5 Natural DHT Blockers… But Should You Use Them?

Read time: 10 minutes

Note: This is a guest post written by Tony Hall – the founder of TopHairLossTreatments.com.

Is DHT To Blame For Hair Loss?

Despite what your doctor might tell you, androgenetic alopecia is far more complicated than the simple formula DHT = hair loss. If the truth really were this simple, why would DHT cause hair growth everywhere else on the body? Why are hair follicles on the top of the head susceptible to this hormone but others aren’t? Why doesn’t all lost hair regrow with finasteride (Propecia) use?

Evidence shows that pattern hair loss is a multifactorial condition, and so any effective treatment must tackle its myriad causes – scalp fibrosis, calcification, decreased blood flow, and so on – rather than only one.

All that said, DHT does play an important role in pattern hair loss. Evidence shows that elevated DHT may be part of the cascade that triggers calcification and fibrosis – two chronic conditions which restrict nutrient, oxygen, and blood flow – and may even kickstart the hair miniaturization process. So while DHT isn’t the sole factor, it’s an important factor. Therefore, reducing DHT levels may help slow (or stop) hair loss.

The Challenge: DHT May Cause Hair Loss, But Reducing DHT May Cause Sexual Side Effects

The problem is that DHT isn’t just associated with hair loss. It’s critical for male sexual development in the womb and during puberty and plays an important role in mood regulation, with one study suggesting it is “the most important androgen in the human brain.” DHT also appears to be critical for normal sexual function – at least in animals, anyway.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, negative side effects have been observed as a result of certain hair loss drugs that reduce DHT.

I am of course referring to Propecia, the pharmaceutical hair loss treatment with a big reputation. Propecia reduces serum DHT levels by around 70%, making it a very effective way of slowing the progression of pattern hair loss in men. This would be fine if doing so didn’t also sometimes cause the following side effects:

  1. Impotence
  2. Lack of interest in sex
  3. Difficulty achieving orgasm
  4. Abnormal ejaculation
  5. Gynecomastia
  6. Depression

Merck – the manufacturer of Propecia – claims that such effects are rare, affecting just 2% of users. But a quick Google search suggests the incidence of these side effects is much higher. Of course, there may be some selection bias here, but it’s hard to believe that drastically reducing a hormone that is critical for male sexual development will have no adverse effects whatsoever. That’s why it’s important that if we’re going to reduce DHT, we need to be careful about it.

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The Takeaway: If We Want To Reduce DHT, We Need To Do It Safely

Yes, reducing DHT will help our hair – but we don’t need to obliterate it from our body. And while reducing DHT should help slow, stop, or partially reverse hair loss, we shouldn’t expect complete hair regrowth from reducing DHT alone.

So how do we strike a balance between reducing DHT, halting hair loss? Well, there’s good news…

Reducing DHT Doesn’t Have To Be A Tradeoff Between Your Sex Life And Your Hair

Moderate reduction of DHT can help in the battle against hair loss – even more so when combined with other angles of attack. And unsurprisingly, “natural” DHT inhibition tends to reap far fewer (if any) side effects.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the evidence for five of the most popular natural DHT blockers. Which ones actually work?

The research may surprise you…

In fact, some of these alleged DHT blockers aren’t even confirmed to reduce DHT. Rather they are only assumed to reduce DHT based on extrapolations from studies unrelated to hair loss.

As such, we’ve split our natural DHT blockers into two categories.

  1. The Heavy Hitters: DHT blockers that actually work.
  2. The Not-So-Convincing: popular DHT blockers with little scientific backing.

By the end of this article, you’ll know which natural DHT blockers you might want to use to fight hair loss. But even more importantly, you’ll know which ones to avoid completely.

5 Natural DHT Blockers: Which Ones Actually Work?

DHT Heavy Hitter #1: Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is an extract from the berries of the serenoa repens palm. Native to subtropical regions of the Southeastern United States, extracts from this plant have been used to create herbal medications by various cultures – from the Mayans to the American Indians.

The Evidence: Saw Palmetto Reduces DHT Levels

Saw Palmetto is without doubt the most well-known natural DHT blocker, often being described as nature’s Propecia (but don’t let that put you off!).

