It’s well known that dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the hormone that is mostly responsible for male pattern baldness. Yes, there are lots of other important factors that contribute to hair loss, (I created a whole website about them 🙂
But this guide will focus on the most effective, powerful and fastest ways to reduce DHT levels naturally in your body so that your hair finally has a chance of survival.
Luckily, there is quite a lot you can do to lower your DHT levels, but it’s probably not what you expect. Most mainstream advice on the topic doesn’t really work very well – if I’m being honest – so what does work?
I’ve already written a huge guide about how to reduce DHT levels in your scalp so I recommend reading that, but I will summarise the points here as well. Since the scalp is where hair loss takes places, it makes sense to localise your DHT-fighting efforts around this area. Your results can be extremely quick because of this.
In this guide, however, I will focus on reducing levels on a systematic level inside your body. After all, this will affect the DHT levels in your scalp in turn.
I think it’s a good idea to take a ‘double-pronged’ approach to lower DHT levels both inside the body, and directly on the scalp – So go and read that article now.
Why would you want to reduce your DHT levels anyway?
DHT is made from testosterone, and is converted by the enzyme known as 5-alpha-reductase. Of course, we don’t want to lower our testosterone levels (that would make us less manly) so a more effective approach is to inhibit (slow down) the action of the enzyme.
I wrote an article about the best 5-alpha reductase inhibitors here. In this guide though we’ll take a more holistic approach.
An important point to understand is that men who suffer from male pattern baldness don’t have particularly high levels of DHT. That’s not the problem.
The problem is that our hair follicles are more sensitive to DHT and the hair follicle miniaturisation that DHT causes.
So although lowering your DHT levels will help, there are more effective ways to stop hair loss, by reducing the sensitivity of the hair follicle to the DHT.
THAT is what this article will focus on.
After our body metabolises the foods we eat there is a left over substance which is known as ‘metabolic ash’ or ‘metabolic waste.’
Much like after you have a bonfire there is a ash left over. This metabolic ash is either acidic or alkaline in nature depending on what sort of food was metabolised.
Our body has evolved eating certain foods that leave an overall stable and healthy pH (the measurement of acid and alkaline balance.) But, due to our modern diets, the foods we eat are often heavily weighted on the acidic side of the spectrum.
(This doesn’t have anything to do with if the food is acidic or alkaline before it get metabolised. For example, lemons are acidic, but when we metabolise them they leave a highly alkalising ash.)
Many of the foods found in our modern diet are highly acid forming (acid forming means that after they metabolise then acidic ash is left over.) Foods like grains, meat, dairy and refined sugars. Over time, our body turns more acidic.
A recent study (which you can learn about more in my hair loss course) showed that in the scalp, alkaline conditions inhibited the effect of the enzyme (5-alpha reductase) converting testosterone into DHT, reducing the likelihood of hair loss taking place.
This means that we should always be looking to alkalise our body (7.4pH is healthy) to minimise DHT in the scalp.
The foods that are most alkalising are mainly vegetables (sorry if you thought I was going to say Haagen Dazs) most fresh fruits, herbs, spices, grasses, and raw soaked nuts and seeds.
Shift your diet from acid forming foods to alkalising foods and your will naturally lower the DHT levels in your scalp.
Reduced allergies and autoimmune response
Allergies and autoimmue responses lead to increased hair follicle sensitivity to DHT. So although lowering your DHT levels will help, why not attack the problem from both sides and make your hair follicles less sensitive?
We all know about food allergies (like shellfish, peanuts etc) but fewer people know about what’s called delayed allergic reactions.
One of the big ones is delayed allergic reactions to gluten (the protein found in many grains) that many people suffer from (but don’t know they do.)
A famous example of this is the number 1 tennis player in the world; Novak Djocovick. During his early career Djocovick suffered from gluten intolerance but didn’t know it, and his tennis suffered.
He regularly collapsed on court and was the butt of many jokes from his competitors such as Roger Federer.
However, Djocovick finally realised his sensitivity to gluten and removed it from his diet. Now he has been the number one tennis player the world for over 5 years. You can read more about his journey in his excellent book. Serve to Win.
Anyway, back to hair loss…
Everybody responds to these delayed allergic reactions differently. For Novak it caused fatigue, muscles aches, stiffness and slowness, but for other the allergies can increase their sensitivity to DHT.
The thing is though, it’s not obvious. The reaction is delayed so its hard to connect the food type with the reaction. Without knowing what to look for it’s hard to tell what you might be sensitive to.
Novak suffered for years as a professional tennis player despite being surrounded by world-class doctors and nutritionists before connecting the dots.
Gluten isn’t the only substance that can cause delayed allergic reactions. Everybody is different and has different sensitivities.
You will only know when you remove the foods entirely from your diet over a period of time (usually a couple of weeks) and then introduce them to see the effect.
This technique of removal and reintroduction makes the allergic reaction more obvious and clear to feel in your body. You can then take note to eliminate those foods from your diet (or at least minimise them) to reduce the effect they have on your hair.
Stable blood sugar levels
Blood sugar level spikes are another dietary mistake that can cause sensitivity to DHT leading to hair loss.
