In this comprehensive blog post, we dive deep into the intricate science of hair health, addressing the cellular biology and psychological factors that influence hair growth and loss, as explained in the Huberman Lab Podcast episode titled "The Science of Healthy Hair, Hair Loss, and How to Regrow Hair."
Understanding Hair Loss: Hair loss is not just a cosmetic issue but a complex interplay of cellular biology and psychology. This episode reveals that hair follicles are equipped with their own stem cells, which play a crucial role in determining hair growth length.
Factors Influencing Hair Growth: Several factors regulate hair growth and loss, including hormones, stress, genetics, and psychological well-being. By understanding these, we can better approach hair loss treatment and prevention.
Debunking Myths: The podcast dispels common misconceptions about balding and hair replacement, providing a more scientific perspective on these topics.
The Role of Hormones: Hormones like estrogen, thyroid hormone, insulin-like growth factor, and androgens significantly influence hair growth.
Hair Growth Phases: Understanding the different phases of hair growth – antigen (growth), catagen (recession), and telogen (rest) – is crucial for effective hair loss treatment.
Minoxidil and Blood Flow: Minoxidil, initially a hypertension drug, is shown to extend the antigen phase by enhancing blood flow to hair follicles, thereby slowing hair loss.
Microneedling Benefits: Microneedling reactivates semi-quiescent stem cells in the scalp and enhances the effectiveness of hormone-based hair regrowth treatments.
Chemical and Mechanical Cues: The body responds to both chemical and mechanical cues for hair growth, emphasizing the importance of treatments like microneedling that increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the scalp.
Androgens and Hair Loss: Androgens like testosterone and DHT play a significant role in pattern hair loss, influenced by the pattern of androgen receptors on the scalp.
Caffeine's Role in Hair Growth: Caffeine, a potent PDE inhibitor, stimulates hair growth by increasing IGF-1 and can be as effective as minoxidil in topical applications.
The Importance of Insulin Sensitivity: Maintaining insulin sensitivity through exercise and diet is vital for hair growth, highlighting the role of supplements like myoinositol, berberine, and metformin.
Iron Levels: Balancing iron levels is crucial for hair health, as both excess and deficiency can lead to hair loss.
DHT Inhibitors: Inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone to DHT, is a key strategy in combating hair loss. Natural inhibitors like Saw Palmetto extract and prescription drugs like finasteride and dutasteride are discussed.
Ketoconazole Shampoo: Ketoconazole shampoo, especially with a concentration of at least 2%, can help maintain hair and stimulate new growth by reducing DHT levels.
Combination Treatments: The most effective treatments for hair regrowth involve a combination of mechanical (like microneedling) and chemical stimuli (such as finasteride).
Evaluating Treatment Options: The podcast emphasizes the importance of understanding the biology of hair growth and loss to evaluate which treatments might be right for individual needs.
This detailed exploration provides a scientific basis for understanding hair loss and regrowth, offering valuable insights for those seeking to maintain or regain their hair health.
FAQs from the research
❓ How can hair loss be slowed or reversed through scientific methods?
Science has taught us various methods to slow or reverse hair loss. The relevant timestamp for this topic is 0:29.
❓ How can psychological well-being affect the coloration and growth rates of our hair?
Psychological well-being can impact the coloration and growth rates of our hair. When people experience intense anxiety or depression, their hair can start to thin, fall out, or change color. This is a real phenomenon that has been observed. The timestamp for this information is 9:49.
🤨 Where is the sebaceous gland located?
The sebaceous gland is located next to every hair root within the dermal layer of the skin.
❓ Why does hair on the head grow longer than eyebrow hair?
The hair on the head grows longer than eyebrow hair because it has a longer growth phase or antigen. The hairs on the scalp can grow very long because they have a long growth phase, while the hairs on the eyebrows only grow for a few months before falling out and needing to be replaced by new hair.
❓ What is the effect of minoxidil on the hair growth cycle?
Minoxidil can extend the antigen phase of the hair growth cycle by allowing more blood flow to the region, which is critical for supporting hair growth. However, minoxidil can also have other effects, such as lowering blood pressure, so the dosage needs to be carefully adjusted to find the minimal effective dose.
❓ How does the effect of minoxidil on blood pressure vary?
Minoxidil can greatly lower blood pressure or lower it just a little bit depending on the individual's sensitivity to the drug.
❓ Why is increasing blood flow to the stem cell niche critical for maintaining hair?
Increasing blood flow to the stem cell niche is critical for maintaining hair because it provides the necessary oxygen, nutrients, and support for the stem cells. These stem cells are responsible for producing new hair follicles and promoting hair growth. Without adequate blood flow, the stem cells may not receive the essential resources they need to function properly, which can lead to hair loss and thinning.
💬 What is the most effective treatment for recovering dead zones on the scalp?