And these effects are proven. For example, this randomized 2001 trial observed that:

“…Tissue DHT levels were reduced by 32% from 6.49 to 4.40 ng/g in the [saw palmetto] group (P <0.005), with no significant change in the placebo group. […] The [saw palmetto]-induced suppression of prostatic DHT levels, modest but significant in a randomized trial, lends an element of support to the hypothesis that inhibition of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase is a mechanism of action of this substance.”

These results were not a one-off, either. The effects of saw palmetto on DHT levels have been extensively tested due to the links between DHT levels and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Most studies of this kind appear to show a reduction in BPH symptoms, even if it is unclear whether this is a result of DHT reduction.

As for pattern hair loss specifically, the results look to be even more positive. This study – conducted over the course of two years – compared 320mg saw palmetto with 1mg finasteride (Propecia).

While the effects weren’t as dramatic as the Propecia group, hair growth did improve in the saw palmetto group:

“The results showed that only 38% of patients treated with Serenoa repens had an increase in hair growth, while 68% of those treated with finasteride noted an improvement. […] We can summarize our results by observing that Serenoa repens could lead to an improvement of androgenetic alopecia, while finasteride confirmed its efficacy.”

And this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study observed even more impressive results. The investigative staff – who were not told which treatment subjects were treated with – judged 60% of those treated with a saw palmetto and beta sitosterol formula to have improved hair at the end of the treatment course.

However, it should be pointed out that the inclusion of beta sitosterol (more on this later) in this particular study obscures the efficacy of saw palmetto. It raises the possibility that any improvements in hair were a result of beta sitosterol and not saw palmetto.

Even so, there is a large enough body of evidence to suggest that saw palmetto really is an effective natural treatment for the management of hair loss. Not only has it been demonstrated to reduce tissue DHT levels, the studies of its impact on androgenetic alopecia suggest this translates to improved hair quality as well.

Dosage: How Much Saw Palmetto Will Reduce DHT?

While there is no ‘standard’ dose of saw palmetto, 320mg per day appears to be a safe amount. There is no evidence to suggest higher doses are any more effective at preventing hair loss, and this is the amount used in the successful trial described earlier.

DHT Heavy Hitter #2: Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil is extracted by roasting and pressing the seeds from two kinds of pumpkins: Curcubita pepo and Curcubita maxima.

The Evidence: Pumpkin Seed Oil & DHT Reduction

A 2014 study, Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, boasted some impressive hair regrowth results with pumpkin seed oil.

(source)

After just 24 weeks, subjects treated with pumpkin seed oil experienced a statistically (and cosmetically) significant increase in hair count. Various methods were used to measure the efficacy of treatment:

“The PSO-treated group had more hair after treatment than at baseline, compared to the placebo group (P < 0.001). Mean hair count increases of 40% were observed in PSO-treated men at 24 weeks, whereas increases of 10% were observed in placebo-treated men (P < 0.001)”

So does this mean pumpkin seed oil is an effective hair loss treatment? Well, not exactly…

If you read carefully, the trial states that subjects were treated with Octa Sabal Plus – a Korean health supplement with many ingredients beside pumpkin seed oil.

So, whilst the results are impressive, this casts doubt on whether it was the pumpkin seed oil that was responsible for these results. Instead, it may be one of the other ingredients – such as evening primrose powder, red clover powder, or corn silk – that caused the increased hair growth.

Fortunately, this isn’t the only relevant study of pumpkin seed oil. Here, for example, pumpkin seed oil was found to reduce the effect of testosterone on prostate size in rats. It’s suggested that pumpkin seed oil prevents testosterone from converting to DHT, which would explain why rats that received the supplement had smaller increases in prostate size compared to the control group.

As well as these two studies, there are various reports that pumpkin seed oil reduces the symptoms of BPH. Whilst this is by no means conclusive, it lends support to the claim that pumpkin seed oil is a natural DHT blocker.

How Much Pumpkin Seed Oil Is Needed To Reduce DHT?

Like saw palmetto, there is no strictly recommended dosage of pumpkin seed oil for hair loss. It’s common to find 1000mg pumpkin seed oil capsules, however the dosage used in the successful hair loss trial was no more than 400mg per day. As side effects are practically non-existent, though, a dosage between these two values (400mg-1000mg per day) is likely to be both safe and effective.

Aside from saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil, the evidence for “natural” DHT reducers gets a little bit skewed. Having said that, here are three natural DHT blockers that might not be as helpful as their manufacturers would lead you to believe.

