What is DHT?
In order to understand what is DHT, we will need to get down to the molecular level. Dihydrotestosterone, better known as DHT, is an androgen hormone that is derived from testosterone. An enzyme known as 5-alpha-Reductase (5-AR) converts about 10 percent of all testosterone into DHT.2 Normal levels of DHT promotes the production of facial, axillary, pubic, and body hair13.
DHT and Hair Loss
Increased DHT hormone has been shown to result in a variety of problems, including an enlarged prostate in men. Most commonly, DHT is one of the main factors contributing to androgenetic alopecia, or male or female pattern baldness. Excess DHT hormone can cause hair follicles to gradually shrink, minimizing your hair’s growth phase (anagen) and prolonging the resting phase (telogen). This all results in hair loss. New hairs have trouble growing, and the hair that you do have falls out much easier. Over time, the growth phase becomes so short that hairs don’t even make it above your skin. The hair shaft becomes thinner and your hairs are reduced to vellus hairs, the soft, light hairs that more commonly cover infants.
Fortunately, you can find a wide range of foods and products designed to block DHT to reduce hair loss and promote hair growth and health. Let’s take a look at some of the best natural DHT blockers on the market.
What is a DHT Blocker?
DHT blockers are designed to inhibit DHT to prevent hair loss. DHT blockers work through various means, including:
- Lowering the baseline production of DHT
- Preventing DHT from binding to hair follicle receptors
- Generally purifying the scalp, removing excess sebum, and eliminating scalp DHT3
How Do DHT Blockers Work?
Many DHT blockers work by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme responsible for turning testosterone into DHT. The higher your 5-alpha reductase levels, the lower your testosterone levels and the higher your DHT levels, ultimately resulting in greater hair loss.
The 5-alpha reductase enzyme comes in two forms. Type 1 is mainly found in your sebaceous glands and helps with the production of sebum, which acts as your skin’s natural lubricant while keeping out potentially harmful bacteria. Type 2 exists in your hair follicles and genitourinary tract and is more involved in androgenic alopecia.1
How to Reduce DHT with DHT Blocker Food
You can find a variety of foods containing compounds that can help to manage, curb, or inhibit DHT production in the body.
1. Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm tree native to Florida and other areas of the southeastern United States. Today, saw palmetto is most commonly used to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. In fact, it is the most popular herbal treatment for BPH in the country and is available in the form of liquid tablets, capsules, and teas.
Saw palmetto works by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, which prevents the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Along with alleviating the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia and stopping the prostate’s growth, reducing DHT levels can help to stop or reverse hair loss caused by androgenic alopecia.4
2. Stinging Nettle
Despite the spiny exterior, stinging nettle, which is also known as nettle root, is commonly used as an alternative treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. In one study, rats that had been induced with hyperplasia were given components of stinging nettle root. Researchers measured their progress based on ratios of body weight to prostate size, levels of serum testosterone, and prostate-specific antigen levels. Results showed improvements in all categories. Similar to other treatments for BPH, stinging nettle may work by inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, thereby reducing amounts of DHT while maintaining levels of testosterone to reduce hair loss.5
3. Pumpkin Seed Oil
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 76 male subjects who had varying forms of androgenetic alopecia were given a placebo or 400 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil every day for 24 weeks. Researchers evaluated their subjects throughout the clinical trial based on scalp hair count, scalp hair thickness, standardized clinical photographs, and patient self-assessment scores.
At the end of the 24-week period, those who had taken pumpkin seed oil showed higher self-rated satisfaction and improvement scores and had more hair than those who took the placebo. Those who took pumpkin seed oil also showed a 40 percent increase in average hair count, while the placebo group showed just a 10 percent increase.
Pumpkin seed oil still requires further study to determine specific mechanisms of action, but it’s understood that the oil contains phytosterols that can inhibit 5-alpha reductase to keep DHT levels in check.6
Lycopene is a pigment compound known as carotenoid. It is responsible for providing various fruits and vegetables with a vibrant red color and acts as a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it can neutralize free radicals, a molecule that can cause damage to cells and DNA.7
Studies show that lycopene may also help to control levels of DHT and the production of insulin-like growth factors in the epithelial cells of the prostate. This can help to improve hair growth and support prostate health.8
Lycopene can be found in:
- Pink guava
However, in North American diets, tomatoes are the most common lycopene-rich food. Nearly 85 percent of lycopene comes from tomato juice, tomato paste, and other tomato products. A cup of tomato juice contains about 23 milligrams of lycopene. Processing tomatoes with heat changes lycopene’s bioavailability, allowing for easier absorption and use.
Extracted from the bark of the African cherry tree (Prunus africana), pygeum is often used as an herbal supplement to help alleviate symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia and promote the general health of your prostate. In vitro studies have found that pygeum extract may help to reduce the increase of BPH by interfering with certain growth factors and their receptors. Pygeum has also been found to have anti-androgenic properties. Similar to other alternative medications for BPH, pygeum may operate by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase to help reduce levels of DHT.9
6. Green Tea
Green tea is packed with a variety of vitamins and nutrients, as well as a group of water-soluble polyphenols known as catechins.10 The major polyphenol in green tea is epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG). Studies have found that EGCG is a direct androgen antagonist that can help to blunt androgen receptor functions and inhibit 5-alpha reductase to promote hair growth.11
Along with your scalp, green tea has been found to help just about every organ in the body. Catechins may help protect the brain, heart, and liver, prevent the buildup of fats in your arteries, and promote the health and function of your blood vessels. Green tea catechins may also help to burn fat.
