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Researchers Examine Potential Natural Hair Restoration Treatments

balding male

Two recent studies from South Korea crossed our desk suggest that nature might offer promising options for people seeking ways to get hair growing again. One focuses on the aquatic plant known as Trapa japonica, which is also called water chestnut. The other study makes the case that probiotics from Kimchi can promote hair growth and reverse hair loss.

Let’s examine both of these in more detail:

The first study, titled, “Bacillus/Trapa japonica Fruit Extract Ferment Filtrate enhances human hair follicle dermal papilla cell proliferation via the Akt/ERK/GSK-3β signaling pathway,” comes from the Department of Biological science and Biotechnology, College of Life Science and Nano technology at Hannam University. The lead author is Kim Young-Min, who has been involved with a number of research efforts to identify natural products that might be effective at stimulating hair growth. For instance, he authored a 2014 study that suggested peppermint oil could spark the anagen phase of hair growth.

This latest research, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, studied the effect of extracts from Bacillus/Trapa japonica fruit on the production of human hair follicle dermal papilla cells, which regulate hair follicle development and growth. We’ve posted here quite a bit lately about efforts in laboratories around the world to perfect the development of dermal papilla cells. Most recently, we wrote about Hairclone’s efforts to develop techniques to isolate these cells so they can be cloned.

But who needs to clone the cells if the extract from the Japanese water chestnut causes the generation of new dermal papilla cells naturally? As Kim Young-Min described in his study, “Our results confirmed that TJFs (the fruit extract from Trapa japonica plants) enhance HDP (human dermal papilla) cell proliferation….”

The researchers note that experiments are ongoing to isolate the effective substances from TJFs, but at this point they don’t know exactly what those substances are. They are convinced of one thing, though:
“These substances will possess considerable potential as hair growth promoters.”

Turning to the other recent study, which suggests a popular food in South Korea could offer hope for people experiencing hair loss. Scientists at Dankook University were curious about the effects of probiotics in fermented vegetable dish, Kimchi. Could they promote hair growth?

Their study, “Do Kimchi and Cheonggukjang Probiotics as a Functional Food Improve Androgenetic Alopecia? A Clinical Pilot Study,” published in the World Journal of Men’s Health, documents what they observed from 23 participants who had been experiencing hair loss. Over a four-month period, the study subjects drank a product known as Mogut, which essentially is Kimchi juice, before breakfast and before bedtime.

Positive effects were observed right away. After the first month, 63 percent of subjects saw an increase in hair density and thickness, with hair count rising from 85 hairs per square centimeter to 90 hairs. There was little change after that, with the average hair count rising just slightly to 92 hairs per square centimeter. Interestingly, women seem to experience more benefit from the routine, with 74 percent showing improvement in both hair thickness and count. As noted in the study:

Overall, 93% of all patients demonstrated beneficial effects in terms of the hair parameters that were assessed (thickness and hair count); furthermore, the proportion of those who experienced no effects decreased over time (10.9% vs. 6.5%).

We at Arocha Hair Restoration frequently get a chuckle from reviewing the message boards when studies like this are hashed over, and this one was no exception. One person who goes by “Ottawaguy” posted:

“I spent 2 months in South Korea and although I tried kimchi a bunch of times I just can’t acquire a taste for it. I’d rather go bald than drink kimchi juice.”

The prospect of having unpleasant kimchi breath as you head off to bed isn’t the only reason to pause before stocking up on this juice. The researchers acknowledged that their study had some limitations, such as the fact that they did not have a placebo group. Also, despite the fact that their theory is that the probiotics cause improved blood flow to the scalp, they did not measure changes in blood flow to the scalp, which seems like a pretty significant miss.

There are lots of probiotics and it would be great to know with certainty whether they can have a positive impact on hair growth. We look forward to the next round of analysis to see if these natural options are too good to be true.