Natural DHT Blockers: The Not-So-Convincing

These next supplements are popularly touted as effective DHT inhibitors – usually for the treatment of BPH. Often, this is taken to mean that they also make effective hair loss treatments.

While this may indeed be true, evidence is scarce. As such, the jury is still out as to whether they really do reduce DHT levels.

Not-So-Convincing DHT Blocker #1: Beta Sitosterol

Beta sitosterol is a plant sterol common to many fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds throughout the world. There is some evidence to suggest it may be an effective DHT inhibitor.

The Evidence: Can Beta Sitosterol Decrease DHT?

Various studies have found beta sitosterol to improve the symptoms of BPH. Since BPH symptoms are strongly linked to DHT, this lends support to the idea that beta sitosterol is a natural DHT blocker.

But it’s a bit of a jump from the claim that beta sitosterol reduces the symptoms of BPH to the claim that it actually reduces DHT levels. In fact, this study found that beta sitosterol supplementation had no effect on prostate volume – something that would be expected to accompany a reduction in DHT levels.

The previously mentioned trial of beta sitosterol and saw palmetto lends some support to its efficacy as a hair loss treatment. However, the improved hair growth seen during this trial seems more likely to be a consequence of saw palmetto rather than beta sitosterol.

The limited research conducted on beta sitosterol makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions as to its efficacy. So far, though, it seems that if beta sitosterol is a natural DHT blocker, it’s a fairly weak one.

Where To Get Beta Sitosterol

While you can purchase beta sitosterol supplements, it is also present in many foods such as:

Plant oils – especially canola and corn oils
Nuts – particularly pistachios, peanuts, macadamias, almonds, and walnuts
Vegetables – such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots
Fruits – bananas, pears, peaches, and oranges have particularly high amounts of beta sitosterol

Not-So-Convincing DHT Blocker #2: Nettle Root

Like many of the other natural DHT blockers described here, extracts from the root of the common stinging nettle (urtica dioica) are popularly used to treat BPH.

In fact, one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of nettle root extract demonstrated that nettle root really can alleviate the symptoms of BPH. One possible explanation for this is that nettle root reduces DHT and is therefore beneficial for hair as well.

However, some studies cast doubt on the link between nettle root and DHT levels.

Not only that, there is evidence to suggest that lignans – found in nettle root extracts – bind to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). As the name implies, SHBG binds to sex hormones such as testosterone and DHT, preventing them from binding to androgen receptors.

This effectively means more (available) testosterone and DHT – so nettle roots may actually make hair loss worse!

Should We Use Nettle Root To Fight Hair Loss?

Due to its positive impact on BPH, nettle root extracts are often said to be natural DHT blockers. Do a quick Google search and you’re likely to find people advocating it as a hair loss treatment for this very reason.

But without a trial to specifically test for its impact on hair loss, it’s hard to say whether or not nettle root extract really is effective. And given its impact on SHBG, it’s probably safer to stay away from nettle root supplements altogether.

Not-So-Convincing DHT Blocker #3: Pygeum Africanum

Extracted from the bark of the African cherry tree, pygeum africanum is often touted as a natural DHT blocker.

And like many of the supplements mentioned here, this reputation comes from its alleged ability to alleviate BPH symptoms and prostate cancer.

But like nettle root extract and beta sitosterol, there are no studies which have looked at its impact on pattern hair loss specifically.

Furthermore, the studies linking pygeum africanum with alleviated BPH symptoms have been criticized, with its actual efficacy arguably a result of the placebo effect rather than any meaningful reduction in DHT levels.

So, while pygeum africanum probably won’t be bad for hair loss, it’s unlikely to do much good either! At best, the jury is still out as to whether it’s an effective natural DHT blocker.

Natural DHT Blockers: Should You Use Them?

There are many alleged natural DHT blockers out there, but many have limited evidence supporting their efficacy with regards to hair loss. Some, such as nettle root extract, may actually have the opposite effect.

But there is strong evidence that saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil really are effective for the reduction of DHT levels, and possibly even hair loss. From blood samples to before and after photos, the evidence supporting them is hard to deny. At the very least, the findings of these studies justify expansion to larger trials.

However, it’s important to put these findings in perspective… Natural DHT blockers will not give you a full head of hair overnight – but then neither will Propecia. This is because hair loss is a multifactorial, chronic, condition. Reducing DHT might have little to no impact on reversing scalp fibrosis or calcification, for example.

