For generations, health professionals have sought remedies to counteract the effects of hair loss. Newly published research suggests that the answer could come in the form of a hemp-derived topical solution.
The study, published in the International Journal of Technology, involved a total of 31 subjects with androgenetic alopecia, or “AGA.”
A “genetically predetermined disorder,” androgenetic alopecia is typified by “progressive loss of terminal hair of the scalp any time after puberty,” and it affects as many as half of males and females, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“It follows a characteristic distribution in both males and females. In males, hair loss is most prominent in the vertex and frontotemporal regions, while in women the frontal hairline is typically spared with diffuse hair loss at the crown and top of head, with loss often marked by a wider center part. This activity examines when this condition should be considered on differential diagnosis and how to properly evaluate for it. This activity highlights the role of the interprofessional team in caring for patients with this condition,” the NIH says.
For the study, the researchers examined 15 men and 16 women. Twenty-seven of the subjects were white, while two were Asian and one was defined as “mixed race.”
“They used a once-daily topical hemp extract formulation, averaging about 33 mg/day for 6 months. A hair count of the greatest area of alopecia was carried out before treatment was started and again after 6 months of treatment. To facilitate consistent hair count analysis, a permanent tattoo was placed at the point for maximum hair loss on the scalp,” the researchers explained in detailing their methodology.
“The subjects were also asked to qualitatively rate their psychosocial perception of ‘scalp coverage’ improvement after the study was completed. The qualitative scale included ‘very unhappy,’ ‘unhappy,’ ‘neutral,’ ‘happy,’ and ‘very happy.’ The subjects were photographed in a standard manner before and after the study. The photographs were compared for improvements in ‘scalp coverage’ by an independent physician. The qualitative scale included ‘none,’ ‘mild,’ ‘moderate,’ and ‘extensive’ improvement of scalp coverage.”
According to the researchers, the “results revealed that all subjects had some regrowth.”
“This ranged from 31.25% (from 16 to 21 hairs) to 2000% (from 1 to 21 hairs). The average increase was statistically significant 246% (15.07 hairs/cm2 increase) in men and 127% (16.06 hairs/cm2) in women,” they wrote. “There were no reported adverse effects. All subjects rated their psychosocial perception of the effects of the hair loss, as ‘happy’ or ‘very happy.’ Independent review of the photographs revealed evidence of ‘mild’ to ‘extensive’ scalp coverage improvements for all of the subjects.”
The researchers noted that while “the exact mechanism of therapeutic effects is not known,” tetrahydrocannabivarin and cannabidivarin were “most likely functioning as full CB1 receptor neutral antagonists and CBD is most likely functioning as a partial CB1 receptor antagonist and potentially through Wnt messaging.”
“All three cannabinoids were functioning as TRPV1 agonists. The addition of menthol through the peppermint extract is probably acting through promoting a rapid onset of anagen phase. This topical hemp formulation was superior to oral finasteride, 5% minoxidil once daily foam and CBD topical extract alone. Since this hemp extract works through novel mechanisms entirely different from both finasteride and minoxidil, it can be used in conjunction with these current drugs and would be expected to have synergistic effects. However, safety and efficacy of this combination would be to be evaluated,” they concluded.