Scientifically known as Trigonella foenum-graecum, fenugreek is a popular herb that has traditionally been used to help increase libido and alleviate blood sugar metabolism problems, which suggests that it may possess anti-diabetic properties. While the herb still requires further research, early studies suggest that fenugreek may help to increase testosterone by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, which comes with the added benefit of reducing DHT levels. The most well-known compound in fenugreek is 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which has been shown to help normalize the metabolism of glucose.12
Soy contains several compounds that may help to promote hair growth and block DHT. One study found that equol, genistein, and biochanin A were found to be potent inhibitors of 5-alpha reductase.17 All three of these compounds can be found in soy beans. Genistein can be found in lupin, kudzu, and fava beans. Equol is a product of gut bacteria in the digestion of daidzein, an isoflavone found in soy beans. Biochanin A can be found in a variety of legumes.
Topical DHT Blockers
9. Tea Tree Oil
Studies show that both tea tree and lavender oils may offer potent anti-androgenic properties. Research found that topical application of tea tree oil could effectively block DHT production.18
10. Lavender Oil
In a mouse study, topical application of lavender oil to mice was found to promote hair growth. Results of the study showed significant increases in the number of hair follicles, hair follicle depth, and dermal layer thickness, all of which contributed to increased hair growth.19
Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal medication commonly used to reduce dandruff. Studies suggest that it may also help to block DHT and promote hair growth. A study comparing a topical ketoconazole solution and various concentrations of minoxidil found that ketoconazole had a significant stimulatory effect on hair growth.20
The common stimulatory ingredient found in coffee may also help to promote hair growth by blocking DHT. An in vitro study found that caffeine applied topically in concentrations of 0.001% and 0.005% could stimulate hair follicle growth. While the exact mechanism of action still requires research, this effect may come from the compounds ability to block 5-AR receptors.21
Methods of Taking Natural DHT Blockers
While food may be the most easily accessible source for DHT blocking compounds, you may find better success through other methods, including supplements, shampoos and conditioners, and topical serums.
DHT Blocker Supplements
There are a wide range of supplements containing DHT blocker ingredients.
DrFormulas™ HairOmega® DHT Blocker for Men and Women
DrFormulas™ HairOmega® DHT Blocker for Men and Women contains 41 ingredients for a comprehensive formulation that can help to inhibit DHT and promote healthy hair growth, including:
- Saw palmetto
- Pumpkin seed
Each serving contains 5,000 micrograms of biotin, which is about 50 percent more than other similar products on the market. Biotin is a B vitamin that helps to convert fats, carbs, and proteins into usable energy. It can also help to maintain your skin, eyes, nails, and hair.13
The capsules are also completely vegetarian. Unlike other brands, DrFormulas™ Hairomega® DHT Blocker is gelatin-free and contains no gluten, chemical preservatives, or artificial colors or flavors.
DHT Blocker Shampoos and Conditioners
Using the right shampoo and conditioner can help to block DHT, wash away excess sebum, and support healthy hair. DrFormulas™ HairOmega® DHT Blocker Shampoo with Caffeine uses a diverse range of ingredients to clean your hair while managing DHT levels. This shampoo is infused with tea tree oil to promote hair growth. The shampoo also contains Moroccan argan oil, which can provide moisture while strengthening hair, as well as saw palmetto and other DHT blockers to help combat hair loss.
Combine this shampoo with DrFormulas™ HairOmega® DHT Blocker Conditioner to complete your hair regimen. This conditioner also contains organic jojoba and Moroccan argan oils to help replace moisture and repair dry, brittle hair. This conditioner also includes:
- Organic Avocado Oil – Softens the scalp and acts as an antioxidant
- Organic Sandalwood Oil – Produced from sandalwood, this essential oil has unique moisturizing and rejuvenating properties
- Organic Lemongrass Oil – Contains anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties
- Organic Grapefruit Oil – Has anti-inflammatory properties to shield the scalp from irritants and strengthens hair
- Organic Rosemary Oil – Rosemary is rich in camphor which can boost circulation to the scalp
- Organic Neroli Oil – Has antioxidant and antimicrobial activities
This combination of nutrients helps to reduce hair loss, protect your scalp, and nourish your hair to support regrowth.
DHT Blocker Topical Serums
While foods and supplements work from the inside out, serums offer an effective topical solution that can be easily applied on the scalp.
DrFormulas™ HairOmega® Foam 2% Minoxidil
This foam serum contains a 2 percent concentration of minoxidil to promote hair growth by improving circulation in the scalp and nourish hair roots and follicles. Minoxidil is the most common treatment for male and female pattern baldness. It treats hair loss by increasing blood flow to the scalp.15
This serum also contains a complex blend of herbal ingredients that inhibit DHT production. This includes grape seed extract, which is rich in resveratrol, which has been shown to support heart health and improve circulation. Increased blood flow to the scalp allows for more oxygen and nutrients in the hair follicles.16
As hair loss can be caused by a wide range of factors other than high amounts of DHT, these DHT blocker products may not reverse your baldness. However, if you know for sure that your hair problems are caused by high DHT or if you just need products that will help to nourish and revitalize your hair, DHT blockers may be the solution that you need.