Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/17/2022
Balding. It’ll scare any dude exiting adolescence and entering adulthood.
Baldingaffects more than 50 million American men and 30 million American women annually. Among men ages 18 to 49, 42 percent experience moderate to extensive hair loss — and that number only increases as we age.
In this article, we want to break down for you available natural hair growth treatments for hair loss — specifically, their effectiveness in comparison to over-the-counter remedies to male-pattern hair loss.
Male-pattern hair loss, or androgenic alopecia, is caused by a number of factors.
First, researchers have come to the overall conclusion that the main source of male-pattern hair loss is related to hormones called androgens.
Androgens are hormones that contribute to a man’s sexual characteristics, but they also regulate the rate at which a man’s hair can grow.
When it comes to what specifically contributes to hair loss, the jury is still somewhat out.
The reason researchers haven’t come to a definitive conclusion as to why some people lose their hair over others is that there are so many factors at play.
Among the factors contributing to hair loss are environmental exposure, genetics, medications, nutrition, diet and others.
Above all the factors contributing to hair loss, however, scientists have expressed with some confidence that a contributing factor to male-pattern hair may reside within familial structures.
Translation: if hair loss runs in your family, odds are, you’re going to experience it, too.
Another critical, contributing factor to hair loss is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is a strong primary male androgen, which the body produces as a byproduct of testosterone.
DHT is found most commonly in men. High enough levels of DHT can both shrink your follicles and disrupt the hair growth cycle, which is how it affects hair loss.
Knowing what we know about DHT’s impact on male pattern baldness, a solution to slowing balding in its tracks is blocking DHT.
Since so many men suffer from male-pattern hair loss, and since hair loss comes in so many forms, it’s important to be proactive and smart when combatting it — whether it’s occurring in real-time, or whether it’s coming down the line.
To go around conventionally standard hair loss therapies, some seek out natural options, otherwise known as complementary and alternative medicine — or CAM for short.
It’s understandable why some folks would want to seek out what they consider natural, safer alternatives to addressing their current or forthcoming hair loss.
Go to any pharmacy or grocery store and you’ll see a veritable potpourri of natural alternatives to dealing with male-pattern hair loss.
One popular way to naturally go about changing your hair game is through your diet.
There are a number of ways people suggest you can change your diet for the better to potentially boost hair health.
Some of them include:
Eliminate food allergens from your diet, such as corn, soy and preservatives.
Consume food that’s high in vitamin B.
Eat more leafy greens.
Go for more antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries and tomatoes, as well as vegetables like peppers and squash.
Eating less red meat.
Eating “healthier” oils like olive oil.
Avoid tobacco and caffeine.
Avoid trans-fats, which you’ll typically find in foods like baked goods and fried foods.
People have used natural, herbal supplements to assist their hair vitality — or prevent hair loss — for centuries.
For example, ginkgo biloba, an antioxidant-rich herb, is a natural product that — via one study on mice — was found to promote hair growth.
Here are some other natural or home remedies for hair loss:
Amino Acids (such as cysteine, oral L-cystine, lysine, methionine and arginine)
Pumpkin Seed Gel
VitaminsD; B7; E Derivatives (Tocotrienols)
It’s worth noting, however, that these “natural remedies” and herbal supplements by and large lack sufficient data to back up their efficacy.
One natural remedy in particular that has drawn a lot of attention lately (and that deserves a bit more of our attention) is saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto is used for hormonal support. It’s an extract from berries from the saw palmetto tree. Saw palmetto is believed to block DHT at the hair follicle.
Since hormones are contributing factors to hair growth and hair loss, saw palmetto is considered a solid agent in addressing male-pattern hair loss.
Studies that scrutinize the efficacy of saw palmetto in addressing hair loss have shown that men return between twelve and twenty-four weeks with thicker hair than the hair density with which they began the study.
One of the most popular natural remedies for hair loss is ingesting amino acids. Among the most popular amino acids for men to take to combat hair loss are cysteine and lysine.
When it comes to cysteine, some promising research has shown that, when taken in conjunction with retinol, people saw an increase in the strength and rigidity between keratin strands.
Researchers in one small pilot study looked at a group of 36 patients and administered a combination therapy of l-cystine and retinol.
At the end of the study, the researchers found an increase in overall hair density of 6.9 percent.
What that means is strengthened keratin which is the fibrous protein that constitutes the density (or lack thereof) of strands of hair. When taken in conjunction with retinol and that amino acid cysteine, means a strengthened head of hair.
However, it's worth noting that while the results look promising, the study was small, and more research needs to be done.
