Hair loss can be caused by external factors, such as stressful situations or the side effects of certain cancer treatments. More often than not, however, it the result of complex biological processes. Studies have shown an association between oxidative stress and alopecia, for example.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of unstable atoms called free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to cell and tissue damage.
According to a review article published in the International Journal of Trichology, oxidative stress is prevalent in many skin conditions, including normal skin ageing.
Oxidative stress also appears to play a role in premature hair loss, the article says.
Patients with alopecia generally exhibit lower levels of antioxidants in their scalp area, which further supports this association, notes a study published in the Tropical Life Sciences Research.
For the study, 21 volunteers were randomly assigned to orally receive 100mg of mixed tocotrienols daily while 17 volunteers were assigned to receive placebo capsule orally.
The volunteers were monitored for the number of hairs in a pre-determined scalp area as well as the weight of 20 strands of one centimetre length hair clippings at the beginning of the study (before supplementation), as well as after four and eight months.
The number of hairs of the volunteers in the tocotrienol supplementation group increased significantly as compared to the placebo group, with the former recording a 34.5 percent increase at the end of the eight-month supplementation as compared to a 0.1 percent decrease for the latter.
The study researchers concluded that supplementation with tocotrienol capsules increased hair number in volunteers suffering from hair loss as compared to the placebo group.
This observed effect was most likely to be due in part to the antioxidant activity of tocotrienols that helped to reduce oxidative stress in the scalp, which is reported to be associated with alopecia, the researchers concluded.
The main treatments for hair loss
According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.
Male pattern baldness is a permanent form of hair loss that usually runs in the family.
Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness but women shouldn’t use finasteride, the health body warns.
The side effects of finasteride are not the only drawbacks attached to these products.
According to the NHS, these treatments:
Don’t work for everyoneOnly work for as long as they’re usedAren’t available on the NHSCan be expensive.Alternative options
Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.
You could also try:
Steroid injectionsSteroid creamsImmunotherapyLight treatmentTattooingHair transplantScalp reduction surgeryArtificial hair transplant.