Can CBD help with hair loss? Scientific research has been looking into the possible uses and effects of cannabidiol on alopecia and hair growth, and the answers are starting to come in. Here is what researchers are saying.
The causes of hair loss
Hair loss is a natural phenomenon due to the normal life cycle of the hair shaft and follicle. There are three phases: the anagen phase, or growth phase; the catagen phase, which is the physiological progressive cessation of the hair’s vital functions; and the telogen phase, also known as the terminal phase of hair loss.
This process repeats itself cyclically throughout life, so much so that each person loses 50 to 100 hairs a day (which are then replaced by new ones) without any particular consequences, but when the organism is conditioned by environmental, physical, chemical (cosmetics, smoking, alcohol…) or genetic stresses, the loss can exceed the regrowth, leading to baldness and androgenetic alopecia, a condition also known as AGA.
There are currently several drugs available to combat hair loss, but all have limited results and no definitive solution. However, studies have shown that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which contains cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors, is a key player in hair follicle cell growth. Therefore, research is now looking at possible alternative applications of cannabidiol, one of the main cannabinoids in cannabis, to combat hair loss.
CBD for hair loss: the study
Among the latest to investigate the possible role of CBD was a team of researchers from Medical Life Care Planners in St. Petersburg, in collaboration with the Laser Hair Centre in Clearwater (both in Florida), who analysed the results of daily topical application of a CBD-rich oil formulation (10.78% CBD and 0.21% THC) for six months in people suffering from AGA.
Thirty-five people took part in the study, which is now available online. Of these, 28 men (average age: 43) and seven women (average age: 61) had been diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia and had not received any other treatment.
At the end of the study, the researchers analysed the results according to the area of the head affected by alopecia. In the temporal area, the number of hairs increased by an average of 74.1% in men and 55.2% in women. On the top of the head, the number of hairs increased by an average of 120.1% in men and 64.9% in women. Overall, the hair count increased by an average of 93.5%.
In terms of side effects, approximately one third of patients reported a slight increase in hair loss during the first month of treatment, which was no longer observed at the two-month follow-up visit.
“This case study supports significant benefits for hair regrowth in both men and women with AGA”, the researchers concluded. “All subjects experienced regrowth, but the exact mechanism of the therapeutic effects is not entirely clear. Further studies are therefore needed”.
Cannabidiol for alopecia: the other studies
A similar result was obtained in 2021 by another team of researchers, this time from the Department of Biological Sciences at Kangwon National University in Chuncheon, South Korea.
The study, published in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture, focused in particular on the relationship between CBD and β-catenin – a subunit of the cadherin protein complex and a central point of the Wnt/b-catenin signalling pathway associated with cell survival – in dermal hair papilla cells.
“For this research, we performed structural and anatomical analyses of hair tissue from alopecia patients using microscopy. The pharmacological effect of CBD was assessed by β-catenin expression and RT-PCR and immunostaining experiments,”, the researchers explained.
The results suggest a potential regulatory effect of CBD, but again, further investigation is needed.
The benefits of CBD for hair
What is certain is that CBD and the fatty acids in cannabis (especially omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9) not only contribute to the well-being of the scalp, but also supply the hair follicles with numerous nutrients, which in turn strengthen and lighten the hair from root to tip. We also talked about this in our article on cannabis cosmetics.