Does Minoxidil Work?

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Minoxidil is a popular and effective drug used by those suffering from hair loss or alopecia. Many users have sworn by it and use it everyday as a part of their hair care routine in the form of a topical cream which you may know as Rogaine/Regaine. But does it really work?
First we have to see  how it works.
Originally this drug was used orally for people with high blood pressure and certain heart conditions such as heart disease. However one side effect noticed by users was it caused greater hair growth and the darkening of hair too. Although the NHS claims they do not understand how this drug works to help hair loss, it is simply due to a lack of experimental evidence but everyone is aware of the concept. 

You may already know that the cause of hair loss is inflammation which can result from DHT in your scalp. It is the inflammation which restricts blood circulation and damages the hair follicles so that they drop out.

Minoxidil is primarily a vasodilator meaning it widens blood vessels allowing greater blood circulation so applying it in the affected areas would prevent the inflammation. The fact that there is a greater blood supply means hair follicles will receive more oxygen, blood and nutrients to stimulate hair growth.

Now there is plenty of evidence and experiments carried out on the treatment of alopecia using topical minoxidil such as the one done by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. They found the topical 5% minoxidil treatment to be much greater than the topical 2% and placebo in increasing hair regrowth. Although we have established that the drug works, it is by no means conclusive evidence as there are several issues with the experiment. 

Firstly the sample size was small, with only 393 men which leaves a margin of error of at least 10%. For most experiments of this type, a sample size of over 500 is usually enough to reduce the error to less than 5%. Secondly, although not a flaw, but a limitation of this experiment is that it has only been tested on males. Many females also suffer from alopecia and so topical minoxidil may produce results which are different to those in this experiment. 

The most vital aspect of topical Minoxidil not taken into account are the side effects. Unfortunately it is too good to be true to have an effective drug without any harmful side effects and minoxidil is one of them. The common side effects can be:
  • burning of eyes
  • redness and irritation
  • unwanted hair elsewhere on the body
  • faster skin ageing such as dark rings around eyes or wrinkles on forehead
There are also more severe side effects which have been reported:
  • heart palpitations 
  • dizziness and vertigo
  • unexplained weight gain
  • baldness after discountinueed use of minoxidil
  • swollen face, hands or feet
Many of these side effects are very unpleasant, and you should not have to risk them to prevent hair loss. There are other (natural) ways to do what minoxidil does - reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation - without the nasty side effects.

Massaging the scalp - Many will ignore this method of treatment but those who have tried it know its power. Like with all alternative methods listed below, doing this alone will produce limited results relative to doing them together.

Simply get some natural oils such as coconut, castor or immortals oil and massage them on to your scalp for 15min a day in the morning and the evening. After a few days you will notice the number of hairs falling as decreased dramatically and your hair will feel thicker and healthier. Massaging improves circulation and so can stimulate faster hair growth too.

Taoist Soap - It is rare you find a soap created for the purpose of treating hair loss - even rarer that it actually works. There are great reviews behind this product doing what minoxidil does but with zero side effects and you can read more about it and its reviews online. Apparently you can replace this with whatever shampoo you are using and within a week you will begin to see results. This soap detoxifies your scalp resulting in less inflammation as well as thickening your hair with special revitalizing herbs. It is well worth trying this and see what it can do for you. 

Improving the Diet - There is nothing like internal cleansing to improve your hair condition. Improving your diet can help provide the hair follicles the correct nutrients for faster and healthier growth as well preventing inflammation by avoiding processed and sugary foods. You must realise that the health of your hair is greatly dependant on your skin - specifically the skin on your scalp. So you must take the same measures for healthy skin such as staying hydrated.

To conclude, minoxidil works for the majority of people however for some there is a big price to pay. No one has studied the long term health effects of applying this drug as there is no funding or any motive to do so, but there have been reports and lawsuits on this drug causing serious diseases such as respiratory infections, impotency, conjuctivitus and a few more. 

You are better of improving your general health and reducing the amount of stress you take in daily life. Believe it or not, there have been studies showing a strong link between brain activity in terms of stress and the cases of hair loss. Most creams or drugs will not have a long lasting effect as changing your whole lifestyle for the better and if it does then you may pay with your health. 
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