Monday, 29 June 2009

Hair Growth Myths - Miconazole, Birth Control etc

There are many naturals who want to grow long hair. Many want to do this fast!! Today, I would like to discuss the science of long hair. I have just learned now that nothing is out of bounds for naturals from using KY for moisture (not a bad idea) to using birth control and yeast cream to increase hair growth (not a great idea).

Science by its very nature is not static, what I say today may change in future. I can, however, report that currently NOTHING can accelerate hair growth. To define this better, I mean that nothing can make your hair grow 2 inches in one month if it is not capable itself of doing this (My husband’s hair actually does grow at just over 2 inches a month in the summer - I'm responsible for the hair cuts and the aim is to go as short as possible so I don't have to cut it again - never works ).

Can a change in diet change the growth rate?

Actually studies say that changes to a normal diet do not affect growth rate. This means increasing or using supplements when you are already having a healthy diet will not affect your hair growth rate . In fact changes to hair growth are most commonly seen with extreme starvation (Clin Exp Dermatol;27(5):396-404, 2002).

Are supplements not useful?

Supplements can be useful, for example iron and amino acid L-Lysine can help with hair shedding (not growth). However excessive vitamin E can lead to slower hair growth and excessive vitamin A can lead to hair loss. (Clin Exp Dermatol;27(5):396-404, 2002)

So why do people swear by miconazole nitrate(yeast cream)?

I think this is purely experimental. The problem is not many people do proper experiments, nobody measures their hair growth before and after. Nobody considers that hair sometimes grows faster in the summer than the winter. There are too many inconsistencies to make a good judgement.

It is actually normal to have yeast and bacteria on our skin and scalp. I think it is not good to medicate yourself if you are not unwell.

What about birth control?

Actually this is more complicated than it seems, female hormones in women especially estrogens are known to surpress hair growth but increase the growing phase duration and decrease the resting phase (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 122, 840–842, 2004 ). The effect is different in men. Again, birth control is a medication, use it only as directed.

But what about emu oil, grapeseed oil and even garlic?

These have all been used for treatment of hair loss (mainly alopecia areata) which is very different from just wanting to accelerate hair growth. New growth is usually just regrowth of hair from the follicles.

Leila over at BGLH asks - What about MSM?

There are studies on sheep that show enhanced hair growth. There are also studies on horses which show no difference in otherwise healthy horses. I am yet to come across human studies at all, most reports are from practitioners who say that the supplement may aid in normal growth by ensuring sufficient sulphur supplies (not accelerated growth).

So nothing, really nothing?

Yes...well actually one author had a tongue firmly in cheek suggestion that a head injury could cause increased growth but this is not recommended (The Journal of Cell Biology, Vol. 176, No. 7, 891a,2007 )

So, What is your view on the growth enhancement topic?

15 comments:

  1. A head injury....A HEAD INJURY?!!
    Yeast cream and birth control are staying FAR AWAY from my hair. I've never even heard of those for hair growth either.

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  2. I hadn't either Alice! It was a comment on the KY post which made me aware that actually both of these are actually well discussed on many hair forums!

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  3. I bought MTG and MegaTek after reading rave reviews. My edges are thinning, and in all honesty, that is what I wanted to fill in. I don't use the MegaTek because I am apparently protein sensitive, and I use the MTG on my edges on occasion. I can't tell if it's working or not =/

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  4. @nonfictions - Megatek is just a hair conditioner so I can't see how that would accelerate hair growth. Perhaps fill in breaks in the cuticle but not actually grow the hair.

    Patience and gentleness is all you need to grow the hair back. Most of us do not grow hair like my husband. It will take atleast 6 months for you to see a difference.

    I'm off to google MTG because I haven't heard of it.

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  5. If I take anything internally it's to help alleviate skin issues. :-)*right now cod liver fish oil*
    What I do fixate my attentions on*besides skin* are methods in which to retain hair. I don't really think its breaking off bad *tiny curls anymore* but I do work for the day that not one single strand of hair will come out of my hair but maybe once in a while. Its possible. I say this because when I was permed I swear I shed maybe one strand a week, it sounds crazy but whatever my beautician at the time used overseas just worked. *ironically in the UK* ^_^

    So I'm all about using something to strengthen my hair. I think hair does fine with growing we just loose so much sometimes we just look like we are at a standstill. On an added note, I heard grape seed oil was supposed to be good with strengthening the hair? *I assume you when you mean it treats hair loss that it possibly does* LOL

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  6. Thank you so much for this post! Especially the part about inconsistencies in people's experimentation. It's funny because I'm a member of a popular hair forum and I've yet to see any evidence of results that show more than normal growth from any "aid". But people will swear up and down that they've achieved some kind of extra growth. And then they show pictures and I have to wonder if they're delusional. I don't believe in growth aids at all but obviously they're seeing something I'm not.

