Korean red ginseng, also known as the real man's carrot. (Photo by Audrey)
My experiment with tea tree oil has now been going on for about two months. To recap, the idea is to find out whether tea tree oil has the potential to affect hair growth in humans through a claimed antiandrogenic effect. If tea tree oil really is antiandrogenic - that is, if it inhibits the effects of male sex hormones - then it should increase hair growth on the scalp and reduce it elsewhere.
To see whether it works, I've been patiently mixing drops of tea tree oil into sesame oil and rubbing the resulting mixture on my leg daily. As of yet, I haven't seen any difference between the hair growth of one leg and the other. Why, you ask? Well, several possible explanations come to mind.
The first one is that I simply haven't been doing it long enough. It could take up to six months to see real results. And I admit that on some days I've forgotten to put the stuff on my leg. Still, I would've expected to at least see the hairs growing thinner or shorter.
The second possibility is that the mixture is not being properly absorbed into my skin. This would mean that I've chosen a poor carrier oil. However, sesame oil is widely used for massage and is reputed to penetrate the skin easily.
The third explanation is that the mixture is too weak. Until now, I've added 6-8 drops of tea tree oil into a few tablespoons of sesame oil and mixed them together. There is very little information available on the right dosage for this kind of experiments, so the proportions are largely the result of guesswork.
Since the third explanation seems plausible enough, I'm going to turn the heat up and start rubbing the tea tree oil straight into my skin without the carrier oil. I know, people will warn you against doing that, saying it will irritate the skin, but they're being sissies and I'm getting impatient. Besides, maybe a little skin irritation is just what this experiment needs.
And that's not where the madness ends, dear readers. Since the tea tree oil bottle is quite small, I'm only going to apply the on one side of my leg. The other side of the leg will be treated with the Korean red ginseng extract I bought earlier, which has been shown to increase hair growth in mice. Korean red ginseng apparently isn't antiandrogenic, so the effect, if there is one, must be due to something else - perhaps its claimed capability to promote cell activity.
Thus, the hypothesis to be proved or disproved by this experiment is that
- topically applied tea tree oil will decrease body hair growth (but increase scalp hair growth)
- topically applied Korean red ginseng extract will increase hair growth anywhere
For the hypothesis to be correct, the side with the tea tree oil should grow less hair and the side with the ginseng extract should grow more hair. So far, it's not looking so great, but maybe upping the ante will do the trick.
I'm sure the Korean red ginseng extract - an alcoholic extract - is also supposed to be diluted with something to prevent irritation, but it's too late to be wasting precious time and energy on such meaningless matters. I'm going at this Cajun style.