The most effective treatment for recovering dead zones on the scalp is a combination of minoxidil and microneedling.
❓ How do Igf-1 and cyclic amp promote hair growth?
Igf-1 and cyclic amp promote hair growth by extending the antigen phase, which allows stem cells to continue giving off daughter cells and hair cells to continue growing for longer. This process is like a Bucket Brigade or an assembly line, where components hand off water or a bucket to the next one. Igf-1 and cyclic amp act as accelerators in this process.
❓ How do Pdewh and TGF beta 2 act as brakes on hair growth?
Pdewh and TGF beta 2 act as brakes on hair growth by either shortening the antigen phase or extending the catagen phase or tillogene phase. Pdewh, which is a phosphodiesterase enzyme, and TGF beta 2 growth factor both inhibit hair growth rather than stimulate it.
❓ How does caffeine ointment treat hair loss without side effects?
Caffeine ointment treats hair loss without side effects because it doesn't carry the blood pressure related effects and prolactinemia effects that minoxidil does. Therefore, it is a safer option to use for hair loss treatment.
🤨 What is the role of testosterone in men and women?
Both men and women have testosterone, but men tend to have more testosterone than women overall. Testosterone plays a role in hair maintenance and growth. As people age, they convert more testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can have negative effects on hair. DHT shortens the hair growth phase and miniaturizes the follicle and stem cell niche, leading to hair loss.
❓ What are the side effects of Ketoconazole?
The side effects of Ketoconazole can include irritation of the scalp and thinning and brittleness of the hair. These side effects are usually mild and occur in about one to eight percent of people. Using shampoos that contain biotin may help offset some of these effects.
❓ What is the recommended dosage of finasteride as a tablet?
The recommended dosage of finasteride as a tablet is 0.5 milligrams to one milligram per day.
🤨 How does dutasteride compare to finasteride?
Dutasteride is similar to finasteride but inhibits all three isoforms of the five Alpha reductase enzyme, while finasteride mainly inhibits type 2. Dutasteride is more potent and typically requires a lower dosage.
❓ How fast does oral dutasteride work in inducing hair regrowth compared to finasteride?
Oral dutasteride works two to five times faster than finasteride in inducing hair regrowth.
💬 What determines the length of hair growth?
The length of hair growth is determined by the cell replication process known as the cell cycle and mitosis.
🤨 Do different parts of the body have different hair growth durations?
Yes, different parts of the body have different hair growth durations.
❓ What factors regulate hair growth and loss?
The factors that regulate hair growth and loss include hormones, mechanical and stress influences, and chemical and mechanical approaches. These factors can be understood regardless of one's background in biology. The relevant timestamp for this information is 3:01.
💬 What are some common myths about balding and hair replacement?
Some common myths about balding and hair replacement include the belief that you can determine your own pattern of hair loss by looking at your mother's father at a certain age, and the misconception that hair replacement and regrowth methods are always effective.
🤨 How does psychological well-being impact hair coloration and growth rates?
Psychological well-being can impact both the coloration and growth rates of our hair. When people experience intense anxiety or depression, it can lead to hair thinning, falling out, or changing color. This phenomenon is not widely known, but it is a real thing.
❓ What percentage of men and women will have experienced significant hair loss by age 50?
Approximately 50 percent of all men and women will have experienced significant hair loss by age 50.
❓ At what age does hair loss typically begin and end?
Hair loss typically begins around age 30 and continues until around age 50.
❓ How can psychological states affect hair growth or loss?
Psychological states can impact patterns of hair growth or loss. For example, individuals may notice hair loss when they are in a bright bathroom or looking in a mirror, which can affect their psychological state. Additionally, patterns of hair growth and loss, as well as hair graying, can also impact psychological state. Therefore, there is a reciprocal relationship between psychological states and hair growth or loss.
❓ What hormones regulate hair growth?
The hormones that regulate hair growth include estrogen, thyroid hormone, insulin-like growth factor, and androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone.
❓ What gives hair its color?
Melanin gives hair its color.
❓ What is the growth phase of hair called?
The growth phase of hair is called the anagen phase.
❓ What determines the rate of hair growth?
The rate of hair growth is not determined by differences in the rate of growth within a given body region. Instead, it is primarily influenced by the duration of the antigen phase, which can vary among individuals.
❓ What happens to the hair during the catagen phase?
During the catagen phase, the hair recedes from the bulb region up toward the surface.
❓ Why is blood flow and delivery of nutrients and oxygen critical for hair growth?
Blood flow and delivery of nutrients and oxygen are critical for hair growth because they support the conversation between the stem cell population, melanocytes, and the hair itself. The blood vessels, specifically the capillaries, provide the necessary nutrients and oxygen to the hair bulb region, which is essential for the production of new hair proteins by the stem cells. Without sufficient blood flow and delivery of nutrients and oxygen, the hair growth process may be compromised.
