Within the last few years, many researchers have demonstrated use of theaflavin extract as a way to stop hair loss. In this article you’re going to learn about this research and how you can start using theaflavin today for your hair.
What is Theaflavin?
Theaflavin is a polyphenol chemical that is found in the leaves of Camellia sinensis. These leaves and leaf buds undergo a process called enzymatic oxidation, creating the three byproducts of theaflavin: theaflavin-3-gallate, theaflavin-3’-gallate, and theaflavin-3,3’-digallate.
These flavonoids are found at the highest concentration within black tea.
Theaflavin has been studied and documented for its many health benefits, exemplifying its bioactive properties as an antioxidant, antiviral, and anticancer agent.
It has also been shown to promote cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease. Because of its ability to surpass the blood-brain barrier, it has also shown preventative properties against Parkinson’s disease.
In regard to hair growth, theaflavin can help in several different manners.
Theaflavin and DHT
Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a sex steroid and androgen hormone that is created as a testosterone byproduct. Testosterone is essential for normal sexual functions and is the precursor for DHT.
In fact, about 5 – 10% of circulating free testosterone, with the help of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, converts to DHT.
While DHT plays a vital role in secondary male characteristics such as facial hair, deepening voice and muscle mass, it also has some negative side effects on hair loss if there is an imbalance.
For men who display genetic sensitivity to pattern baldness, DHT doesn’t directly cause hair to fall out – it restricts the follicles from being able to properly produce hair growth.
When DHT attaches itself to the hair follicle’s oil gland, it stops essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins from nourishing the follicles. This effectively shortens the average lifespan of the follicles, which results in its shrinking and eventual stunted development.
It is important to note that DHT circulation and its effect on hair growth is not necessarily correlated with testosterone levels.
Instead, there are indications that serum (blood) DHT and tissue DHT produces different severity of hair loss. The tissue DHT found in the scalps of men are more potent than the DHT in other areas of the body.
Study 1: Black Tea & DHT Concentration
Theaflavin extract has several influences over DHT. One such study compared the use of tea and soy phytochemicals to observe the effect on prostate tumors in mice. The research found that the mice treated with steeped black tea lowered serum DHT concentration by over 72%.
This suggests that black tea may contain components that prevent the activity the enzyme 5-alpha reductase from converting free testosterone into DHT, thereby mitigating DHT’s effect on follicle miniaturization.
It is also observed that the effect on DHT is similar to Propecia (finasteride), a drug that encourages the inhibition of 5-alpha-reducates.
However, due to potentially harmful side effects of Propecia (such as gynaecomastia, or enlargement of the male breast, and erectile dysfunction) and hefty price tag, theaflavin may be a more natural and economical alternative.
Study 2: Chinese Black Tea Extract On Hair Growth
Another study directly analyzed hair growth by topically applying Chinese black tea extract (CBTE) on shaved 6 week-old male mice.
The researchers found there was more significant hair growth in mice with the CBTE application than with either no topical application or application of just capsaicin.
It is also observed that when CBTE is used in combination with capsaicin, it further increased the effect of the hair-growth on the mice.
The mechanism behind this may be related to the estrogen receptor (ERα) that is located within capsaicin working synergistically with the CBTE.
It is already mentioned that in males, testosterone converts to DHT through the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. However, through a different process called aromatase, testosterone can also convert into estrogen. Therefore, estrogen and DHT are direct antagonistic to one another, as any resulting estrogen from testosterone is taken away from resulting DHT.
Theaflavin and Inflammation
Inflammation can also contribute to thinning hair, when certain chemicals such as free radicals and DHT damage the mitochondria in the hair.
This causes a series of events that eventually leads to the cell apoptosis, or programmed cell death, which leads to the hair falling out and lack of growth thereafter.
Because theaflavin extract possesses strong antioxidant properties, it can help mitigate the oxidative damages in the tissues. It can also regulate inflammatory activities in the body by regulating the cells that influence and perpetuate inflammatory responses in the scalp.
Where to get Theaflavin extract
The easiest method of consuming theaflavin extract is through black tea. Roughly five cups of black tea on a daily basis are recommended in order to extract the full benefit. As tea does contain caffeine, it may cause some potential side effects such as nausea and irritability.
An alternative method to tea is consumption in supplement form. Around two to three capsules of 350mg theaflavin extract can be enough to start seeing benefits, though that number can change based on personal variables such as weight and age.
There have been no official reports of adverse side effects.
9 Science Based Health Benefits of Theaflavins and Black Tea – Selfhacked. (2016). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://selfhacked.com/2016/08/09/theaflavins/
Arent, S., Senso, M., Golem, D., & McKeever, K. (2010, February 23). The effects of theaflavin-enriched black tea extract on muscle soreness, oxidative stress, inflammation, and endocrine responses to acute anaerobic interval training: A randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-7-11
**I-Ching, H., Yasuyuki, O., & Hiroyuki, F. (n.d.). Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.130298
Schmidt, S., & Jones, A. (n.d.). What is Theaflavin? Retrieved October 17, 2016, from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-theaflavin.htm
Urysiak-Czubatka, I., Kmieć, M. L., & Broniarczyk-Dyła, G. (2014, September 8). Assessment of the usefulness of dihydrotestosterone in the diagnostics of patients with androgenetic alopecia. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171668/
**Zhou, J., Yu, L., Zhong, Y., & Blackburn, G. L. (2003). Soy Phytochemicals and Tea Bioactive Components Synergistically Inhibit Androgen-Sensitive Human Prostate Tumors in Mice. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2683253/