    I think some people want long hair so badly that they are willing to do anything for it. It's a bit scary at times.

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  7. i agree jc. nothing can grow hair. if a nutritional deficiency is in play then addressing that may help. that's why supplements can be helpful, cuz most of our diets suck! i firmly believe in a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. not only will it help your hair but everything else!

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  8. I have to disagree with this post. I have been natural for almost all of my life so I know my hair well. However, I always wore braids wit extensions because i felt my hair was too thin for my mega-large cranium. When I decided that I wanted to wear my hair itself, i spent a lot of time looking for things to grow my hair thicker. I landed on Megatek, and as someone who knows my hair well, i know that it has increased the growth rate as well as thickened my hair which was what i wanted it for originally.

    I am not a scientist, but I have done a lot of research and I have a theory of how it works. Let me know if there could be validity in what I'm saying.
    I know that when people grow, the bone does not stretch, but cartilage does and then hardens into bone. You mentioned the process of hair growing from the scalp one as keratinization? saying that the hair hardens as it grows out. I think that because Megatek is a protein rich scalp treatment, it gets into the follicle with the new hair that has yet to harden, and somehow bonds to it thus creating more hair and thus faster growth.

    I have no proof of this, it was just my deduction from all the reading I've done. but could you perhaps give this theory some consideration, because i sometimes use Megatek all over my hair as a protein treatment, and it works well, but I definitely have noticed that the two inches or so close to my scalp (the portion that has grown since I've been using the product) are MUCh thicker than the rest of my hair so I think that they have grown differently, rather than just ben conditioned well.

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  9. Hi LovintheBlessin,

    I do like to see contrasting opinions, so your comment is very welcome. I only report what is scientifically proven. I don't think that this means that your observations are invalid but it does mean that I need to see conclusive firm evidence (hair growth/thickness measurements in numbers as well as untreated vs treated hair) otherwise what you report remains anecdotal.

    Your theory on megatek getting into the follicle is not one I can support. There is no evidence that I could find to show that hydrolyzed protein behaves in this way. Furthermore, the way cells make proteins is quite unique. Each cell contains DNA initially and DNA is basically a protein code. The actual protein is formed by the cell lining up the amino acids in the order dictated by the DNA. This is sort of like linking up a chain with individual links. It would seem highly unusual to me if the cell chose to pick up a small piece of protein (containing random amino acids) instead. I'm not saying it is not possible but I do think it is improbable. I really would have to see good evidence to believe this.

    If you asked me for my take on your observations, I would say

    1. I do certainly think that if you are using a protein treatment regularly and especially if you are not washing it out,it is likely that your hair could feel and look thicker due to the protein depositing on your hair. This may explain the thicker strands.

    2. Due to the protein depositing in the weak spots, I think the hair could possibly resist breakage. This may therefore make it appear that your hair grows faster meaning if you experience less breakage, then the overall length of your hair increases and it looks longer).

    In all my time of researching this topic there is no good evidence to suggest that any substance can accelerate hair growth whether applied topically or taken internally. I will definitely report back should there be evidence presented to me that this is possible.

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  10. This response is several years too late....

    Regarding the Miconazole, I think the Youtubers who used it as a 'growth aid' did not understand that they were treating a yeast overgrowth of the scalp condition that was preventing their hair from growing. I read their posts regarding their symptoms prior to taking miconazole and it is similar to those suffering from yeast-related inflammatory issues.

    Miconazole nitrate was used to help reduce scalp inflammation due to seborrheic dermatitis (SD) but now antifungals such as Ketoconazole, steroids, and other drugs are used for this purpose.

    I like your blog!!!
    -CEPJ80

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  11. What about egg?

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  12. As a young woman I had an operation in which I could not eat for a week or so and was fed intravenously; I was in the hospsital a month and my hair grew two inches and really thickened up. I also grew hair on my legs, which I never did before. So there are things which can speed up hair growth. I am not just sure what it is. Wish I did!

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  13. Sooo, is the mini-pill I'm taking slowing down my hair growth?!

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  14. hi! can u plz tel me any effective method for hair thickening as i m experiencing baldness of hair at places & thinning of hair..i fear i may loose all hair to baldness in my near future..i found this site really appreciating..plz help!!

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