DHT Levels in Blood
Detox and efficient toxin removal
Toxins build up in the blood over time when they can’t escape so it’s good practice when trying to re-grow your hair to detoxify as much as possible.
This mostly means keeping your liver and colon in the best shape possible since they are responsible for removing waste products and toxins from your body.
I highly recommend trying a bentonite clay detox which will help stabilise your DHT levels and remove and excess. In my hair loss course I have an entire ebook dedicated to DHT detox, (as a bonus) so you may want to check that out today.
Out of balance hormones can cause an increase in DHT, unfortunately there is no clear evidence about what exactly causes unnatural levels of DHT. One thing is clear though; animal proteins that have been given growth hormones should be avoided.
Yes, I don’t know for sure but personally I’d rather stay away from meat and poultry that has been given growth hormones since, on some level, those hormones will enter into your body and affect your own hormonal balance, possibly even your DHT levels.
I know it’s expensive, but try to choose organic meats and poultry, of stick to fish, or plant based vegetables instead.
DHT Levels In Scalp
As I mentioned in the introduction, I’ve already written a huge guide to reducing the DHT levels in your scalp so go and read that guide for all the information. What follows is the short guide.
The first step is to use salicylic acid to peel away the epidermis plaque which consists of dead skin cells, dirt, oil, dust and DHT. This would stop the mixture we are about to make from penetrating in to the scalp.
Next you’ll use hyularoinc acid for the base liquid of the mixture. Hyularonic acid is a natural DHT blocker, it also rubs into the scalp very easily and doesn’t leave any mess that clog or block the hair follicles.
The other components of the mixture (which you will apply to your scalp later) can then be mixed into the hyularinic acid.
The next component is emu oil. Emu oil is another oil that will naturally reduce the DHT levels on your scalp.
What else can you do to reduce DHT levels on the scalp? Incorporate natural DHT blockers.
Natural DHT Blockers
There are a few research studies which highlight the anti-androgen activities of saw palmetto. One of the most in-depth was one that showed a combination of gelatin-cystine and saw palmetto was effective in reducing free radical levels and inducing hair growth.
This study followed 48 volunteers (24 male and 24 female) as they applied the lotion (either active or placebo) over a period of 50 weeks. Some participants (12) also took an oral supplement (which did not contain saw palmetto, but did contain gelatin-cystine). All of the patients were previously diagnosed with AGA (ranking anywhere from a stage III to IV on the Norwood-Hamilton scale).
The 48 volunteers were split into five groups:
- Group 1: Active lotion A;
- Group 2: Inactive (placebo) lotion B;
- Group 3: Active diet supplement C;
- Group 4: Inactive (placebo) diet supplement D; and
- Group 5: Active lotion A and active diet supplement C
The lotion was applied twice per day (morning and evening), and the participants were also provided a mild shampoo. They were instructed to use this shampoo throughout the study.
So, how did researchers assess hair growth? They used the mean percentage variation of hair number per squared centimeter of scalp.
Now, let’s look at those results:
The three active groups (lotion, diet, and lotion + diet) performed significantly better than the two placebo groups (lotion and diet). The most effective was the lotion + diet group, followed by diet, and then lotion.
While this doesn’t definitively prove saw palmetto’s efficacy, it does give provide hope.
Since the study was performed to test both saw palmetto and gelatin-cystine, there’s no way to say which of the two worked best.
However, as mentioned, other studies have been performed which show saw palmetto’s benefits in relation to hair growth.
Stinging nettle is another herb which has been shown to have anti-androgenic effects. How do we know this?
One study, performed in 2011, showed stinging nettle’s effects on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) in human patients.
This studied consisted of 620 patients, and it was performed over six months. The results were collected using various techniques, including:
- International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS);
- Maximum urinary flow rate (Qmax);
- Postvoid Residual Urine Volume (PVR);
- Serum Pros-tatic-Specific Antigen (PSA);
- Testosterone levels; and
- Prostate size
The techniques above were used throughout the study, and the six-month results proved stinging nettle’s efficacy.
Most notably, both the IPSS and Qmax decreased significantly when compared to the placebo group.
But how does this relate to hair loss?
The fact that stinging nettle was useful in the treatment of BPH proves its ability to inhibit 5AR’s activities. This is good news for AGA sufferers and, when applied topically to the scalp, it can reduce DHT levels successfully.
Finasteride is a drug often used in the treatment of AGA, and it works by inhibiting 5AR. However, it has numerous side effects.
So, is there a natural alternative?
According to a 2005 study, yes!
The study was created to gauge the DHT-blocking abilities of 19 different mushroom species.
Researchers prepared ethanol extracts of each mushroom species, and then added the extracts to a suspension containing rat liver and prostate microsomes. This was carried out to see which species, if any, could inhibit 5AR:
As you can see above, reishi (G. lucidum) performed the best.
It actually had an inhibitory percentage of over 70%, which was significantly better than the other mushrooms in the study.
This shows that reishi mushroom can be considered comparable to finasteride, since both inhibit 5AR and, as a result, reduce the amount of DHT that attaches to the hair follicles.