What reducing DHT will do, however, is help prevent these processes from happening in the first place. Saw palmetto and pumpkin seed oil – if they do reduce DHT levels – should help with the maintenance of hair without the nasty side effects of prescription drugs.

Note: this is a guest post written by Tony Hall – the founder of TopHairLossTreatments.com.

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34 Comments

  • Paz

    Reply Reply March 28, 2017

    What about green tea ?? There’s been alot of talk about the effects of green tea.

    Also would you likely be better to get results from oral DHT blocking supplements with mechanical stimulation, rather than topical ??

    Great article

    Thanks

    • Rob

      Reply Reply March 28, 2017

      Thanks Paz. I’m still looking into the effects of green tea and hair loss. I’ll write an article about it soon. In short – it’s tough to say with certainty what its exact mechanisms of action are, or which ones help the most. I’m also totally torn on the caffeine-hair loss connection. There are anecdotes and studies showing it both helps and hurts. This is part of the reason why I haven’t been able to write about green tea or coffee.

      We need a study to compare the anti-androgenic effects of mechanical stimulation versus oral 5-AR inhibitors versus topical 5-AR inhibitors on scalp tissue DHT levels. I don’t have a good answer for you yet. It probably doesn’t hurt to attack the DHT issue from multiple angles, but then again, I’ve always worried about the long-term effects of DHT inhibition, and the potential to remodel our scalps if we inhibit 5-AR and our bodies decide to respond by increasing androgen receptor activity:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19484778

      • Ed

        March 29, 2017

        Hi Paz and Rob,

        apart from alcohol, caffeine is the worst thing for my hair. I had to pack in tea because of it. Everyone’s different, though!

        Green smoothies with some pumpkin seeds in there are doing good things for my hair.

        Ed.

  • dante

    Reply Reply March 28, 2017

    Hi rob,
    Nearly all the DHT blockers inhibit 5-AR , now if you forget the sexual side effects for a second, the 5-AR enzyme has many other functions like converting pregnenolone to allopregnenolone. progesterone to 5-alpha DHP and many other i don’t know about. Allopreg is found to be very low in depressive/suicidal patients. It’s also surmised that SSRI’s actually increase allopreg in the brain (it’s not the serotonin mechanism behind the anti-depressive effects).
    5-AR has also positive links with dopamine status in the brain.
    An allopreg compound is also in clinical trials for Schizophrenia.
    For me the most important side-effects of 5-AR inhibition would be brain fog, anxiety, suicidal tendencies.
    Inhibiting global 5-AR(which includes the brain) is the most stupidest thing a man can do for his mental well being as i am not aware of any local/scalp only 5-AR blocker (in decent concentration, everything gets absorbed though i might be wrong on this)
    (of course , you can easily search pubmed for above of my claims)

    • Rob

      Reply Reply March 28, 2017

      Great points Dante. And I agree with you – inhibiting 5 alpha reductase systemically can lead to some seriously detrimental side effects.

      One of the most worrisome things about Finasteride is that there’s evidence that over time, Finasteride actually increases androgen receptor activity:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19484778

      The worst part is that these effects seemed to sustain even post-treatment. If we carry these findings over into pattern hair loss, we realize that this may explain why many men lose hair so rapidly after dropping Propecia. Their 5-AR returns, only this time with more androgen receptors surrounding follicle sites to increase the likelihood of DHT binding. The end-result: more DHT in the scalp (likely as a response to inflammation / scalp tension), the development of more fibrotic tissue and calcification, and finally, rapid hair follicle miniaturization.

      I’ve often wondered if natural DHT blockers like saw palmetto or pumpkin seed oil have a similar effect. This has always been my biggest concern with DHT blockers – natural or synthetic. If you stop taking them, you might be worse off than if you never started.

      With that said, there’s some evidence that rosemary oil may have anti-androgenic properties – even as a topical. I know there are a few topical 5-AR inhibitors in human trials now. But again – do these topical 5-AR inhibitors make us worse-off in the long-run? I can’t say.

      Maybe Tony can chime in on his thoughts here. He wrote the guest post!

