A woman applying a minoxidil alternative to her scalp and hair

Minoxidil Alternatives – 3 Natural Substitutes With Great Results!

Minoxidil is commonly used as an ingredient in hair loss treatment formulas. However, there are alternatives available (including natural substitutes) with similar (and sometimes even better) results.

In this article, I’ll introduce you to minoxidil, including how it works. Then, you’ll learn of common side effects and substitutes for this popular over-the-counter treatment.

In addition, I’ll share with you three natural alternatives to minoxidil with powerful results.

Minoxidil As a Treatment for Male Pattern Baldness

Minoxidil is the active ingredient in Rogaine, and it has been approved by the FDA for over twenty years as a hair loss treatment (even though there can be considerable side effects!)

To understand how it works, it’s first important to understand the causes of pattern baldness.

What Causes Thinning, Receding Hair?

There are various causes of hair fall, though the most popular one is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), also known as Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB).

The main cause of AGA is believed to be a sensitivity to DHT, an androgen hormone found naturally within the body.

DHT is produced when testosterone (the sex hormone) and 5-alpha-reductase (an enzyme) interact. This happens in the prostate, but also in places near the hair follicles.

How It Works

As a treatment for pattern baldness, minoxidil works by stimulating blood circulation to the scalp.

As mentioned, AGA is caused by a sensitivity to DHT. As DHT attaches to the hair follicle and remains, the follicle becomes irritated and inflamed. Over time, this leads to hair miniaturization.

As the follicle miniaturizes, the hair growth cycle shortens. This leads to shorter and shorter hairs being produced, eventually leading to no hair at all.

As the follicles become inflamed and irritated as a result of DHT sensitivity, the hair cycle shortens leading to baldness.

So, where does minoxidil come in?

As the process of miniaturization takes place, the link between the hair follicle and blood vessels becomes thinner. When this occurs, less nutrients and oxygen are delivered.

When minoxidil is used, blood circulation increases. This means more nutrients can be delivered, and the follicle can revive.

Minoxidil Side Effects and Considerations

While minoxidil has proven to be effective in the treatment for alopecia, it does have side effects associated with its use.

Common side effects include local irritation (itching, flaking, burning, rash),

In addition to side effects, there are a few things to consider before beginning treatment.

  1. Results only last as long as treatment continues.
  2. The treatment covers symptoms, but it doesn’t treat the root cause.

With these side effects and considerations in mind, it’s natural to want to reconsider your choice.

Are There Over-the-Counter Alternatives to Minoxidil?

As it currently stands, Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) are the only over-the-counter hair loss treatments approved by the FDA.

Unlike minoxidil, propecia works by inhibiting 5AR. As a result, less DHT is produced. However, this course of treatment can have some life-altering side effects, such as loss of sexual function.

So, what happens if you don’t want to use Rogaine or Propecia?

Are There Natural Alternatives to Minoxidil?

If over-the-counter medications aren’t an option for you, or if you’ve tried both with poor results, you’ll be happy to know there are natural alternatives.

Many of these alternatives fall into one of two groups (or, sometimes both). Let’s take a look.

(Want to learn about a homemade minoxidil formula I’ve used with great success? Check it out here!)

DHT Blockers

As sensitivity to DHT is the main culprit in AGA, it makes sense to use DHT blockers.

While I recommend a different method (which I’ll get into in more depth later), this can be a great way to get started on your hair growth journey.

So, what are some natural DHT blockers you can use?

While this list is far from extensive, it does contain the more powerful DHT blockers (as proven by science).

For example, pumpkin seed oil improves both hair count and hair thickness. This was shown as a result of a 24-week study:

Diagram of hair count, and hair thickness after 24 weeks using pumpkin seed oil compared to a placebo
Source.

In another study, reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) was proven to the most effective mushroom species at inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that triggers the production of DHT:

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

With the addition of these natural DHT blockers to your hair care routine, you can get a great start on stopping hair thinning and boosting growth.

Circulation Boosters

If you want to replicate the way in which minoxidil works, then circulation boosters are the way to go.

peppermint leaves and oil on a table
Peppermint oil is one of the most effective circulation boosters.

