5 Alpha Reductase
5 alpha reductase is an enzyme produced in the prostate, adrenal glands and scalp that metabolizes the male hormone testosterone into DHT(dihydrotestosterone). DHT is a highly active form of testosterone known to stimulate prostate growth and scalp hair loss. DHT is also responsible for male behavioral characteristics, including aggression and sex drive.
Male or female pattern baldness, known as Androgenetic alopecia (AGA), is a common form of hair loss in men and women. AGA is caused by an overproduction of 5 alpha reductase and DHT in the hair follicles. DHT can cause hair follicles to shrink and enter a permanent dormant state. This condition is more common in men but may also occur in women during menopause, due to low estrogen levels.
Nutrients such as saw palmetto, phytosterol complex, beta sitosterol, green tea extract, and l-lysine act as natural 5 alpha reductase inhibitors. These natural botanicals can bind with 5 alpha reductase and prevent it from metabolizing testosterone into DHT. They don't have the hormonal side effects associated with many prescription hair loss medications. Natural 5 alpha reductase inhibitors can reduce and even stop further hair loss.
Studies have found that saw palmetto, an extract derived from the berries of the Serenoa repens tree, can block 5 alpha reductase in the hair follicles. A placebo-controlled, double-blind study showed that 60 percent of male subjects with mild to moderate AGA experienced improvement in hair loss, when treated with saw palmetto extract and beta-sitosterol (a phytosterol found in many plants and grains).
Green tea contains a potent polyphenol antioxidant, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which inhibits 5 alpha reductase. A study found that 33 percent of rodents with hair loss had significant hair regrowth, when treated with green tea extract in their drinking water.
L-lysine, an essential amino acid, has been shown to inhibit 5 alpha reductase. A double-blind study reports that non-anemic, iron deficient women with increased hair shedding experienced significant improvement in hair loss when treated with l-lysine and iron therapy.
These natural 5 alpha reductase inhibitors are found in the nutritional supplement, Advecia®. Using these 5 alpha reductase inhibitors can have a significant role in treating hair loss.
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Life Extension eds., Disease Prevention and Treatment, 4th ed. (Hollywood, Florida: Life Extension Media, 2003), Balding, online: