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DHT and Hair Loss: What You Need to Know

Decoding DHT: Your Essential Guide to Hair Loss

DHT and Hair Loss: What You Need to Know

Androgenetic Alopecia is a progressive condition wherein one of the causes is a great sensitivity to the DHT hormone which causes a severe recession in the hairline. It occurs due to a combination of your genetics along with the action of DHT on the hair follicles. Androgenetic alopecia manifests as a receding hairline and progressive hair thinning on the crown. With time, the balding becomes pronounced.

Understanding the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

DHT and testosterone are androgens. The enzyme 5 alpha reductase converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. DHT is responsible for the development of sexual characteristics in males.


The hormone DHT is 5 times more powerful than testosterone. Both, testosterone and DHT bind to the same receptors. However, DHT binds more efficiently.

What is DHT?

DHT has a pivotal part to play in the sexual development of males. The hormone stimulates and monitors the development of male characteristics. Let’s dive in to the pathophysiology of the DHT –


In the embryonic phase, the hormone is responsible for the differentiation of the sexual organs. During adolescence and adulthood, dihydrotestosterone is responsible for the growth of the prostate gland, male pattern hair loss, and facial, body, and pubic hair growth.

The Role of DHT in the Body

DHT is the male sex hormone that is present in utero. It has a potent role to play during childhood, puberty, and adult life.


The hormone is vital for the development of the penis, scrotum, and prostate. At puberty, DHT is responsible for facial, pubic and body hair, along with boosting of muscle mass, and deepening of the voice.

DHT and Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenic alopecia is seen as hair loss on the crown and a receding hairline.


DHT activity along with a genetic predisposition to balding causes hair loss. High levels of DHT shrivel and shrink the hair follicles and shorten the hair growth cycle, resulting in hair loss.

How DHT Contributes to Hair Loss

Androgens have an important part to play in the health of your hair. The receptors respond to the DHT hormone and that determines whether you will have hair loss or not. Not all hair follicles react to androgens in the same way. High levels of DHT have been linked to beard growth and male pattern baldness.


DHT attaches itself to the receptors during the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. As a result, the hair follicles start to shrivel up and the hair gets miniaturized and detaches from the scalp. Eventually, the follicle shrinks to such an extent that it becomes totally inactive. Extensive hair loss and baldness then ensues.

DHT and Hair Follicle Miniaturization

Hair loss, a receding hairline and balding is a combination of your genetics and the effects of DHT on your follicles. Large amounts of DHT attach to the receptors; they have a huge impact on the hair follicles and consequently, the follicles start to wither, they shrink in size and the hair gets miniaturized too. The hair becomes very thin and fine and start to detach from the scalp. With time, the hair follicles shrivel up to such a degree that they become dormant and then they become completely non functioning. That’s when you get bald.

The Role of 5 Alpha Reductase in DHT Production and Hair Loss

The enzyme 5 alpha reductase is present in your skin, liver and prostate. The 5 alpha reductase processes the androgens, and is in charge of the chemical reaction which converts the testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.

Genetic Susceptibility to DHT Induced Hair Loss

Research demonstrates that a scalp that is genetically susceptible to hair loss shows elevated levels of the DHT hormone along with an increased expression of the receptor gene. Large amounts of DHT, receptors in the hair follicles which draw in the DHT, and a strong genetic predisposition cause combined damage which sets off balding.


Quintessentially, males have large quantities of testosterone. 10 % of the testosterone changes to the hormone DHT under the influence of the enzyme 5 alpha reductase. DHT binds to the receptors on the hair follicles and causes them to shrivel up. The shrunk follicles can not support healthy hair. The hair follicles get miniaturized, the hair become thin and break off and there occurs widespread hair loss and balding. Hence, balding is a genetically inherited trait and the presence of the receptors to which DHT binds start the hair loss cascade.

Preventing and Treating DHT Induced Hair Loss

Dealing with DHT Induced Hair loss calls for a multi pronged approach – your doctor will prescribe medications that are powerful DHT blockers that have been approved by the FDA. Your trichologist will also chart a menu of specific foods and supplements which help bring down DHT levels too.


Here’s a list of DHT blocking foods which literally stop or significantly slow down male pattern baldness. These are science backed, proven treatments which thwart thinning of hair and promote regrowth as well.

DHT Blocking Nutrients

These nutrients promise to block the action of DHT and thus thwart balding – here’s a round-up:

Biotin

Biotin is a miracle worker when it comes to dealing with hair issues! It is known to counteract the effect of the hormone DHT and thus helps fight hair fall, encourage new hair growth and fortify the follicles. Hair thinning, hair loss and stunted hair growth are linked to biotin deficiency; consequently, when you amp up of the vitamin, it helps in hair restoration. Eggs, mushrooms, sweet potatoes are packed with biotin; include these in your daily menu.

Lycopene

Foods high in lycopene are excellent DHT blockers which impede the manufacture of the hormone. Tomatoes and mangoes are loaded with lycopene; so eat up! Lycopene is also a powerful antioxidant which shields the hair follicles from oxidative damage. This maintains hair follicle health and boosts hair growth.

