Treatment for hair loss or hair fall across the globe

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Published: 12th July 2010
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Importance of Hair Loss in History

Hair Loss - Physiology

1. Anagen Phase

2. Catagen Phase

3. Telogen Phase

Types of Hair Loss Treatment

1. Allopathic

a. Surgical

1. Hair Transplant

2. Scalp Transplant

3. Tissue Expansion

b. Non-Surgical

2. Ayurvedic

3. Homeopathic

4. Chinese Medication

5. Unani

6. Reiki

7. Aromatherapy

8. Japan's Research

Importance of hair in history

Down the history lane, beautiful hair has been prized by all. Every civilization for centuries has sought ways and means to keep their hair healthy and beautiful by using the resources available to them. Some remedies stood the test of time and are still popular in their homeland while some got rejected due their side effects. In the previous eras hair and their styling represented the power, beauty, religious beliefs and age. The Chinese men shaved the front of the head and wore their hair long and braided, tied with black silk, while the women tied the hair at the nape of the neck into a knot. Unmarried Chinese girls wore long braids. The Egyptians shaved off their hair to fight the heat and on special occasions chose to wear wigs. The Japanese shaved off the front part of the hair and tied the rest into a short, stiff ponytail while the women swept off their hair on top of the head and adorned it with combs and pins.

Hair has also been an integral part of some religions all over the world. The Sikhs in India never shave or cut their hair and beard and Islam chooses to keep the hair covered by turbans in men and "purdah" in women. The biblical law banned Hebrews from cutting or shaving their hair and beards. Respecting this tradition, down the centuries, orthodox Jewish men have worn their hair and beards long. In the 1st century A.D, post the exile, orthodox women after marriage cropped their hair and wore wigs. From then till now, hair loss has been prevalent and people have always tried to find a treatment for hair loss.

Hair loss - physiology

Alopecia or hair loss is a disease that is equally prevalent all over the world. From losing hair manually (pulling it out) to deep lying diseases like cancer, the etiology varies. The hair types, colors and shapes vary in different regions, all over the world. But they are all composed of proteins and go through the following cycle.

1. Anagen Phase

This phase mark the follicular growth. On an average, more that 85% of the hair is in this phase and lasts from 2-8 years. The length of the hair grows to almost 10cm per year.

2. Catagen Phase

This phase occurs post the anagen phase. It marks the follicular regression or transition and is ready to be shed. It lasts for 2-3 weeks and involves 1-2% of the hair follicles. As the hair follicles enter this phase, the derma papilla (a tiny bulge at the root of the hair) condenses with the cells as they become inactive and breaks down to rest below.

3. Telogen Phase

The catagen phase is followed by the telogen phase which is called as the resting phase. It lasts for around 5-6 weeks and involves 10-16 percent of all the hair follicles. During this phase, the growth of the hair is arrested, as it remains attached to its follicles. During this phase, the hair follicles come out during combing or brushing. The ones that survive this are pushed out by the new growing hair. When the hair follicles are under this phase more than a hundred hair fall in a day. This phase is again followed by the anagen phase and the cycle continues.

Types of hair loss treatments-

Over time, various schools of medicine have tried to come up with a solution for this disease.

Allopathic treatment-


1. Hair transplant. - A form of surgery in which hair is taken form a donor region (area where hair growth is healthy) and surgically planted over the bald patch. If crafted well, it can provide a life long relief form hair loss. Since the donor patch is from the patients own head, chances of it being rejected by the recipient patch is nullified. But this surgery can be done only on people who are partially bald.
2. Scalp Transplant- There is extensive research going on to cure hair loss through replacements of the whole scalp. Experiments have been done with scalps taken from cadaver and surgically planted on humans. Though this does promise, normal hair on the head, it also runs the risk of being rejected by the recipient's tissues as a foreign body. The patient is dependent on anti rejection medications for the rest of his life.
3. Tissue Expansion- In this process a surgical balloon called the expander is surgically planted under the scalp. Over the next 8 to 10 weeks, it is filled with saline water till the time the skin stretches to produce excess skin. When there is enough skin to cover the bald patch, a second surgery is performed to remove the balloon. The bald patch is excised out and the new grown skin is used to cover that part, thus getting rid of the area of hair loss forever.