There are a few oils and herbs that can improve blood circulation. For example:

However, I recommend that you also practice manual stimulation of the scalp for added benefits.

There are two main routes you can take when it comes to stimulation of the scalp. First, scalp massage.

This involves gentle stimulation of the scalp, either with your fingertips or a head messaging device. As you gently work the scalp, blood flow increases.

This leads to improved circulation overall and can stimulate new hair growth when practiced continually over a period of time.

Second, a more intensive (and effective) route is microneedling.

As a practice commonly used to reduce scarring, microneedling involves the use of tiny needles. These needles are gently rolled over the scalp, and small puncture wounds are made.

A man with a large bald spot receiving microneedling
While microneedling is typically done to reduce scarring caused by acne, it can also be used on the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

(Learn how you can practice microneedling at home with the use of a dermaroller.)

As the wounds heal, a three-step process occurs:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Proliferation
  3. Maturation (Remodeling)

As the remodeling takes place, healthy hair follicles are able to form. This can stimulate the growth of healthy hair, and the process also makes it possible for more natural oils (such as the ones mentioned above) to absorb.

Diet Alkalisation: The Ultimate Minoxidil Substitute

I mentioned that, while DHT blockers can give you a solid start, they won’t solve the underlying issue. So first, what is the underlying cause of thinning hair?

In my years of research, I believe one of the main contributors of genetic alopecia to be poor diet. As a result of a high-fat and acidic diet, the body reacts with inflammation.

This further perpetuates the hair miniaturization cycle, and it makes it impossible for your hair to actually regrow.

What’s the answer?

If acidity is causing the majority of these issues, then alkalisation can put a stop to them. Let me explain.

The foods we eat tend to fall on either side of the pH scale: acidic, or alkaline.

If you eat too many foods with high acidity (sugary grains, unhealthy fats, carbonated drinks, and red meats), then your blood stream’s net pH will be acidic.

However, if you eat foods that are more alkaline, your blood stream’s pH will be alkaline.

But what does this have to do with your hair?

We know that DHT triggers hair loss in individuals with MPB, and we also know that DHT is produced when testosterone and 5AR interact.

Further, this enzyme is known to function particularly well in acidic environments. Do you see where I’m going with this?

In order to reduce the functioning of 5AR (which in turn reduces the amount of DHT produced), then the net pH of your body must be alkaline.

How can this be done?

Fortunately, the process is quite simple.

I’ve written before about common diet foods that can cause hair problems. I’ve also written about foods that are known to be good for hair growth.

Some foods cause hair loss, other help regrowth

While it’s best to jump straight to cutting out acidic foods and transition to alkaline-only foods, that can be difficult. That’s why I recommend you start with a morning vegetable juice or smoothie.

Eventually, you can branch out and add more alkaline foods to your daily diet.

Conclusion

While minoxidil is popular in the hair loss community, not everyone wants to use minoxidil as part of their hair growth regimen. In fact, I recommend against its use entirely.

Instead, I believe natural is the way to go.

Not only can the results of many natural ingredients be more effective than minoxidil, but they also come with less side effects.

18 thoughts on “Minoxidil Alternatives – 3 Natural Substitutes With Great Results!”

  1. Hi Will,
    I am 44 years old, female, and suffering from hair loss for approx. 8 years, which has been increasing over the last months. Meanwhile I have lost about 2/3 of my hair, which scares me a great deal.
    I am wondering now, does it make sense to COMBINE a strictly alkaline diet with Minoxidil (Regaine)? I switched to alkaline diet 2 weeks ago, and it works well for me, so far without an effect on my hair of course, but I guess this will take some time. But since I am panicking about my bad hairloss, I would like to get first “quick” results with Minoxidil (just started a few days ago). What I hope is that at a later point in time, I could break off Minoxidil therapy and my hair would be strong enough with just continuing my alkaline diet, and maybe your natural Minoxidil alternatives… What do you think?
    Thanks for your advice –
    Best regards,
    Ida

    • Hi Ida, I can’t recommend minoxidil to you, but if you try it and it helps then that is good. I know it can take a seemingly long time to see results from diet changes – stick with it. Could it be a deficiency that is causing your shedding? Do you have a good variety of natural foods in your diet? Things like oysters, liver, nuts, seeds, berries…

  2. Hi i am 34 have been using minox with dht blocker for about 10 months slight improvement but am thinking of trying natural remedies as it’s long term side effect and cost ?

