One in 20 men will have already started to go bold by the time he reaches his 20th birthday; others keep leonine manes into their seventies and beyond. Seems unfair, but who said life will be fair?
There are many different types of baldness, but the one discussed here is the sort that usually affects men: the progressive disappearance of hair around the front temple or crown – sometimes both – known as male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia), where thicker head hairs are gradually replaced by very short, baby-fine vellus hairs, it is caused by the male hormone testosterone, which gradually affects the hair roots, so any vulnerable ones start producing vellus instead of ordinary hair.
There are a variety of treatments available from surgical intervention to herbal preparations. Read on to know more about baldness treatments.
- Hair transplants
No matter what the brochures and flashy websites tell you, these are going to cost you upwards $3,000 and can only redistribute the amount of hair you’ve got left, not give you more.
A series of micro-transplants are now the norm – instead of old-fashioned hair plugs, flap grafts or even scalp reduction – as the look can be more natural, but the results may still be very variable. It is probably safer to ask your GP for a referral to a reputable private surgeon specializing in this area than to go for one of the clinics that advertise so energetically in men’s magazines or on the Net: while there are some good specialist clinics that do take out ads, they are few in number.
- Drug treatments and medications
The main options here are Minoxidil lotion or Finasteride tablets. Both are available via your GP on private prescription, Minoxidil lotion is rubbed on the scalp twice daily. The lotion is likely to give result only to one in ten men. Minoxidil can sometimes give you a drier or itchy scalp and so if you have dandruff, you’d need to sort that first (perhaps with anti-dandruff shampoo or a holistic treatment), and if you have eczema, perhaps consider another option. It’s best to start it as soon as you begin to thin a bit, rather than wait till there is noticeable loss as it won’t treat baldness.
Minoxidil is available under the brand name Regaine, it won’t grow more hair for you, but it can help keep what you have left. Unfortunately, the effect is lost as soon as you stop using it.
Finasteride, commonly known by the brand name Propecia, is taken in tablet form. It works by blocking the development of male hormones and for this reason is often used at higher doses for benign prostatic hyperplasia. This helps almost all men to some extent, but unwanted side effects can include a dropping libido and temporary erection problems. If you stop using the medication, any hair you regained will be gone again within 9-12 months.
There are three key approaches: nutritionally, herbal and hypnotherapy.
To support healthy hair growth nutritionally, pro-hair substances in food include vitamin B6 iron, folic acid, beta carotene (in dark-green, red, yellow and deep-orange vegetables – e.g. sweet potatoes, kale, mango, sweet peppers, turnip, greens, carrots, pumpkins and broccoli), proteins (including soy, fish ,meat, eggs and dairy products), nettle extract, flaxseed oil, biotin (another B vitamin, which helps the body make melanin, the substance that gives hair its color, so may be especially helpful if you are graying) and silica.
Brewer’s yeast from the chemist’s is both cheap and useful, as it is a great source of iron and B vitamins. Another good pro-hair budget tip is adding millet seeds into your morning cereal or lunchtime salad. Try two tablespoons daily.
There are many different product hair-growth-encouraging supplements that combine some or all of these. Viviscal from Only hair Loss, which supplies customers worldwide, US products include Hairtopia by Hair Boutique and Hair Formula 37, available direct, both of which offer a money back guarantee.
Viviscal is one of the few extensively clinically researched nutritional hair supplements of which trials have been done by proper dermatology units attached to state hospitals rather than private laboratories (much of it carried out by the Department for Dermatological research, Helsinki). The supplement contains vitamin C, fish-cartilage extract and fish oils and its results, published in professional peer-review journals, sound promising.
Note: do not take this one if you are allergic to shellfish.
Herbal remedies for baldness work by blocking or reducing the action of testosterone on the hair-root cells, This usually means reducing the amount of testosterone your body is producing using anti-androgenic herbs. There are a few supplements on the market that work this way, one of the best known being Provillus, the main ingredient of which is saw palmetto, the herb proven in many strict clinical studies to reduce testosterone output and thus treat BPH. Provillus also contains nettle root, minerals and vitamins such as B6, zinc and magnesium, plus extract of the herb gotu kola, which is also said to support hair growth.
For thinning hair, put a sachet of gelatin powder into your usual amount of shampoo in a cup (use a whole sachet if it’s past shoulder-length). You can also, if you like the idea and the smell, add two to three drops of either cypress or sandalwood essential oil, they are used by professional aroma therapists to promote calm, confidence and high self-esteem.
Massage into the hair, leave for two to five minutes, then shower out very thoroughly in warm water. It leaves the hair shiny with an instant 30 per cent more volume, because the gelatin melts and lightly coats each hair, making it thicker; it also reflects light, so the hair shines more.
- Focused hypnotherapy
Focused hypnotherapy should preferably take the form of self-hypnosis to use regularly at home, as this puts the control in your hands and will also save you a fortune in fees for repeat sessions. There are no good studies proving hypnotherapy works on hair re-growth. However, many experienced, high-profile hypnotherapists use it for clients.
- Hair hypnotherapy
At the very least, hypnotherapy is a motivational tool for solving hair problems (‘I can and will grow more hair’), deeply relaxing and therefore provides an excellent method of DIY stress control – both chronic and acute stress are factors known to accelerate natural hair loss, or even produce sudden hair loss. For best results with hair hypnotherapy, use with a good hair nutrition supplement, a stress-reduction and exercise program and a pro-hair healthy eating program.
Mind over matter: Some may smirk at the mere idea of hypnotizing your hair to grow more, but the effect of hypnosis on other physiological functions is actually pretty documented. For instance, both self- hypnosis and its powerful variant Autogenic Training are used clinically worldwide to help control asthma and other breathing problems, pain, digestive disorders and menstrual difficulties. Furthermore, general mind-over matter positive thought targeted at different parts of the body has been researched on other physiological growth processes, including muscle growth and bicep development.