It is extremely rare for me to devote an entire post to some kind of reader correspondence. Nevertheless, I make exceptions when the feedback seems sincere, detailed, unique and comes from someone who has been in touch for a while.
CBD Oil and Hair Growth
In 2021, I wrote a post on CBD oil, hemp extract and hair growth. At the time, this subject was widely discussed in the hairverse due to:
- A new 40-person clinical trial on the use of cannabidiol rich topical hemp oil as an androgenetic alopecia treatment.
- A new research article on hair regrowth with cannabidiol (CBD)-rich hemp extract in a case series of 35 patients.
Both of the above are from the same Florida-based Medical Life Care Planners, LLC. It is led by Dr. John Satino and Dr. Gregory Smith, the former of whom I covered on this blog in the past. Dr. Satino is an unusual character to say the least. He claimed to me in the past that he ran the original: Minoxidil Study in 1984 for Upjohn; the Finasteride study in 1989 for Merck; and the Lexington (HairMax LaserComb) study in 2000 for Low Level Laser FDA clearance. You can see a recent image of him at his clinic in 2021. He really loves cars and has consulted for NASA in his capacity as a biomedical engineer.
However, it should be noted that even prior to Dr. Satino’s work, there were a few other studies that discussed the potential benefits of CBD towards scalp hair growth. I discussed some of them in that 2021 post. A newer 2022 review of existing studies on cannabinoid products to treat hair loss made the following conclusions:
- While cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid, may cause hair growth, several other phytocannabinoids may lead to hair loss.
- The effect of CBD on hair growth may be concentration-dependent. CBD may cause hair loss at high concentrations (≥10 μM).
- An ideal topical cannabinoid preparation should contain CBD at the right concentration and lack other phytocannabinoid adulterants.
In my opinion, the 2021 hype surrounding the effects of CBD on scalp hair growth seems to be similar to the 2023 hype surrounding caffeine and hair growth. i.e., some reasonable evidence, but likely overblown expectations based on excessive media and online coverage. Also of interest, the Martha Stewart site covered CDB oil and hair growth favorably in 2022 based on the opinions of two dermatologists.
A Reader sees Hair Regrowth from using CBD Oil
A long-time reader of this blog named “Pete” started taking CBD oil in 2021 after the earlier mentioned study came out. He sent me the below email (slightly reworded) and 1-year before and after photos. Last week, he sent me a second e-mail with 2-year before and after photos:
Jul 2, 2022 Communication
I thought I’d share my CBD results privately with you because I’m not ready to share publicly yet.
I am a 46-year-old male with a shaved head for the past 17 years. I started going bald in my late twenties. It has never bothered me a great deal, but I’d choose to have hair if I could. So, I had nothing to gain or lose from experimenting.
I never take oral medication, so topical sounded okay. Never tried anything else before. Reverse-engineered the formula from that study and made a couple of modifications for my needs. 2ml oil daily.
I’ve just reached the 12-month mark. I’ve attached progress images below. Right click and open the below image in a new tab for further enlargement and clearer view.
There are caveats to those pictures:
1. It was hard for me to stand in the exact same position, with the phone at the exact same angle every time. So there are variations in angle and light. You’ll see my fingers line move back and forth between images.
2. After 4-5 months I saw progress, so I started allowing my hair to grow a little. That’s why there’s such a dramatic jump there.
3. In the last two images, I accidentally added a filter which makes them look slightly darker than the others. Evidenced by the same shirt I wore (a night shirt, one of several that are the same).
Month-to-month shows little progress, but comparing a few months apart shows results.
I’m still not 100% convinced there’s new growth. It could just be thickening what was left – very thin hair. Bald patch at back has little to no progress. Not sure why. In fact, it could be worse.
I was going to quit now, but I’m undecided. I’ve read so many theories about hair life cycles, anything from a few months to seven years. So I have no idea if continuing will gain anything.