      • dante

        March 29, 2017

        Hi rob,
        Can you tell me the name of topical 5AR compounds in clinical trial. Personally, i have stopped looking at anti-androgenic or anti-dht compounds provided one doesnt have high serum androgen levels (which is rare) . I am looking more towards from NAD+/NADH ratio and other mitochondrial markers which improves cellular respiration. There are have been some off-label uses of agents like methylene blue which regrowed hair in an MPB patient. In theory , something that dissociates nitric oxide from cytochrome oxidase and increases cellular CO2 conc. should improve oxygenation(biotin is one such agent that comes to mind). I think it’s high time we change the line of attack from finding “natural DHT blockers” .
        Thanks

      • Rob

        March 29, 2017

        Hey Dante,

        The drug is Breezula (CB-03-01):

        http://www.cassiopea.com/~/media/Files/C/Cassiopea/presentations/2015-financial-results-v2.pdf

        I’m curious to read more about methylene blue. If you have a link to the case study, I’d love to see it!

        I’ve experimented with nitric oxide dissociators before: 1) with low-level laser therapy, and 2) with a product called AOBiome – which contained ammonia-eating bacteria that would produce nitric oxide as a byproduct of its digestion. I didn’t give low-level laser therapy a long enough trial to determine if it worked. But as far as the AOBiome spray, I ironically found that my shedding increased for the two months I tried it. So I stopped spraying it on my scalp and now only apply it to parts of my body.

        I agree with you – the DHT-hair loss argument is filled with gaps. But it’s hard to argue the end-points: men who can’t produce DHT (pre-puberty castrates) and men who lack the type II 5-AR enzyme (genetic mutation) never suffer from pattern hair loss. So DHT is associated with (and probably required for) pattern hair loss to occur. However, the reason why DHT is associated with hair loss has never been answered by the literature. My best guess is DHT’s causal relationship to calcification and fibrosis:

        https://perfecthairhealth.com/the-ultimate-hair-loss-flowchart-why-we-lose-our-hair/

        So yes, we shouldn’t just focus on DHT. I think anything that will increase balding tissue oxygen levels should help – as you said. I think the botox-baldness study helped cement this line of attack as effective (by removing chronic scalp muscular tension, subjects saw hair regrowth and within just a few months).

        Best,
        Rob

      • dante

        March 30, 2017

        “nitric oxide as a byproduct of its digestion” – what i meant to say was that produce less nitric oxide and produce more CO2 in cell, the CO2 production in cell will provide oxygenation via Bohr effect. NO2 has many problems.
        The main compound of breezula is this – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortexolone_17%CE%B1-propionate – a synthetic relative of a cortisol metabolite, interesting but it will take 5-10 yrs imo to reach the market.
        On a forum, i came across a guy who literally changed from somewhere near norwood 3.5 to norwood 2.5 after adding thyroid and copious amounts of sugar. Dietary changes like leaving PUFA were important but his regrowth only cam after he added thyroid(i remember it was NDT) and massive amounts of sugar

      • Rob

        March 30, 2017

        Thanks for replying. Just to clarify, nitric oxide dissociation from cytochrome c oxidase actually increases the availability of nitric oxide in tissues – because that nitric oxide is no longer bound. This is even one of the purported mechanisms behind low level laser therapy – that the light photodissociates nitric oxide from the cytochrome c oxidase enzyme. The result of the dissociation is increased vasodilation since more unbound nitric oxide can reach the blood vessel tissues.

        I’d love to see the photos of the guy taking thyroid. I believe his results. Really impressive stuff and it’s interesting the thyroid + sugar (Ray Peat-influenced) dietary changes can help so many people. Another interesting thing is the regrowth some people get from massive supplement protocols (50+ pills per day). I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Taeian Clark’s protocols – but they seem to work for some people as well. At a certain point, the etiology of hair loss becomes so individualized. I’ve found it’s all about finding someone’s personal triggers and experimenting from there.

      • dante

        March 30, 2017

        Couldn’t reply to your last message (no link for the reply was there). I will send you the link of the thyroid+sugar guy by email.
        Regarding Taeian’s protocol, i have heard of it on immortalHair forums, it contains Spironolactone(an anti-androgen and MtF transgender drug, it’s even stronger than fin) Most likely the benefits are coming from Spiro. Plus fish oils are always red herring. When someone uses such massive amount of supps, i think we can’t track down whats happening due to what and that high amount of trace minerals will always end up causing some problems . I mean using more than 100 mg zinc/day -> this will itself lead to hypothyroidism in the long run. IMO the protocol’s hair growth are coming from – Spiro,nizoral and may be taurine. Rest might destroy health,well-being and cause serious problems. Didn’t you and Danny both say that massive supp is a waste of time,money and may be health ?

