Hair loss and DHT are two terms that are often associated. Because DHT is believed to be the leading cause of male-pattern baldness (or androgenic alopecia,) the condition most people suffer from, the need for something to block it from affecting hair caught everyone’s attention. That’s why some of the most effective hair loss treatments, including finasteride, works by inhibiting DHT. However, prescription medications are not always the most convenient solution. If you feel the same, then you should check natural DHT blockers! Vitamins, plant extracts, and essential oils with antiandrogenic abilities that target DHT exist. And they are very effective! Here we aim for natural DHT blockers and inhibitors that have real scientific evidence behind them.
What is DHT?
DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is an androgen that contributes to male sex characteristics, such as deep voice, facial hair, and muscles. DHT is converted in the body from testosterone with the help of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. It’s believed that DHT can bind to scalp receptors, shrinking hair follicles and weakening them, which often leads to pattern hair loss. Studies found that DHT is the first cause for the miniaturization of hair follicles in androgenic alopecia. The same studies confirmed that blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT delays the progression of hair loss. That’s where DHT blockers come to help!
What is a DHT blocker?
A DHT blocker (or 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor) might be everything that holds antiandrogenic proprieties to block DHT from binding to 5-alpha reductase receptors, thus reducing testosterone conversion to DHT.
How natural DHT inhibitors help reduce hair loss?
Plant extracts, essential oils, and even vitamins can be intaken or topically applied to the scalp in order to inhibit 5-alpha reductase receptors and block DHT conversion. When absorbed into the skin, they enter the bloodstream and interfere with DHT activity at the hair follicle. Because they’re not chemicals, natural DHT blockers tend to have fewer side effects and some even higher efficacity than finasteride, for instance. It’s important to use natural DHT blockers supported by scientific data. That being said, these are the best, most effective, and research-backed natural DHT inhibitors that can reduce hair loss and help your hair grow thicker and healthier!
What are the best natural DHT blockers?
The extract of saw palmetto berries, a long-lived palm tree natively coming from the West Indies, is probably the most popular natural DHT blocker people are aware of. It’s known to have antiandrogenic activities, working as an inhibitor of 5-alpha-reductase responsible for the DHT conversion. Saw palmetto doesn’t lack scientific evidence on its functions to promote hair growth. Studies found that saw palmetto can reduce DHT binding capacity to androgen receptors by nearly 50%. Another research confirmed that saw palmetto could improve androgenetic alopecia, giving slightly poorer results than finasteride.
You can take saw palmetto orally in the form of supplements or whole berries, or you can apply it topically directly on the scalp. Topical application of saw palmetto demonstrated a mean increase in hair count of 27%, while oral supplements might increase hair density in 83% of cases. Hence? Intaking saw palmetto seems more effective for treating severe male pattern baldness.
Pumpkin seed oil
The pumpkin seed oil is another potential DHT inhibitor that is believed to block the action of 5-alpha reductase and have antiandrogenic effects — as studies suggest. Even though data about the impact of pumpkin seed oil on pattern hair loss exists, it’s very limited for now. During a placebo-controlled study, more than 70 people suffering from androgenic alopecia were given 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil per day for 24 weeks. Results showed reduced hair loss and a hair count increase of 40%. But as mentioned, more data is needed to make a call about pumpkin seed oil.
Among the essential oils thought to have antiandrogenic activities, rosemary oil seems to be the most promising one. A 2013 study found that rosemary oil could stimulate hair growth and slow hair loss induced by testosterone levels. Rosemary oil was classified as an effective natural DHT blocker due to its ability to inhibit the binding of DHT to androgen receptors. Another study compared the effects of rosemary oil with minoxidil on androgenic alopecia. By 6 months, both groups manifested similar improvements with significant increases in hair count and thickness. So, we presume that rosemary oil is an effective DHT blocker that could effectively treat pattern hair loss.
Besides drinking green tea, you can use it to nourish and boost your hair follicles to produce healthier hair. Several studies have reported that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol and the most abundant catechin in tea, might help prevent or treat androgenetic alopecia by selectively inhibiting 5alpha-reductase activity. Research also found that EGCG may reduce testosterone-induced hair loss by increasing the androgen phase and slowing the telogen stage.
One way to use it is topically by purchasing shampoo or conditioner containing green tea extract. For oral application, you can try supplements or mix dehydrated green tea in water. In fact, studies observed that a 50% fraction of polyphenol extract from green tea in drinking water for six months could induce significant hair growth. Besides, green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants and can increase blood flow and oxygen delivery in the scalp, leading to a reduction in hair loss. You have lots of benefits using use green tea, after all!
Red clover extract
One less-known fact about red clover (Trifolium pratense) extract is that it can fight androgenic alopecia. Red clover extract displays a high content of biochanin A, a flavonoid that studies point to being one of the most potent inhibitors of 5 alpha-reductase. Another researcher found biochanin A as an effective compound to reduce DHT activity. As red clover extract is rich in biochanin A, it makes one of the best natural DHT blockers. Besides, this plant extract’s topical application has been shown to increase the anagen hair at an average by +13%. You may find the red clover extract in the composition of Capixyl, a breakthrough formula for hair growth, commonly used in serums and shampoos.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi, also known as lingzhi, is a mushroom originally used in traditional Chinese medicine, thought to have many health benefits. One study explored the anti-androgenic effects of 20 different species of mushrooms, including reishi. Out of all of them, the extract of red reishi showed the strongest 5alpha-reductase inhibitory activity. It was found that reishi mushrooms significantly reduced levels of 5-alpha reductase, preventing the conversion of testosterone into more potent DHT. However, data about the use of red reishi in the treatment of pattern hair loss is very limited at this very moment.
We all heard about zinc — a mineral found in food sources, necessary for many biochemical processes. These may include cell reproduction, maintenance of hormone levels, protein synthesis, and absorption of vitamins and other minerals. It has long been claimed that zinc plays an important role in hair growth since a deficiency of this mineral is often associated with hair loss. Research found that over 300 selected people suffering from alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia presented lower zinc concentrations in the body. They also confirmed that zinc supplementation restores hair loss in most cases.
What not many people know about zinc is that it acts as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, blocking the conversion of DHT. Studies suggest that zinc is a potent DHT blocker and a modulator of the balance between testosterone and DHT.
Although more investigation is needed to prove its effects on reducing DHT, zinc remains a necessary mineral your body needs to grow healthy and thicker hair. Because the body cannot generate zinc on its own, it must be supplied through the diet or supplements. Most hair growth supplements will contain zinc, so you should find them pretty quickly.
Let’s not forget fatty acids. The healthy ones may possess anti-androgenic activities and may block the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Lauric acid, oleic acid, and linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) have been proven to inhibit 5-alpha reductase, contributing to better hair health.
Is DHT really the problem?
While DHT blockers help reduce hair loss caused by testosterone levels, they won’t deliver any benefit for those whose condition is not caused by high DHT levels. Most studies for natural DHT blockers were performed on pattern hair loss, and little to no data exists about their effects on other conditions such as alopecia areata or telogen effluvium. Before throwing all kinds of DHT blockers to your scalp and body, make sure you actually need them by consulting a specialist.
What’s the best way to use natural DHT blockers?
There are two ways to use DHT inhibitors: topically and internally. Topical application of DHT blockers is generally considered safer than oral administration but also less effective.
Topically, natural DHT blockers can be used in shampoos, serums, oils, or direct scalp massage, while internally, you can get them from supplements and diet. It’s believed that DHT blocker supplements are the most effective in treating androgenic alopecia because they enter directly into your bloodstream and are found in high concentrations.
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