Hair loss may happen on the surface but the consequences are not merely skin deep. Having healthy, lustrous hair is a source of pride for some so losing it can cause one’s self-esteem to plummet. To make matters worse, the problem often feels irreversible – an immutable feature of ageing.
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Evidence suggests such defeatism is ill-founded, however.
While hair loss is mostly the result of a natural process, research suggests that reversing it can be achieved through natural means too.
This is the key takeaway of a study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
A team of Japanese scientists from Hokkaido University discovered that propolis, a resin-like substance used by honeybees to patch up holes in their hives, can encourage hair growth in mice.
Propolis has long been touted for its healing properties.
The ancient remedy has been used to treat wounds, burns and acne, but research suggests the remedial benefits extend to stimulating hair growth.
The natural substance can encourage the growth of cells known as keratinocytes, which play a role in hair shaft and follicle production.
Dr. Ken Kobayashi, who led the study, explained “recent studies pointed out that propolis has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and proliferative properties”.
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He continued: “Interestingly, normal hair growth needs active proliferation of hair epithelial cells without excessive inflammation. Therefore, we came up with the idea.”
To investigate propolis’s hair-growing potential, the Hokkaido University study found applied Brazilian propolis topically to the skin of shaved mice.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the product stimulated the production of keratinocytes and their migration into the hair shaft.
This saw the treated mice regrow their fur much faster than those left to grow their fur back without assistance.
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Although the study was conducted on mice, the researchers are confident the findings could be extrapolated to human studies.
The researchers suggest the benefits could be observed in people who are experiencing hair loss caused by inflammation.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Kobayashi said it is conceivable that propolis could “improve hair loss due to inflammation through the anti-inflammatory properties and the keratinocyte-proliferative effect”.
Strengthening the finding, another study found that a hair wax containing beeswax significantly increased hair length after daily use for 30 days.
However, the formula did include other ingredients, so it’s hard to say if beeswax was the cause.
Other ways to treat hair loss
According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main over-the-counter treatments for male pattern baldness.
“Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women shouldn’t use finasteride,” notes the health body.
There are pros and cons to these treatments, however.
As the NHS explains, these treatments:
- Don’t work for everyone
- Only work for as long as they’re used
- Aren’t available on the NHS
- Can be expensive
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