The Many Ways to Defeat Male Pattern Baldness
Are you ready to put Super Laser Power to work for you? Are you ready for
the Little Woman to once again be able to run her fingers through your hair once
again? Well, it can happen for you. Most guys will probably tell you
that the most humiliating part of aging is was losing those golden locks.
So how can we regain lost youth from the tip of our toes to the top of our
Well, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it if you ask me. Most guys have heard of Proscar/Finasteride and
Rogaine/Minoxidil as science-based hair loss solutions. However, what guys
are not told, usually until it's too late, is that these have very nasty and
fairly common side effects, including erectile dysfuntion and arrythmias,
respectively. (See below for more details.) In addition, real life results seem to be
significantly less than the studies. Consumer Reports found that only 27%
and 4% of respondents felt that
Propecia and Rogaine, respectively, were "very effective".. 
Need to boost your Nitric Oxide naturally through food, drink and supplements? Check out Lee Myer's book here:
The Peak Erectile Strength Diet
Or do you need the most comprehensive testosterone book in Amazon? Here it is:
Natural Versus Testosterone Therapy
CAUTION: If you're currently taking medications, you should
definitely check with your
doctor or pharmacist if they could be causing or exacerbating your thinning
hair. Many blockbuster drug categories, including angiotensins,
beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, diuretics and blood thinners, can negatively
effect hair. 
So is there no hope for us with Scalp Dysfunction Syndrome? See my link on
Hair Loss Factors for more natural solutions and protection.
Below I have outlined the approaches that have achieved good success in the
research, although the pharmaceuticals are downright dangerous as I cover below:
Solution #1: Low Level Laser
Of course, surgical hair replacement is always an option to restoring your hair.
It is, however, quite expensive, time consuming and physically uncomfortable.
The hot new cosmetic technology involves firing up a good ol' fashioned laser
beam and directing that right at the top of your head. (Actually, it's a bunch
of laser beams.) Who would have thought that laser technology might one
day turn you back into a rock star?
The treatment methodology is actually called LLLT, for Low Level Laser Therapy
and produced solid results in one recent study where the number of hairs and the
strength of existing hairs
was increased.  What else could you ask for, eh?
It takes about a half dozen treatments to generally stop the progression of hair
loss and a half dozen more until you start seeing those precious new buds
breaking out of the soil. (If you've been bald for ten years, don't expect a
miracle. This is for those who still have some warriors on the moutain
Side effects are minimal, sometimes a little redness and tenderness, and that's
about it. Treatments are usually done a few days or few weeks apart. The
cost is not cheap - around $2,000 - $4,000 for a full year of treatments - but
doable for many guys.
NOTE: The study showed that this was effective with both males and females.
Solution #2: Caffeine Shampoo
Quite often in the world of health, the counterintuitive is actually correct.
This applies to the case of caffeine as a hair growth stimulant. Caffeine
is known as a vasoconstrictor, i.e. it decreases blood flow which is generally
bad for hair growth. However, in vitro
(lab/test tube) results show that caffeine is a potent stimulator of hair
growth. Basically, one study removed follicles from the scalps of men with
male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) and put them in a test tube with and
without caffeine.  Those in the presence of caffeine grew much more rapidly.
Why, you may ask, am I losing my hair when I have a couple of cups of coffee
every morning? Dr. Weil estimates that you would have to down 60 cups of
joe to deliver enough caffeine to your hair follicles for this to work, so the
only realistic solution is a topical one applied directly to the skin. 
Currently, there are several manufacturers creating caffeine shampoos that seem
to be having some positive reviews. Revita is an example on Amazon:
Revita Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo (2).
And I have also read that there is a Swiss company making a line called Alpecin
as well. There is a study that shows that shampoos can effectively deliver
caffeine to the scalp, but so far there has been no study on whether or not
caffeine actually gets rid of male pattern baldness or not. In the
meantime, you can try it if you like...