    • Thanks Jenny, yes using a chemical like minoxidil everyday on the skin cannot be good for it.

  3. I’ve been doing a lot of research as far as Minox. and on one site it states that there would be an initial shed and sometimes this would be 30 or more percent of the hair, and this would happen every six to eight months. Would the natural treatments also cause this? This site also says minox. would put all the hairs in the same phase, causing a massive shed so a lot would shed at once. Is this true? My son seems to be losing a lot of hair at 21. Thank you!

    • Hi Ann,

      The shed that occurs with minoxidil can also occur with natural treatments.

      The reason for this, as you’ve stated, is that these treatments will push the hair into anagen phase. To get there, the telogen hairs must shed from the scalp so as to make room for the anagen hairs.

      I’ve never heard of this happening every six to eight months because, once you’re past the initial shed, your hairs should be synced properly. You’ll still see a regular shed of 50 to 150 h airs per day, but this is natural.

      Regards,

      Steph

  4. Hello I started using minoxidil 5%+MPG 0.0125 when I was 64 following the menopause, as my hair was thinning and breaking.. It worked well until last year when after over 4 years of use I became allergic to it. I stopped using it last August. Now 7 months later my hair has started breaking easily looking much thinner.
    I’m still taking the vitamin tablets prescribed with my treatment. Can you help please!
    Thank you Gilly

  5. Hi everyone. Now these ingredients are the number one hair regrowth treatment for women and men. Castor oil, rosemary oil, coconut oil (pure) and extra virgin olive oil! Works faster than Rogaine. Welcome your thicker, stronger and healthier hair back with these oils! Tootaloo!

  6. Hello everyone,
    I’ve also became allergic to minoxidil, but how do I use the above mentioned oils as an alternative? Do I have to massage them into my scalp?
    Thanks

    • I am a 64 year old woman and am in shock over my once thick ,wavy hair becoming a thing of the past !
      My head is exploding with an overload of information regarding standard and alternative anti- hair thinning products and treatments for women .
      I’ve tried Pur D’Ora and other drugstore brand hair loss products with limited success or with only minimal results over a 3-4 month period.
      I have a heart condition, so Minoxidil is ‘Out’, by dint of it’s known side-effects (!)
      It is clear that proper nutrition, stress management, and a targeted treatment plan are the key components of combating hair loss.
      What most of us ‘Boomer Chicks’ are looking for is a ‘silver-bullet’ in the guise of a serum or a ‘one-a-day’ supplement vs an expensive, 3-4- step product line which requires a 1-year ‘subscription ‘.
      Short of buying a wig, is there anything you would recommend for my thinning hair ?

  7. I am 48 yrs old an Indian entrepreneur. I have had very healthy hair all my life, but after moving to south India I started having lot of hair fall. I had just taken PRP and I am thinking of using minoxidil.
    In two years I lost 50 percent hair and this bothers me a lot.
    After reading your very good article. I may switch to natural methods.
    Thank you

    • Interesting. I think it makes more sense to research the causes of your hair loss. Why did it begin after moving to south India?
      What changes did you make to yourself? Or what is different there compared to your former location?

  8. I have been applying peppermint oil and taking flaxseed oil for the past 1 yr and the hairs at the temples still shed so I am going to try minoxidil but scared of all the side effects. I wanted to know if I apply it only along the temples the side effects are less rather than applying whole region of scalp

  9. I am a male & had fungal infection in my scalp since when I was 12 & I didn’t bother going to dermatologist till I was 15. By 15 I had also started baldening – have a family history, but I am too young for that.
    Dermatologist gave me Ketoconazole shampoo, Morr F (Minoxidil+ Finasteride). After 1 month of taking, I had tremendous improvements, but my father stopped me from getting another pack.
    Clearly now I see why (sexual problems).
    I am 18 now, and am balder now ever. I am also a bit overweight.
    I was thinking of getting my life back on track.

    Any ideas for dandruff + androgenic alopecia? I am from India, any local herb u recommend?

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