Are Phytochemicals The Key To A Hair Loss Cure?


For the first time, a critical review of available data has been performed on plant-derived phytochemicals. It is time to ask the question, are phytochemicals the key to a hair loss cure?


What Are Phytochemicals?

To answer the question, are phytochemicals the key to a hair loss cure, we should first take a closer look at this ancient plant-based system. Broadly speaking, phytochemicals are chemicals produced by plants. Consider for a moment that every plant produces them and you will get an idea of their scale, diversity, and complexity. Plants produce them to aid with growth but also to fight off competitors and predators. They also play a role in fighting off pathogens that would otherwise kill the plant. 

Some have extremely familiar names, caffeine in our coffee and polyphenols in tea are examples. While the vast majority are obscure, some have already made their way into our hair loss world. Saw Palmetto has been used in the fight against hair loss for decades. Beyond hair-loss, phytochemicals are credited with being able to reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases. 

Efficacy On Scalp And Follicles

The lead author of this critical review, Gabriela Daniels from the Cosmetic Science Research Group based in London, set out with bold ambition. Using all available date from 1990 onward her team looked at every oral and topical phytochemical treatment aimed at hair loss. Caffeine and Saw Palmetto were on the list, but so were a surprising number of others. Who knew so much work had been done on so many different phytochemicals!

According to the authors, more studies need to be performed and the evaluation criteria can be improved. The good news is that this did not stop them arriving at some interesting conclusions.

Hair Loss Cure Hope?

The report concluded that all the phytochemicals that have been studied produced an improved understanding of the processes involved, they said  ‘…well documented pharmacological activities and pathways, which hair researchers have also identified as potential regulators of hair growth using cell and organotypic essays.’  

Top of the pile, for the authors, was a handful of chemicals which stood out. Caffeine, named in the report as the most widely studied, along with phenolic compounds and phytosterols were identified as the preferred choices. 

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The depth of the research that the team had to collate is as surprising as it is encouraging. Some, like caffeine, will have been familiar to all of us. Others, like pumpkin seeds, were surprising to see on the list. Still more were chemicals that were completely new to us. 

Highlighting just three phytochemicals as standing out will no doubt inform future research. As will the report’s conclusions around improving studies. They included ideas on combining vitro and in vitro results as well as more gender-specific studies. You can read the report for yourself by clicking here

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