Solution #3: Saw Palmetto with Beta-Sisterol
A small, but
well-designed study showed
that a combination of saw palmetto and beta-sisterol results in 60% of patients
with improved hair growth.  These are high numbers, indeed, and saw palmetto
likely will help with enlarged prostate and other male issues as well. Life
Extension, for example, puts together a product that clearly tries to target
this study, i.e. it contains both extracts of saw palmetto and beta-sisterol.
CAUTION: Although side effects are much less pronounced than Proscar or
Propecia, some men report some loss of erectile strength and other similar side
effects while using Saw Palmetto.
Solution #4: Nizoral (Ketoconazole)
One study demonstrated that ketoconazole, the primary active ingredient
in Nizoral Shampoo, can maintain hair and actually increase its thickness,
strength and thus negate the "thinning" effects of aging.  Can it
actually grow hair? So far the only evidence for that is one study on
Solution #5: Zinc Pyrithione Shampoo
Of course, Zinc can potentially boost testosterone and reduce estrogen. But
did you know that one form of zinc may be able to put hair on your head as well.
Yes, indeed, one study shows real, live, actual hair growth from use of a zinc
pyrithione shampoo.  Both Selsun and Head and Shoulders make products
with this ingredient: Head & Shoulders
Selsun Salon Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo.
Better buy a blow dryer and brush while you're at it.
Solution #6: Finasteride, Proscar or Propecia
Any discussion of legitimate hair loss treatments has to begin and end with Finasteride, i.e. Propecia or Proscar
Lite, because it's hard to beat its clinical results. For
study shows that 80% of men were helped with additional hair regrowth is
actually achieved.  In this same study it beat Minoxidil's 50% cure
rate rather handily.
The problem with finasteride is that it works too good: it lowers DHT
throughout the body when, in actuality, all that is needed is for DHT to be
lowered in the scalp. This lowering of DHT systemically can cause muliple
side effects for guys. In fact, the side effect profile gets rather ugly
FINASTERIDE SIDE EFFECTS: The biggest concerns with finasteride,
a.k.a. Propecia or Proscar,
are erection-related and pregnancy-related. First of all, every decent
source that I know of warns against a pregnant woman coming into any kind of
contact with this drug as the data strongly suggests that it can cause birth
defects in the male fetus. This is scary indeed, because the majority of guys
using finasteride are with females who are capable of becoming pregnant even if
the likelihood is remote.
The other concern with finasteride is the commond side effect of erectile
dysfunction and loss of libido. One study reported the percentage of men with
such side effects to be about 15%, which is a very high number indeed. 
However, this documented that there is a strong "nocebo" effect from doctors
"this drug may cause loss of libido and impotence". Apparently, those
words from a doctors can create quite the negative effect in many guys!
The well-known PLESS study reported a smaller figure of about 8% in the first
year decreasing to 5% in years 2-4.  In fact, what is interesting is that 5%
was also reported by the placebo group and so we are left the counterintuitive
finding that fnasteride start out with a negative side effect that essentially
disappears after a year or two.
And that's not the end of the story. About one in fifty men on Propecia will
experience permanent erectile loss due to androgen deficiency and/or resistance.
This amounts to chemical castration and I cover the symptoms and one's readers
description of it in my link on The Risks of Propecia.
Solution #7: Minoxidil or Rogaine
Studies show that
number 2 in the hair repair category has got to be Minoxidil (Rogaine). 
Minoxidil induces hair growth in the 30%-50% range and thus is quite effective
and with greatly reduced side effects when given in a 5% topical solution.
Minoxidil also has the significant advantage of being over the counter.
What about side effects? Interestingly enough, minoxidil actually got its
start as a blood pressure medication. It appears to mimic your friend and
mine, Nitric Oxide, and derive its magical powers from the same. The side
effects, when used for hypertension, are somewhat scary, including edema in
about 7% of patients and altered brain waves. 
However, when applied topically on the scalp, the side effect profile is very low
- please read the Caution section below! -
with by far the most common reported issue being dryness of the scalp and/or or
dandruff. The reason for this is probably that minoxidil must immersed in
a base of alcohol and/or propylene glycol, both of which can cause drying of the
skin. You can combat this oftentimes by simply using one of the
shampoo/conditioner combos that tend to moisturize the scalp.