Quercetin

Quercetin inhibits the synthesis of DHT from testosterone by impeding the action of the enzyme 5 alpha reductase. Alongside, it also battles oxidative stress. Apples, onions and berries are crammed with this super nutrient!

Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications for Blocking DHT

The medicines that help block DHT are the 5ARIs – they suppress the 5 alpha reductase enzyme and put a stop to DHT shrivelling up the follicles.


Commonly prescribed medications are – Finasteride and Dutasteride.


Both the drugs put a stopper to the 5 alpha reductase enzyme. This enzyme has two tiny iso-enzymes. 1 iso-enzyme is chiefly found in the liver, skin, and trace amounts in the prostate. The other iso-enzyme is found predominantly in the prostate, with a small quantity in the skin and liver.‌


Finasteride inhibits only the Type 2 iso-enzyme of 5 AR. Research shows Finasteride decreases the manufacture of DHT by 70 %. Finasteride is FDA approved to manage male pattern hair loss and balding. The drug is available as a tablet in 1 milligram and 5 milligram doses. It takes 3 months to see the benefits. It is essential that you know that, the favorable effects last only as long as you take the medication.


Dutasteride stops both type 1 as well as type 2 iso-enzymes of 5 alpha reductase. Research shows that Dutasteride brings down DHT synthesis by 93 %. On the flip side, Dutasteride has not been FDA approved to manage male pattern hair loss; however, doctors do prescribe the drug for hair loss and balding.


Evaluations and clinical trials reveal that Dutasteride is a lot more effective than Finasteride when it comes to handling hair loss.


You need to confer with your trichologist regarding which medicine would be the best fit for you.

Natural Remedies to Decrease DHT Levels

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds block DHT, stimulate the hair follicles and deliver a ton of nutrients to your scalp. Jump start your day with a fistful of roasted pumpkin seeds.

Green Tea

The polyphenols in green tea selectively impede the action of 5 alpha reductase; thus averting hair loss and balding.

Turmeric

The herb is packed with a potent antioxidant called curcumin. Curcumin brings down DHT levels significantly by impeding the action of the enzyme 5 alpha reductase. So, use generous amounts of the root in your everyday cooking – gravies, masalas, haldi milk!

The Pros and Cons of DHT Blockers

DHT blockers are completely safe and have been approved by the FDA. You don’t have to panic about the side effects. Also, do remember that occasionally DHT blocking medicines may cause some side effects in some people. Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor to understand what’s good for you.

Effectiveness of medicines that Treat DHT Induced Hair Loss

Certain medications have been approved to manage DHT induced hair loss – they lower DHT levels by targeting the manufacture of DHT. There are 2 kinds of medications:
Blockers

DHT blockers make sure that the DHT hormone does not bind to the 5 AR receptors.

Inhibitors

The inhibitors decrease the quantity of DHT that your body synthesizes.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of DHT Blockers

Discussing DHT Blockers with Your Doctor

Finasteride and dutasteride are FDA approved drugs which bring down DHT levels. You need to confer with your doctor to understand which one will help you. Additionally, discuss with him dietary modifications to help thwart hair loss and boost good hair growth.

FAQs

DHT is very vital for sexual development in males. However, high levels cause prostate enlargement and hair loss.

Experts recommend Finasteride as the best medication to block DHT. Finasteride is a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor which stops the production of DHT by putting a stopper to the conversion of testosterone in to DHT. Consequently, hair loss will stop as well.

Sufficient levels of the mineral zinc in the body help block the production of DHT. Thus, step up your intake of zinc rich foods such as – nuts, seeds, chickpeas and seafood. You may also start a zinc supplement to help you better.

DHT causes a miniaturisation of the hair follicles and triggers hair loss. Specific foods are natural DHT blockers -these are foods that are rich in lycopene, zinc and lysine. You need to incorporate plenty of pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, green tea, beetroot, flax seeds, banana in to your everyday menu.

Certain foods are natural DHT blockers. These foods have the power to block the production of DHT as well as reduce areas on the hair follicles which have receptors where DHT can bind. These foods are – pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, green tea, chickpeas, leafy greens and beet root.

A DHT blocker shampoo has certain compounds which arrest the production of DHT. These compounds also decrease the synthesis of the 5 alpha reductase enzyme which converts testosterone in to DHT. The DHT shampoo consists of – pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, Aloe Vera, nettle, saw palmetto, and azelaic acid. This shampoo also reduces surplus DHT on the scalp, unclogs blocked pores, clarifies the scalp, boosts the flow of blood to the hair follicles and gives your hair a healthier appearance. Discuss with your trichologist before using the shampoo.

DHT blockers prevent the hormone DHT from attaching to the 5 AR receptors on your hair follicles. When the hormone does not bind to these receptors, it prevents the hair follicles from shrinking and shrivelling. Thus, the hair do not get miniaturized and do not fall out. Thus, blocking DHT ensures that the hair stay healthy and it thwarts hair loss.

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