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Propolis: A New Superfood for Hair Loss
Propolis, or bee glue, is a substance used by bees to build their hives. Propolis contains many beneficial ingredients that can strengthen the immune system. New research shows that propolis may also be able to reduce or prevent hair loss. Read on to find out more about this unusual treatment method.
When men and women suddenly find less hair on their heads than in the past, they often panic. Losing hair can be stressful and influence a person’s self-esteem- not to mention the recent studies that link hair loss with a higher risk for developing health problems like heart disease.
With so much social pressure on women and men to have full, healthy heads of hair, it is no wonder that losing hair can cause stress. But wait, stress is also a cause of hair loss!
Although your first instinct may be to reach for a bottle of Rogaine at the first sign of impending baldness, you may want to hold off on purchasing that bottle of hair growth potion after reading about the new hair regrowth study from Japan.
A new study conducted by Japanese scientists and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2014 has found that a substance made by bees- called propolis, may be beneficial in reversing the signs of hair loss when it was tested on mice.
How can a product made by bees help prevent hair loss? Find out more about this curious connection below.
Propolis is a substance made by bees as a coating for beehives. Propolis is a wax-like substance that has a similar effect to caulking, which is used to make the hive air and weather tight. Propolis is made from mainly from tree sap and is high in compounds known as flavonoids, which are extremely beneficial for the health of the body in numerous ways. Studies show that propolis has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-microorganism properties.
In the past, propolis has been used to treat many health conditions, particularly for wound treatment, respiratory illnesses, and oral hygiene.
The researchers in the 2014 study on hair loss wanted to know if propolis extract could encourage the growth of hair in mice. The mice were shaved and then half were given a topical application of propolis. The mice given the propolis treatment grew their hair back faster.
The researchers stated that since some hair loss is linked with inflammation, applying a soothing anti-inflammatory topical treatment could prevent some permanent hair loss that some women and men face as they age. The researchers found that not only did the mice with propolis treatments have faster hair growth, the propolis actually increased the number of cells engaged in hair growth.
“These results indicate that propolis stimulates hair growth by inducing hair keratinocyte proliferation,” the researchers concluded. This indicates that in some cases, propolis may help stimulate the growth of hair follicles that have stopped producing hair- causing hair to grow even in balding individuals.
The Japanese study only examined the effects of hair re-growth on mice that could already grow hair- not on balding mice or balding humans. More testing is necessary before researchers can prove whether propolis can help regrow hair in balding individuals. However, as propolis is a natural product that is easy to obtain, it cannot hurt to try a topical treatment in hopes of reducing inflammation and encouraging hair to grow again.
Propolis is sold in health food stores across the country and online in various forms, including: powders, capsules, ointments, and creams. For best results, either make your own cream using powdered propolis and a carrier oil, or try to find raw propolis in resin form and apply directly to the skin. Some individuals have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in propolis. Before applying propolis to a large area of the body, test for a reaction on a small area of the skin first.
Although no studies have been conducted on humans to date, since propolis is a common health food supplement it cannot hurt to try it in combination with other hair re-growth strategies. For best results, take the other hair-growth steps outlined below when using propolis for hair growth that works from the inside and outside.
Research from Medical News Today has indicated that high levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) are linked with a higher chance of developing hair loss. DHT levels naturally rise as a man ages, which is why many men start to lose their hair as they grow older. However, by reducing DHT levels, or blocking it from getting produced by the body, it is possible that hair loss would slow or stop altogether.
According to several studies, the following three supplements have been linked with a reduction in DHT levels:
Saw Palmetto and Beta-sitosterol: Saw palmetto is the go-to supplement for men’s hormone issues because it is one of the most effective supplements for preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Saw palmetto uses 5-alpha reductase inhibitors to prevent the conversion. In 2002, 60 percent of men taking saw palmetto along with beta-sitosterol saw improvement in hair levels by the end of the study period.
Phytosterol: This compound is the active inhibitor in saw palmetto. Adding extra phytosterol to the supplement list will block higher levels of DHT than simply taking saw palmetto alone.
According to studies from the National Institute of Health, some forms of hair loss are linked to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is most commonly linked to Cicatricial alopecia hair loss- which is inflammation of the hair follicles which causes sudden and permanent hair loss on the scalp. The researchers who examined the effects of propolis on hair growth suggested that inflammation may play a greater role in all hair growth. The theory is that inflammation prevents the hair from entering the growth cycle, which leads to hair damage and loss.
By eliminating as much inflammation from the body as possible, you may also benefit your hair and see a reduction in hair loss. According to research, junk food, sugar, and certain forms of fat (particularly trans fat, which is almost unusable in the body), spike inflammation in the body. However, a few foods are proven inflammation fighters.
Add some of the following foods to your regular menu rotation for maximum inflammation-fighting:
In addition to reducing DHT levels, a few other supplements have been linked to the reduction or reversal of hair loss. These supplements include:
Green Tea Extract: According to studies, green tea contains polyphenols which can stimulate healthy hair growth. In an animal study from 2005 on animals had spontaneous hair loss, supplementing with green tea was able to create faster hair re-growth than in the control group.
L-lysine: L-lysine is an amino acid that works with iron to prevent hair shedding and hair loss. In a study from 2002, researchers found that patients who supplemented with iron and l-lysine showed faster hair re-growth than the control group.
B2: A four-month study on B2 supplementation for hair loss conducted in 2001 found that when animals supplemented with B2, they had increased hair diameter and number of hairs when compared with the control group.
Your hair can’t be healthy unless your body is healthy. Numerous studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss and lead to the faster progression of hair damage. Nutritional factors have an influence on how the hair grows, how much hair grows, and how healthy the hair is.
According to hair health expert Dr. Mickey Barber, the three most common reasons for hair loss in women are stress, a lack of iron, and hormonal changes. Ensuring you eat a healthy diet (whether you are a man or woman), can benefit your hair in a multitude of ways. Not only will your hair be more likely to grow back, but it will be thicker, stronger hair. Aside from avoiding junk food and eating a large amount of fruits and vegetables, the following foods are particularly healthy for hair: Dark, leafy greens, Fatty fish, Carrots, Eggs, and Walnuts.
Exercise can help prevent hair loss in two separate ways. First, it is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. Exercising regularly can prevent the buildup of stress hormones that damage the hair. Secondly, exercise regulates the level of hormones in the body that can lead to hair loss, particularly testosterone and DHT in men.
In a study from 1993, it was found that men who exercise regularly had lower total and free testosterone levels, which helps to reduce the amount of testosterone converted into DHT.
Although no studies have directly examined how propolis resin may benefit balding women and men, the preliminary studies indicate that it may be a viable option for men and women who want to re-grow their hair. In combination with the other steps outlined above, propolis can provide the last level of protection that can prevent hair loss and regrow healthy hair in abundance.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Altern Complement Med 2002
The effects of tea polyphenolic compounds on hair loss among rodents. J Natl Med Assoc 2005
Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clin Exp Dermatol 2002
The first clinical trial of topical application of procyanidin B-2 to investigate its potential as a hair growing agent. Phytother Res 2001
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