Hair follicle miniaturization caused by DHT

How To Reduce DHT Levels

It’s well known that dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the hormone that is mostly responsible for male pattern baldness.

Luckily, there is quite a lot you can do to lower your DHT levels, but it’s probably not what you expect.

I’ve already written a huge guide about how to reduce DHT levels in your scalp so I recommend reading that, but I will summarize the points here as well. Since the scalp is where hair loss takes places, it makes sense to localize your efforts around this area.

But in this guide, I will focus on reducing levels on a systematic scale. Now, let’s jump in!

Why Would You Want to Reduce DHT Anyway?

DHT is an androgen hormone that’s a product of testosterone, and it’s converted by the enzyme known as 5-alpha-reductase (1). Of course, we don’t want to block DHT and lower our testosterone levels as a result, so a more effective approach is to inhibit (slow down) the action of the enzyme.

An important point to understand is that men who suffer from male pattern baldness don’t have particularly high levels of DHT. That’s not the problem.

The problem is that our hair follicles are more sensitive to DHT and the hair follicle miniaturization that DHT causes (2).

So although lowering DHT will help, there are more effective ways to stop hair loss by reducing the sensitivity of the hair follicle to the androgen.

How to Reduce DHT Sensitivity

The methods outlined below aren’t guaranteed to reduce your genetic sensitivity to DHT, as there are many factors that play a part. However, they may help and they’re a great place to start.

Eat a More Alkaline Diet

The modern Western diet contains red meats, dairy, simple carbs, and alcohol. In other words, it’s highly acidic. And when these foods are consumed regularly, they can wreak havoc on the body.

How?

The human body, just like any other organism, has a preferred pH balance – 7.4 (3).

But a diet high in acidic foods may throw this balance out of whack, and this could trigger hormone fluctuations and nutrient/mineral imbalance (4).

It may even make your body a more hospitable place for the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase – which thrives in a pH of between 5 (type 2) and 7 (type 1) (5).

An increased intake of alkaline foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats may be a simple way to reduce DHT and maintain a healthy balance.

There is quite a bit of debate surrounding the topic of blood alkalization.

In other words, does diet actually contribute to the pH balance of blood?

However, one thing is for certain: an alkaline diet does provide health benefits which may indirectly contribute to healthy hair growth.

More specifically, these benefits include (6):

  • Increased fruits and vegetables in an alkaline diet would improve the K/Na ratio and may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes.

  • The resultant increase in growth hormone with an alkaline diet may improve many outcomes from cardiovascular health to memory and cognition.

  • An increase in intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems, is another added benefit of the alkaline diet. Available magnesium, which is required to activate vitamin D, would result in numerous added benefits in the vitamin D apocrine/exocrine systems.

  • Alkalinity may result in added benefit for some chemotherapeutic agents that require a higher pH.

That’s not to say that you have to follow a strict, alkaline-only diet. But the more alkaline foods you eat, the better.

Reduce Allergies and Autoimmune Responses

Allergies and autoimmue responses lead to increased hair follicle sensitivity to DHT. So although lowering DHT levels will help, why not attack the problem from both sides and make your hair follicles less sensitive?

We all know about food allergies (like shellfish, peanuts, etc.) but fewer people know about what’s called delayed allergic reactions (7).

One of the big ones is delayed allergic reactions to gluten, the protein found in many grains, that many people suffer from (but don’t know they do).

A famous example of this is the number 1 tennis player in the world; Novak Djocovick. During his early career Djocovick suffered from gluten intolerance but didn’t know it, and his tennis suffered.

He regularly collapsed on court and was the butt of many jokes from his competitors such as Roger Federer.

However, Djocovick finally realized his sensitivity to gluten and removed it from his diet. Now he has been the number one tennis player the world for over 5 years. You can read more about his journey in his excellent book, Serve to Win.

Anyway, back to hair loss…

Everybody responds to these delayed allergic reactions differently. For Novak it caused fatigue, muscles aches, stiffness, and slowness, but for other the allergies can increase their sensitivity to DHT.

The thing is though, it’s not obvious. The reaction is delayed so its hard to connect the food type with the reaction. Without knowing what to look for it’s hard to tell what you might be sensitive to.

Novak suffered for years as a professional tennis player despite being surrounded by world-class doctors and nutritionists before connecting the dots.

Gluten isn’t the only substance that can cause delayed allergic reactions. Everybody is different and has different sensitivities.

You will only know when you remove the foods entirely from your diet over a period of time (usually a couple of weeks) and then introduce them to see the effect.

This technique of removal and reintroduction makes the allergic reaction more obvious and clear to feel in your body. You can then take note to eliminate those foods from your diet (or at least minimize them) to reduce the effect they have on your hair.

Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels

Blood sugar level spikes are another dietary mistake that can contribute to hair loss.

In particular, they may cause an increased sensitivity to DHT (8).

Fortunately, the solution is simple: you must eat foods with a low glycemic index.

Foods with a high-glycemic index are quickly digested by the body which causes glucose levels to spike. You can reduce the risk of a spike by eating foods that are natural and unprocessed.

Some of the easiest ways to reduce the overall glycemic index of your diet is to replace sugary drinks with water and replace white foods (rice, bread, cereals, pasta, etc.) with whole grain.

How to Lower DHT Levels In the Scalp

As I mentioned in the introduction, I’ve already written a huge guide to reducing DHT in your scalp so go and read that guide for all the information. What follows is the short guide.

Finasteride

If you want a clinically-proven approach to lowering scalp DHT, then finasteride is just what you’re looking for.

Finasteride, more commonly known by its brand name Propecia, is a hair loss drug. It was initially developed for the treatment of Benign Prostastic Hyperplasia (BPH), but studies soon showed that it also contributed to hair growth (9).

The reason for this is clear – both BPH and AGA are triggered by a sensitivity to DHT. The first condition affects the prostate, and the second affects the hair.

It doesn’t block DHT or even reduce DHT levels directly. Instead, it inhibits the activities of 5-alpha-reductase and therefore reduces the by-product of this enzyme’s interaction with testosterone (10).

But exactly how much does finasteride reduce scalp DHT levels?

A 1999 study on the topic found that a 1mg dose of finasteride reduced scalp DHT by 64 percent while a 5mg dose reduced scalp DHT by 69 percent (11). These results were seen after 42 days of treatment.

This makes finasteride one of the most effective ways to combat AGA.

Utilize Natural DHT Blockers

While there is still much room for research as it relates to the use of natural DHT blockers, there are a few which preliminary studies show may play a role in lowering scalp DHT. Here are just a few.

Saw Palmetto

There are a few research studies which highlight the anti-androgen activities of saw palmetto. One of the most in-depth was one that showed a combination of gelatin-cystine and saw palmetto was effective in reducing free radical levels and inducing hair growth (12).

This study followed 48 volunteers (24 male and 24 female) as they applied the lotion (either active or placebo) over a period of 50 weeks. Some participants (12) also took an oral supplement (which did not contain saw palmetto, but did contain gelatin-cystine). All of the patients were previously diagnosed with AGA (ranking anywhere from a stage III to IV on the Norwood-Hamilton scale).

The 48 volunteers were split into five groups:

  • Group 1: Active lotion A;
  • Group 2: Inactive (placebo) lotion B;
  • Group 3: Active diet supplement C;
  • Group 4: Inactive (placebo) diet supplement D; and
  • Group 5: Active lotion A and active diet supplement C

The lotion was applied twice per day (morning and evening), and the participants were also provided a mild shampoo. They were instructed to use this shampoo throughout the study.

So, how did researchers assess hair growth? They used the mean percentage variation of hair number per squared centimeter of scalp.

Now, let’s look at those results:

Saw palmetto hair growth study results
Source.

The three active groups (lotion, diet, and lotion + diet) performed significantly better than the two placebo groups (lotion and diet). The most effective was the lotion + diet group, followed by diet, and then lotion.

While this doesn’t definitively prove saw palmetto’s efficacy, it does give provide hope.

Since the study was performed to test both saw palmetto and gelatin-cystine, there’s no way to say which of the two worked best.

However, as mentioned, other studies have been performed which show saw palmetto’s benefits in relation to hair growth (13).

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle is another herb which has been shown to have anti-androgenic effects. How do we know this?

One study, performed in 2011, showed stinging nettle’s effects on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) in human patients (14).

This studied consisted of 620 patients, and it was performed over six months. The results were collected using various techniques, including:

  • International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS);
  • Maximum urinary flow rate (Qmax);
  • Postvoid Residual Urine Volume (PVR);
  • Serum Pros-tatic-Specific Antigen (PSA);
  • Testosterone levels; and
  • Prostate size

The techniques above were used throughout the study, and the six-month results proved stinging nettle’s efficacy.

Most notably, both the IPSS and Qmax decreased significantly when compared to the placebo group.

But how does this relate to hair loss?

The fact that stinging nettle was useful in the treatment of BPH proves its ability to inhibit 5AR’s activities. So while it’s not a direct DHT blocker, it may still contribute to healthy hair growth.

Reishi

Reishi mushroom is another unlikely ingredient for lowering DHT levels in the scalp according to a 2005 study (15).

The study was created to test 19 different mushroom species and determine whether any of them were an effective DHT blocker.

