Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kudzu Is an Anti-Androgen and Hair Growth Promoter

Kudzu Is an Anti-Androgen and Hair Growth Promoter
Kudzu will grow over anything in its path. (Photo by jjjj56cp)

In traditional Chinese Medicine, kudzu – a quick-growing vine native to China and Japan – is commonly used to treat alcoholism and hangover. This may be due to its potential to increase blood levels of alcohol when taken with an alcoholic beverage. Indeed, at least one study found that giving kudzu to heavy drinkers resulted in lower alcohol consumption (link).

The name kudzu encompasses at least five different species of the plant genus Pueraria. While all of them have very similar properties and are can be used for their medicinal purposes, the most often mentioned species are Pueraria lobata and Pueraria thomsonii. The various species contain a significant amount of isoflavones, which may at least partly be behind their use as a treatment for alcoholism.

Isoflavones, however, also have other uses. Because of their slight estrogenic effect, isoflavones from sources such as soy have been studied as a cure for hair loss. The idea is that isoflavones can inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT. Since DHT binds to androgen receptors more potently than testosterone, DHT is a major cause of hair loss in genetically predisposed individuals.

Although the root part of the plant is often used, a recent study showed that the flowers of Pueraria thomsonii were much more effective in inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase than the roots of Pueraria lobata (~51% vs. ~7%). The flowers were powdered and made into a 50% ethanol extract, which was then applied onto the backs of mice after a testosterone treatment (link).

Applying the flower extract improved hair growth in a dose-dependent manner. The mice that got the largest dose (5 mg/day) after testosterone had a hair growth score similar to the control mice that were not treated with testosterone. In other words, the kudzu treatment reversed almost all of the hair loss effects of testosterone.

The authors also applied the extract on C3H/He mice without the testosterone to see whether it would promote hair growth independently of an anti-androgenic effect. The higher dose was almost as effective as minoxidil in promoting hair growth. Although the mechanism was not clear, the authors note that the flowers have been shown to have an angiogenetic effect.

Like soy, kudzu contains significant amounts of the isoflavone daidzein, daidzin and genistein. However, kudzu also contains an isoflavone called puerarin, which is not found in soy. Furthermore, Pueraria thomsonii flowers contain both soyasapones (one of the main components of soy beans) and kaikasaponins (not found in soy), making it rather unique.

I've seen a couple of soaps and shampoos that list kudzu as an ingredient, but I doubt that the amounts are large enough to truly make a difference. If you want to try kudzu topically, you might have better luck buying an extract in powder form and making your own topical. Another possibility is simply taking it orally. There is, after all, evidence that dietary isoflavones promote hair growth.

For more information on hair growth, see these posts:

Biotin Goes Back on the Menu
Soy Isoflavones and Chili Pepper for Hair Growth – Experiment Update
Topical Retinoids Increase Hair Growth in Most People
Zinc Pyrithione Reduces Shedding and Moderately Promotes Hair Growth

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9 kommenttia:

Money Blogging Review August 17, 2011 at 5:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous August 27, 2011 at 9:00 PM  

Thank you for your article and blog.

However I'm curious about one thing.

Dutasteride is probably the most effective 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor out there. The problem is its corresponding side effects.

Why isn't there focus on the topical use of dutasteride?

If there was an efficient way of delivering dutasteride topically, wouldn't that solve the baldness problem?

I know that dutasteride is available as gel capsules. If I wanted it to be absorbed by my scalp how would I do it, and much should I use?
I am very interested in trying this.
Have you ever considered this or have any thoughts on the subject?

JLL August 28, 2011 at 8:12 PM  


There's been a lot of speculation on topical dutasteride/finasteride on various forums, but so far I haven't seen evidence that it actually works. I have no idea what the correct amount would be in a topical formulation.

semsons.group September 5, 2011 at 6:22 PM  


a long term visitor here. I just wanted to point out a very interesting link on baldness that might interest you.


JLL September 5, 2011 at 7:21 PM  


Thanks for the link, seems interesting - although the evidence for hair growth seems a bit lacking. None of the commenters had seen new hair growth, for example.

I find low-dose naltrexone interesting for life extension purposes, however. Too bad it's not available without prescription, and alldaychemist.com refuses to ship to Finland anymore, so I don't have anywhere to order it from ATM.


semsons.group September 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM  


the theory behind the components makes some sense. Although we have the 'little' problem of the lack of evidence... and I'm tempted to prepare a concoction with menthol, curcumin, capsaicin and castor oil. Given it's topic, I guess it would not hurt too much. What do you think?.

Best. Santiago

gwarm September 8, 2011 at 2:36 AM  

Have you heard of Danny Roddy? http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/3694/danny-roddy-says-eat-your-way-to-healthy-hair-episode-445/ In the podcast he says there is more to DHT

What do you think of his cortisol posit? (problem with fasting and hair?)

this website October 13, 2012 at 9:02 AM  

The mice that got the largest dose (5 mg/day) after testosterone had a hair growth score similar to the control mice that were not treated with testosterone.

Anonymous April 26, 2014 at 8:50 PM  

Can a kudzu glycerine extract (glycerite) be apllied directly on the scalp ?

Will the Kudzu reach the hair follicles ?


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