We have been largely programmed to believe that grains, especially whole grains are nothing but good for us. As with much accepted dogma, this is actually a half, or less than a half truth. There are certain grains that are healthful, such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat. There are a handful of others, unfortunately those most widely consumed in Western culture, (which statistically has the highest incidence of obesity and MPB) that are problematic for both health and hair, even in their “whole” forms. These are wheat, barley, rye, and oats (due to processing cross contamination from wheat).
The reason for this is the presence of Gluten, a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin, which causes a largely unknown adverse immune system response in many, manifesting as a plethora of symptoms from inflammation to allergies, chronic fatigue, depression etc.
So what does this have to do with hair loss, you ask???
The answer has to do with a disorder known as Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome,(PCOS) a syndrome diagnosed in women, which has numerous associated endocrine abnormalities, and most notably hirsutism (body hair growth), Androgenetic hair loss and Insulin Resistance.
Research is now suggesting the existence of a widespread male equivalent of PCOS, that results from the interaction of several key genes and dietary/environmental factors.
Insulin resistance, one of the primary manifestations of PCOS, results in high Androgens in women and high estrogens and DHT in men.
Elevated estrogen in men increases DHT and contrary to urban legend, it has been established that men with MPB have lower testosterone than non-balding controls .
Treating insulin resistance in men normalizes the abnormally high DHT/T ratio and low T/estrogen ratio.
A review of the literature interestingly reveals that 87% of those with PCOS are sensitive or allergic to some degree, to wheat gluten. Eating wheat under these conditions wreaks havoc on insulin management, creating an ongoing elevation of serum glucose and insulin. Additionally, wheat consumption can increase free radicals and diminish the absorption of nutrients, predisposing to potential deficiecy states and health,(and yes, hair problems).
While it is unlikely that halting wheat consumption will cure baldness it could certainly aid in that process. We have received several anecdotal reports over the years from women (some NOT diagnosed with PCOS) who, on our advice, stopped wheat consumption, and within days, reported a dramatic decrease in shedding. Given the existence of a male genetic correlate to this disorder, it is likely that cutting out wheat could contribute significantly to the hair loss treatment process in both genders.
Low concentrations of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is also a very frequent finding in women and men with PCOS.
It has been conclusively shown that young men with MPB have significantly lower levels of SHBG compared to controls.
SHBG can be healthily and readily elevated with the use of Green Tea Extract, which is a superstar in dealing with insulin management issues. Using Green Tea with Soy or Black Tea Extracts have also been shown to lower serum DHT more than Proscar/Propecia in animal models.
The Existence of a Male Equivalent of the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – the Present State of the Issue
Dušková M., Stárka L.
Institute of Endocrinology Prague, Czech Republic
Abstract: The polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women belongs to the most frequent endocrinopathies. This syndrome is characteristic by a hormonal and metabolic imbalance. It seems to be a kind of an oligogenic disease resulting from the interaction among several key genes and environmental effects. Considering the genetic basis of this syndrome there is no reason why the syndrome could not occur in men as well, be it with a different symptomatic expression. Premature baldness before the age of thirty used to be suggested as a symptom of the male PCOS equivalent. Yet there still seems to be rather a meagre attention devoted to the endocrinological changes in men in the specialised literature, although there do exist genealogical studies on the occurrence of alopecia or glucose metabolic disorder in male members of the families where a considerable number of females were affected by PCOS.
Table 1 – Increased risk of various diseases in males with androgen alopecia
Disease odds ratio 95% reliability range reference
Benign prostate hyperplasia 3.23 1.81–5.79 Oh et al. 1998
Prostate gland carcinoma 1.50* 1.12–2.00 Hawk et al. 2000
Ischemic heart disease 1.36 1.11–1.67 Lotufo et al. 2000
Hyperinsulinemia 1.91 1.02–3.56 Matilainen et al. 2000
Obesity 2.90 1.76–4.79 Matilainen et al. 2000
Hypertension 2.09 1.14–3.82 Matilainen et al. 2000
Dyslipidemia 4.45* 1.74–11.34 Matilainen et al. 2000