Hair loss treatment: Saw palmetto shown to stimulate growth in the crown of the head

Hair loss: Dr Ranj discusses causes of male pattern baldness

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Hair loss has many different causes but one of the most common is androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness. This type of hair loss, which usually runs in the family, is typically characterised by a receding hairline and bald spots in men and thinning hair along the crown of the scalp in women. The gold-standard treatments for androgenetic alopecia are finasteride and minoxidil.

Many studies use these drugs as a benchmark to test the efficacy of natural solutions for hair loss.

One study pitted saw palmetto – an extract from the berries of a type of palm tree – against finasteride.

Researchers enrolled 100 male patients with clinically diagnosed mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia.

One group received 320 milligrams of saw palmetto every day for 24 months, while the other received one milligram of finasteride every day for the same period.

In order to assess the efficacy of the treatments, a score index based on the comparison of the photos taken at the beginning and at the end of the treatment was used.

The results showed that 38 percent of patients treated with saw palmetto had an increase in hair growth, while 68 percent of those treated with finasteride noted an improvement.

Although finasteride outperformed saw palmetto, saw palmetto can “lead to an improvement of androgenetic alopecia, while finasteride confirmed its efficacy,” the researchers noted.

The hair growth associated with saw palmetto was mostly seen in the crown of the head.

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The crown is the highest point on your scalp, toward the back of your head.

Tried and tested treatments

There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress.

But most treatments are not available on the NHS, so you’ll have to pay for them.

It is worth noting that hair loss treatment is not 100 percent guaranteed to work.

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

There are two types of wigs to choose from and both come with pros and cons.

Synthetic wigs:

  • Last six to nine months
  • Are easier to look after than real-hair wigs
  • Can be itchy and hot
  • Cost less than real-hair wigs.

Real-hair wigs:

  • Last three to four years
  • Are harder to look after than synthetic wigs
  • Look more natural than synthetic wigs
  • Cost more than synthetic wigs.

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 is removed from the back of the head and 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 the above treatments may not be available on the NHS.

“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.”

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