Natural DHT Inhibition
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Saw Palmetto
Those who are concerned about losing their hair are plenty familiar with Propecia (Finasteride), however, there are other options that serve to inhibit DHT production in your body that you don’t need to walk into a pharmacy for.
Epilobium (Epilobium Parviflorum) is believed to have originated in Europe, though it has successfully managed to spreads its floating seeds to various parts of the world, including North America. Often looked down upon as “just a weed,” Epilobium has been shown to have some fantastic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties (information referenced from Epilobium-based studies found at the bottom of this section). Due to Epilobium’s ability to reduce 5-AR and, in turn, reduce DHT, it has also been found to be effective against benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Epilobium Health Benefits
From an antioxidant/anti-inflammatory perspective, a study in May of 2009 entitled “Antioxidant and antiinflammatory effect of Epilobium parviflorum Schreb.” found the following about Epilobium:
- Inhibited Lipid Peroxidation
- Protects against oxidative damage
- Decreased PGE(2) release, thus demonstrating inhibition of the COX-enzyme
A doctor that has used Epilobium had the following to say about it:
“Epilobium has definite DHT blocking capabilities and is an excellent aromatase inhibitor. Epilobium improved my nocturnal urination problem in one week. I use epilobium in my practice and am excited about the positive results it is having on my patients.”
Uzzi Reiss, MD
Epilobium appears to be comprised of at least two specific polyphenols (plant chemicals) that are known to have some potent antioxidant properties. The particular polyphenols referred to include: Oenothein A and Oenothein B, with researchers stating that both are responsible for inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT via 5-AR. It is presumed that this process is what makes it effective against Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Epilobium for Hair Loss
There have been no clinical studies to indicate the efficacy of Epilobium as an agent against hair loss. However, anecdotal accounts and testimonials exist claiming that it has helped those who have used it to maintain a healthy head of hair while reducing hair fall out with no side-effects mentioned. Here are a couple user testimonials from Epilobium.com:
“I have been taking epilobium for hair-loss for the last 12 months. It eliminated the amount of hair falling out and has maintained a great head of hair.”
Steve, El Cajon, CA
“I think the product works great. It stops my hair from falling out. What else could you ask for?”
Gary, Vista, CA
Perhaps the most refreshing thing to hear about Epilobium is that it doesn’t seem to share the same side-effects that one can experience while on Saw Palmetto and Propecia, such as loss of libido. As such, it can be a very effective tool to utilitze against hair loss if your primary source of loss is excessive DHT production. However, like any DHT-reducing agent, cessation of usage will result in DHT levels returning to what they were prior to the addition of Epilobium into one’s hair loss regimen.
Studies pertaining to Epilobium
- Antioxidant and antiinflammatory effect of Epilobium parviflorum Schreb.
- Immunomodulatory activity of oenothein B isolated from Epilobium angustifolium.
- [Epilobium parviflorum—in vitro study of biological action]
- Studies on antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of herbal remedies used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis.
- Polyphenol composition and antioxidant capacity of Epilobium species.
- Antifungal activity of medicinal plant extracts; preliminary screening studies.
- Evaluation of willow herb’s (Epilobium angustofolium L.) antioxidant and radical scavenging capacities.
- Chemical composition and in vitro antioxidant evaluation of commercial water-soluble willow herb (Epilobium angustifolium L.) extracts.
Nettle (Urtica dioica), also referred to as “stinging nettle,” grows in various tropical and temperate areas world-wide and is found all over the United States, particularly in moister areas. Coming into direct contact with the wild plant can result in a pretty harsh sting, exemplified by its genus name “Urtica,” which is derived from the Latin verb “urere” meaning “to burn.”