Researchers prepared ethanol extracts of each mushroom species, and then added the extracts to a suspension containing rat liver and prostate microsomes. This was carried out to see which species, if any, could inhibit 5AR:

Reishi Mushroom inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, thereby reducing DHT levels in the scalp.
Source.

As you can see above, reishi (G. lucidum) performed the best.

It actually had an inhibitory percentage of over 70 percent, which was significantly better than the other mushrooms in the study.

This shows that reishi mushroom can be considered comparable to finasteride, since both inhibit 5AR and, as a result, reduce the amount of DHT that attaches to the hair follicles.

Conclusion

While using a DHT blocker seems to be the most obvious technique for combatting pattern hair loss, you should also consider techniques that enable you to lower DHT sensitivity.

These include reducing the risk of blood sugar spikes, maintaining a hormonal balance, and eating a more alkaline-rich diet.

Of course, there are also ways to lower DHT levels, including essential oils. But if you’re set on seeing results, then the drug finasteride is likely your best bet.

Do you have questions about DHT or how you can reduce levels yourself? Leave a comment below.

46 thoughts on “How To Reduce DHT Levels”

  1. Hey….i have a tremendous hair….about 50 hairs can be seen on towel after toweling my hair. I have dandruff on my scalp (that might be the reason for hairfall) i use a hair lotion prescribed by a dermatologist. He suggested to wash it out the next morning.
    Is there any problem using that lotion ( triben-b)
    What do u have to say about oiling the hair daily( coconut oil or castor oil)

    • Hi Abhi, if the hair lotion has any kind of chemicals in it then I probably wouldn’t recommend it. The reason is, any kind of chemical can penetrate through the dermal layer and into the bloodstream, which isn’t good for the body over the long term. Chemicals also damage the natural microbiome (collection of healthy bacteria) on the scalp, which help protect the scalp and hair.

      I wouldn’t recommend using an oil such as coconut or castor every day. It can be useful once in a while, but not everyday since the oils can be quite clogging and won’t be beneficial if used that often.

      For everyday use I recommend our natural alternative to minoxidil, it’s called Gro2.

      For dandruff, firstly, make sure you are using cold water in your showers and to wash your hair with. Secondly using any kind of synthetic shampoo and just use apple cider vinegar. Thirdly, make sure your diet is helping your dandruff, not making it worse. This means adding more natural fats such as oily fish, avocado etc and removing processed foods. Also drink a lot of water.

      Regards

      Will

  2. Hi, I’m on minoxidil now for a month. How do you suggest to substitute it with the natural methods you mentioned to reduce the shed period. Thanks

    • It’s up to you, it really depends on how well you think it’s working and if there are any side-effects. But basically you can look at the studies and see there are more effective and natural methods than minoxidil, so why not use them?

  3. Dear Will,
    Does drinking of beer also act in hait thinning as alcohol is bad for health..does the beer also act the same as alcohol?

    • Hi Roshan, there is no clear connection between beer and hair loss, but I presume that it would not have a positive effect on overall hair health because;
      – It contains gluten which can cause inflammation
      – It can cause dehydration
      – It can damage the liver…

      In moderation I’m sure it’s fine.

    • Apple cider vinegar is the best way to clean the hair and scalp. Normal shampoos contain chemicals that damage the hair and skin and remove too much of the protective oils. I also recommend that you don’t shampoo too much. Maximum 2 x per week. If your hair gets greasy and oily too much then this is a factor related to your diet, not your cleaning routine. Improve your diet, remove processed and fried foods, and add ‘earthy’ foods.

      • Hi Will,

        I understand that you don’t recommend to much shampoo (2x week at max), but my only concern is what to do regarding that aspect when exercising a lot. I notice that my scalp sweat a lot.

        Many thanks

        • Hi Matias, your sweat should be easy enough to wash off with cool water. If your scalp is getting greasy more quickly, firstly that’s just a result of shampooing too much previously and secondly it might be a sign that your diet could be improved to remove oily and processed foods.

  4. Hi !
    So i’ve been loosing my hair since 2 years (i am 15).
    I have made a lot of research about MPB and I found that masturbation could play a role in hair loss. Is it true ?

    • Yeah .. it can …. So you should try to eat protein and mineral rich food as masturbarion releases minimum 171 mg of protein and some minerals including magnesium and vitamin b 12 ….Also excess testerone converts into DTH ..Responsible for hair loss .To reduce DTH level .Exercise and yoga is the best method .So include at least 1 egg and a cup of tea in your diet and don’t masturbate less ..It will give you required protein and mineral ..As protein is building block of body …. Good luck ?