1.) External application - FDA approved Minoxidil was originally created to treat hypertension. Extra hair growth was observed as a side effect. This drug is now prescribed to people suffering from severe hair loss to grow back their hair.
2.) Medication in the form of pills and tablet -

• Propecia - This medicine is reputed to halt or even reverse hair fall. It contains 1 mg of finasteride along with a few inactive ingredients.

• Avodart- An Avodart capsule contains 0.5mg of the active ingredient, Dutasteride along with a few inactive ingredients.

• Multi-vitamins- Folliderm is a multivitamin that also contains minerals and arrests hair fall due to nutritional deficiency.

Ayurvedic treatment-

Ayurved is of the belief that surplus of " pitta dosh" is the chief cause of hair fall which can occur due to excessive intake of beverages like tea, coffee and alcohol, excessive smoking and undue consumption of non-vegetarian food. It can also be aggravated by fried, oily, greasy, spicy, sour and acidic food. To correct this dosha , it adopts three routes-

• Diet- Change in diet by having nutritious food such as sesame seeds, ground nuts, dairy products, increased intake of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. It also includes decreased consumption of non oily and non spicy food,

• Herbs- Certains herbs such as reetha, amlaa, shikakai, brahmi and bhringraj help to decrease hair fall and promote hair growth.

• Masssage- Ayurveda lays special emphasis on head massages with special herbal oils which may have ingredients like hibiscus, jasmine, henna or amla.

Homeopathic hairfall treatment

Originated in Germany, this form of medicine believes that any disease in the body is dues to imbalance of the vital force (an invisible force that maintains the body in a balanced state of health). Homeopaths administer medicines in different potencies (strength of the drug) to treat hair fall. Though the medicines are prescribed on the basis of constitution of the person, some of the most common hair fall remedies in homeopathy are natrum muriaticum, silicea, lycopoduim, nitricum acidum, sepia, graphites, phosphoric acid and fluoric acid

Chinese medicines for hairfall treatment

The Chinese school of medicine believes that hair fall is a result of compromised flow of "qi and blood" to the scalp and hair due to malfunctioning of the liver and the kidney. So the stagnation of liver qi and impaired kidney qi mechanism may result in malnutrition leading to stasis of blood. They also believed that there is power of the wind in the hair etiology and if there is generation of internal wind or an external wind attacks the head, it may result in blood stasis or blood heat or both which causes of hair fall.

The Chinese herbs that are effective in treating hair fall are

Fleece Flower Root - He Shou Wu

Action- This herb strengthens the liver and kidney, keeps the hair black and shiny, nourishes blood, detoxifies the fire poison, moistens the intestines and expels the wind from the skin.

Szechuan Lovage - Chuan Xiong

Action- Revitalizes the blood, promotes the circulation of qi, expels wind and moves qi upwards.

Hoelen Mushroom - Fu Ling

Actions- Calms the heartbeat relieves from chronic kidney inflammation of glomerulonephritis and strengthens the stomach and spleen.

In Practical Traditional Chinese Dermatology, three topical treatments are described:

• A mixture of dictamnus, biota leaf, ginger, crataegus, and angelica is made as a tincture and applied once or twice a day.

• Fresh slices of ginger are rubbed onto the bald area to produce a hot feeling, three times daily.

• Powder of chuanwu (a type of aconite) is mixed with vinegar or ginger juice and applied once a day to the bald area.

In Manual of Dermatology in Chinese Medicine, these topicals are mentioned:

• A mixture of biota leaf, zanthoxylum, and pinellia is made as a decoction and mixed with fresh ginger root juice, and applied to the affected area twice daily.

• A mixture of artemisia, chrysanthemum, mentha, siler, kao-pen, vitex, schizonepeta, and musk; make a decoction (musk is added separately) and wash the head with it; let it set in the head for 5 minutes, and repeat; then rinse with warm water.

• Cordyceps tincture is applied to the affected area 3-5 times daily.

• Brassica is powdered, mixed with oil to form an ointment, and applied to the affected area once daily.

In the English-Chinese Encyclopedia of Practical Traditional Chinese Medicine, vol. 16: Dermatology, these are suggested:

• Psoralea tincture (Bugu Zhiding), applied three times daily.