❓ How does minoxidil extend the antigen phase?
Minoxidil extends the antigen phase by making it a bit longer.
❓ What are some side effects of minoxidil?
Some side effects of minoxidil include swelling of the ankles, headaches, and dizziness.
❓ Why is dosing of minoxidil important?
Dosing of minoxidil is important because if the dosage is not correct, it can lead to side effects such as swelling, headaches, and dizziness. It is crucial to get the dosage right to minimize these side effects and effectively slow or reverse hair loss.
❓ How does minoxidil enter the bloodstream when applied topically?
Minoxidil can enter the bloodstream when applied topically because the scalp has little pits and tubes that go down to the bulb regions below the skin, which have direct access to the blood supply. When something is massaged into the scalp, especially if it is water-soluble like minoxidil, it can easily enter the capillaries and the general bloodstream. This can happen even with a topical concentration of five percent.
❓ Which form of minoxidil is more likely to enter the bloodstream effectively?
The oral form of minoxidil is more likely to enter the bloodstream effectively.
❓ What does minoxidil do to the stem cell niche below the hair follicle?
Minoxidil needs to seep down into the hair follicles and access the stem cell niche below the hair follicle for it to be effective.
❓ What is low-dose tadalophil used for in relation to hair loss?
Low-dose tadalophil is used to increase blood flow to the hair stem cell niche in order to slow rates of hair loss.
❓ What is the limited clinical data on PRP injections into the scalp?
There is limited clinical data on PRP injections into the scalp.
❓ How can microneedling or PRP injections reactivate stem cell populations and stimulate hair growth?
Low levels of inflammation caused by microneedling or PRP injections can cause changes in the cells in the region, leading to the reactivation of stem cell populations and the stimulation of hair growth.
❓ How does microneedling promote hair growth when combined with minoxidil or other treatments?
Microneedling promotes hair growth when combined with minoxidil or other treatments by increasing blood flow, oxygen delivery, and nutrients to the hair follicles. It also induces inflammation, which triggers biological functions related to the proliferation and maintenance of stem cells. This reminds the cells in the area to stay alive and replenish what is lost. The micro part of microneedling is crucial for its effectiveness.
❓ What are the recommended needle lengths for microneedling to be effective?
Needle lengths of about one millimeter to 2.5 millimeters seem to be more effective than shorter needle lengths.
❓ Why is the combination of microneedling and minoxidil more effective than either treatment alone?
The combination of microneedling and minoxidil is more effective than either treatment alone because it is able to recover stem cell populations in regions of the scalp that are completely or mostly bald, known as Dead Zones. Minoxidil alone or microneedling alone has not been shown to be effective in recovering these Dead Zones. The growth of hair in these regions may take a long time, but the combination treatment has been successful in allowing new hair to grow.
❓ Is it necessary to continue minoxidil treatment indefinitely to maintain hair growth?
Yes, it is necessary to continue minoxidil treatment indefinitely to maintain hair growth.
❓ How do androgens inhibit hair growth?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) inhibits hair growth by reducing levels of IGF-1 and cyclic AMP.
❓ What influences pattern hair loss?
Androgen receptors on the scalp and genetics influence pattern hair loss.
❓ How are different regions of hair loss determined?
The pattern of hair loss in different regions is determined by the density of Androgen receptors. Higher density of Androgen receptors on the face leads to thicker beard growth, while higher density on the scalp results in hair loss.
❓ How does caffeine stimulate hair growth?
Caffeine stimulates hair growth by inhibiting PDE, which indirectly stimulates IGF-1. By suppressing PDE, caffeine allows for the promotion of hair growth.
❓ How effective are caffeine ointments and topical applications in stimulating hair growth compared to minoxidil?
Topical caffeine ointments and applications can be as effective as minoxidil in stimulating hair growth, without the potential side effects of minoxidil such as lowering blood pressure and potentially increasing prolactin. Applying topical caffeine ointment or cream to the scalp can suppress PDE and increase IGF-1, promoting hair growth or maintaining existing hair growth. The effectiveness of caffeine ointments compared to minoxidil may vary, but it is becoming a more prominent theme in hair treatments.
❓ How often should caffeine ointments be applied to offset hair loss?
Topical caffeine ointments should be applied three times a week to offset hair loss.
❓ What are the potential side effects of prescription drugs like growth hormone and sermorelin for hair growth?
The potential side effects of prescription drugs like growth hormone and sermorelin for hair growth are not mentioned in the provided source.
❓ Why is maintaining insulin sensitivity important for hair growth?
Maintaining insulin sensitivity is important for hair growth because being insulin resistant can lead to hair loss. Insulin resistance can reduce IGF-1 activity, which can result in hair thinning and hair loss.
❓ What are some supplements that can improve insulin sensitivity?
