A new study found lignans from flax may have beneficial effects for the millions of men suffering from androgenetic alopecia (AGA), the most common form of hair loss often referred to as male-pattern baldness.
Hair loss is a common condition affecting 30 percent of men by the time they reach age 30 and more than 50 percent of men over the age of 50.
Over a six-month period, 10 men, between the ages of 20 and 70 and in varying stages of AGA, consumed one 250 mg capsule of LinumLife EXTRA, a standardized flax lignan extract. Photographs were used to document hair loss conditions at the beginning of the study. At the end of the test period, eight men reported modest improvement of their hair loss condition, one reported much improvement and one subject reported no effect. Initial effects were noticed, on average, within one to two months of starting supplementation with flax lignans and no side effects were reported. Throughout the study, the daily number of hairs lost decreased and 50 percent of subjects noticed a decrease in oil secretion in their scalp. More noticeable improvements were noted in subjects with more severe conditions of AGA.
Scientists don’t fully understand why some men get AGA and others don’t; however, it is known that genetics plays a large role in hair loss, as do male hormones. In the body, an enzyme called 5 alpha-reductase converts the male hormone testosterone into a more potent compound called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In hair follicles of men with AGA, the conversion of testosterone to DHT increases. Dihydrotestosterone appears to play a role in hair loss by causing hair follicles to shrink. As a result, hair follicles grow thinner hair until eventually there are none left.
‘Hair loss and thinning hair are frustrating conditions for men and women and most are fairly sensitive to the subject,’ said Jocelyn Mathern, R.D., Flax Lignan Information Bureau Advisory Board member. ‘This pilot study confirms earlier research on flax lignans with respect to their promise in the care of AGA and without the sometimes harmful effects of a prescription medication.’
While pharmaceutical drugs can inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, many men are turning to natural alternative treatments to avoid side effects that often are associated with prescription drugs. The first line of defense is a healthy, nutritious diet. A diet that provides adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids is important for healthy hair. Some health professionals recommend increased levels of biotin, a vitamin that is essential for overall health of hair and skin.
Research continues to show flax lignans inhibit the enzyme 5 alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT. Theoretically this should reduce the amount of DHT produced in the body. Flax lignans work by helping to balance the formation of male hormones that are responsible for hair loss.
‘To ensure they’re receiving the promising health benefits indicated by this study, men should make sure they’re getting beneficial amounts of flax lignans,’ said Mathern. She urges consumers to look for such products with a label that declares the amount of flax lignans, versus relying on a product that says it’s high in lignans.
The Flax Lignan Information Bureau, a central online consumer resource, educates consumers about how to get the recommended dosage of 50 to 150 mg secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, or SDG, per day. SDG is the main flaxseed lignan.
?Men can turn to the Flax Lignan Information Bureau for the latest research on hair loss and flax lignans as well as other their health benefits such as prostate health,? Mathern said.
The main sources of lignans in the diet come from whole grains, legumes, certain fruits and vegetables. However, flaxseed is known as the richest source of lignans, providing up to 800 times more than other tested plant sources. Because the typical Western diet is low in these foods, many individuals do not consume enough lignans daily to obtain their health benefits. According to a recent estimate, Americans consume less than 1 mg lignans per day. Therefore, there is a large gap between the amounts of lignans consumed and the amount needed for health promotion. This gap can be filled by consuming supplements containing flax lignans, one to three tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day, or a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.