Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a common form of hair loss in men, with an increased risk of hair loss for men over the age of 40 (1). With AGA, hair becomes thinner over time as hair follicles miniaturize and spend less time in the active growth phase (anagen), and more time in the resting phase (telogen) (2). Dihdrotestoderone (DHT) plays a large role in the miniaturization of hair follicles, leading to thinning and further loss of hair (3).
Currently, two United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approved drugs exist for the treatment of AGA; finasteride (Propecia®) and minoxidil (Rogaine®). Finasteride works through inhibition of DHT (4), whereas minoxidil works by increasing blood flow to hair follicles (5). Both finasteride and minoxidil are effective therapeutic options for the treatment of AGA; however, they are associated with unwanted side effects (6–8). Due to the risk of adverse side effects, some patients are drawn to alternative treatments, such as natural plant oils.
A recent study was performed to test the efficacy of pumpkin seed oil for the treatment of AGA (9). Men ages 20-65 with mild to moderate AGA were enrolled to receive 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil (Octa Sabal Plus®) capsules per day. After 24 weeks of treatment, the pumpkin seed oil treatment group had a 40% average increase in hair counts from baseline, whereas the placebo treatment group had an increase of 10%. Results from investigators blinded to the treatment groups suggest pumpkin seed oil is more effective compared to placebo, as 44.1% of the pumpkin seed oil group were rated as improved, whereas only 7.7% of the placebo group improved. Although this data was statistically significant, there were no units of measurement shown (ex. hair count per mm2) so extrapolating to clinical significance is difficult. This was also a very small study, with only 37 patients receiving the pumpkin seed oil capsules and 39 receiving placebo.
Side effects were mild, and included body itching (2 participants) and abdominal discomfort (1 participant).
Always check with your physician before starting a new treatment regimen, and talk to your hair loss specialist to determine which form of treatment would work best for you.
Article by: Dr. C.D. Studholme, Mediprobe Research Inc.
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- Semalty M, Semalty A, Joshi GP, Rawat MSM. Hair growth and rejuvenation: an overview. J Dermatol Treat. 2011 Jun;22(3):123–32.
- Kaufman KD. Androgens and alopecia. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Dec 30;198(1-2):89–95.
- Roberts JL, Fiedler V, Imperato-McGinley J, Whiting D, Olsen E, Shupack J, et al. Clinical dose ranging studies with finasteride, a type 2 5alpha-reductase inhibitor, in men with male pattern hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Oct;41(4):555–63.
- Sica DA. Minoxidil: An Underused Vasodilator for Resistant or Severe Hypertension. J Clin Hypertens. 2004 May;6(5):283–7.
- Kaufman KD, Olsen EA, Whiting D, Savin R, DeVillez R, Bergfeld W, et al. Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride Male Pattern Hair Loss Study Group. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998 Oct;39(4 Pt 1):578–89.
- Ali AK, Heran BS, Etminan M. Persistent Sexual Dysfunction and Suicidal Ideation in Young Men Treated with Low-Dose Finasteride: A Pharmacovigilance Study. Pharmacotherapy. 2015 Jul;35(7):687–95.
- Springer K, Brown M, Stulberg DL. Common hair loss disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jul 1;68(1):93–102.
- Cho YH, Lee SY, Jeong DW, Choi EJ, Kim YJ, Lee JG, et al. Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:1–7.