If you’re losing your hair, or have bald spots, take heart as new research findings reveal that restoring your full head of hair may be right around the corner. This information came across my desk recently and I wanted to share it with my readers – especially those of you who are losing heart as you’re losing your hair. If you’re watching more and more of your hair going down the shower drain, or come out on your brush, you’ll want to read all about what’s right around the corner for hair loss…
Common Eye Drug May Soon End Hair Loss
You may have seen commercials on television where beautiful actress Brooke Shields advertises a fancy, French-sounding product, which makes her eyelashes grow longer, thicker and darker. The generic drug name is bimatoprost and it’s really nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for several years as a treatment for the eye condition glaucoma. However, a “side effect” of using this drug was discovered. It was found to re-grow, thicker, darker eyelashes and eyebrows in the glaucoma patients who used it.
Researchers at the University of Bradford in the UK recently found that this drug also is capable of regrowing scalp hair – no small feat. The UB researchers discovered this property of the drug by conducting 3 separate studies – one on lab animals and two on human hair scalp cells.
In the human scalp cell study, the researchers found that the bimatoprost resulted in hair growth. In the lab animals, the drug was applied to bald spots in the animals’ hair. Again, the treated bald spots also grew hair.
Bimatoprost has already been approved for use in humans as a glaucoma drug and eyelash product, so its safety is already known. Valerie Randall, one of the UB researchers remarked, “We hope this study will lead to the development of a new therapy for balding which should improve the quality of life for many people with hair loss.”
Curing Baldness with Your Own Stem Cells
In research out of Yale University, factors that trigger hair growth were discovered which gave new insight into future treatments for baldness. In their study, they found that molecular signals from hair stem cells located within the fatty layer of skin stimulated hair growth in lab animals. The researchers thought that if they could get these fatty cells in the skin to stimulate the dormant hair cells at the base of hair follicles, they could get them to re-grow hair.
Even if you’re bald, you still have your hair’s stem cells in your hair follicles. They’ve just gone dormant and have lost their ability to regenerate themselves. Up to this point, scientists didn’t know what signalled these stem cells to jump start and begin growing hair. With their research, they now know that these signals are associated with the character of the fat layer just under the scalp and the stem cells it holds.
When hair grows, the fat layer expands and thickens. Researchers found that a certain type of stem cell – adipose precursor cells – is responsible for stimulating the creation of new fat cells. These fat cells are required for regeneration of living hair cells in lab animals. They found that these fat cells produce a molecule called PDGF – for platelet-derived growth factor – which is necessary to grow hair. Applying these principles to human hair cells is the next step of their research.
How to Stop/Slow Down Hair Loss
If you’re losing hair frequently and don’t really have “pattern baldness”, you may unwittingly be contributing to your hair loss. There may be certain styling practices you’re doing, underlying nutritional deficiencies, or medical conditions, that may be responsible for your hair loss. Here are some of them most common:
1. Low thyroid/diabetes – Thyroid levels can easily be tested with a TSH blood test from your doctor. Symptoms are fatigue, intolerance to cold, weight gain and hair loss. Diabetes often goes hand in hand with low thyroid and can also account for hair loss.
2. B vitamin deficiencies. The B vitamins help support your hair as well as your nervous system, and metabolism. If you’re deficient, it can result in hair loss as well as feeling fatigued with jangled nerves.
3. Protein deficiencies. Inadequate dietary protein can cause hair loss as well as chipped, peeling nails with vertical ridges in them. Eat half your weight in protein grams per day.
4. Extreme styling. Braids, tight ponytails, hair weaves, extensions, can weaken existing hair follicles and cause them to pull out of your scalp. They can also break hair off. Using too hot curling or straightening irons, strong waving/straightening chemicals can dry out the hair so badly that it just breaks off.
5. Seborrheic dermatitis. If you have redness and/or flaking of your scalp, and hair loss, you may have this inflammatory condition. Check with your doctor to rule out any scalp infections.
It won’t be long before I can tell my patients plagued with hair loss that there really is a product that will generate new hair growth. Baldness, and/or thinning hair, will finally be a thing of the past. The new studies with bimatoprost look very promising and this product may be available very soon. Getting stem cells to reawaken is an interesting concept that also seems to have promise in regrowing your hair. In the meantime, do everything possible to stop losing any more hair and see your doctor if you suspect an accompanying medical condition or infection.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Drug Used to Treat Glaucoma Actually Grows Hair http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121026125127.htm
New Treatments for Baldness, Scientists Find Stem Cells Tell Hair Its Time To Grow http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901134641.htm