Food supplements are becoming more and more multi-functional. Beta sitosterol, for example, is said to help reduce cholesterol levels, improve prostate health, have anti-cancer effects, and now is also thought to prevent hair loss. But is it as effective as you think?
The difference between herbal supplements and medical treatments for hair loss is not only in their effectiveness, but perhaps more significantly in their regulation. Unfortunately for the consumer, as long as supplement manufacturers watch their claims (which still tend to cross the line) it’s a case of ‘anything goes’. Compare this to the strict standards of medical hair loss treatments which are regulated in the UK by the MHRA and in the US by the FDA, supplements on the other hand have no government agency regulator. Aside from the issues of safety, let’s look at the facts.
Beta sitosterol belongs to a group of plant extracts called phytosterols and is thought to be a natural 5-alpha-reductase (5AR) inhibitor. This enzyme converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and it is assumed that beta sitosterol helps prevent hair loss by blocking the formation of DHT, but no solid evidence supports this assumption.
This is the oldest story in the book and one used by many hair loss supplements. There are hundreds of compounds that are “thought” to block DHT and beta sitosterol, like so many other supplements, is not conclusively proven to do so.
It’s also thought that beta sitosterol may possess anti-inflammatory properties and have a variety of anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal actions. It may sounds like a super-drug for combating hair loss, but what do the studies say?
Well, beta sitosterol may work for some but don’t get your hopes up just yet. In a study that looked at the effect of beta sitosterol on male pattern baldness, 26 males aged between 23 and 65 with mild to moderate hair loss were given a 50mg dose every day for four months. At the end of the trial, 60% of the participants rated themselves as “improved” compared to only 11% in the placebo group.
Not the biggest or most comprehensive study in the world, but one which may justify the expansion to larger trials. For the time being, consumers should be wary of some of the hair supplements out there. At the moment, due to the hazy guidelines, many hair loss products tend to vary in potency, purity, and consistency from batch to batch – especially those found on the internet. Not only could they be ineffective but they may be unsafe. Always check with your doctor before taking any type of supplement.
In the meantime, there are scientifically proven hair loss treatments that have been medically approved for safety. In fact there are three that have been through the run of extensive clinical trials to demonstrate their efficacy in treating hair loss and people that know how to get the best results from hair loss treatments are becoming part of a growing number of hair loss success stories.
For more information call 020 7730 6666 or send an email to a hair loss specialist at The Belgravia Centre.