Some people think that building muscle and sculpting your body can be at the expense of your hair. It is surprising how some of the mechanisms that allow you to build more muscle and be more manly, can also lead to baldness if you are genetically predisposed. Yes, we are talking about testosterone and DHT here.
However, is this enough reason to give up your manliness? There are many misconceptions today on why men go bald. One thing is for sure, if you are genetically predisposed, you will be suffering from hair loss sooner or later in your life.
What triggers this hair loss is an entirely different question which science has yet to prove. What science has proved though is that there are many effective options out there for you to treat your hair loss with.
In this article we will go deeper into the world of hair loss and what we can do about it today, without jeopardizing our manliness.
Bodybuilding and Hair Loss
As you try to build more muscle, you might be triggering certain processes that can cause hair loss. One link we know of is testosterone and DHT.
In order to build more muscle, people try to increase their testosterone levels to boost the efficiency of their training regimen. However, elevated testosterone levels above normal can be problematic. Testosterone can be converted into DHT (dihydrotestosterone), widely considered as the active form of testosterone outside of muscle tissues. In this form, the hormone is better able to attach to cells, such as those in hair follicles. It is estimated that 5% of free testosterone is typically converted to DHT.
If you have more testosterone, naturally, more will be turned into DHT. Some DHT will attach to the hair follicles and accumulate over time. DHT binds to the receptors in cells of the hair follicles and triggers a process that ultimately causes shrinkage and eventually, follicle death. Hair thinning and baldness is the result. Hair loss due to DHT is only possible for people who are genetically predisposed to it. If other males among your family or relatives are experiencing androgenic hair loss, it is likely you will be sensitive to it and experience it too at some point.
However, DHT is crucial for the male body and one of the hormones that makes us feel like men. The issue at hand here is not the fact that you might have higher testosterone. The issue is that your body is converting too much of it into DHT. The most common potential reason for excess conversion of testosterone to DHT is an excess of estrogen in the body. We will talk about this in more detail later in this article.
Common Causes Of Hair Loss
As mentioned previously, one of the most common risk factors are genetics. If you have a close relative with pattern baldness, you are likely to develop the condition as well. The inheritance pattern has yet to be established as there are so many other factors. However, research and statistics show that the condition seems to cluster in families.
About 60% of men show varying levels of hair loss by the time they are in their sixties. Women may also suffer from this condition.
Lack of nutrient absorption may also be an issue. DHT and other factors such as clogged pores may get in the way of nutrients reaching the hair roots, resulting in thinning and unhealthy hair.
Other likely causes of hair loss include:
- Too much estrogen
High levels of estrogen are attempted to be balanced by the body by and increase in DHT. DHT protects against the negative side effects of estrogen. However, as mentioned previously DHT has negative effects on hair follicles. It interferes with the proper functioning and nutrient absorption of the hair follicles which contributes to hair thinning.
Some medications directly or indirectly affect hair health. Some, such as chemotherapeutic drugs, kill the actively dividing cells in the hair follicles. Other drugs may alter the hormonal balance of the body which may lead to hair loss.
- Medical conditions
Some disorders and diseases may also affect hair growth. Autoimmune disorders, for instance, may initiate an attack on the hair follicles. The body’s own antibodies may recognize the cells within the hair follicles as a potential threat and attack them, contributing to hair loss.
What You Can Do To Treat Hair Loss
Finding out the cause of your hair loss is the first step towards successfully preventing and treating it. When chemotherapy has ended, you may experience hair regrowth. Reducing the severity of disease symptoms may also contribute to the restoration of your luscious locks. Addressing what causes hormonal imbalance and estrogen overproduction may also lead to better hair health.
What do we do about androgenic alopecia then? There isn’t any drug that can suppress the hair loss gene. That’s why we need to look at all other angles and make sure we balance the body and remove the potential triggers for hair loss. If your hair loss has already started, there are a number treatment options available. We recommended using a combination of pharmaceutical and natural products along with specialized shampoos to cover all your bases.
Minoxidil: Increasing blood flow
This is the most popular pharmaceutical treatment option for hair loss. The drug was originally meant to treat hypertension but showed potential as a hair regrowth ingredient when used topically.
The main action of minoxidil is improving blood flow to the hair follicles. More nutrients come with the blood, resulting in better nourished cells. Improved nutrition may help in restoring robust hair growth.
The most widely known minoxidil product is Rogaine. Several other brands are also available. If you are considering trying minoxidil to deal with hair loss, check the concentration. Studies found that higher concentrations of minoxidil resulted in better hair regrowth.
Ketoconazole: Antifungal medication
The drug ketoconazole is more widely used as a topical antifungal medication. However, studies on ketoconazole showed that it has potential as an anti-androgenic agent.
Ketoconazole is most often used as an antidandruff treatment, usually available under the brand name Nizoral. This may help in treating hair loss due to fungal infections and also deal with hair loss associated with androgenetic alopecia.
Ketoconazole affects the binding of DHT in the scalp. It binds with the androgenic receptors on the hair follicles, discouraging DHT from binding to the hair follicles and cause trouble.
