TGF-BETA, The Hair Follicle Assassin

Aptly termed the hair follicle assassin in a recent update by New Health and Longevity, transforming growth factor beta 1, (tgf-b one) and its apparently pivotal role in hair loss has been stimulating a lot of interest in the scientific community of late.

What is tgf-b1?

      Tgf-b 1 is part of a cytokine super-family in mammals that contains some 30 members. These dimeric proteins regulate the proliferation and apoptosis (destruction) in many cell types and have a central role in the inflammation that is associated with hair follicle miniaturization, fibrosis (rigidification), and its eventual loss.

Numerous researchers have directly implicated tgf-b1, and its localized effects on the hair follicles as the most significant factor in androgenetic alopecia.      So what can we do to neutralize tgf-b1 before it turns us into Kojak? Several things actually.      There are already at least 2 hair loss drug treatments under development in the biotech industry that suppress tgf-b1 as their primary mechanism of action.      The problem is you’ll have to wait several years to get them.      Fortunately, there are several natural compounds that do just this, with numerous side benefits as opposed to side effects. Some are commonplace in diets of several cultures, which have a statistically low incidence of male pattern baldness.

Following is an excerpt from New Science which gives a succinct overview on Curcumin, a yellow spice widely used in Indian cuisine.

Besides apples and barley procyanidins, the most promising new agent is a spice found in Indian food and mustard. Polyphenols from yellow curry root (a.k.a. turmeric, curcumin) are yet another “unknown” hair loss treatment.

I doubt anyone else is telling you that mustard is a potential hair growth promoter. It may sound a little crazy, until you look at the science behind it. Because turmeric, the pigment that gives mustard its bright yellow color, is the most effective Tgf-b 1  inhibitor known. Can mustard cure hair loss?

Take a look at these comments from researchers studying turmeric/curcumin and Tgf-b 1:

2000 “Our results showed that genistein and curcumin… inhibited the TGF-beta 1-induced synthesis of fibronectin.” 2002 “Curcumin inhibits the expression of ER downstream genes including… TGF-beta.” 2003 “Furthermore, curcumin inhibited the increases in… TGF-beta1 expression…” 2004 “When applied 30 minutes before TGF-beta, curcumin dose dependently and dramatically reduced TGF-beta-induced increases…” 2006 “curcumin significantly decreased mRNA expression of… the fibrogenic cytokine, TGF-beta.”

Curcumin has not yet been studied for its effects on Tgf-b 1 directly in the follicle. There are no studies on curcumin and hair loss… yet. But I promised you new science, didn’t I? This is way ahead of the curve. And I’ll make this prediction now: within three years, you will see a study showing the hair growth promoting effects of curcumin.

Can I see the future? Not usually. But this is actually a pretty easy prediction to make, because:

1) As we’ve seen, Tgf-b 1 is “the next innovative target in hair loss”

2) These researchers are going to be looking for compounds to inhibit Tgf-b 1

3) Curcumin is clearly the best-studied and most potent Tgf-b 1 inhibitor

Based on these facts, it’s inevitable that curcumin will be put to the hair loss test. It’s not crazy. It’s science. New science.

I’ll briefly review several of our existing hair loss treatment protocol recommendations which inhibit tgf-b1, which at least in part, explain the positive feedback we consistently get as to its fast acting effects.


      Taurine is a dirt cheap free form amino acid, and is widely available anywhere in the U.S. It has been studied and patented (in combination with, catechins, resveratrol, and omega 3 fatty acids) as an oral hair loss treatment in Europe by the French cosmetic giant, L’Oreal. Don’t let the modest cost fool you. Oral Taurine is a highly effective way to suppress tgf-b and prevent fibrosis, not only in hair follicles, but body wide. If you are not using Taurine in your hair loss treatment protocol, then you are leaving one of the best weapons in the battle against hair loss in your holster. 1-2 grams a day is consistent with the amount covered in their patent.

Green Tea Extract

      We have recommended Green Tea Extract for many years and for a number of reasons for helping to prevent and treat hair loss. In addition to its ability to regulate androgen activity, and increase Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, (SHBG, levels of which are inversely correlated with hair loss), it is also a potent tgf-b1 inhibitor.

Ginkgo Biloba Extract

      Recommended by nutrition author Gary Null as part of a natural hair loss treatment approach, Ginkgo Biloba Extract has been shown to grow hair in rats when orally administered. Studies have shown it to be an inhibitor of tgf-b1.

Other tgf-b1 inhibitors include proanthocyanindins from cocoa, black tea, grape seeds, barley and apples. Green drinks, including barley powder form the cornerstone of Dr. Null’s health promoting hair loss treatment approach. One company has an apple polyphenol compound for topical application, and some seemingly solid data to back it up.

Topically, our protocol addresses inflammation and tgf-b1 in a simultaneous three pronged approach- copper peptides (one ingredient in Dr. Proctors Advanced Hair Regrowth Formula), Ketoconazole (Nizoral Shampoo), and Emu Oil.

Due to the preponderance of data demonstrating curcumin’s ability to inhibit tgf-b1, it will be integrated in our hair loss treatment protocol at a minimal dose of 900 mg , combined with Bioperine (a component of black pepper) to facilitate absorption. To be effectively assimilated into the bloodstream, curcumin must be combined with small amounts of piperine.

Our answer as to which to use is simple-use them all (they are so easily integrated into your diet) or at least 2-3, combined with at least a gram of L-Taurine. The inflammation that is the primary contributor to hair loss will be neutralized, and denser , faster hair growth, as will better health, athletic performance, and cognitive function, ensue.