Nettle Root & Hair Loss: Complete Guide

Nettle root has long been used as a tonic to the hair, correcting various forms of hair loss and hair issues. However, if you research anything on nettle's pro-hair effects, you will find inaccurate reasoning for its effects. Most modern research unfortunately has mistaken the mechanisms for which give nettle root its ability to help with hair loss, accrediting it as an "anti-androgen" that lowers DHT. 

While this supports the whole androgen theory of hair loss, that DHT is the cause for it, it is not physiologically accurate. The truth is, nettles ability to help with hair loss has much less to do with DHT and more to do with a series of pathological events involving estrogen, stress and inflammation.

The Actual Ways Nettle Helps Your Hair 

Here are some of the more physiologically sound reasons for nettle roots profound ability to restore hair health.

Anti-Estrogen: Estrogen is one of the key hair growth inhibiting hormones. It contributes to every pathological event related to hair loss. For example, it inhibits mitochondrial respiration, inhibits thyroid function and reduces carbon dioxide production, which together increase mast cell degranulation, and acts like an off-switch to the hair growth cycle. Estrogen also happens to increase the production of cortisol and prolactin, two other hair growth inhibiting stress hormones. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The good news is that nettle root possesses powerful anti-aromatase qualities, which prevents the androgens in your body from becoming estrogen. This feature can help to keep estrogen levels in check. 

Anti-Histamine: Nettle is known to possess powerful anti-allergy effects, which ultimately makes it an anti-inflammatory. Both of these effects can be contributed to flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds in nettle that possess antioxidant activity and inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells and arachidonic acid. 6 

What does allergies and the rest of this have to do with hair loss? Well other than the various research that has found antihistamines are very effective for improving "androgenic alopecia", there are many ways lowering histamine can help with hair loss. 7, 8

Histamine, in the fewest words, actually regulates the hair growth cycle. During the resting phase, there are higher levels of histamine, where as during the growth phase, histamine is tightly regulated. So in theory, people with hair loss, who's hair is in a more dominant resting phase than growth phase, may have high histamine levels. This corresponds with research that has found people with hair loss and balding tend to have much higher levels of histamine.

Additionally, as we will discuss in a moment,  the degranulation of mast cells is implicated in baldness, which results in the release of histamine and inflammation to the scalp. 9

Beyond that, it seems high histamine is connected and related to all the various known pathological events involved in hair loss that are being discussed in this article. So, keeping histamine regulated with the use of natural anti-histamines like Nettle root seems like a novel approach, and likely part of its success in treating hair loss. 

Lowers Prostaglandins: Another key feature of hair loss is the accumulation of prostaglandins. There is clear evidence that shows a direct correlation between hair loss and prostaglandins. One type of prostaglandin, known as prostaglandin D2 is known to inhibit hair growth and to be accumulated in the scalps of balding people. 10, 11

Nettle root has been found to lower the production of prostaglandins by inhibiting arachidonic acid metabolism. Since prostaglandins are byproducts of the unsaturated fatty acid, preventing its breakdown would prevent the production of prostaglandins. 12

Stabilizes Mast Cells: As mentioned, one key feature of hair loss such as diffuse thinning and male patterned baldness is the degranulation of mast cells. Studies have found that mean mast cell counts are significantly higher in those with hair loss than people with full head hair. Mast cells are white blood cells or immune cells that increase under the presence of inflammation. So high mast cell count is indicative of past inflammation. Inflammation leads to hair loss my damaging the hair follicle. 

Fortunately, through its anti-estrogen, anti-histamine effects and prostaglandin inhibiting effects, nettle root can help with stabilizing mast cells. 

Conclusion

Nettle root is an amazing tonic herb for anyone dealing with hair loss, just not for the reasons that the mainstream has proclaimed. For supplementing with a high quality nettle root extract, you can find it here.

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