There are many ludicrous products and remedies touted as solutions for hair loss. Whilst this may sound like another one, there is actually a scientific argument for plants helping to stave off premature Male Pattern Baldness.
Before you head off to the garden centre and start installing living walls, it’s important to note that having a few extra cheese plants around the house or planting more shrubs in the garden isn’t going to change your genetics; those actively pre-programmed to develop hereditary hair loss cannot avoid their fate entirely.
What adding more greenery to your surroundings can do, however, is improve air quality and reduce pollution. The same pollution that has been linked to premature hair loss in men.
Premature hair loss and air pollution
Oxidative stress was cited as a cause, or at least contributing factor, in cases of premature male pattern hairloss in two 2017 studies. There are a number of causes of oxidative stress; these range from a poor diet and excessive refined sugar consumption, to regularly drinking too much, smoking and environmental pollution. It is this last factor that is becoming an increasing concern as the extent of the earth’s pollution – and its knock-on effects for animal and human life – is at unprecedented levels.
There are many chemicals involved in air pollution – some of the most common being benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroehtylene and xylene – and these have all been linked to triggering oxidative stress by experts.
Benzene is not only used in the production of plastics, synthetic fabrics, dyes and detergents but is also found in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust fumes, glue, paint and furniture wax. A widely-quoted 2010 clinical investigation published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (ref: doi: 10.1002/ajim.20901) explored the effects of chronic benzene exposure on petrol station workers in India. It discovered, ‘Occupational exposure to benzene causes oxidative stress, immune suppression and increases the expression of tumor-suppressing gene p53 in gasoline filling workers’.
Formaldehyde (FA) is found in paper products, including tissues, paper napkins and kitchen roll, as well as plywood and synthetic fabrics. The Department of Anatomy at Tokyo’s Showa University Medical School in Japan, reported on its 2010 study into the effects of formaldehyde on oxidative stress and states, ‘inhalation of FA at low doses influences the oxidative stress response in a tissue-specific manner’.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is found in paints, adhesives, varnishes and printing inks. It has been associated with causing cancer, heart defects and autoimmune disorders, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It has also been linked to triggering oxidative stress in a number of clinical studies, including 2008 research (ref: doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2008.01.002) carried out by the Department of Toxicology at Dalian Medical University in China. There it was discovered that exposure to TCE ’caused DNA strand breaks and chromosome damage’ and was thought to exert ‘genotoxic effects… probably through DNA damage by oxidative stress’ induced by TCE. Information published in the 2014 Molecular and Integrative Toxicology book series also states, ‘TCE exposure is known to cause oxidative stress both in vivo and in vitro’.
Xylene is commonly found in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust fumes, rubber, leather, paint production and printing. Iranian research from 2017, published in the Toxicological Research medical journal (ref: doi: 10.5487/TR.2017.33.3.233), states ‘…findings show that xylene triggers oxidative stress and organelle damage in lymphocytes’.
House plants to deter hair loss
As everyone tries to do their bit for the environment – and their hairline – planting more greenery is one of the easiest steps we can take as certain plants can help to remove certain toxins and pollutants from the air. For those without gardens, indoor house plants can be just as beneficial. According to online plant purveyors, Patch, the following indoor plants are great air purifiers…
Weeping Fig – described as a ‘house tree’, this non-flowering plant removes dust, formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from the air;
English Ivy – which removes benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. Inhalation of carbon monoxide via cigarettes in smokers is thought to inhibit normal healthy hair growth and contribute to the hair turning prematurely grey;
Corn plants – these leafy, tropical-looking flowering plants remove benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air;
Anthurium – a flowering plant which removes formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and toulene from the air;
Ficus elastica – a rubber plant which removes formaldehyde from the air
The last two listed have also been approved by NASA and made their list of the Top 15 Best Air Purifying Plants which they would use to filter air on their space station.
It is important to note that some plants, including those listed here, can be toxic to animals such as cats, dogs and other household pets, so always check toxicity warnings and do your research before bringing new plants into environments were animals may come into contact with them.
Whilst greening up your space is an easy step towards reducing air pollution and, thereby helping to reduce the risk of developing the oxidative stress known to trigger premature male pattern baldness, you won’t see Belgravia hair specialists prescribing house plants any time soon.
Male Pattern Baldness is an inherited condition that, when a man has the relevant active genetic disposition, will present sooner or later – the aim in reducing triggers is to help make this as late as possible. It will not, however, stop nature’s plans, but once signs of hair loss do start to appear – from a decrease in hair volume to a receding hairline or thinning hair in the affected areas (along the top of the scalp anywhere from crown to hairline and temples) – restorative and preventative measures can be taken.
There are clinically-proven topical and oral medications that are both MHRA licensed and FDA approved as Male Pattern Hair Loss treatments. These are designed to stem the shedding, inhibit the root hormonal cause of Male Pattern Baldness – DHT – and promote accelerated hair growth. When used on an on-going basis – given this is a permanent condition that requires careful management – this approach can help in preventing baldness.
Additional hair growth supporting products, from highly-targeted food supplements to handheld low-level laser devices can be used to complement these pharmaceutical treatments. During a consultation, hair loss specialists can recommend the most appropriate course of treatments based on each individual’s specific level and pattern of shedding, as well as their medical profile and lifestyle requirements.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.