What are the Signs of Male Pattern Baldness and Natural Ways to Treat It

Male pattern baldness is a common condition that occurs due to genetics and age. Learn to alleviate this condition using TCM remedies and dietary changes.

A young Caucasian man touching his hair in front of the mirror

Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia (AGA), is quite common in the U.S. According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 35 with peak loss at age 50. However, this condition can occur in some men as early as age 20. It is also not limited to men — women are also affected by hair loss, though it happens in different patterns.

This causes a receding hairline at the crown of the head that develops into complete hair loss. In some cases, the hair will stay receding with a circular of hair around the base. This is related to aging, genetics, illness, or underlying health issues that can exacerbate and speed up the rate of hair loss. As a result, many men suffer a loss of confidence and self-esteem.

Below, we highlight more about male baldness and some ways to naturally reverse it or slow it down.

Causes of Male Baldness 

A smiling black man with bald head posing in front of the camera
Male baldness is a very common condition in the U.S. The causes may vary, from genetics to undernourishment.

Male baldness typically starts at the temple, front of the scalp, or the crown of the head as the hair recedes or becomes barren over a short period of time.

When dealing with male baldness, it is important to go to a doctor or hair loss expert. They will assess your family’s history and look at your hair to see where it falls on the Norwood Scale of your head, a system that outlines the variant of your pattern, to determine the best treatments options for you.

Here are a few of the common causes of the condition and ways to address receding hairline naturally.

1. Genetics 

Genetics is the main reason for hair loss. It directly influences a man’s sensitivity towards dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a type of testosterone hormone that increases after puberty. DHT can cause hair follicles to shrink, resulting in strands that grow back finer, shorter, and thinner. It takes the hair much longer to grow back until eventually, these follicles will cease to produce new hair altogether, leaving the scalp barren.

A Columbia University study found that trichophages can block the flow of Oncostatin M, a substance that keeps the follicles dormant, eventually restarting the hair cycle.

2. Aging

Age is a direct factor in male pattern baldness. Beginning as early as 20, men can begin to lose hair. However, this type of loss is not connected to hair loss on your face or ears, which continues to grow.

3. Illness

Hair loss can also be connected to underlying illnesses such as cancer, thyroid disease, ringworm, and alopecia. Conversely, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism — insufficient or excess amounts of thyroid hormones, respectively — can cause hair loss. This hair loss is diffused and likely to involve the entire scalp. A person’s hair will also appear to be uniformly sparse. 

In some instances, extreme stress, depression, and certain medications can be culprits.

4. Undernourished hair 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes a person’s hair health relates directly to their internal organs’ health. According to TCM physician Lim Sock Ling, a common cause of hair loss in men is from “an accumulation of dampness and heat in the spleen and stagnant qi (life force) in the liver.” When this happens, blood flow to the head will decrease, resulting in inadequate nourishment for the hair. 

Additionally, the health and abundance of a person’s hair link directly to kidney essence (jing). As such, weak kidneys can lead to hair loss and grey hair. Herbs like Radix Polygonum multiflorum promotes hair growth by activating resting hair follicles, according to a 2011 study. Nowadays, you can consume the Polygonum herb more conveniently in the form of hair formula capsules, which can also increase nutrient absorption to your hair follicles.

How to Naturally Treat Male Pattern Baldness

It is possible to slow down, and even reverse male pattern baldness. Lifestyle and diet changes, combined with natural, holistic treatments can help with this condition.

Acupuncture 

Acupuncture method to help treat and prevent male pattern baldness
Acupuncture is a great TCM practice that can treat male pattern baldness.

The insertion of thin needles into the bald areas of a person’s scalp is beneficial. Acupuncture has been touted for its benefits that help stimulate the central nervous system to promote overall well-being. It can also help with hair loss by increasing blood flow, improving blood circulation to the head, and reducing hair follicle inflammation.

Studies have shown that patients receiving Qi Xing needles had a 90% rate of controlling hair loss and promoting hair growth.

Additionally, acupuncture stimulates the function of the cerebral cortex in locating affected scalp areas, improving brain electrical activity, and increasing the alpha wave index voltage. Specifically, the alpha wave is responsible for inducing spirit relaxation. It also regulates emotions, thus preventing adverse mental health disorders like anxiety and depression from aggravating hair loss.

Herbal formulas and natural ingredients 

“Hair formulas usually include herbs to remove dampness and heat or nourish blood and improve qi circulation,” explains Physician Lim. For instance, the consumption of a herbal soup known as si wu tang is especially effective when we combine its four ingredients. White peony (Bai shao) and Rehmania root (shu di huang) can nourish the blood, whereas chuan xiong and dang gui (Chinese angelica) can regulate blood and qi. Beverages like chamomile or rosebud tea may also help improve blood circulation. 

“The patient should also avoid alcohol and foods that are cold, fried, spicy or sweet,” says physician Lim. She adds these foods can impede the spleen’s function and ability to transport fluids, allowing dampness and heat to accumulate.

Other hair loss treatments

In the U.S., some men experiencing hair loss get a hair transplant, hair restoration surgery, and prescription medications. However, most insurances don’t cover these treatments and their effectiveness is still being studied. Temporary options like wearing wigs, hair sprays, or hats are also popular options. Since every case is personal, visiting a doctor is the best course of action to determine your treatment plan.

Healthy Foods to Boost Hair Health

A young handsome man cooking healthy meal in the kitchen
A healthy diet is a crucial component to improving hair health.

A balanced diet is important to promote hair health. This includes fatty fish, organic meat, legumes, berries, nuts, sweet potatoes, and eggs. Additionally, foods rich in iodine — kelp, and seaweed — are critically important to ensure the normal functioning of the thyroid gland and the healthy production of thyroid hormones.

Vitamins D and E are important for healthy hair growth. Tocotrienols, a group of chemicals from the vitamin E family, can reduce lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress in the scalp, which can trigger the onset of alopecia. Some examples of vitamin E include celery, spinach, and black sesame seeds.

While there is no cure, you can promote hair health through traditional remedies and lifestyle changes. Physician Lim notes, “We cannot reverse hair loss due to genetics, but changing habits and addressing root causes which may be causing premature hair loss is certainly possible.” 

This is an adaptation of an article, “The Bald Truth,” which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. European Journal of Human Genetics. 2015. Prediction of male-pattern baldness from genotypes. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Why Do Men Go Bald? And Is There Anything You Can Really Do About It?. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  3. American Hair Loss Association. 2010. Causes of Hair Loss. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  4. Birmingham Dermatology Clinic. 2018. Can Acupuncture Remedy Hair Loss?. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  5. Healthcare Medicine Institute. 2016. Acupuncture Combats Baldness, Outperforms Drug Therapy. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  6. Columbia University. 2019. Studies Uncover New Approaches to Combat Hair Loss in Men and Women. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  7. Medical News Today. 2019. Top 5 foods for hair growth. [Accessed on December 8, 2021]
  8. Science Direct. 2011. Topical application of Polygonum multiflorum extract induces hair growth of resting hair follicles through upregulating Shh and β-catenin expression in C57BL/6 mice. [Accessed on December 15, 2021]

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