Nettle Health Benefits
Native Americans have long-used the thick stems of the Nettle plant for a number of things ranging from clothing to dye, and the Nettle plant itself is considered a very healthy vegetable when steamed or consumed as an herbal tea. Some of the ailments that Nettle is used as a medical treatment for in traditional Native American and Brazilian medicine are as follows:
The Leaf: Diuretic, Arthritis, Prostatitis, Rheumatism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, High Blood Pressure, Allergic Rhinitis
The Root: Diuretic, relief of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and similar prostate issues, natural remedy to combat and prevent baldness
The leaf part of Nettle primarily deals with anti-inflammatory action, while the root deals more with the hormone side of things (hair loss). A fantastically written database entry on Nettle can be found here for those interested in learning further differences between both the leaf and root:
Nettle is a fascinating plant, in that you wouldn’t expect something that can give you such a nasty rash when touched in the wild, to be chock full of so many health benefits! According to “Wild Man Steve Brill” on his website, consuming Nettle or Nettle Tea can do the following for your body (among many other things):
- German researchers are using nettle root extracts for prostate cancer
- Russian scientists are experimenting with nettle leaf tincture for hepatitis and gall bladder inflammation.
- Eating nettles or drinking the tea makes your hair brighter, thicker and shinier, and makes your skin clearer and healthier.
- Good for eczema and other skin conditions.
Nettle for Hair Loss
Nettle working for hair loss, unfortunately, doesn’t have a whole lot of scientific data behind it. A bodybuilding product called “Divanil” utilized Nettle to increase testosterone, and users in the following forum thread on the website Anabolic Minds had mixed results with some reporting positive and some negative impacts on their hair loss:
Perhaps this had to do with the type of extract used in the supplement or some other co-factor, but the traditional usage for hair loss purposes involved boiling and straining the Nettle herb and applying it to the scalp when cooled (then letting it air dry), and consumption of the actual plant or in the form of an herbal tea.
Studies pertaining to Nettle
- Lignans from the roots of Urtica dioica and their metabolites bind to human sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
- The effect of extracts of the roots of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on the interaction of SHBG with its receptor on human prostatic membranes.
- A comprehensive review on the stinging nettle effect and efficacy profiles. Part II: urticae radix.
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is an extract of the fruit Serenoa repens, and is a natural herb that is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols that has been shown to be an effective antiandrogen.
Saw Palmetto isn’t quite as potent as Propecia, but works along the same mechanism, which can be broken down as follows:
- It blocks 5 alpha-reductase, thus lowering levels of DHT in the body.
- It also blocks the receptor sites found on cell membranes that are required for cells to absorb DHT.
Saw Palmetto has not been shown in a study to promote hair growth, but it has been shown to be an effective treatment against Benign Prostatic Disease (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH):
Since it has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, one may also infer that it is effective as a treatment to curb hair loss. The problem with using Saw Palmetto as an anti-hair loss treatment is due to the fact that we have no idea how much DHT it is inhibiting. As a result, one can experience the same effects as those exhibited by Propecia users, including (but not limited to) erectile dysfunction and lowered libido.
Another option to explore is the topical usage of Saw Palmetto, as it may or may not reduce the amount of DHT found in the scalp.
Studies pertaining to Saw Palmetto
- Comparison of finasteride (Proscar), a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor, and various commercial plant extracts in in vitro and in vivo 5 alpha reductase inhibition.
- The effect of Permixon on androgen receptors.
- Lack of effects of a lyposterolic extract of Serenoa repens on plasma levels of testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone.
- Inhibition of the activity of ‘basic’ 5 alpha-reductase (type 1) detected in DU 145 cells and expressed in insect cells.
- Research indicates herbals make sense; herbal medicine
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia—treatment with sabal fruit extract. A treatment study of 1,334 patients]
- Enzyme activities in tissue of human benign prostatic hyperplasia after three months’ treatment with the Sabal serrulata extract IDS 89 (Strogen) or placebo.
- Comparison of finasteride (Proscar) and Serenoa repens (Permixon) in the inhibition of 5-alpha reductase in healthy male volunteers.