  5. My problem is started on 2 years back due to dandruff but now i dont have any dandruff but the hairfall not getting stop regularly its continuing im only 20 years old and my growth of hairs are getting verylow plzz suggst me something what to do

    • Hi,
      Give some more details. Are you a vegetarian or a non vegetarian?
      In any case, try eating amla (in the form of murabba if you can’t consume raw) regularly. There will be some change
      definitely.

  6. Hi there! Thank you for the information! I wonder if meat bone has the same influence on hormones? I usually cook the bones for 48 hours and drink its water! If It is as same as the meat, then I need to eliminate it as well!!

    • Bone broth is an excellent choice of food. Keep going with that for sure. Just preferably use organic, grass fed animals.

  7. Hi, my name is persious, I am a body builder, i just wanna know i am 30, i am using protein since many years.. i use cycle also, since 1 month i am getting hair falls lots and i can feel my hair is became thin from the top… Many people said stop useing testosterone, i have stop using cycle.. just wanted to know how i will regrow my hair? It Will regrow after stopping cycle?
    For stopping hair loss i have started using Finstaride 5… and biotin.. i am using Nezal shampoo also…

      • Hi will My son is 15 years old and already taking homeopathic treatment for hair thinning. I just want to confirm that weigh protein isolate is good for him or not Thanks

        • Hi Yamini,

          In certain individuals, dairy (which whey is) can cause inflammation.

          As long as you know that your son isn’t sensitive to dairy (which you can find out with an elimination diet), then the whey protein isolate is fine. However, there are non-dairy options including pea and hemp proteins.

          Regards,

          Steph

  8. Dear will
    I am using onions juice for hair regrowth and stop hair loss does it work.How many days it will take and I also do hair yoga.

  9. I am a 24 year old female. I have androgenic alopecia for about 11 years. I have been using minoxidil and taking biotin for about 2 years now. Last year my hair started to get thick and dense but suddenly in the exam season it started to fall off very badly. From last June to this February I have lost more than 70% of my hair and my front scalp is visible now.

    I have been on a low carb diet for past 6 months and lost about 10.5 kg. Can you please suggest me something to stop the hairfall and grow back some hair. I have been using onion juice recently.

  10. Hi Will! I have been facing hair loss for many years and have been to numerous doctors. I went to a dermatologist last year and she recommended taking lot of tests. Based on the test, she said I might have insulin resistance and recommended Glyciphage tablet for 3 months. Do you think it’s advisable to take that tablet? She also said, although I don’t have PCOS explicitly (took a test for that too and I don’t have PCOS) I may have a slightly higher level of testosterone. Any help and suggestion on what to do will highly help, thanks a lot in advance.

    • Hi Sangita, first off, I’m not a doctor so this is just my opinion. However, I don’t recommend any kind of pharmaceutical for chronic health problems related to hair. Improving your nutrition is the first and most important step to overcoming insulin resistance and protecting against PCOS. How much have have you optimized your diet such as completely reducing your sugar intake and reducing carbs, whilst increasing healthy natural fats?

    • Hello Anthony, this isn’t something I’ve researched, but I would definitely try to avoid aspartame. I would recommend a diet that doesn’t contain processed food or drink, so artificial sweeteners won’t be present anyway and this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about. Don’t eat processed foods where the manufacturer even has a chance to slip in some nasty chemicals.

  11. Me I didn’t lost my hair yet but, I loss every day more than 100 of hair. So what do I do to stop losing my hair?

  12. Hey , actually i have seborrheic dermatitis and ulcerative colitis . so how can i control them as because of this I’m facing hair loss

  13. Hi Will
    I have some questions about the DHTs and some natural hormones I am taking. I started seeing a naturopathic doctor about 6 years ago and have been using testosterone cream to boost my testosterone levels. It is a 10% mixture in a cream that I apply daily. Plus I have been using a supplemental testosterone “gummy” during the day. This is partially to help with ED problems I have been having since that time. With the hair loss I was noticing the doctor recommended I start using Pura-Dor shampoo to stop the hair loss. I started using that in February of this year. I added the conditioner about a month and a half ago. I noticed a couple of things. First my ED actually got worse about the time I started using the Pura-Dor and second, my head also started itching a lot more, especially since using the conditioner. I really only came to understand that the shampoo has DHT in it, which is a testosterone blocker, so it is starting to make more sense about the ED situation becoming worse. However, it seems that maybe the testosterone is the reason for my hair loss? is there a balance that can be achieved somewhere in there between taking testosterone and hair loss?

  14. Hie, i started losing hair when i took isotretinoin drug. i have since stopped using it but i continue to lose more hair. I asked my demartologist about this issue but he said that the isotretinoin is not the culprit. What can i do to prevent more hair loss

  15. Hi Will,
    I am suffering from hair fall but my beard is growing rapidly, What do you think is the problem?How do I solve it naturally?

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