Do note that using ketoconazole topically, will not affect the systemic levels of DHT in the body. It will only limit the amount of DHT that binds with hair follicles. In other words, it helps your hair loss while also keeping you manly!
Spironolactone: Blocking DHT topically
Spironolactone is more popularly known as a diuretic medication as part of hypertension treatment programs. Studies found it also has anti-androgenic effects.
Spironolactone prevents the binding of DHT in the receptors found along the hair follicles. Topical application yields improved scalp health without any nasty side effects. Spironolactone is one of the most potent topical DHT blockers which have been proven safe for use by men to treat hair loss.
Finasterine: A treatment to avoid
The drug finasteride is used in the treatment of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or enlarged prostate gland. This drug also showed excellent effects at preventing and reversing hair loss. It has earned FDA approval, along with minoxidil, for treating hair loss.
This drug helps with hair loss by affecting testosterone to DHT conversion. Finasteride works as an inhibitor of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This inhibitory action prevents the conversion of testosterone into DHT. This effect is found to be more potent when finasteride is used together with minoxidil for maintaining your hair and prevent further loss.
The issue, however, is the drug can develop a condition called PFS or post finasteride syndrome in some of it’s users.
Finasteride is commonly available as Proscar or Propecia. Exercise caution because some users experienced permanent or long term side effects manifesting in some sexual dysfunction resulting from the neurochemical changes initiated when using the drug.
We don’t recommend anyone to use Finasterine since it can jeopardize your manhood. It is far safer and better to use a topical DHT blocker such as Spironolactone.
The use of progesterone creams is not as common as the other hair loss treatment options. Regardless, this is still one of the best methods for improving hair loss.
Progesterone creams also work by acting on the process that converts testosterone into DHT. It inhibits the action of 5-alpha reductase in the scalp. Studies on progesterone creams showed that it also helps keep estrogen levels low since it opposes estrogen in the body and helps regulate it.
This treatment option stems from the idea that men start to lose more of their progesterone the older they get. This process starts by the age of 45. The gradual decline in progesterone levels allows for estrogen levels to rise.
As a side note, this cream also helps control symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
IGF-1: The anti-aging hormone
Another option for treating hair loss is by increasing growth hormones (IGF-1). Growth hormone levels in the body start to decline after you reach 30 years old. This can lead to faster deterioration of the body’s connective tissues such as the nails, skin, hair and also muscle mass.
One study found that by increasing the levels of IGF-1 growth hormone, an improvement in hair loss was achieved.
Using natural compounds
Aside from the above mentioned drugs, there are also natural compounds you may use in order to improve your hair loss. These compounds are naturally occurring in certain foods such as soy. These compounds affect many pathways that contribute to hair loss. Some affect the DHT binding process in the hair follicles while others improve blood flow to the scalp. Studies have found promising results from the use of these compounds.
Phytoestrogens has been shown to be effective at preventing many side effects from excess estrogen as well as excess DHT levels. There are many phytoestrogens in foods such as pomegranates and grapes which are easy to incorporate into your diet.
Chili and soy
This unlikely pair proves to be quite a promising option for reversing hair loss. Capsaicin and soy isoflavones help improve the levels of the growth hormone IGF-1 in the dermis. This results in better thickness and density of hair.
You may have heard of this one in fat loss programs since L-carnitine helps in burning excess fats. It may also help improving hair growth. Studies conducted in vitro showed that L-carnitine affects several bodily processes.
It can affect the mitochondria in the hair follicles. This structure is responsible for creating energy for multiple cellular processes. L-carnitine’s effects on hair growth is similar to Minoxidil (increases blood flow) and can hence be seen as a natural and healthier alternative to minoxidil.
This compound started as an anti-inflammatory but studies found it may also act as a potent 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, blocking DHT in the scalp.
This is an highly effective anti-androgen agent. It’s use as a topical hair loss treatment is still underground (remains untested in human studies). This is an extreme solution to hair loss since it’s side effects has not been studied.
It has exceptionally inhibitory quality on DHT. It demonstrated high potential in preventing DHT from interacting with the receptors on the scalp. One study found it may also effectively control the activity of the sebaceous glands. These actions help improve scalp and hair follicle health for better hair growth.
All these compounds are available in various forms such as pharmaceuticals, serums, oils and shampoos. When choosing your products, keep an eye out for these:
Blood flow is enhanced with the use of Minoxidil. This may improve hair growth for stronger, healthier hair strands.
- Capsaicin and soy isoflavones
Increasing the dermal levels of IGF-1 may help get faster hair growth.
These help maintain healthy estrogen levels.
- Progesterone cream
Progesterone is more recommended for older or middle aged men as it allows them to replenish what is naturally lost due to aging or poor lifestyle choices. Maintains healthy hormone balance for hair growth.
- Topical DHT blockers like those that contain spironolactone or ketoconazole. This is a must to stop further hair loss due to androgenic alopecia.
Before you lose all of your hair, it is better to take action sooner than later. We promise you that if you start using a combination of a few of the treatments mentioned above, you will experience a positive effect on your hair loss. As discussed in this article, it is indeed possible to keep both your hair as well as your manliness intact while aging!