Green Tea and Hair Growth
Cure for Hairloss and Baldness?

What are green tea and hairloss studies saying about EGCG's ability to cure hairloss, baldness, psoriasis, dandruff and its effectiveness as hair conditioner?



Hair loss has been the bane of middle-aged men (and some women) since gentlemen stopped wearing wigs in the 18th century.

Many solutions have been tried: minoxidil, toupees that flap in the wind, surgery, and of course the “comb-over.” Most of these methods meet with limited success and are common joke material for late-night talk show hosts. Is there a better way?

For people looking for a natural way to counteract hair loss, green tea has been touted as a potential “cure.” Is that even plausible?

So far, green tea is not a “cure,” but there is more and more clinical evidence that indicates it may help. Most of the research so far has focused on epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, by far the most important antioxidant found in green tea.

Green Tea and Hair Study #1:
What's The Mechanism?

A green tea and hair paper published by scientists at the Saitama Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan noted that green tea suppresses the production of Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

TNF-alpha has been implicated in cancer and other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and also in androgenetic hair loss (baldness).

They note that consumption of high amounts of green tea increases the amount of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the bloodstream. SHBG catches testosterone before it can be converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

DHT is a hormone that stimulates hair growth during puberty. According to the American Medical Association, however, some men and women have hair follicles that are genetically programmed to respond negatively to DHT later in life. So, reducing the amount of DHT in the bloodstream could help protect hair follicles in people who have DHT-induced baldness.

Green Tea and Hair Study #2:
Promote Hair Growth in Human

A 2007 study conducted by the Seoul National University College of Medicine examined the effect of EGCG on hair follicles and dermal papilla cells, a type of cell found in human hair follicles that controls hair growth and plays a role in male pattern baldness.

The Korean researchers tested EGCG on hair follicles cultured in a lab, dermal papilla cells cultured in a lab, and actual human scalps.

What were the results of this green tea and hair study?

Compared to control cultures, cultures treated with EGCG showed increased hair follicle elongation, increased hair growth, and stronger proliferation of dermal papilla cells.

The researchers also found specific chemical changes that promoted hair growth in the samples treated with EGCG.

What about the people that were treated with ECGC? This is how green tea alcohol tincture was applied to human volunteers:

Ten percent EGCG in ethanol or ethanol vehicle were applied daily to two regions of the occipital scalp of three normal human volunteer for 4 successive days, and then treated areas about 1 x 1.5 cm were excised.

Tissue samples containing hair follicles were cautiously dissected into single hair follicles. Dermal papillae were selectively separated under a stereomicroscope and isolated into single cells for Western blot analysis.

According to the researchers, “it was confirmed that the events initially observed in vitro actually occurred in vivo.” So, the same chemical changes occurred in human scalps treated using 10% ECGC dissolved in ethanol. They concluded below:

In summary, our data suggest that EGCG stimulates human hair growth via its proliferative and antiapoptotic effects on DPCs, and may prolong anagen stage.

The effects of EGCG on different hair follicle cell types and the molecular basis for its promotion of hair growth remain unclear and require further investigation.

Green Tea and Hair Study #3:
Cure Baldness in Rats?

Another 2005 study conducted by the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles used rats as models.

60 female rats experiencing the rat equivalent of baldness were divided into 2 groups. One group was given pure water to drink. The other group was given drinking water that contained a polyphenol extract derived from green tea.

33% of the mice who drank the polyphenol-laced water experienced some hair regrowth. Out of the mice assigned to drink water only, none experienced any hair regrowth.

Green Tea and Hair Study #4:
Good for Psoriasis and Dandruff?

green tea and hairRecent green tea and hair research shows that green tea is also good for your scalp.

According to a 2007 study conducted by Dr. Stephen Hsu of the Medical College of Georgia, green tea shows promise in treating both psoriasis and its more common cousin, dandruff.

Psoriasis is caused by skin growing out of control. New skin layers form before the old layers are ready to come off, causing scaly skin and lesions.

Green tea appears to normalize the skin cell growth cycle by regulating a protein called Caspase-14, which tells skin cells when to multiply and when to die off. Green tea has also been shown to soothe skin and reduce inflammation.

If you are afflicted with dandruff, you might want to try a green tea shampoo or even a daily green tea rinse instead of a regular dandruff shampoo.

Regular dandruff shampoos contain small amounts of substances which are known to be carcinogenic. If green tea solves your dandruff problem without exposing you to these chemicals, it’s a much better solution in the long run.

Green Tea and Hair - Dandruff And Psoriasis Cure?

More Green Tea and Hair Benefit:
Hair Conditioner

If baldness is not a concern for you, you should be aware that green tea has other benefits for your hair.

For example, according to an article called “Hair Care Joins Beauty’s Tea Party” published in the October 15, 1999 edition of Women’s Wear Daily, green tea is also a great source of panthenol.

Panthenol, or pro-vitamin B, has long been used as a conditioner. It softens and strengthens hair, and keeps split ends from forming.

Plus, green tea also contains antioxidants and vitamins C and E, which are also good for your tresses.

Green Tea Antioxidants - 7 Reasons Why They Are Powerful

Drinking Vs. Topical Application

green tea and hairAlso, remember that the experiments involved both ingesting green tea and direct scalp application of EGCG.

If you are trying green tea for hair loss, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate into your daily routine as a beverage and also to use hair products that contain real green tea extract or ECGC.

The closest equivalent to the EGCG/ethanol mixture used topically in the experiment on human scalps (read the 2007 study conducted by the Seoul National University College of Medicine explained above) is actually green tea tincture.

You can buy commercial preparations of this, or make your own by soaking 3 parts green tea in 4 parts vodka or other clear, high-proof alcohol for a couple of weeks. Then, strain out the liquid and store it in a dark glass bottle.

Conclusion

What conclusions can we draw from all of this research? Can green tea promote hair growth in humans? Very likely, but more research needs to be done to confirm it, as well as to find the best doses and delivery methods.

Also, some studies have shown that green tea increases the amount of testosterone and DHT in the bloodstream, which would indicate that green tea could exacerbate baldness instead of helping.

Does that mean green tea actually causes baldness? I don't think so. This is discussed in my earlier Q&A on

Green Tea and Baldness - Cause or Cure?

The important thing to remember is that green tea has not been conclusively shown to cause or cure baldness, either in animals or humans, but emerging evidence is showing great promise.

If you want to try green tea as a remedy for hair loss, go ahead-just don’t expect a miracle.

References

Sueoka N, Suganuma M, Sueoka E, Okabe S, Matsuyama S, Imai K, Nakachi K, Fujiki H. A new function of green tea: possible prevention of hairloss and other lifestyle-related diseases.

Kwon OS, Han JH, Yoo HG, Chung JH, Cho KH, Eun HC, and Kim KH (2007). Human hair growth enhancement in vitro by green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Phytomedicine. 2007 Aug;14(7-8):551-5.

Esfandiari A, Kelly AP (2005). The effects of tea polyphenolic compounds on hair loss among rodents. J Natl Med Assoc. 2005 Aug; 97(8):1165-9.

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