The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. (Photo by Andreas Adermark)
I've written so many posts on soy isoflavones and hair growth that I figured it's time to start another experiment to see for myself whether the claims are true.
Even though it looks like soy isoflavones alone are sufficient to increase dermal levels of IGF-1 and thus promote hair growth, the most effective combination seems to be isoflavones and capsaicin. If you haven't seen the pictures from that paper for some reason, I recommend taking a look at the latter link. This combination is the one I will be testing.
The soy isoflavones supplement I have is by NOW Foods. It contains 60 mg of isoflavones (genistein, daidzein and glycitein) per capsule. This is slightly less than the 75 mg used in the human study, but since I don't want to take 120 mg per day, it'll have to do.
As for capsaicin, I'm going with the natural route and adding chili pepper to my foods during the experiment. There are capsaicin supplements too, but since I like spicy foods anyway, I don't think supplements are worth the extra money in this case.
The only problem is that it's pretty difficult to estimate the amount of capsaicin; a tablespoon of ground chili will contain anywhere between 0.8 mg and 480 mg of capsaicin. In the study, 7 mg per day was consumed, so if I manage to eat a tablespoon, I should have decent odds of ingesting at least as much capsaicin.
As you can see, this is not an exact replica of the human study, but I think my own experiment will be very close to what other people might try at home. The study lasted for 5 months, which is how long you should give any treatment before realistically expecting results. I will post an update after I run out of capsules and we'll see what happens then.
Keep in mind that this is not the only thing I have going on at the moment that might affect hair growth. Though not technically experiments, I've been using ketoconazole and piroctone olamine shampoos regularly, because the science behind them looks pretty good. I'm also consuming some ground flax seeds every now and then, which could be beneficial for hair.
Since I started to use these three things, I've noticed a slight decrease in the number of hairs lost daily. Whereas I counted 60-80 before, I now seem to lose about 40-50 hairs daily. Both of these figures are within the normal range, so these additions to my health regiment are mostly about preventing (or at least delaying) any future hair loss. Still, if the hair growth promoting effect of isoflavones and capsaicin is as strong as the rodent and human studies show, I would expect some visible changes even in people without androgenic alopecia.
Lastly, my experiments with retinoids and an Ayurvedic topical called Nutrich oil are still running. I'm applying both of them on my temples, one on the left and the other on the right, to see if they increase hair growth. So far I have not noticed any dramatic changes, so I don't think they will obfuscate the results of this experiment too much.
I'll keep you updated on how things go. Meanwhile, if you've tried soy isoflavones or capsaicin, drop a comment and share your experiences!
For more information on hair growth, see these posts:
BioSil, JarroSil & Beer – Silicon Experiment Conclusion
Emu Oil vs. Hair Again® Topical Gel: Hair Growth Battle Conclusion
Eclipta Alba Extract Grows Hair Quicker than Minoxidil
Do Flax Lignans Reduce Hair Loss from MPB?