Question: Are there any foods that reduce DHT levels in women? I have been diagnosed with female pattern hair loss and would like to treat it naturally if possible.
Answer: Hi, Dina. In order to answer your question fully, let us briefly explain the role of DHT in genetic hair loss.
DHT - or dihydrotestosterone to give it its full name - is an androgen hormone which is derived from testosterone in both men and women.
It is created when a certain amount of testosterone reacts with an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5aR), producing DHT.
During puberty DHT plays a key role in the development of sexual characteristics. However, once puberty has finished, those with a genetic predisposition to Female Pattern Hair Loss or Male Pattern Baldness will find some of their follicles will be susceptible to some negative effects of DHT.
This involves the DHT latching on to receptors in the hair follicles located along the top of the scalp, from hairline and temples to the crown, gradually weakening them. This results in thinning hair in the affected areas, a loss of hair density, and excessive hair fall through a process known as follicular miniaturisation. Women with this condition tend to eventually experience advanced thinning but, unlike men, do not usually go bald.
Although there is an MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved oral DHT-inhibiting male hair loss treatment, unfortunately this is not suitable for women.
There are certain additives and natural ingredients believed to help with lowering DHT levels, which are appropriate for women, though.
Whilst not a foodstuff you'll find in many people's every day diet, the herb saw palmetto is believed to have DHT-lowering properties. This is generally taken in supplement form and features in our Hair Vitalics for Men food supplement.
Women can also take saw palmetto but Belgravia made the decision to substitute this in the Hair Vitalics for Women formulation because we contraindicated it for women who are trying to conceive (this does not apply to men trying to start a family), simply as a precaution.
The ingredients added to the women's Hair Vitalics supplement in place of saw palmetto are the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein. These soybean isoflavones have been shown in studies to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase, therefore reducing the amount of DHT in the body, which should help to also reduce hair loss.
Stinging nettles and panax ginseng, also known as red ginseng, are also believed to have DHT-reducing properties, although their effects have little clinical evidence to support these, often anecdotal, claims.
Although it will not reduce hair loss in genetic cases, ensuring you have a good diet, full of all the nutrients needed to maintain the normal, healthy functioning of your body and hair growth cycle, can help you to make the most of your hair, keeping it in good condition.
Unfortunately there are not yet any scientifically-proven natural hair loss solutions for any hair loss condition; the only female pattern hair loss treatment that is clinically-proven, licensed by the MHRA and authorised by the FDA, is a medication known as high strength minoxidil.
This is a topical product applied directly to the scalp, either once or twice per day, depending on the instructions and formulation of this dose-dependent drug.
Another option which is neither natural nor pharmaceutical but which may be worth considering is the use of low level laser therapy (LLLT).
There are a number of LLLT devices available; those we recommend are the FDA-cleared LaserBand devices which contain medical-grade red light lasers embedded in a convenient headband, which also features patented teeth to 'comb' through the hair. This parts the hair, allowing the LLLT to get straight to the scalp where it stimulates the follicles.
Depending on the model, the LaserBand is worn three times per week for between 90 seconds and 3 minutes each session. This causes the light to be absorbed deep into the scalp where it can stimulate production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which can promote hair growth.
Belgravia hair specialists normally recommend using such LLLT devices as an additional hair growth supporting product to be used alongside authorised medication for the best chance of seeing results, but it can also be used on its own.
If you would like further information or personalised treatment recommendations based on your medical profile plus your level and pattern of shedding, we recommend having a consultation either in-person or online.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.