Minoxidil – brief introduction & how it works

Minoxidil is the first topical hair loss substance which has been approved by FDA (in 1988). Originally, it has been used for treating hypertension, but many of those taking minoxidil pills have reported increased hair growth as well as a thickening of the hair strands. It was a side effect that nobody has predicted. Yet, this side effect rapidly turned into one of the highly praised hair loss treatments. Minoxidil is available now as an over-the-counter product in most pharmacies around the world.
There are two theories which explain the way in which minoxidil functions. The first one, which is the traditional view regarding this substance is that minoxidil blocks DHT and enlarges the affected arteries, thus allowing the blood to flow in larger quantities and provide the hair strand with the necessary nourishing substances. It must be noted that minoxidil does not heal the blood veins, but rather enlarges them, so that the regular use of this product is necessary. Yet, this theory, which heavily relies on the vasodilator properties of minoxidil, is contradicted by the fact that no other vasodilator has this type of effects on hair.
The latest discoveries tend to infirm this theory and state that the wonderful results that minoxidil has had in fighting alopecia come from the fact that minoxidil stimulates PGHS 1 (prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase-1), which provokes hair growth. As far as the scientific evidence is concerned, this theory seems to be more accurate and explains why not all vasodilators can successfully fight alopecia.

Minoxidil Effectiveness in Different Alopecia Stages

Baldness, like any other condition starts timidly and progresses gradually. Normally, there are hair strands which have ended their life span and fall. Thus, losing about 100 hair strands per day is not an alarming fact. Moreover, this is the normal average number of hair strands which can be lost everyday without experiencing alopecia. The hair which falls is shed due to the end of the angen period (period of growth) and the entrance in the catagen, followed by telogen phases (in which the hair follicle minimizes its dimensions and enters a resting and restoring phase). The growing phase lasts about 4 to 6 years, while the resting phase about 8 months.
Alopecia is triggered when the hair follicle is continuously under the attack of DHT, which weakens it and provides it with fewer nutrients for a good functioning. In this case the hair follicle enters the resting phase earlier than normal and thus the amount of hair strands which are lost every day is bigger. On the scalp there is always a balance between the hair strands in the telogen period and the ones in anagen period, so that the scalp will always be protected by hair. When some hair follicles enter the telogen period faster (or even die because of continuous DHT attack) the balance is disrupted and alopencia appears.
Doctors have divided alopecia into 7 main stages, numbered from 1 to 7 with 1 being the lowest level of hair loss and 7 being the extreme alopecia with great surfaces of scalp left uncovered by hair and with significant hair loos. These stages are not only visible, but they are also different in their potential to be treated. While the first stages (mainly phase 2) of alopecia can be completely treated with minoxidil, the last stages (6 and 7) are extremely difficult to address.  This is why the best time to start a treatment with minoxidil is when the first signs of baldness appear. The receding hairline and the small patches of scalp left uncovered by hair should trigger an alarm sign and determine you to start a treatment with minoxidil. Hopes that things will be restored by itself and hair will grow back are only making the situation worse.

Alopecia stages and the effect of minoxidil treatment in each case:

  • Stage 1 represents the normal hair line which is situated at the upper brow crease – there is no need for treatment.
  • Stage 2 represents the progression of the hairline. Usually, this stage is reached when the hairline has receded about 1.5 centimeters above the normal hairline (the upper brow crease) – this is the first sign that alopecia will set in. To stop the evolution and regain the hair loss along the line, it is recommended to start a minoxidil treatment. The condition will be totally cured.
  • Stage 3 – deeper temporal recession of the hairline.
  • Stage 3 Vertex – the first signs of balding appear in the vertex area. Starting a minoxidil treatment is necessary as there are still great chances that the condition will be treated with highly positive results. 
  • Stage 4 and 5 – the hairline continues to recede and the vertex bald spot is enlarged. In stage 4 there is still a solid band of hair between the hairline and vertex area. In stage 5 this solid band starts to lose its solidity and a “bridge” between the two areas can be noted. These stages represent severe alopecia and the treatment with minoxidil, although can have positive effects, does not grant fully recovery of the old look. This is mainly because a great part of the hair follicles have died under the attack of DHT and there are few left in the telogen period, not enough to cover the bald scalp.
  • Stage 6 and 7 - there is only one large scalp area with no hair. The only difference in between the two stages is that while in stage 6 the hair on the sides is still thick; in stage 7 only small patches cover with hair survive on the back and sides. It is relatively late for a treatment with minoxidil. While there are always chances for a slight improvement, there are small chances for the bald areas to be fully covered with hair again.

As it can be seen, the sooner the treatment with minoxidil is started, the greater the chances of treating alopecia and prevent bald patches of scalp.

Minoxidil in Herbal Minoxidil

Minoxidil in Herbal Minoxidil A concentration of 3% minoxidil is available in herbal minoxidil. This is the smaller concentration available which can effectively fight alopecia. Higher concentrations are also available, but the bigger the concentration is, the greater the chance of irritation and burning. Because herbal minoxidil is aimed both at treating alopecia and protect the scalp from any side effect produced by minoxidil or any other ingredient, the 3% minoxidil concentration makes this product safe for all men.  Furthermore, the herbal ingredients meant at blocking the DHT and reviving the hair follicle enhance minoxidil’s action, making the final product a strong, yet safe one.  
While minoxidil has proved to be a great treatment for hair loss in male alopecia, there were reported some side effects which made its use rather unpleasant. Flaky scalp, irritation and burning are some of the most frequent side effects associated with the use of bare minoxidil (regardless of the name under which it has released on the market). These effects are counterbalanced by the herbal ingredients listed above. So you can forget about irritations and dandruff while enjoying the same great minoxidil results.

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