Hair loss: Dr Ranj discusses causes of male pattern baldness
Many hair loss treatments are on shaky ground because research is preliminary at best. This rings particularly true for natural solutions. Non-invasive and inexpensive treatments are appealing but largely untested. However, there is an outlier in this arena – pumpkin seed oil.
Pumpkin seed oil – also called pepita oil – is the oil extracted from the seeds of a pumpkin.
A significant study about pumpkin seed oil and hair loss was published in the journal Hindawi.
It might be the most rigorous study on a plant-based hair growth alternative to date.
In the study, men with pattern baldness took either pumpkin seed supplements or a placebo.
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The results showed those who took supplements experienced 30 percent more hair growth than those who received the placebo.
The findings are a rebuttal to those who believe natural products do yield results but there are some limitations to the study.
There were a few missing links and misleading conclusions made in the research.
The limitations were:
- Pumpkin seed wasn’t tested alone in the study. It was tested as only one ingredient in a multi-ingredient supplement. This included octacosanol (a plant wax), mixed vegetable powder, evening primrose powder, corn silk powder, red clover powder, and tomato powder.
- The study was short, small, and only performed on men. Less than 100 men were given the supplement over 24 weeks and women were not part of the test group. There’s no clinical evidence of side effects of pumpkin seed supplementation over a longer period of time or for women.
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Nonetheless, the findings hint at the promise of pumpkin seed oil to stimulate hair growth.
One scientific theory for how pumpkin seed works for hair loss is that the oil’s phytosterols promote hair growth.
Phytosterols are sterols found in many plants. They’re a lot like cholesterols, only they show mostly positive health benefits.
Supposedly, phytosterols could block enzymes and hormones in your scalp that cause hair loss.
Studies on other natural ingredients containing phytosterols also support this hypothesis.
This includes one study on phytosterol-rich plant-based oils and omega-3 fatty acids.
There was also a study showing that saw palmetto worked in the same way.
Tried and tested treatments
There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. But most treatments aren’t available on the NHS, so you’ll have to pay for them.
Finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is a permanent type of hair loss that usually runs in the family.
According to the NHS, minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women shouldn’t use finasteride.
Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.
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