Hair really changes a person. It can make you look younger or older, and it can even change the look on your face. Hair, for both men and women, has long been an important part of beauty and physical appearance. This is why hair loss can be so devastating, especially for women with whom baldness or hair loss is not normally associated. People spend thousands of dollars annually on treatments and the majority don’t really work. This dermatologist, however, discovered an old medicine that actually works. The best part? It costs pennies.
The Old Medicine That Restores Hair Loss For Just Pennies
If you or someone you know has or is suffering from hair loss, you understand just how horrible it can be. Our hair is a major component of our overall look, which feeds directly into our self-esteem. Hair loss isn’t just a loss of hair, but a loss of self-confidence. This is why so many people willingly spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars annually on hair loss treatments. The problem with many of these, according to Yale School of Medicine Dermatologist Dr. Brett King, is that they don’t really work. (1)
Dr. King even dared to call this “endless array” of hair growth treatments – shampoos, conditioners, etc. – completely useless. There is good news, however, for those who suffer from hair loss. Dr. King knows, along with a handful of other hair and scalp specialists, that there is an old medicine that is extraordinarily effective at re-growing hair. The best part? It will cost you just pennies.
Minoxidil: The Surprise Hair Loss Treatment
When tackling hair loss, most treatment plans involve products applied directly to the scalp. What some dermatologists figured out, however, is that the medication minoxidil, when taken orally, is the best hair loss treatment out there. Originally used to help control blood pressure, a very (very!) small amount of one minoxidil pill can completely restore most patients’ heads of hair. It does so without affecting the patient’s blood pressure because it is such a tiny dose.
The reason why not all doctors or dermatologists know about it is that they prescribe it off-label. This is because its use as a hair loss treatment has not yet been approved by the FDA. Dr. King says that approval is also unlikely because the cost of the drug doesn’t warrant spending the money putting it through actual clinical trials. Just one-fortieth of a regular pill of minoxidil is sufficient to restore someone’s hair, making it cost literal pennies to use.
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The History of Minoxidil
Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine. This is a lotion or foam that dermatologists prescribed for hair loss that patients rub into the scalp. Doctors discovered it by accident several decades ago when prescribing the medication for blood pressure. Patient’s noticed that along with the drug’s intended effects, the pills seemed to promote hair growth on their bodies. That’s when the manufacturer decided to make it into a lotion that was then prescribed as a hair loss treatment. (2)
Though Rogaine does work, it doesn’t work for everyone. The other issue with it is that it needs to be applied directly to the scalp. As hair grows back, this gets harder and harder to do. Patients then stop using it, partly because it can be difficult to apply when you have hair on your head, and also because they don’t like leaving a sticky substance in their hair.
Rogaine also simply doesn’t work for some people. Minoxidil needs to be converted into its active form by a specific enzyme called sulfotransferase. This isn’t always present in sufficient quantities in hair roots. If it isn’t, then the hair won’t grow. When taken in oral form, however, minoxidil is automatically converted into an active form.
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The Microdose Pills
A dermatology professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia Dr. Rodney Sinclair was trying to help a patient with female pattern baldness. He first prescribed Rogaine, and her hair did grow back. Unfortunately, the patient developed a rash on her scalp, so they needed to take a different route.
“The patient was very motivated, and the one thing we knew was that if a patient has an allergy to a topically applied medicine, one way to desensitize is to give very low doses orally.” Dr. Sinclair said.
To start, he cut the minoxidil pills into quarters. Not only did the low dose not affect her blood pressure, but her hair also began growing with no other adverse effects. He continued to lower the dose down to one that he felt comfortable writing a regular prescription for but that still worked. The sweet spot was one-fortieth of a pill. That patient apparently continues to take that tiny dose daily. Dr. Sinclair says that he has now treated more than 10,000 patients using the exact same treatment successfully, and other dermatologists, such as Dr. King, now use it too.
They are now talking about it at conferences so that doctors and dermatologists who don’t specialize in scalp issues and wouldn’t know much about minoxidil now know when and how to use it. It is important to note that this method doesn’t work if a patient is completely bald. In those cases, there is nothing left to be restored. Sometimes some patients notice hairs growing in other places on their bodies. To counteract that without affecting the efficacy of the minoxidil, dermatologists will prescribe another drug that blocks androgens to prevent unwanted facial and/or body hair growth.
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