Lysine has yielded some promising results, too.
One study found that when lysine was taken in conjunction with supplements of iron, vitamin B, Vitamin C, biotin and selenium, there was a 39 percent reduction in hair shedding among participants over the course of six months.
However, it’s important to note that researchers can’t pin the participants’ hair health solely on the use of lysine.
In one study, caffeine lotion and caffeine shampoo were used to gauge their impact on hair density. In that study (although the caffeine concentration is unknown) both the caffeine lotion and caffeine shampoo yielded positive results.
Seventy-five percent of the patients in the study found the caffeine lotion and caffeine shampoo yielded positive results for their hair health after two months of consistent application.
What? You thought acupuncture was just used for stress relief?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles at specific points on the body. The purpose of the use of the needles is purely for therapy.
When it comes to acupuncture and hair loss, acupuncture may increase blood circulation, which in turn may help stimulate hair follicles.
However, scientific research in acupuncture and any of the benefits it claims to espouse are still developing, and more work needs to be done before we'll know anything for sure.
In fact, we should remind everyone that while some of these natural remedies do have some promising research behind them, more research is definitely needed before anyone can say anything definitive about their efficacy.
Which brings us to the broader topic at hand when it comes to natural remedies for hair regrowth.
“I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.”
“Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger!”
“When I show my barber my progress, he is always in disbelief. I have to recommend Hims to any guy who’s experiencing thinning.”
“Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.”
“I noticed a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.”
“Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!”
“I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!”
“In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.”
“4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.”
“I’m a 34 year old father of two and have been using Hims for over a year now. My hair is back to what it was in my mid twenties.”
It’s important to know that all these listed remedies come with some downsides.
First and foremost, complementary and alternative medicines for male-pattern hair loss are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
That means the efficacy of these very supplements isn’t always well-researched and proven. Saw Regenix somewhere?
You might think that you’re shelling out dough for a miracle cure when, in fact, you're spending a lot of money for a little bang for your buck.
Additionally, because supplements aren’t regulated, there’s no way to really know what you’re buying.
While natural remedies have demonstrated some promise in clinical trials, all of the conclusions by researchers point to the necessity of further data accumulation.
And while some elements of the health and wellness industry want to sell folks a bill of goods, others have notoriously less-than-honest intentions.
So, if natural remedies aren’t necessarily the solution people are hoping for, what does work?
Luckily, there’s plenty of help out there in the fight against hair loss.
While some natural ingredients like saw palmetto have some solid scientific backing behind them (we actually use saw palmetto in our hair thickening shampoo), there are plenty of other science-backed, FDA-approved options to consider.
Finasteride is a pharmacologic agent used to prevent male-pattern hair loss.
Its purpose is to promote scalp regrowth and prevent further hair loss by blocking DHT in your body. Most encouragingly, finasteride is thoroughly researched.
In one 1999 review, researchers found that 83 percent of men who used it over two years saw no change in their hair count. Those results would sound terrible under normal circumstances, but “no change” in terms of hair loss means just that — they didn’t lose more hair.
In a larger-scale clinical trial, researchers looked at a group of over 1,500 men and found that, after two years of use, the subjects’ average hair counts increased from 876 hairs per square inch to 1,014 hairs per square inch — a 16 percent increase.
Another proven remedy in fighting hair loss is minoxidil.
Minoxidil was first studied as an antihypertensive medication. However, while studying it, researchers found that their patients experienced noticeable amounts of hair regrowth.
As a result , healthcare providers began prescribing minoxidil to patients who wanted to address their hair loss.
Though its mechanism of action still isn’t completely clear, the results are.
For instance, one 2004 study looked at 984 male patients with androgenetic alopecia and found that a whopping 97.1 percent of men who took minoxidil saw either an improvement or no change in their overall hair growth.
Most importantly, the consumption of minoxidil has proven to be safe and effective by the FDA.
While hair loss seems like an unavoidable part of the aging process, it doesn’t have to define the aging process. In fact, hair loss is something that can be stopped in its tracks — even reversed.
There are many options when it comes to strengthening your hair game, some of which are still under scientific review and demand more research and data. Some of those options fall under the realm of ‘natural remedies.’
There’s good news, however — really good news.
When looking at the data, it’s clear that the proven remedies — such as minoxidil or finasteride — are excellent ways to strengthen your hair density, keep your hair on your noggin — or even have it grow back.
Most importantly, these remedies have been proven safe to the consumer.
If you’re ready to give one of these proven remedies a try, check out our hair loss treatments to beat balding today.