There are many health conditions in the world. Most are curable, and only a few are incurable. The human body is designed in such a way that if something happens to even the smallest part, it affects the whole body, and all of the body’s functioning. All of the body parts, organs, nerves and veins are interconnected. Hence, when one part is in trouble the other parts are affected.
Hair loss is a prevalent problem:
Men are facing hair loss quite a lot these days. The number is increasing day by day. In a group of a hundred men at least 40 men will have some amount of male baldness. The process of hair thinning is known as androgenic alopecia. Two decades earlier it was thought that the hormone known as testosterone is the root cause of hair loss in men. Hair loss is caused when the hair follicle is weakened and hair breaks due to it. People used to believe that hair loss is due to either stress or because of the genetics. Both can contribute to hair loss, but medically speaking, a major cause of hair loss is due to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen which is a metabolite of testosterone.
What is DHT and what does it do?
DHT is an androgen which is a sex hormone. It is responsible for the development of male sex characters in men when boys hit puberty, such as:
- Growth of body and pubic hair
- Voice deepening
- Development of penis and testicles
- Increased sex drive
- Muscles development
As boys grow and become men, the hormones DHT and testosterone give more benefits to the body like increased sexual desire and potency. It also manages the fat deposits around the body and manages the muscle building. DHT is made through testosterone; it is like a by-product of testosterone. The amount of DHT is lower in the body before puberty, and it increases as the age advances.
Women also have testosterone and DHT hormones in their body which is lesser in number when compared to men. These hormones are responsible for women having facial hair and body hair. The increased amount of DHT and testosterone are reported to have been the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women along with hair loss. The testosterone increases facial hair in women and weight gain which are the main symptoms of PCOS. It also causes difficulties in the ability to conceive. However, hair loss in women due to DHT is much less as compared to men.
How does DHT cause hair loss?
DHT is developed when testosterone converts itself to DHT with the support of an enzyme known as 5 alpha-reductase (5-AR). Almost 10% of testosterone is converted to DHT in a grown-up male body. When the DHT is developed and is running through your body freely, it connects itself to the receptors of the hair follicles and shrinks them down resulting in hair loss. It weakens the hair so much that they are no longer capable of holding themselves to the scalp. Just like termites eat wood, DHT eats the hair follicle and hollows them from the inside.
Increased DHT is not only capable of destroying your hair, but it can also cause various issues like enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, slow healing of injuries and coronary heart diseases.
What can low DHT do to you?
Just like excess of anything is bad, too little quantity can be harmful also. If the increased amount of DHT can cause certain health conditions, having low DHT can cause issues like:
- Incomplete development of genitals
- Breast enlargement in men also known as gynecomastia
- Increased risk of developing prostate cancer
Low DHT can cause the male genitals i.e. penis and testicles not to grow. It can create low sperm count resulting in infertility and impotency. Gynecomastia is also a result of low DHT among men. Men who are obese tend to have low DHT which can cause the above mentioned issues. A balanced amount of DHT is required by a male body to grow normally. Too much or too less DHT will only cause issues.
How does DHT cause baldness?
The hair on a human body is grown out of the roots which are embedded underneath the skin. The blood in the vessels is the food for hair which contains all the nutrients which we get from the food we eat and the hormones which are present in our body. A hair follicle grows out of its root every time it is cut or shaved. It’s a cycle which can continue up to six years. Increased levels of DHT and testosterone can weaken the hair, making it grow brittle and thin and eventually cause it fall out.
Variations in the androgen-receptors gene (AR) can cause effects of DHT on scalp hair. Some people are more prone to these effects, which can cause hair loss.
What is the difference between DHT and Testosterone?
Testosterone is the superabundant androgen in a male body. It is there to regulate various sexual and physical functioning. It plays a vital role in a male body. It’s essential for the sexual development of a man because:
- It starts the sperms production
- It regulates hormone levels in the body
- It dispenses the fat among the body parts
- It regulates the emotions (sex drive)
DHT is produced from testosterone with the aid from 5AR enzyme. It is more potent than testosterone itself. It approaches the same body parts and affects them more as compared to testosterone. DHT is essential for hair growth on the body like armpits, beards and pubic hair; the hair on these body parts cannot grow without androgens. The hair on the scalp does not require DHT. DHT is harmful to the hair on the scalp.
How can DHT be reduced?
In order to prevent the hair fall, DHT has to be reduced or blocked. For this purpose, there are many medicines and products like shampoos, oils and hair ointments available in the market. These medicines and products are proven to be effective for hair loss and blocking DHT. There are mainly two types used to reduce or block DHT:
- DHT Blockers
- DHT Inhibitors
A DHT Blocker is used to completely block DHT from combining with 5-AR enzymes and prevents it from causing the hair follicle to shrink.
