Propecia is an oral medication used to treat male pattern baldness. Propecia works by preventing testosterone from converting into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. According to the Mayo Clinic, DHT contributes to hair loss by shrinking hair follicles.
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Drugs.com reports that men taking Propecia may see improvement in hair growth as early as 3 months; however, Propecia also has a number of side effects, most of them related to sexual function. These may include breast enlargement and tenderness, diminished sex drive and testicular pain. Propecia also only works as long as you continue to take the medication.
If you are seeking treatment for male pattern baldness but wish to avoid these side effects, a number of natural alternatives are available.
Ayurveda is an ancient system of healing that originated in India approximately 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda uses diet, herbal remedies and lifestyle changes to promote healing and address energy imbalances in your body. Ayurvedic philosophy considers hair to be a byproduct of bone development, thus Ayurvedic treatments for hair loss are designed to correct those imbalances in bone tissue. Treatment may include the direct application of herbal oils to the scalp as well as oral herbal supplements. Ayurvedic philosophy also recommends making lifestyle changes to reduce stress and enhance the body’s immune function. Dietary changes to strengthen bone tissue may include drinking more milk.
According to AltMD, Ayurvedic treatment for hair loss is customized for each individual to address the root cause of hair loss. Scientific studies involving Ayurveda’s effects on hair growth in humans are lacking, but a 2008 study conducted by scientists at Dr. HS Gour University in India found that Ayurvedic herbs had a positive effect on hair regrowth in rats.
Saw palmetto is an herb that comes from a small palm tree commonly found in the southeastern United States. According to Medline Plus, saw palmetto may prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT. By inhibiting the development of DHT, saw palmetto may prevent hair follicles from shrinking and promote hair regrowth. Natural News reports that this effect was first noticed by men who took saw palmetto for prostate conditions and experienced a reverse in male pattern baldness.
Saw palmetto may be taken in supplement form. According to Natural News, the recommended dosage for men is 300 to 500 mg. Side effects related to saw palmetto may include stomach discomfort, nausea and vomiting, which can be reduced by taking saw palmetto with food. Consult your doctor before beginning an herbal treatment program, especially if you are taking any medications. The effectiveness of some prescription medications may be diminished by herbal remedies.
Severe zinc deficiency may also contribute to hair loss, according to the National Institutes of Health. Daily zinc supplementation may stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth if your hair loss is due to a lack of zinc. In a 1996 study conducted by the Department of Clinical Psychology at the Gaskell House in Manchester, England, 600 daily mg zinc was given to patients who suffered hair loss due to zinc deficiency after undergoing weight-loss surgery. All patients who received zinc began regrowing their hair.
The National Institutes of Health recommends 11 mg of zinc daily for males 19 years and older. Talk to your doctor before using zinc as a treatment for hair loss. Risks of excessive zinc intake include nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and headaches.