Some supplements that can improve insulin sensitivity include myoinositol, berberine, and metformin.
❓ Why is balanced iron levels crucial for hair growth?
Iron and ferritin play a key role in the cell growth pathways that stimulate keratin production in hair. Sufficient iron levels are crucial for maintaining proper hair growth.
❓ What are the side effects associated with Saw Palmetto extract?
The side effects associated with Saw Palmetto extract include stomach discomfort, nausea, dizziness, headache, and decreased libido. However, it is important to note that these side effects are rare and generally mild. The timestamp for this information is 88:32.
❓ How can Saw Palmetto and Ketoconazole be used in conjunction with other treatments for hair loss?
Saw Palmetto and Ketoconazole can be used in conjunction with other treatments for hair loss to potentially hold on to some hair that would have otherwise been lost and promote new hair growth. While Saw Palmetto is not known to be a highly effective treatment for hair loss on its own, it can have some effect in reducing 5-alpha reductase and thereby reducing DHT. Ketoconazole, on the other hand, is an antifungal medication that may also have some anti-androgenic properties. Both of these treatments can be used in combination with other therapies to potentially enhance their effects. However, it is important to note that the specific amount of hair growth or prevention of hair loss due to Saw Palmetto and Ketoconazole is difficult to determine. The timestamp for this information is 89:44.
❓ Why is it difficult to determine the effectiveness of other herbal compounds on hair growth?
It is difficult to determine the effectiveness of other herbal compounds on hair growth because they are often taken in combination with one another, making it challenging to isolate the effects of individual compounds. Additionally, there are numerous variables involved, such as the specific dosages and the quality of the compounds, which further complicates the evaluation process.
❓ What are the potential side effects of Curcumin?
The potential side effects of curcumin can vary from person to person. Some people may experience no side effects and benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties. However, in high dosages, curcumin can cause adverse effects such as feeling terrible or dreadful. The speaker in the source mentioned that they personally felt absolutely terrible when taking curcumin in high dosages. It is important to note that individual sensitivity to curcumin can differ.
❓ How does Ketoconazole shampoo help maintain hair and stimulate new hair growth?
Ketoconazole shampoo helps maintain hair and stimulate new hair growth by increasing hair number and diameter. However, it is unclear why it is effective despite its common side effect of drying, thinning, and brittle hair.
❓ What are the potential side effects of finasteride?
The catalog of side effects that people experience at a given dose of finasteride varies widely.
❓ How does the dosage of finasteride affect DHT levels?
The dosage of finasteride affects DHT levels by reducing them. For a dosage of 0.01 milligrams of finasteride, there is approximately a 50% reduction in systemic DHT levels.
❓ Can topical finasteride cause similar side effects as oral finasteride?
Yes, topical finasteride can cause similar side effects as oral finasteride.
❓ What is the recommended approach for starting finasteride to minimize side effects?
The recommended approach for starting finasteride to minimize side effects is to take 0.5 milligrams to one milligram of finasteride as a tablet per day. This dosage is generally well tolerated by most people, but some may still experience side effects and may need to reduce their dosage or try alternative treatments. It is important to wait for some time to see if any hair growth occurs, as immediate results should not be expected.
❓ How does the side effect profile of topical finasteride compare to oral finasteride?
Topical finasteride is associated with 30 to 50 percent fewer side effects or 30 to 50 percent less severe side effects than oral finasteride.
❓ What is post-finasteride syndrome?
Post-finasteride syndrome refers to a condition that has been discussed in recent years, where individuals experience persistent side effects after discontinuing finasteride use. It is characterized by symptoms such as sexual dysfunction, depression, and cognitive impairment.
💬 What are the side effects of dutasteride?
The side effects of dutasteride can include sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, and breast enlargement. These side effects are similar to those of finasteride but may occur at a higher rate due to the more potent inhibition of all three isoforms of the five Alpha reductase enzyme by dutasteride. The timestamp for this information is 116:26.
🤨 What is the potential of combination treatments involving microneedling and finasteride?
The potential of combination treatments involving microneedling and finasteride is significant hair regrowth, even for people who were previously bald. Microneedling and finasteride together can lead to impressive results, with examples of people regrowing significant amounts of hair.
❓ What are the different treatments for hair loss?
The different treatments for hair loss include mechanical approaches and approaches that attack the chemical pathways to stimulate hair growth and inhibit the inhibitors of hair growth. These treatments can rely on either a mechanical stimulus or a chemical stimulus to exert their effects. Some examples of treatments are lasers, PRP, finasteride, and dutasteride. The relevant timestamp for this information is 121:43.
❓ What are some benefits of supplements?
Many people derive tremendous benefit from supplements for things like sleep, hormone support, focus, and more.
❓ Where can listeners find the discussed supplements?
Listeners can find the discussed supplements on the website molly.com.