Over the years, I have been somewhat of a pessimist when it comes to natural treatments for hair loss being any kind of miracle treatment. I do not doubt that some natural treatments can make existing hair stronger and in rare cases even bring back recently miniaturized hair. However, I have serious doubts whether natural treatments can regrow hair that has been lost for more than a few years. i.e., hair that has miniaturized to the point of becoming vellus.
Some natural treatments such as saw palmetto (which reduces DHT, the main culprit in male pattern hair loss) have numerous studies backing their positive effects on hair. However even in the case of saw palmetto, synthetic/pharmaceutical treatments such as finasteride and dutasteride are drastically superior at reducing DHT, so most people prefer the drugs if they do not get side effects.
Nevertheless, every now and again I do cover natural treatments when there is sufficient scientific backing. Who knows, one day something natural could turn out to be a miracle for hair like aspirin was for human health.
Algae and Hair Growth
This week, South Korea scientists from Jeju National University published a very interesting study (based on work done in animals) titled “Undariopsis peterseniana promotes hair growth by the activation of Wnt/β-Catenin and ERK pathways“. Undariopsis peterseniana is a type of edible algae (singular = alga). Apparently, it helps scalp hair growth via a number of mechanisms:
- Opening the ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channel.
- Decreasing 5α-reductase activity.
- Increasing the proliferation of dermal papilla cells via the activation of the Wnt/β-catenin and ERK pathways.
- Increasing the levels of various cell cycle proteins.
Moreover, some of the same scientists involved in this study also did another one in 2013 that found the shige sinicola alga to benefit hair growth. And in 2012, some of the same scientists found the grateloupia elliptica seaweed to also benefit hair growth in animals. Note that all seaweed are considered to be algae (but the reverse is not true).