How serious is hair loss? According to a recent study, about 1 in 3 individuals who suffer with hair loss say they would give up sex for life, just for a new head of hair (i). And according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), just about 50% of respondents to the 2010 Hair Transplant Challenge Survey indicate they would choose a handsome head of hair over more money or new friends (ii).
Given the statistics above, it’s not surprising that hair transplant surgeons are so invested in researching hair loss cures. Hair plays a big role in shaping one’s appearance; without it, one can feel different, insecure, and less confident in everyday situations. According to additional statistics gathered by the ISHRS, just over half of men and women who experience hair loss say that nothing makes them feel more self conscious than the thought of “noticeable hair loss” (iii).
Over the past few years, several studies have emerged that indicate a natural hair loss remedy might be in the near future. Most recently, researchers at the University of Calgary made a discovery that might soon lead to a stem cell treatment for hair loss. And for those who don’t feel comfortable with the idea of stem cell therapy, another new study might seem a little easier, and sweeter.
Propolis: The Beehive Hair Loss Cure?
In Japan, a group of researchers uncovered an unlikely new substance for helping hair to grow again. It’s called propolis, and it is naturally found within beehives. Inside the hive, propolis is a resin-like substance that provides natural insulation. Outside the hive, propolis has demonstrated the ability to function as an anti-inflammatory, a key characteristic that researchers believe makes it a good chemical for assisting with new hair growth.
Commenting on the study, Ken Kobayashi explains, “I expect that propolis improves hair loss due to inflammation through the anti-inflammatory properties and the keratinocyte-proliferative effect,” (v).
Inflammation and Hair Loss
Sometimes, inflamed cells can be the reason why hair follicles become unable to sustain a healthy hair growth cycle. Explains Kobayashi, “normal hair growth needs active proliferation[…] without excessive inflammation.” Based on this premise, Kobayashi’s team of researchers at the Hokkaido University in Japan conducted a study to see if the proactive application of an anti-inflammatory, like propolis, would make for speedy hair growth.
To test this hypothesis, the research team divided laboratory mice into two groups. Both groups were shaved, and one group was given propolis while the other group was not. As predicted by the research team, propolis encouraged a significantly higher rate of natural hair growth for mice in the test group.
Hold Off on the Honey
If you suffer with hair loss, it might be too soon to rush out for the newest propolis extraction or hair loss gimmick. Additional testing must be performed. Moreover, the mice in the experiment were merely shaved and examined for natural hair regrowth; no mice exhibited signs of hair loss or pattern baldness prior to the experiment. In this light, it is clear that propolis must be tested on subjects that exhibit symptoms of hair loss, like androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness), before researchers can say with reasonable certainty that propolis can, in fact, act as a true hair loss cure.
(ii) “2010 Hair Transplant Challenge Survey.” International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery. Accessed 17 June 2013.
(iii) See above.
(iv) Miyata S, Oda Y, Matsuo C, et al. Stimulatory Effect of Brazilian Propolis on Hair Growth through Proliferation of Keratinocytes in Mice. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014.