  • Will

    Reply Reply March 28, 2017

    Hey guys, great article and interesting debate. There’s also Ecklonia cava to consider: https://www.hairlossrevolution.com/ecklonia-cava-hair-growth-results/ there’s some evidence to suggest it inhibits 5AR activity.
    Regards
    Will

  • Paz

    Reply Reply March 28, 2017

    Rob that’s a good point.

    But I doubt natural blockers would do this as DHT blockers are also fought d in natural foods. And natural herbs. If DHT is not the only culprit then it may be ok to stop taking DHT blockers.

    I’d only associate this with finisteride which has non natural chemical elements.

  • Jon

    Reply Reply March 29, 2017

    Hi Rob , did you do more research on pumpkin seed oil as a safe zinc supplement?

    • Rob

      Reply Reply March 29, 2017

      Yes! That article is coming in the next few days.

  • Luck

    Reply Reply March 29, 2017

    Hi Rob, Great detailed research and info, thanks.

    I have also heard and read that biotin is a strong contender in this race.

  • Mr Blue

    Reply Reply March 29, 2017

    The problem really is that blocking DHT globally is probably dangerous. We need a topical DHT blocker that only affect tissue DHT. The only product I know is the one developed for Hasson and Wong. But again we don’t really know how much finasteride goes on the blood. They claim it’s 14 times less but you need an extremely small amount of finasteride to block DHT.

    A frustrating issue, really.

    • Rob

      Reply Reply March 29, 2017

      You’re absolutely right about the dangers of blocking DHT. And one more point to add: while the studies on food-based DHT inhibitors (saw palmetto, pumpkin seed oil, etc.) are far less comprehensive than those of synthetic-based DHT inhibitors (Finasteride (Propecia), Dutasteride, Avodart) – the evidence seems to suggest that food-based / food-derived DHT inhibitors carry far fewer (if any) sexual side effects. This could be due to two things:

      1) These compounds might just be less effective at reducing DHT than synthetic-based DHT inhibitors.

      2) These compounds work through a different set of mechanisms versus synthetic-based DHT inhibitors.

      There’s evidence that Finasteride inhibits 5-alpha reductase differently than food-based DHT inhibitors. I’ve even seen some researchers refer to it as blocking 5-AR at the “gene level.” Comparatively, when we look at how a food-based DHT reducer like pumpkin seed oil might work – it might not be that it acts directly on the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. Rather, it instead might reduce 5-alpha reductase activity by downregulating signaling proteins like transforming growth factor beta.

      Transforming growth factor beta (TGFB) increases in sites of chronic inflammation, and TGFB can increase 5-AR expression. A food-based DHT inhibitor like pumpkin seed oil might actually reduce DHT not by suppressing the 5-AR enzyme directly. Rather, it might just be the antioxidants and polyphenols within the compound that decrease TGFB expression, and in turn, indirectly reduce 5-AR activity.

      It might sound silly to make that point of differentiation – indirect 5-AR suppression versus direct 5-AR suppression. But I think the nuance is important. It may explain why synthetic 5-AR inhibitors like Propecia are associated with sexual side effects, whereas food-based 5-AR inhibitors don’t appear to be nearly as dangerous.

      Just my two cents!

  • Paz

    Reply Reply March 29, 2017

    Mr Blue

    I’m guessing that’s more to do with chemical composition than anything else..Fin does far more harm than natural dht blockers which are bereft of chemical compound’s.

    How Fin got approved by the FDA is beyond me. Again it supports the notion of drug companies making profits on easy to treat issues.

    This is why I despise companies like Belgravia who insist on giving people Fin and rogaine which are harmful chemicals and expensive.

    But I believe that DHT may not be the main culprit in hair loss.

    • Greg

      Reply Reply March 30, 2017

      A Lot of great points. Thanks Tony, for a well written article, to join the multitudes by Rob. I myself personally believe, that DHT has very little to do with hair loss directly, particularly in more mature individuals like myself, whose DHT should hypothetically be on its way down. In younger individuals the DHT connection appears far more plausible. It appears more likely that 5-AR increases are co-comittant with increases in other pro-inflammatory compounds, be it the prostaglandin/cytokine/interleukin pathways or Janus kinase- STAT3 etc, though given that I’m not fully immersed in the literature, this itself may be a vast oversimplification.

