We all are used to drinking coffee and consuming caffeine-containing products to keep our energy levels high. But it turns out that it does more than just that. Recent medical studies have observed that caffeine can stimulate hair loss and slow down hair loss, even if applied topically to the affected area.
But before we go further into the study, let's first explain the natural hair growth cycle so you could better understand the problem in question. Our head in general normally has about 85% of hair going through the growth stage (which usually lasts between 2 and 6 years) and the remaining 15% being in the resting stage. In between there's a transition stage that takes a week in average during which the hair follicle's size is reduced and the hair shifts from the growth to resting stage.
The study aimed at learning the effects of caffeine on hair loss conducted by Dr. Fisher at the University of Jena involved patients who were suffering from the early stages of androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern hair loss. As the name suggests, this form of hair loss occurs primarily in men and involves a gradual hair thinning and balding in the hairline and crown areas of the head. There were four different groups of study participants, using placebo, typical nutrients, testosterone and caffeine.
The main surprise during the study was that caffeine was very effective in reducing the effects of DHT. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a specific hormone derived from testosterone, which when in abundance starts to shrink hair follicles and cause hair loss. Today it is seen as the main factor contributing to male pattern hair loss and drugs like Propecia are aimed at preventing the development of DHT in the body in order to stop hair loss. So it appeared that caffeine may provide the same effects as Propecia.
The only problem was finding a way for applying caffeine to the affected area, since the main research was done in laboratory test tubes. After experimenting, it was found that topical application allows for the caffeine to be absorbed into the skin. Scientists have added caffeine into shampoo and it was found that it takes at least two minutes for the caffeine to be effectively absorbed into the skin for the desired effect. Most of test subjects suffering from male pattern hair loss have shown improvements with a moderate dose of caffeine added into their typical shampoo.
However, if you're thinking about your daily coffee intake for the sake of hair loss treatment, you're going the wrong way. High doses of caffeine consumed internally have been observed to actually worsen hair loss. So it's only a matter of topical application with the right dosage. There are a lot of additional studies to be made as it's still unclear how exactly caffeine affects the hair follicle and what's the mechanism behind it. So don't rush to switching Propecia for coffee-based shampoos you might find on the Internet, since no-one knows how these new products will actually affect your hair condition.