These are used to reduce the amount of DHT in the body and reduce its production as well.
Let us have a look at some of the DHT blocker supplements and products which can be used to block DHT and prevent hair loss.
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Saw palmetto
- Vitamin B-12 and B-6
- Rosemary oil
- Pygeum bark
Finasteride is a medicine which has to be taken orally. This medicine combines with 5-AR enzymes and blocks DHT from attaching to them. This keeps DHT away from the hair follicles and saves them from getting brittle and weak. This medicine is also used to treat prostate and excessive hair growth in women.
Biotin is a supplement which promotes hair growth and prevents weak hair from falling. It is a supplement based on vitamin B and vitamin H, which helps the food consumed turn into energy. However, it does not affect the production of DHT. It only helps in growing new hair and making the older ones stronger so that DHT doesn’t affect them.
Minoxidil shampoo is a product which is widely used to prevent DHT from affecting the hair on the scalp. It stimulates hair growth and reduces hair loss. It is recommended that minoxidil to be used in combination with the medicine finasteride, which blocks DHT from binding with 5-AR enzyme and weakening the hair follicle.
- Pumpkin seed oil:
Pumpkin seed oil is said to be very useful in blocking DHT. It has been proven that it blocks DHT from developing in the hair follicle. It is comprised of a steroid named delta-7 sterine which is a DHT blocker. This oil can be taken orally and can be applied directly on the scalp. It is reported that intake of 400 mg pumpkin seed daily for 24 days increases hair growth and prevents hair loss.
- Saw palmetto:
Saw palmetto berries are a great source of DHT blocker. They block the 5-AR enzyme, which binds with testosterone to produce DHT. It treats enlarged prostate and hair loss which are caused by increased DHT. Saw palmetto is available in powder and extracts form. The recommended way to be used is the extract form. It is proven that extract form has given positive results in blocking DHT.
Coffee is a source that has the maximum amount of caffeine when compared to teas. Caffeine is said to be useful for hair follicle stimulation. It makes hair grow, it extends the hair growth period, and it increases keratin production. While it is still under research on how caffeine blocks DHT, it’s widely used all over the world. Caffeine is to be applied topically in a certain amount of concentrations like 0.001% and 0.005%
- Vitamin B-12 and B-6:
Vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6 are essential for a person’s health. Hair loss is a result of the deficiency of the said vitamins as well as DHT. Supplements of these vitamins fulfil the deficiencies and make hair stronger and make the hair growth faster.
- Rosemary oil:
Rosemary oil is another natural source which prevents DHT from binding with 5-AR enzyme affecting the hair follicle. It also helps in re-growing the lost hair. It’s an alternative to medication and an option for people who want to block DHT naturally.
Soybeans have compounds equol, biochanin A and genistein, which help in blocking DHT and stimulate hair growth. It is another natural DHT blocker which is to be used orally. It regulates DHT levels and controls cholesterol levels. Generally, it is a healthy component for daily use with lots of benefits.
- Pygeum bark:
Pygeum is an herb that is extracted from African cherry tree. It is mainly used to treat enlarged prostate by blocking the production of DHT. It blocks the 5-AR enzyme, which reduces the excess production of DHT. When DHT is blocked by its use, it will eventually prevent hair loss. Pygeum supplements are available for oral use.
Side effects of DHT Blocker:
DHT is an androgen which plays an essential role in some functioning of the body. Blocking it might disturb other functions and there is small chance of causing side effects in certain people. The following are the reported side effects of blocking DHT:
1. Some men may face problems with erections while trying to have intercourse. This condition is known as erectile dysfunction.
2. Some might experience low sex drive.
3. Some men end up having no control over ejaculation. Either they ejaculate too early or have delayed ejaculation.
4. Some people get rashes all over the body, and some get rashes on the pubic area and genitals.
5. Due to blocked DHT, some men may experience pain in testicles or slight discomfort in the testicles.
6. Because DHT manages the fat deposits in the body, blocking it might result in enlarged breasts or tenderness around the breast area.
7. The medication might result in feeling nauseous.
Hair loss in men can make them feel unconfident about themselves and shatter their personality. They might feel unattractive, shy and may even start hating their own appearance. One of the main causes of male pattern baldness is DHT, but it is not the only reason for hair loss. Hair loss can be genetic or due to other health conditions. There are plenty of options available for the treatment of hair loss; some are natural, and some are medication based. Whatever you choose for yourself, you have to seek professional help first. Consult a doctor and find a suitable treatment for yourself according to your health conditions. Make yourself comfortable with whatever treatment you are taking. Be confident about your appearance and face the world with a positive attitude.