Hair loss treatment: Horsetail extract may inhibit hair loss by blocking its mechanisms

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Hair loss treatments often fail to deliver long-term, meaningful results because the mechanisms that contribute to hair loss are stubborn. It is hard to beat biological processes but fighting nature with nature offers the best chance. Many of the most promising products draw on natural properties.

Horsetail extract, a supplement that derives from the perennial fern that grows wildly in Northern Europe and America, is a case in point.

The contents found in this herbal supplement are conducive to hair growth, studies suggest.

The two properties found in horsetail extract that have attracted researchers are antioxidants and silica.

Antioxidants are molecules that fight unstable molecules called free radicals in your body to prevent cell damage.

Research shows that antioxidants help reduce micro-inflammation and the ageing of hair fibres caused by free radicals.

Furthermore, a higher silicon content in hair fibres results in a lower rate of hair loss, as well as increased brightness, evidence suggests.

For example, a three-month study in women with self-perceived hair thinning determined that taking two daily capsules containing dried horsetail and other ingredients increased hair growth and strength, compared with a control group.

Similar results were obtained in other studies that also tested the effect of different blends containing horsetail-derived silica.

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However, as most studies focus on a mixture of multiple hair growth compounds, research on the effects of horsetail alone is still limited.

More conclusive solutions

Hair loss research is patchy but the most consistently referenced drug treatments are finasteride and minoxidil.

According to the NHS, finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.

Male pattern baldness is a permanent type of hair loss that usually runs in the family.

According to the NHS, minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness but women shouldn’t use finasteride.

Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.

Other hair loss treatments include:

  • Steroid injection – injections given into bald patches
  • Steroid creams – cream applied to bald patches
  • Immunotherapy – chemical applied to bald patches
  • Light treatment – shining ultraviolet light on bald patches
  • Tattooing – tattoo used to look like short hair and eyebrows
  • Hair transplant – hair cells are moved to thinning patches
  • Scalp reduction surgery – sections of scalp with hair are stretched and stitched together
  • Artificial hair transplant – surgery to implant artificial hairs.

Some of these treatments may not be available on the NHS.

Seeking support

Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, hair is an important part of who they are.

“If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling,” advises the NHS.

You may also benefit from joining a support group, or speaking to other people in the same situation on online forums.

Try these online support groups:

  • Alopecia UK
  • Alopecia Awareness.

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