What is a DHT Blocker? And How does it Work?
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an androgen. Hearing the word androgen may lead you to think of males straight away, and you would be right! Androgen is a sex hormone, mainly testosterone and androstenedione, that regulates the development and maintenance of male characteristics. In other words, androgen gives men their “male” characteristics, for example, body hair and a deep voice. Androgen is unfortunately what also makes us lose our hair faster as well as prematurely. Androgenic Alopecia is more commonly known as male pattern balding and the main contribution to why men lose their hair as they get older. Women may also experience this type of hair loss; however it is more common in men.
The best way to treat male pattern baldness is to use a treatment that will help slow it down, one that is a DHT blocker that specifically targets and blocks the dihydrotestosterone to prevent hair loss and receding hairlines. So, what is a DHT blocker? How does it work, and why are they so important? This article will guide you on the natural approach to DHT blockers and hopefully offer you some help with any type of hair loss you may be experiencing.
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More insight into dihydrotestosterone (DHT):
DHT is a powerful hormone with androgenic properties. It plays a crucial role in puberty by initiating the start of development in boys. It assists in the development of genitals and attributes to the growth of pubic and body hair. DHT causes the prostate gland to develop during puberty and, together with testosterone, it initiates the expression of sexual behavior and desires. Women also have DHT but the role of this hormone in their bodies is still not as well-known. Some studies have shown that DHT may be the determining factor for when puberty starts in girls and it can lead to pubic hair growth. As we get older, DHT and testosterone may offer other benefits to your body, including the maintenance of our overall muscle mass and the promotion of fertility and sexual health.
When testosterone is converted into a different form, dihydrotestosterone is created. Roughly 10% of the testosterone in both women and men is converted into DHT, with more DHT being produced during the stage of puberty. Sometimes men and women may struggle with irregular levels of DHT. Men who experience high levels of DHT may only have a few identifiable side effects or body changes, however, women are not so lucky: they may experience excess body and facial hair. That is certainly not something that I would like to suffer from, I am sure you would feel the same way! The tables do, however, turn when the levels are reversed. Lower levels of DHT have minimal effect on women, but boys who are going through puberty will fail to grow normal body hair and may have development problems with their genital growth.
What is a DHT blocker and how does it work?
High levels of androgens, including the hormone DHT, can dramatically shrink your hair follicles and shorten the life cycle of the hair follicle. This causes hair to thin and become more brittle. It will also cause our hair to fall out at a faster rate and it may take a lot longer for our follicles to grow new hairs once the older hairs have fallen out. This causes androgenic alopecia, or male pattern balding. Some of us are more susceptible to DHT’s effect on scalp hair: this is based on the variations in our androgen receptor gene.
Androgen receptors are proteins that allow testosterone and DHT to bind to them. It is this binding activity that results in normal hormonal functions such as body growth. Male pattern baldness is experienced when variations in the androgen receptor gene increase the androgen receptivity in our scalp follicles.
There are natural treatments that are available to help DHT-related hair loss that targets the production of DHT and receptor binding. The main treatment is to use a DHT blocker, simply put, this is a treatment that targets and blocks the hormone DHT. DHT blockers prevent DHT from binding to 5-AR receptor genes, the focus being on those found in your hair follicles that inhibit DHT from shrinking the follicles. DHT blockers have been proven to be the most effective treatment. Not only do DHT blockers help stop hair loss, but they also contribute to new growth.
Going the natural way:
There are natural treatments available that assist as DHT blockers. The following are just a few that are available:
- 1. Pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds – The phytosterols in pumpkin seed oil inhibit the action of 5-alpha reductase (the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT). There are no specific guidelines on the correct consumption and use of pumpkin seed oil for hair loss, but the suggestion is to take the oil as an oral supplement. 1000mg pumpkin seed oil tablets are commonly available. A dose between 400mg and 1000mg per day is a recommended safe range for consumption. Try this oil for at least 6 months to appreciate a visible increase in hair growth.
- Pumpkin seeds can be eaten as they are if you are not happy to consume the oil as a supplement. The seeds contain essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and iron. The tiny seeds contain a unique amino acid called cucurbitin that helps hair growth. The L-lysine, iron, and omega 3 fatty acids contribute to hair growth, quality, and texture. In particular, L-lysine is a natural DHT-inhibitor.
- 2. Eggs (biotin) – Biotin or vitamin H is also known as vitamin B7. Biotin helps boost and maintain the levels of keratin in our bodies. Keratin is a type of protein that is found in our hair, nails, and skin. Studies are still ongoing, but they suggest that biotin can help hair regrow and stop existing hair from falling out. Biotin also prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT and can be found in eggs. Egg whites contain avidin (a protein) that binds to biotin. Eggs also contain cysteine which is an amino acid that is found in hair keratin. Boiled or cooked eggs are preferred when consuming them with the purpose of blocking DHT. Raw eggs, on the other hand, have not proven as effective as a DHT blocker, so rather go for the cooked or boiled version.
- Other great sources of biotin include bananas, berries, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
- 3. Pygeum bark/ pygeum africanum – Pygeum extract has been extensively used in Africa for decades and is one of the most popular natural DHT blockers available. It is a herb that is extracted from the bark of an African cherry tree and is available as a herbal supplement that can be taken daily. Pygeum bark helps alleviate the symptoms of benign hyperplasia and prostate cancer: both of these conditions are caused by DHT. It is for this reason that the pygeum extract herb is considered a potent natural DHT blocker.
- In general, the herbal route is a great natural supplement that reduces DHT in the body. Some herbal supplements that block DHT include stinging nettle, green tea, saw palmetto, and pygeum bark (as mentioned above). Oral supplements may include a regulated combination of most of these herbs.
- 4. Watermelon – Watermelon contains lycopene which naturally blocks the production of DHT. Watermelon is also a rich source of vitamin C, B12, and B6, all of which stimulate hair growth. Citrulline helps to eliminate excess DHT in our body, this compound is found abundantly in watermelon.
- 5. White Mushrooms – Zinc is another mineral that naturally blocks and inhibits the production of DHT. Zinc acts as a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor which blocks DHT production. Zinc also helps reduce areas on the scalp where DHT can attach itself. White mushrooms are a rich source of zinc and they also contain vitamin D and pantothenic acid: vital for growing thick hair.
6. Tomatoes – Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which regulates and inhibits 5 alpha-reductase, this in turn blocks the creation of DHT. The antioxidants found in tomatoes help fight the cells that cause damage to the hair follicles and the beta-carotene helps supply nutrients to the scalp to stimulate hair growth.
Find the right balance:
DHT is especially needed by young males who are entering puberty, but this hormone can also create aggravated conditions as we get older, especially common in men as androgenic alopecia or balding can make its appearance as early as in their 20s. To maintain conditions that are aggravated by the production of DHT, we need to use treatments or consume supplements and food that are DHT blockers. Several natural DHT blockers were mentioned in this article, but make sure that they are consumed correctly as side effects of DHT blockers may include nausea, headaches, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Since DHT blockers affect your hormones, it is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. If you are experiencing side effects after using a supplement such a pumpkin seed oil tablets or herbal tablets, you may want to try tea tree oil or lavender oil: these oils offer potent DHT blocking properties, especially when used as a topical application by rubbing on affected areas (do not forget to mix them in a natural carrier oil such as coconut oil).