can be conveniently done anywhere, we�d recommend its use as an adjunct to any existing regime, 2-3 times a day.