Its fans are said to include Charlize Theron, Demi Moore, Jenni McCarthy and Zac Efron but what exactly is Emu Oil and can it really treat hair loss? Made from the fat of emus, the oil purports to have a number of anti-aging benefits such as keeping skin supple and helping hair grow; Charlize was quoted as saying she used the product to moisturise her hair.
The oil contains essential fatty acids which are important for healthy skin and hair but does it go so far to make hair grow? In 2008, Europe’s biggest Emu Oil supplier asked for volunteers suffering hair loss to take part in a study; the results showed the average re-growth for a six-month period was 45%. But, are these results reliable? On 13th October this year, the Daily Mail published an article in which Dr. Andrew Messenger, who studies hair loss, rated the product 0 out of 10 in a review of eight popular hair loss products. Dr Messenger explained that the trial ran by the Emu Oil supplier involved just 34 people, none of who took a placebo, and that there was no independent verification. “The trial would not be accepted as evidence by anybody in the field,” said Dr Messenger, “Just asking people if they think they have grown more hair is not good enough.” Dr Messenger also points out the importance of measuring DHT levels to show how the treatment works and says he sees “no value in using a product like this”.
DHT is the abbreviation for dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that attacks the hair follicles and leads to Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss. There are only two products that have been shown, in large-scale clinical trials, to be effective at treating this type of hair loss. Minoxidil (for men and women) and Propecia (for men only) have been licensed by the MHRA and FDA-approved. Minoxidil is a vasodilator which is believed to open the potassium channels which is turn encourages hair growth. In trials, two-thirds of men and women using Minoxidil saw positive results. Propecia has the active ingredient finasteride which was first used in the drug Proscar for the prevention of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH). Finasteride was shown to inhibit the formation of DHT, which is known to help in the formation of prostate cancer. A two-year study and a five-year study showed that 70-90% of men taking Propecia saw visible results.
So if Emu Oil does not have an effect on DHT, why is it so popular? It could be to do with its effectiveness as a moisturiser. Unlike many other oils, it does not clog up the pores. Senior hair loss specialist at the Belgravia Centre, Leonora Doclis, says, “One thing is for sure, Emu Oil is a very good moisturiser as it does absorb very well compared to some oils or moisturisers which block the pores so that the skin can’t breath.” However, when it comes to treating hair loss with Emu Oil, Doclis agrees with Dr Messenger. “There was a media frenzy several years ago when it was used to help heal a burns victim and subsequently the hair grew back on the wound. But the hair would have grown back anyway, once the skin heals as the follicle was not damaged in the first place,” explains Doclis, “There is no evidence to suggest that Emu Oil can help the hair to grow.”
DHT affects approximately 80% of men and 50% of women. The first signs for a man are a receding hairline and thinning on the crown. Women tend to experience an all-over thinning. An early diagnosis will allow you to explore your treatment options and get the best results. To see the different types and stages of hair loss treated at Belgravia, and how effective the treatment is, take a look around the Hair Loss Success Stories.
If you would like a consultation with a Belgravia specialist, call the reception on 020 7730 6666 or message the centre. Appointments are free of charge and available 7 days a week. If you are unable to visit the centre, just submit the online diagnostic form for a consultation via the website and a mail order treatment service.