There has been much discussion about natural DHT blockers in the recent years. To understand DHT blockers, one must first understand what is DHT. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a derivative of the hormone testosterone, and is known to have adverse effects on the human body when it exists in excess.
While normal levels of DHT promote facial, axillary, pubic, and body hair growth, high DHT symptoms may include baldness and prostate problems in men and female pattern hair loss in women. Read more to find out how high levels of DHT can affect your health.5
How is DHT Controlled Normally?
In men your DHT levels are directly related to the amount of testosterone in your body, so more testosterone often means more DHT. Testosterone production is normally controlled by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. When your body recognizes that you have too much testosterone, and therefore DHT, in your blood, it signals the hypothalamus to cease production of gonadotropin-releasing hormones, which then inhibits production of luteinizing hormone, resulting in a natural decrease in testosterone and thus DHT.9
In women testosterone precursors such as dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dihydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) are naturally produced by the adrenal glands next to the kidney. It was previously thought that these levels decreased in women after the third decade of life. It has actually been found to increase around perimenopause.13 Increased levels of DHEA and DHEAS lead to increases in testosterone and can lead to excess DHT.
What Causes DHT to Increase?
DHT can increase for two reasons. DHT levels can increase if you have increased levels of testosterone.
DHT levels can also increase if you have an increase in 5-alpha reductase (5-AR) activity. A more active 5-AR means more testosterone gets converted into DHT. There are two types of 5-alpha reductase. Type 1 is more prominent in sebaceous glands found all over your skin. Type 2 is found in the hair follicles and genitourinary tract.12
What Is Bad About DHT in Excess?
When you have too much testosterone in your body, there's a good chance you also have excess DHT. Baldness is a side effect of men who take additional testosterone. DHT plays an important role in maturation and physical development of men and women during puberty.
However, the benefits of DHT rely heavily on overall hormonal balance. Excess DHT causes an imbalance that may result in a variety of issues that hurt your health and wellbeing. Take a look at some common high DHT symptoms below.
High DHT Levels in Females
Hair loss doesn't just happen to men. An increase in DHT causes hair loss in women as well. Women with an excess of DHT may experience female pattern hair loss (FPHL), losing their hair in the same way that men do. 1
If you’re a woman with an excess of DHT, high DHT symptoms include increased growth of facial hair, increased growth of pubic hair, a cessation of menstrual periods, and/or increased acne.
If you are experiencing an excess of DHT, consider taking a DHT blocker. Natural blockers can ensure that you don't have too much DHT in your body and that you are, in turn helping to minimize the above-mentioned health risks.
DHT Causes Male Pattern Baldness in Men
An increase in DHT causes hair loss as the hormone forces hair follicles on the head to shrink. This means that hair becomes thinner and shorter because it has a shorter growing cycle (the anagen phase) and a longer resting period (the telogen phase). Over time, your scalp won’t be able to grow new hair, and any hair that does exist will become less anchored and eventually fall out, resulting in the characteristic thinning and baldness of male pattern baldness. Excess DHT will cause hair loss in the typical pattern of androgenetic alopecia:
- On top of your head. This is also called the vertex or crown of the head.
- At the front of the head where the hairline is, causing a receding hairline.
Hair on the sides and back of the head are spared.
Here are a few other things that can happen when there is an excess of DHT in your body -- and why you may want to consider taking a DHT blocker.
Increased Levels of Testosterone is Correlated with Prostate Cancer in Men
One study found that while increased DHT levels did not correlate with prostate cancer, increased levels of Testosterone and decreased levels of Sex-Hormone Binding Globulin did.2 This may only be a part of the picture because certain types of baldness (simultaneous thinning at the front of the scalp and at the very top or vertex) did correlate with prostate cancer.3
High DHT Levels Play a Role in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
While too much DHT may not correlate with prostate cancer, some studies show that excess quantities of this androgen hormone may play a role in benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is more commonly known as an enlarged prostate. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy prostate relies on the balanced function of the androgen-signaling axis, which includes:
- The production of testosterone in the adrenal glands and testes
- The conversion of that testosterone into DHT
- Transporting DHT to tissues throughout the body
- DHT binding to androgen receptors
While DHT is necessary to the healthy development of the prostate, excess levels of DHT can cause prostate tissue to grow, resulting in an enlarged prostate.6
Benign prostatic hyperplasia remains the most common prostate-related problem among men over the age of 50. Common signs and symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia include:
- Increased urinary frequency and urgency
- A weak urine stream that may be difficult to start
- Frequent urination during periods of sleep
- Urinary retention or incontinence
While none of these symptoms are necessarily life-threatening, an enlarged prostate can potentially lead to a variety of complications, most prominently damage to the kidneys or bladder.7
DHT May Increase Acne
Acne is often the cause of hormonal imbalances, particularly when that imbalance is caused by an excess of DHT. High levels of DHT will result in increased oil production4 -- leading to blemishes and blotchy skin.
Research shows that the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing the oily substance known as sebum, are stimulated by androgens (like DHT) that are produced in the skin. As one of the more powerful androgen hormones, DHT can form and accumulate in the sebaceous glands thanks to 5-alpha reductase. The DHT then binds to a receptor protein and triggers the production of sebum. Younger people who are genetically predisposed to acne may actually be suffering from temporarily increased levels of localized DHT.8
Much like DHT, sebum at its regular levels is not bad and generally necessary to the health of your skin. Sebum is an oily, waxy substance that helps to keep your hair and skin moisturized, protect the skin from bacteria, and ensure the skin’s natural flexibility.10 Unfortunately, excess sebum production, caused by DHT or otherwise, can clog pores, resulting in acne.11
How to Lower DHT Levels
You can reduce DHT using blockers. These often work by suppressing 5-alpha reductase, thus preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. DHT Blockers can also interact with DHT receptors, blocking DHT from binding and causing the undersired effects of excess DHT. A third way that DHT blockers work is by interacting with the signaling downstream from the DHT receptor.
Finasteride is one of the most popular DHT blockers approved by the FDA and works by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase but it may come with some potential side effects. 1.5% of men using finasteride have reported sexual dysfunction.
If you prefer, you could use natural DHT blockers instead such as:
- Saw palmetto
- Stinging nettle
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Green tea
- Tea tree oil
We go over all of these ingredients in our blog on natural DHT blockers. Using natural DHT blockers and other products that reduce DHT may help you manage hair loss and support healthy hair growth.
Talk to your doctor about how to lower DHT levels today.