Hair Loss vs. Hair Gain
It has been estimated that roughly 35 million men and 21 million women in the United States are suffering from some form of hair loss. With such high numbers of the population facing this problem it is not surprising that battling the problem has become big business with profits number in the billions each year.
Some Hair Loss is Inevitable
Hair loss, in itself is a natural process. At any given time healthy hair in an active growth phase accounts for 85% of the scalp surface, the remaining 15% is hair cycling through the stage of “dying” and about to be lost. Many factors can impact the healthy ratio of active versus declining hair growth, poor nutrition, illness, stress; traumatic shock can all trigger a syndrome that converts the ratio drastically with the inactive growth phase accounting for upwards of 30% of hair follicles. Other types of baldness occur due to genetic factors, androgenic alopecia is a gene linked condition that affects both men and women, and is linked to the production of a so called “super” androgen DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which impedes the optimum functioning of hair follicles leading to loss.
Is it “Growth” or “Gain”?
In all instances, hair regrowth is something of a misnomer, the brass ring that everyone grabs for but which, technically speaking does not exist. Hair follicles that do not exist cannot be created by any known drug or treatment. The best outcome available is that hair can be gained back by preventing its loss to begin with, by interfering with the natural active/inactive follicle ratio.
A better description of the most favorable outcome that can be expected from any hair loss treatment is “hair gain”. Most pharmaceutical solutions to baldness—genetic or otherwise—operate on a principle of upping the percentage of hair follicles that are in an active growth phase and impeding, or even blocking the natural percentage of hairs in dormant or “telogen” phase. This results in retention of hair that would otherwise be naturally lost—a net gain of active hair follicles in effect.
Medical Means of Hair Gain
It is a well known fact that drugs such as Minoxidil must be taken perpetually for the gain of more hair to remain constant. Stopping a prescription can indeed lead to a precipitous loss of hair after the drug clears the user’s system because the drug works to prevent natural shedding of hair during the telogenic phase.
Minoxidil taken orally is a hair gain option for men only, women can only safely use the drug as a topical solution or shampoo, or risk severe health consequences related to interference with female hormonal balance. The topical application of Minoxidil has the same effect on female hair follicles that internal use of the drug does in men, blocking the natural hair shed we all experience.
Is There Such a Thing as a Hair Gain Vitamin?
There are any number of hair gain products on the market. A good percentage of the most highly rated and effective products contain some percentage of either Minoxidil or Finasteride, another pharmaceutical hair loss solution. Often these products combine the drug in over the counter strengths with hair gain vitamins, herbs and minerals that have proven effective in promoting a healthy physical environment in which hair follicles can flourish and healthy growth be maintained.
Among some of the more popular vitamins, herbs and minerals to look for in these products are:
• A, B family, C, D and E—best gained through dietary sources but also effective as oral supplements although any vitamin regimen should be undertaken only under medical supervision.
• Folic acid
• Benzoic acid
• Saw palmetto
• Gingko biloba
• Nettle root
Fast Hair Gain—Really?
Some hair gain vitamins promise a faster than normal rate of hair “growth” or gain. On average hair grows at the rate of about a half inch a month. In circumstances where growth has been retarded by bad nutrition, illness or stress, a slowed process may be expected to regain healthy levels and normal speed of growth, but NO hair gain method is truly able to deliver “fast hair gain” per se, and claims to the contrary should be regarded with some skepticism. Most pharmaceutical and natural treatments will take time to work as the body absorbs and adapts under their influence it is not realistic to expect overnight results.
There are a number of hair gain formulas, one of which is Therapro Medaceutical Hair Gain. This product is an example of a vitamin based approach to the treatment of hair loss. Its line of hair care products including shampoos, conditioners and vitamin supplements is manufactured only in FDA approved laboratories using only pharmaceutical grade ingredients and purified water. While most of the product line can be used by either men or women, the company also had individual lines for the use of men and women exclusive of each other. Another company with a similar approach is HairPrime which offers a full line of hair products as well as vitamin supplements.
Other companies such as HairFormula37 have developed an extensive line of hair gain vitamins without an accompanying line of hair care products. Yet other hair gain formulas use Minoxidil as a base, combined with herbs, vitamins and mineral therapies, among these are Hair Again and Regaine.
Products and formulas aside, there are some common sense guidelines for stopping hair loss or preventing it in the first place.
Some tips that may be helpful in promoting hair gain:
• Avoid over consumption of salt and sugar, fruits and vegetables have their own forms of both and are generally adequate and healthier ways to consume both
• Avoid alcohol and smoking—both have been linked to hair loss and the formation of dandruff which can affect the healthy functioning of hair follicles
• Do not overuse hair care products. Shampoo once daily with a mild, unmedicated non-alkaline shampoo. Avoid harsh chemicals in soaps, shampoos, conditioners. Particularly avoid the use of dyes and bleaches, as well as permanent wave solutions.
• Engage in moderate exercise—which improves circulation to all areas of the body including the scalp. Perspiration generated during exercise flushes toxins from surface skin, including the scalp.
• If you routinely swim in chlorinated pools—chlorine is another harsh chemical– use a swim cap or immediately rinse your hair after completion of your swim.
• Avoid or find ways of coping with stress—exercise, meditation, visualization, even pursuit of enjoyable hobbies all provide healthy distraction and outlets for the aggravations of modern life.
• Have regular physical exams and checkups to rule out any treatable medical condition (such as thyroid dysfunction) of which hair loss might be a symptom.
• Always consult with your physician before undertaking any diet, vitamin regimen or other non-medical treatment for hair loss or any other condition. Extreme diets lead to bad nutrition and deficiencies that will cause more hair to be loss, some vitamins if taken in excess can actually CAUSE hair loss, and some treatments may be contraindicated by existing medical issues.
And remember, there is no quick and easy solution to hair loss, or gaining hair back—whatever product treatment or formula you decide to try must be allowed sufficient time and opportunity to work.