When I am done, I’ll redo all the images and normalize them.
Anyway, doesn’t look like a cure, but it could help people from losing hair. Downside: oil is a major pain to have on your head for 6+ hours a day.
I’m going to keep going for a while longer. It takes a lot of dedication to have a load of oil that runs when you’re hot, on your head for 6+ hours a day. But I’m lucky enough to work from home.
The 12 month hair growth results that this reader sent me seem very positive from the pictures below. Note: Per Pete’s feedback, the 12-month and 24-month after photos are flipped in the below two images. i.e., the left photo in the first “frontal view” image below, and right photo in the second “top view” image below are the 12-month results. The 24-month results are right and left respectively. Sorry for the confusion!
In any case, the main thing that impresses are the gains from month 0 (the topmost bald scalp image in this post) to month 12. The change from 1 year to 2 years shows maintenance, but likely no further growth.
June 17, 2023 Communication
Right, it’s now been another year.
Today is two years since I started this experiment with a CBD oil mix.
To recap, I’m 47 yrs, self-employed, and work from home. Therefore, I’m able to apply the oil and leave it in for anything up to 12 hours a day. Usually, at least 8 hours. I’ve not noticed any side effects.
I’ve been going bald since my late twenties, and I’ve dyed my hair since then too.
You can go back and look at the progress pictures I showed you before, but I started with this in June 2021 (Admin: That is the first image I have in this post). The changes from 12 months onwards were minor, so I only took pictures every few months from then on. This is eleven months apart. Left was July last year, right is now (Admin: See the prior two images). Same with this – eleven months apart. This picture is taken with a very bright light from overhead, which really shows the thinning hair to its maximum. I parted down the middle to expose everything. This time, left is today, right was 11 months ago.
It is no miracle cure. There are still marginal gains though. The first year was the most striking in the differences from month-to-month, but I think that’s because I started with so little hair remaining. A tiny bit extra looked more impressive in contrast back then. And as soon as I noticed gains, I started to allow it to grow at about 6 months.
I think you’ll agree that there’s been some improvement over the last 11 months, although minor. I should have lost more hair, not gained, so I think I can safely conclude it’s working to a degree. I’ve never tried anything else, but gather it’s probably a similar outcome to Rogaine etc. I would only ever try something topical.
It would probably be a good regime for people who start losing their hair. I’d lost 90% of mine, and therefore it’s a long slog to gain it back. I only have the oil on for a max 50% of the day. Not sure what would happen if you could somehow apply 24/7. I’ve thought of upping the CBD content too, but never have for fear of losing all the gains.
It’s an oil that stains EVERYTHING. I’ve had to repaint parts of a wall my head touched. It washes out of clothes. Ruined my office chair. Need an antimacassar.
With the recent finding of “stiff hair stem cells“, I wonder if the oil is helping to soften them?
I shall continue for now, because why not?
Regarding the Formula he is using:
All the details are in the first email. I studied the original science paper, and used the correct amounts of full spectrum CBD oil, mixed with Emu oil, and peppermint oil.
Any brand full spectrum would work. I have two of these mini glass jam jars (see image on right). I use a small syringe (sans the needle, of course) to measure out 2ml of the CBD oil at a time. I then rub it into my scalp, comb and leave it in.
I don’t think it’s wise to give out the exact formula because then people can blame/sue if it goes wrong. However, it’s easy for them to work out the CBD concentration from the science paper. I started using 300mcg CBD, but they no longer make it, so I currently use 500mcg strength oil, and just lowered the amount of drops per batch. I make 60ml at a time, which is 2ml per day for 30 days. They used lanolin etc, but I don’t.
Another reason to not give out the exact formula is that I don’t know if the original publishers could sue, because they now have a product. I have no idea what protections they’re able to put in place. I guess they could only trademark the brand name, but I’m not risking it. Hope you can appreciate that, but as I say: all the details are in their science paper.