In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to use ecklonia cava for hair growth, with an application method that shows results in as little as 33 days!
Firstly, I’ll explain what ecklonia cava is, and where it can be found.
Secondly, I’ll break down the scientific research which shows how effective the brown alga is for hair growth.
Thirdly, I’ll introduce you to two ways of using ecklonia cava to stop hair loss, induce hair growth, and grow strong, healthy hair.
What is Ecklonia Cava?
An edible brown alga found off the coasts of Japan and Korea, ecklonia cava can be found in abundance in Asia, where it’s eaten regularly for its variety of health benefits.
This alga belongs to a large group of algae, consisting of seaweeds and other such organisms, and play an important role in the marine environment.
Aside from its role in the ocean, however, E. cava has gained significant recognition in the field of science and medicine in recent years. From its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, to its use as an antiobesity agent, research has uncovered its various health benefits and medicinal uses.
This alga, composed mostly of polyphenols and other such compounds, has also been suggested to be an effective treatment for alopecia. These compounds contribute greatly to the alga’s suspected positive effects on hair growth, and they do so in a number of ways.
1. Induction of Anagen Phase Hair Growth
The hair growth cycle is comprised of three phases.
- Anagen (Phase I) – Active growth, wherein rapid cell division occurs.
- Catagen (Phase II) – Transition, where the hair sheath properly attaches to the root and blood circulation is cut off.
- Telogen (Phase III) – Resting, where hair shedding is common, though certain factors (such as stress and DHT sensitivity) can lead over shedding and hair thinning.
In a 2012 study performed by Kang et al., it was discovered that enzymes of E. Cava can induce anagen phase in mice, promoting proliferation of Dermal Papilla Cells (DPC) and possibly even inhibiting 5α-reductase (the instigator of DHT production) activity.
The mice in this study were treated with either a) vehicle (negative control); b) 0.5% E. cava enzymatic extract; or c) 5% Minoxidil (positive control).
These treatments were continued for 33 days, and photographs of the mice were taken at 1, 7, 13, 20, 26 and 33 days after depilation.
While the positive control (Minoxidil) did show better results than the group treated with E. cava, the E. cava extract group still saw a significant increase in hair growth than in the negative control.
Additionally, researchers considered E. cava’s inhibitory impact on 5α-reductase activity. Comparing various concentrations of the extract against Finasteride (positive control), it was shown that E. cava’s mechanism for hair growth may be due to its inhibitory activities, with the polyphenol dieckol showing the most effect.
This is optimistic news for sufferers of hair loss, especially those with male-pattern baldness whose hair follicles have been miniaturized due to inflammation.
2. Proliferation of Human Dermal Papilla Cells
Dermal papilla cells play a key role in hair follicle development and hair growth. With this in mind, a 2016 Korean study looked to answer whether the polyphenols present within ecklonia cava could contribute to further development and hair growth in individuals with male-pattern baldness.
With the assistance of 12 healthy male volunteers, researchers collected scalp tissue containing more than 100 hair follicles. Each of the follicles was individually excised and cultured until the human dermal papilla cells (hDPC) could be properly extracted from the follicle for further testing.
A variety of ecklonia cava’s polyphenols were tested to determine effectiveness on DPC proliferation, and Minoxidil was used as the positive control. These were the results:
As is shown above, all four of the tested polyphenols had a significant effect on hDPC proliferation, even beating out Minoxidil!
What more, however, is that hair growth in ex vivo human hair follicle cultures was also seen. The polyphenol PPE showed the most significant hair growth results.
3. Upregulation of Growth Factor Gene Expression
What induced hair growth in the follicles treated with PPE?
Growth hormones such as IGF-1 and VGEF have been previously linked with hair growth, though both for different reasons.
IGF-1 promotes cell growth and differentiation, and plays a vital role in proliferation and migration of hDPC. VGEF, on the other hand, mediates the development of blood vessels. With proper blood flow, hair growth rates are boosted and follicle and hair thickness is increased.