CAUTION: Minoxidil, in tablet form, is actually a powerful antihypertensive
agent and, as such, can cause drops in blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.
This is less common with topical applications on the scalp but can definitely
occur. Discuss immediately with your doc if you have any such symptoms. I
personally shy away from minoxidil, because it is notorious (in tablet form) for
increasing heart attack risk in lab animals.  That same study found
that minoxidil actually changed the ventricular (heart chamber) weights and
coronary artery occlusions. Again, these changes in the heart are not
supposed to happen with topical minoxidil but does in some guys using only a
lower dose 2%
solution. . "Don't mess with Mother Nature", I always say, "unless you
really know what you are doing" and this is an example where we don't understand
everything yet. By the way, minoxidil is a potassium channel opener as
well. Who knows what effect that will have over decades of use??
However, there is one big turnoff for some guys: the twice a day
application with no showering for four hours afterward. That's right - you
have to apply this morning and evening and then let it sit for four hours, which
is a significant time commitment and can, depending on your hair, leave an oily
Some people will also be disturbed by the very non-natural propylene glycol, but
this is much less problematic than ethylene
glycol, bettter known as antifreeze. In fact, propylene
glycol is actually a food additive and used in many household products as well.
Studies show no toxicity or cancer-causing effects except at very high doses.
studies have shown that when you combine the active chemical in Retin-A
with Minoxidil, superior results are achieved.  In fact,
one study showed
hair regrowth in 66% of subject which is at finasteride levels.  Researchers believe this is
because the Retin-A increases absorption of the minoxidil, allowing
it to be more effective.
This has been combined in a product called MinSaw-A and marketed as such. I do
not know a cheap way to obtain this product, but mention it. Again, see
the warnings for minoxidil above.
1) Dermatology, 2004, 209(2):117-25, "An open, randomized, comparative study of
oral finasteride and 5% topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia"
2) Sexologies, 17(1):S102, Apr 2008, "T07-O-05 Finasteride 5 mg and sexual side
effects. How many of these are related to a nocebo phenomenon?"
3) N Engl J Med 338:557, 1998, "The effect of finasteride on the risk of acute
urinary retention and the need for surgical treatment among men with benign
prostatic hyperplasia. Finasteride Long-Term Efficacy and Safety Study Group"
4) J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Nov;57(5):767-74, Epub 2007 Aug 29, "A
multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial of a
novel formulation of 5% minoxidil topical foam versus placebo in the treatment
of androgenetic alopecia in men"
6) Am J Clin Dermatol. 2007;8(5):285-90, "Efficacy of 5% minoxidil versus
combined 5% minoxidil and 0.01% tretinoin for male pattern hair loss: a
randomized, double-blind, comparative clinical trial"
7) J Am Acad Dermatol. 1986 Oct;15(4 Pt 2):880-3, 890-3, "Topical tretinoin for
hair growth promotion"
8) J Altern Complement Med, 2006 Mar;12(2):199, "A randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived
inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia"
11) Hypertension, 2001, 37(2):209-215, "Mortality after coronary artery occlusion
in different models of cardiac hypertrophy in rats"
13) International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery and Aesthetic Dermatology, Aug
2003, 5(2):113-117, "Hair Regrowth and Increased Hair Tensile Strength Using the
HairMax LaserComb for Low-Level Laser Therapy"
14) "Ketoconazole Shampoo: Effect of Long-Term Use in Androgenic Alopecia",
15) J Dermatol, 2005, 32 (4):243-247, "Topical Application of Ketoconazole
Stimulates Hair Growth in C3H/HeN Mice"
16) Br J Dermatol, 2003 Aug, 149(2):354-62, "The effects of minoxidil, 1%
pyrithione zinc and a combination of both on hair density: a randomized
17) WebMd Magazine, Jun 2010, p. 13.
18) Prevention, May 2010, p. 16.