Fat or Bald?

Update: March 30, 2018

Final results were:

144 total votes

49 % preferred to be fat for life, but always have great hair.

51 % percent preferred to be bald for life, but always have the perfect weight.

I am very surprised at how close it was. Thanks to all those who voted.

I have started a poll (LINK HERE — and the content is also pasted at the bottom of this post) on Twitter and you can vote if you have an account on there. The goal of the poll is to determine what percent of people prefer being overweight to being bald (and vice versa) assuming that you have no option other than to suffer from at least one of those two conditions. Note that your response is anonymous on Twitter surveys and no-one, including me, can find out who is voting.

When you are 50 lbs overweight, in most cases that classifies as being obese due to your having a BMI of over 30. See here for the difference in definition between the words “overweight” and “obese”. Some very tall people can be 50 lbs over their ideal weight/BMI and still be considered as “just” overweight rather than obese.

Of course it is much much easier to lose weight than to gain hair. However, for a huge number of people, genetics plus metabolism disorders plus computer based sedentary work schedules often make it impossible to lose all the weight that they want to, and then keep it off. Similarly, some bald people just do not have a great head shape and skin type to make the bald appearance look that great. One of my balding relatives is still tormented by the fact that his very long ears and face were compared to the FA Cup when he was in high school. I doubt that he will ever shave it all off unless he gets otoplasty surgery first.

So to have the poll make logical sense, I added the respective assumptions at the end of each of the two answer choices below. Of course the first guy who commented to the poll Tweet ruined everything and said (or joked) that for him, 50 lbs overweight would be an improvement from his current state so the answer choice is very obvious!

Which option would you prefer?

A = Perfect hair till death, but 50 lbs overweight till death. Assume that nothing you try reduces the excess weight.

B = Bald till death, but ideal body weight till death. Assume that the bald look does not suit your face and skin type that well.

— Hairlosscure2020 (@HLcure2020) March 26, 2018

Valproic Acid and Hair Growth

Last year, I discussed new groundbreaking research from South Korea in relation to the development of a new peptide called  PTD-DBM. This product can activate the Wnt/β-catenin pathway and accelerate hair regrowth via wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis. One part of the findings also dealt with valproic acid and its impact on hair.

Valproic Acid and Hair Growth Research

In the above work that was led by Dr. Kang-Yell Choi, the researchers also found that topical valproic acid (VPA) sped up hair growth in mice. Valproic acid (also known as valproate and sodium valproate) is a medication that is used to treat epilepsy, seizures, bipolar disorder and migraines. However, this chemical can cause significant side effects and is not something to be take lightly.

In the past, there have also been other studies that found hair growth benefits of valproic acid (brand name Depakote). For example, these 2014 findings from South Korea suggest VPA grows hair in humans when used in a topical version.

Several other studies have indicated that valproic acid can change hair color and also change hair texture. However, most of the past research on this subject matter seems to be on small sample sizes. And a majority of these findings seem to be coming from one country: South Korea. Including these clinical trials from 2012.

Valproic Acid and Wounding

Early this week, commentator “John Doe” posted a link to an interesting new study titled “Transcutaneous implantation of VPA-encapsulated dissolving microneedles induces hair regrowth“.

Besides the discussion about valproic acid and hair growth, the study covers the fascinating phenomenon of this unique idea of valproic-acid-encapsulating dissolving microneedles (DMN-VPA). Apparently this method creates dermal micro-wounds than enhance the effects of the VPA upon hair growth. This also seems to support the wounding concept behind the technology of Follica.

Valproic Acid Hair Researcher Dr. Kang Choi.

One of the co-authors of this new paper is the same Dr. Kang-Yell Choi that I mentioned earlier in the post, and the research is yet again conducted in South Korea. Mr. Choi has his own wikipedia entry, and he deserves a photo in this post. He works at Yonsai University. According to the scientists behind this latest research:

“Micro-wounding-mediated implantation of DMN-VPA upregulates expression of Wnt/β-catenin pathway, alkaline phosphatase, proliferating cell nuclear antigen, loricrin and HF stem cell markers, including keratin 15, and CD34 more effectively than topical application.”

Injecting an Epilepsy Drug into the Scalp

At first, I was considering adding the above findings at the top of my next “brief items of interest” post. However, earlier today, my alerts notified me of a new article in newscientist magazine titled “Male balding may be cured by injecting epilepsy drug into scalp.

I can not access the whole article, but it is about injecting valproic acid into your scalp to regrow hair. If anyone manages to read the whole article, please post about it in the comments. It seems like this predominantly South Korean led area of research is now finding its way into the US.

Valproate and Hair Loss

  • One unusual thing I noticed is that there are a lot of search results on Google that suggest valproic acid can also cause hair loss in people who are taking it orally for seizures and other such conditions.
  • One 2018 article found that oral valproic acid is more likely to cause hair loss. This valproate induced hair loss is typically diffused, nonscarring, and dose related.
  • A while back I covered a self-experimenter by the name “Swisstemples” in detail. One of the ingredients in his protocol is VPA.