In PPE, the polyphenol with the most impressive hair growth effects, mRNA expression of both of the above growth hormones was increased.
4. Reduction of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
Oxidative stress is a major contributor to hair loss, as free radicals roam the body and steal molecules from healthy cells.
This leads to premature aging, one sign of which is hair thinning and loss.
Is oxidative stress causing you to prematurely age? Learn the early warning signs of balding, and how you can reverse it.
Ecklonia cava polyphenols, however, have been shown to reduce reactive oxygen species, specifically those found in the hair follicles of those with Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA).
AGA is also known as male-pattern baldness, and the cause is linked to a sensitivity to androgen receptors found in the scalp. These receptors, when triggered, increase ROS. This can lead to inflammation and general scalp irritation, both of which contribute significantly to hair fall.
As mentioned above, the polyphenols found in ecklonia cava (more specifically, PPE), scavenges the ROS which are produced. This is due to their antioxidant properties.
Can Ecklonia Cava Be Used to Treat Male-Pattern Baldness?
Androgenetic Alopecia, also known as Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB), is a complex condition. There are various factors that contribute to its development and progression, including genetics, lifestyle, and diet.
However, a major component of hair loss associated with AGA is sensitivity to DHT. This is a hormone (produced from the interaction between testosterone and 5-alpha-reductase) that is found in three places in the body: the testicles, the prostate, and the scalp.
When DHT connects to the hair follicle, it results in inflammation and irritation. This triggers hair follicle miniaturization, which causes the hair strand to shrink until it eventually fails to ‘sprout’ from the scalp.
Ecklonia Cava has been shown to inhibit the activities of 5AR, which then slows the production of DHT. In fact, when compared with Finasteride, it’s just as effective.
So, what does this mean for men and women with AGA?
Ecklonia Cava may be a great addition to your hair care routine, as it can stop – and perhaps even reverse – hair miniaturization.
But even further, E. Cava has been shown to aid in the proliferation of human Dermal Papilla Cells (DPCs). These cells play a major role in hair growth development and hair growth, so an increase in their numbers is crucial for people with pattern baldness.
How to Use Ecklonia Cava for the Treatment of Hair Loss
Apply It Directly to Your Scalp
As was shown one of the above-mentioned studies, topical application of E. cava had a significant impact on hair growth. To reap these same benefits, you can add this alga to your own homemade shampoo or even just apply it directly.
To apply ecklonia cava, you’ll first need a pure E. cava extract. These can be purchased from health food stores, both online and in-person.
Break the capsule apart, and add the extract powder to a container of your choosing.
Add coconut oil to the alga powder extract, just until a spreadable texture has been reached.
Apply the combination to your scalp after shampoo, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, though it wouldn’t hurt to keep it on overnight.
Once ready, rinse with lukewarm (or cold) water, massaging the extract and oil from your scalp as it rinses away.
Add It to Your Diet
Whether in combination with topical application, or as a standalone method for supplemention, you can include ecklonia cava in your diet for a variety of health benefits.
A versatile alga, E. cava can be easily added to your diet, either through capsule supplementation or addition to your favorite recipes.
If eating algae is unappealing to you, add an ecklonia cava extract supplement to your daily routine. You can take the supplement with water, or break it apart and add it to smoothies, soups, and other such combinations.
If you’d like to give ecklonia cava a try, however, you can add it to just about anything.
Sushi, stir fry, salad, or even roasted by itself, all are great ways to add this polyphenol-packed alga to your diet.
Studies have proven, time and again, that the polyphenols present within E. cava make it an excellent choice for individuals looking to induce hair growth.
In certain instances (such as in the proliferation of human dermal papilla cells), the brown alga even beat out Minoxidil!
This will help you to determine if ecklonia cava, or any other treatments (natural or not) can help to reverse your hair loss and promote hair growth.
*This article was reviewed by Dr. Anil Simhadri.