According to recent statistics, hair loss affects up to 40% of men by the age of 35 and up to 40% of women by the time they reach 40. Everyone knows about hair loss and the worry of it can be a problem – this is nothing new. Hair thinning can cause significant distress and may seem an irreversible condition, but researchers have recently uncovered a possible link between melatonin and hair growth. 
What Exactly Is Melatonin? 
Melatonin is a hormone commonly known for being responsible for regulating sleep patterns. This chemical controls sleeping and waking hours in mammals and governs the circadian rhythm (our internal body clock) and metabolic activity. Melatonin also plays an important role in other body functions, as it has been used in cancer support treatments, to boost the immune system, to treat inflammation, and to protect the cardiovascular system. 
 
What’s The Link Between Melatonin And Hair Growth? 
Usually individuals who take melatonin do so to treat sleep issues and take supplements in the form of pills. But recently, scientists have started using melatonin topically (directly on the scalp) to research the effect it may have on hair loss. 
 
To understand how melatonin is related to hair growth, it’s important to understand that the hair growth cycle is regulated by hormones and consists of three stages: 
 
- Anagen or growth stage 
- Catagen or transitional stage 
- Telogen or falling stage 
 
Disruption to hormones alters the cycle and may cause follicles to go on the telogen stage, therefore causing hair loss. According to a 2012 study published at a peer-reviewed journal, melatonin can counter the negative effects of hormonal disruption leading to hair loss. 
 
According to the above study, melatonin can be said to work in two ways: 
- Protecting hair follicles: In addition to genetic factors, hair loss is aggravated by oxidative stress (exposure to pollution, UV radiation, smoking, etc.). Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant, and like other antioxidants, it has the ability to fight oxidative stress. Hair follicles have melatonin receptors, suggesting this hormone plays a role in hair growth cycle. In fact, lab tests showed that the topical application of melatonin extended the anagen / growth stage and resulted in faster growth. 
 
- Stimulating hair cell growth: In the study mentioned above, participants were tested at 3 and 6 months post-treatment, and more than half reported a decrease in hair loss and enhanced hair density. After 90 days, almost a quarter of participants reported hair re-growth. An older study (2004) reported similar findings. Participants suffering from hair loss applied a melatonin solution once a day and experienced an increase in the amount of hair in anagen / growth stage. 
 
In view of the above, it appears that melatonin might be an alternative to the most common hair loss treatments. It seems that it lacks the unwanted side effects of drugs, although the usual precautions apply to pregnant and vulnerable groups. It seems that the anti-free radical action of melatonin and its ability to stimulate hair follicles means this hormone can slow down processes associated with ageing, including hair loss. 
 
It is important to be realistic here and understand that melatonin is not a magical elixir that puts a complete and / or permanent stop to hair loss. As with any research piece, there is a long way to go and what can work positively for one half of a tested group may not work so well for others. 
 
In the meantime, if you have a hair loss problem or concern you would like to talk about, then find all our details in the contact us section. 
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