• Fresh ginger roots slice: rub the affected part rapidly.

Refrence -

Unani for hair fall treatment

Unani medicines originated in Greece but were adopted by the Muslim world 13 centuries ago. These medicines were based on the concept of balancing the four body humors including Phlegm (Balgham), blood (Dam), yellow bile (Safra) and Black bile (Sauda). When these body humors fall out of balance, it results in the body getting diseased and restoring the balance heals the diseases.

According to Tibb-e-Unani, hair fall is classified into two groups as primary and secondary, the primary being getting bald due to certain hereditary factors whereas, secondary baldness arises due to some fungal infection of the scalp (e.g. Tinea cruris).

The ingredients of hair fall medicines are similar to Ayurved though the mode of preparation is different. Some of the most popular ingredients for hair care products are

• Almond is used in the Unani medicine to strengthen eyesight, treat menstrual pain and sooth irritable sores and skin eruptions. Besides this it is also highly prized for hair loss cure. This nut being rich in copper, iron, phosphorus and vitamin B1, effectively strengthens the roots by providing nourishment. On external application (almond oil), it cures dandruff and nourishes the scalp so that it fights infections better.

• Amla- Highly used in oils and also prescribed in powder and khus form, it's a rich source of Vitamin C. When prescribed as a part of internal medicine, it aids iron absorption, which helps to control anemia, the main cause of hair fall in women. Unani also recommends a blend of almond oil with amla oil to fight hair loss and graying of hair

• Roghan e Baiz Murgh - a popular remedy that is externally applied along with amla oil to arrest hair fall.

• Some of the other popular ingredients of unani hair oils to control hair fall include Nardostachys jatamansi, Eclipta Alba, Lawsonia Alba and Sesamum indicum oil.

Reiki for hair fall treatment

Reiki is a traditional Japanese practice that uses "Universal Life Energy" or "God directed energy" to heal people. The effect of this practice varies from a person to person. While some people have claimed miraculous recovery from complete alopecia, coronary disorders and tumors, there are others who haven't experienced any change even after several Reiki sessions. While Reiki healers claim that people who trust this form of healing are the ones who benefit the most from it.

Reiki believes that any disease or disorder is due to blockage of energy or stagnation of negative energy which can over time, make a person seriously ill. Things like stress, poor eating habits or sudden shock or trauma can block the flow of energy which can lead to hair fall or baldness. Many alopecia patients tried Reiki and experienced control in their hair loss ratio and some also reported hair growing back in the bald patches. They all attributed this to the fact that they felt relaxed and stress free post the Reiki sessions.

Aromatherapy for hair fall treatment

This form of therapy, though highly popular, still has to gain scientific acceptance. Aroma therapy is the use of essential oils for the purpose of healing. Essential oils are volatile aroma compounds that are generally distilled plant extracts such as leaves, stems, flowers, bark or roots. They are highly concentrated and are believed to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth.

Essential oils like cedarwood, lavender, rosemary, basil, arnica, sage, bay, thyme and jojoba are used to treat alopecia.

Japan's Research for hair fall treatment

Japanese researchers have stumbled upon the following alternative therapies to treat hair fall.

• Green tea- Research has proved that ingredients in green tea reduce testosterone. This is especially handy for women who are experiencing hair loss to due high level of these hormones in the case of polycystic ovarian disorders (PCO's). It also increases the concentration of hemoglobin in the blood, reducing hair loss due to anemia.

• Grape seed extract- Grape seed extracts is rich source of anti-oxidant substances such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These substances protect the cells from free radicals and thus prove to be beneficial for circulation, capillaries, vision troubles and hair loss. They also contain polyophenol, a very powerful anti oxidant. These anti-oxidants are more powerful than vitamin C, E and beta-carotene.

• Apple Extract- Japanese researcher have discovered that apple skin contain a high amount of polyphenol, higher than that of grape seeds. Apple extracts showed double the efficacy in hair growth as compared to popular hair loss medications.

• Forskolin- This is a product of the tropical Indian coleus plant known for its property to induce hair growth. It role in hair loss treatment was first discovered by Japanese scientists. They function like booster doses to hair growth stimulated by the other anti oxidant compounds like grape seed and apple extract.

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