      Obviously most studies have focussed on 5-AR expression, but seldom have considered other observable increases in the balding scalp. Similarly drug studies have focussed on what leads to reductions in 5-AR expression. They don’t typically assess whether the effects are direct (i.e. preventing 5-AR directly at the receptors), or whether the effects are as a result of upstream processes prior to 5-AR conversion, or indeed through feedback mechanisms further downstream. Clearly, it’s important to understand the precise mechanisms involved. Of course that’s far too financially prohibitive for pharmaceuticals. “It reduces 5-AR. Job done!”

      Sorry about the rant! But this raises another important point, Any of our ingested DHT inhibitors don’t just inhibit 5-AR(Similarly, this applies to all molecules purported to support a role in hair growth). The active molecule in each of the above (SPE and PSO), may have multitudes of effects within different physiological systems, that lead to improvements in hair quality. For example, if one looks at the SPE and PSO, the primary ingredients are fatty acids, MUFA and PUFA respectively. These molecules are involved in many of the key physiological processes in the body. So it remains a possibility that the benefits observed from these molecules may not be due to DHT inhibition, but any number of upstream or downstream processes. It seems unlikely to me that there is anything in these extracts/oils that contains specific molecules that target 5-AR specifically in the scalp.

      NB:- Isn’t it interesting how many of the purported natural cures, contain high concentrations of triglycerides/fatty acids?

      • Greg

        March 30, 2017

        I do apologise for re-iterating points detailed in Rob’s preceding post on TGB. And the careless spelling mistakes…..

      • Rob

        March 30, 2017

        Greg – awesome points, and no worries about the typos! I fixed a few for you.

        This debate – how the mechanisms of action are different for food-based DHT reducers (pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto) versus synthetic DHT reducers (finasteride) – is the topic for my next article. So thank you for the comments! (And the inspiration to dive deeper into the research).

        Your mention about fatty acids is interesting. I used to take a hard stance on minimizing omega 6 fatty acids. But now there’s a body of research demonstrating that omega 6 fatty acids might be beneficial to our skin and hair. In fact, the research seems split right down the middle: omega 6 are bad when oxidized, neutral/beneficial when unoxidized.

        More on both of those in the next couple of weeks!

      • Greg

        March 30, 2017

        Hi Rob

        Thanks for that. Spelling errors are the bane of my existence. I’ve often wondered about the Omega-6 scenario. Certainly as a topical, I think there is a place for linoleic acid. Grape Seed Oil felt great on my skin, and is potentially the best carrier oil I’ve ever used. No residue whatsoever! Indeed, some of the panaceas for hair loss, are omega 6 oils; PSO, kanonji oil etc

        However, I’m still on the fence about ingested linoleic, unless its balanced by other omega-6, such as gamma-linoleic and conjugated linoleic acids (i.e. calendic acid), to reduce the conversion to potential pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid.

        However, we know very little about Omega-6 and the ‘pro-inflammatory’ eicosanoids, and more specifically when the group 2 prostaglandins are a bad inflammatory, or a good inflammatory. Obviously, we need inflammatory processes, it’s only when we enter a chronic inflammatory state, that these are potentially bad news. Then of course, we have Swiss Temple’s theory, which overcame an evil group 2 prostaglandin, with another pro-inflammatory prostaglandin (a vast oversimplification I know, but that’s the general gist). So the story is far from simple with a variety of feedforward and feedback loops within the Group 2 eicosanoids, interleukins etc then there are crossed effects from the group 1 and Group 3 eicosanoids, which are typically inhibitory to the Group 2s, and countless other interactions with other fatty acids, let alone other molecules found in each cell nucleus. So it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities…..

        So just maybe chugging cashews, and swimming in vats of sunflower oil is the way forward. After having had a borage oil enema, of course……

      • Greg

        April 4, 2017

        Hi Rob

        I think the omega-6 issue is certainly worth exploring in an article. As you say, many health specialists inform us that omega-6 in large quantities are harmful, if not balanced by omega-3, less than 4:1 is recommended I beleive. However, the large quantities of omega-6 are tytpically ingested in the form of processed oils/margarines and/or junk food in the standard western diet, whereby the possibility is increased of these omega-6s becoming naughty trans-fats. I suppose the question would be is the consumption of whole foods with high omega-6 contents damaging? Is the omega 6 more stable when ingested from whole foods etc. I look forward to your thoughts.

        I know the Roddy/Peat Lobby are very ‘anti’ any PUFA, and some of the issues they raise are indeed important i.e. heat, stability and rancidity. However, whilst I agree with many ideas contained within this group pertaining to health generally, I do think their ideas on PUFA are blinkered.Indeed their writing suggests rather universally that PUFAs are bad, yet nearly every source of food in our diets contain these PUFAs to varying degrees. Similarly, their writings indicate thet prostaglandins are universally bad, which clearly is not the case under all circumstances. I would be interested on your thoughts on this

        If you could drop me a line, I’ve got some info that maybe of interest for your ongoing research pertaining to topicals…..

        All the best

        Greg

      • Rob

        April 4, 2017

        Thanks Greg. The omega-6 issue is complex with a lot of conflicting literature. I think that omega 6 might be fine from whole foods – provided they’re not oxidized – and may even be pro-hair. But I also think there’s an upper limit, and that the upper limit is much lower than what most people believe (but not nearly as low as Roddy / Peat advocate).

        I’ll send you an email now!

      • Greg

        April 5, 2017

        Any chance you’ll elaborate in a future article? Perhaps with a catchy title like ‘PUFA or MUFA- that is the question’?

        Greg

      • Rob

        April 6, 2017

        Hey Greg,

        It’s on my list! I’ll try to put together an article in the next few weeks. And if I use your title, I’ll absolutely have to credit you. 🙂

        Next week’s article is on the difference between food-based 5-AR inhibitors and Finasteride… Why the former isn’t typically associated with sexual side effects, but the latter is.

  • Scotty

    Reply Reply April 1, 2017

    I took saw palmetto as I heard it would stop hair loss. I feel like it did, I felt that my hair wasn’t falling out and overall just felt stronger. However, for me it gave me a crazy scary experience of shrinking my manhood and making me feel like it was a separate entity I had a couple of weird days and immediately stopped taking it. I did a little 20 hour fasting and weightlifting which brought me back to normal after a few days. I know not everyone experiences this because my brother said it didn’t do nothing of the sort to him. It did to me and I found others online who it had an even worse effect. So yea I might be part of that small percentage, but still I write this just to say be careful. It was soon after this that I found Robb’s stuff and it was only about 3-4 weeks in to doing the massages that I noticed that same firm non shedding irregularly scalp I felt I was experiencing from taking saw palmetto. So yea I’m almost two months in to the massages and seeing some hairs coming in. It’s pretty awesome.

    Side question: Hey Robb I sent you an email I had about changing head shape and wondering if firm massaging could effect scalp bone shape. Can it or is our head so hard that we’d have to apply super pressure to do so.

    Bless

    • Rob

      Reply Reply April 3, 2017

      Hey Scotty – I followed up with you via email! In general, I think head shape changes are driven less by bone, and more by changes to skin density as a result of expelling any trapped sebum / dandruff.

  • Ivan

    Reply Reply April 3, 2017

    Rob, I’ve been shampoo and condition free for almost two weeks now which is a personal record.

    I rinse my scalp and hair with lukewarm water every day and I’m noticing a really nice texture and consistency and reduced bad hair days.

    Sometimes if it’s really frizzy I just use coconut/argan oil.

    Should I keep doing this no shampoo/condition routine indefinitely or should I shampoo maybe at the end of the month and then start over? Thanks.

    • Rob

      Reply Reply April 4, 2017

      It all depends. I’ve found no issues going shampoo- and conditioner-free for years. But if you’re using fat-based topicals regularly, you might feel like shampooing once in a while, just so that your hair doesn’t look too greasy.

  • Safiye

    Reply Reply April 5, 2017

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22178180/

    Safflower proved to be a potent alpha reductase inhibitor as well.

  • Khan

    Reply Reply July 19, 2017

    Saw palmetto is no doubt an effective dht blocker but it do have side effects that of propecia or any other finasteride. Pumpkin seed oil is also effective but it will take a longer time to actually show some results. They work best when tried with any hair regrowth treatment like minoxidil, castor/Olivia/jojoba oil or onion garlic topical application. But they all need devotion and commitment as they take atleast an year or so to show some results. Key to success is never lose hope.

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