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Does Green Tea Work for Hair Loss?

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Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry
Chief Medical Officer
iconLast updated 7th January 2022
In 30 seconds…

Does green tea help to treat hair loss? According to a number of studies, it may well help. In mice models – and a number of limited human studies – treatment with green tea has shown to have some impact on hormone-caused hair loss.

This is due to the presence in green tea of catechins, a type of natural antioxidant which may reduce the amount of the hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), in your system. Conventional hair loss treatments work like this – and, if green tea does the same, it is a promising natural alternative.

However, the evidence that we have is not yet enough to support its effective use in tackling male pattern baldness. More studies are required.

Green Tea for Hair Loss

Green tea is an ancient beverage known for its large number of therapeutic effects. From increasing the speed at which you burn fat, to lowering blood pressure and even fighting cancer, the reported health benefits of green tea are famous – and, in many cases, backed by science.

One benefit that has received increasing attention in recent years regards its effect on male pattern baldness. Look around the internet and you’ll see many people convinced that green tea can boost the health of your hair follicles – and aid hair regrowth in the process.

But does green tea actually work for hair loss? In this article, that’s what we’re going to find out. However, those of you in search of a simple yes or no will be disappointed. The real answer is that we just don’t yet know for sure.

Let’s Talk about Hair Loss

Firstly, though, we need to talk about hair loss. What causes it – and how does it work?

In men, the most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness (MPB). Responsible for 90% of hair loss cases in men, this is the familiar type – or pattern – of balding that occurs in men as they age. Think a bald spot and receding hairline, or a generalised thinning of hair at the scalp.

It’s caused by your hormones – specifically dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, an androgen that is produced in your body from testosterone. An enzyme known as 5-alpha-reductase is responsible for this process: it helps to break down testosterone and convert it into the powerful DHT.

Unfortunately, DHT damages your hair follicles. For most men, our follicles are sensitive to the hormone. In its presence, the follicles shrink, weaken, and stop producing healthy hair. Meanwhile, the so-called growth phase of your follicles – the period in which they produce hair – shortens, meaning that they are producing less hair less regularly. As a result, we see this progressive pattern of hair loss across our scalp.

Hair loss caused by MPB is reversible. Yet, it needs to be caught before the follicles are permanently damaged. When you are completely bald – when follicles produce no new hair at all – you’ve probably let the process progress too far.

How Does Green Tea Help?

Green tea is believed by some people to intervene in this process in a number of ways – through the medicinal compounds that it contains.

Tea comes from the plant camellia sinensis. But unlike black tea – the same plant with a different manufacturing process – green tea keeps much of the plant’s natural goodness within its tea leaves. That’s why so many people are convinced of its health benefits.

Compounds known as polyphenols – essentially natural nutrients and antioxidants – are key to the beverage’s health benefits. According to chemical analyses of green tea, these make up 30% of the dry weight of its leaves.

Most relevant here is a strain of polyphenol known as flavonols, which include catechins – and specifically epigallocatechin gallate (or EGCG). It is this compound that is believed to do the heavy lifting when it comes to tackling hair loss.

Why? Scientists speculate that EGCG tackles that enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, that we know produces DHT. By inhibiting that enzyme, they hypothesise, EGCG lowers the overall level of DHT – and allows your hair follicles to stay in their “growth phase” for longer.

However, in science, there is often a big gap between what is hypothesised and what works in practice. And while the theory regarding EGCG makes a lot of sense, we are still lacking concrete evidence that it actually does work in this way.

Green Tea vs Hair Loss: The Evidence

But let’s turn our attention to the research that has been conducted into the link between green tea and hair loss. These can be split into three groups: experiments conducted on rodents; those done in test-tubes; and those conducted on human populations.

Firstly, one study gave 60 mice experiencing hair loss a solution containing polyphenol from green tea, over a six-month period. A third of these mice (33%) experienced “significant” hair regrowth, while the control group (who did not take polyphenol) did not see any hair regrowth at all. An alternative mouse study also found that EGCG reduced the amount of hair loss caused by testosterone.

Test tube experiments showed similarly promising results. Expecting that EGCG would tackle 5-alpha reductase, researchers studied the effect of the catechin in hair follicles. The results suggested that EGCG was indeed effective in increasing hair growth.

Green Tea in Human Trials?

Human studies have so far shown less certain results – although not necessarily due to the fact that EGCG didn’t work. 

For example, one study into EGCG gave 10 participants with androgenetic alopecia a supplement including green tea extract. While 80% showed improvements over 24 weeks, there were two shortcomings. Firstly, the sample size was much too small to give conclusive results. And the supplement had other ingredients – including melatonin, omega-3, and cholecalciferol – meaning that it wasn’t necessarily EGCG doing the work.

The link between green tea and male pattern hair loss does look promising. Yet, we are not yet in a position to say that it will certainly work. As a result, those of you looking for a reliable option for natural hair care might need to wait a little longer before green tea is confirmed.

Reliable Treatments to Stop Hair Loss?

While it remains uncertain whether green tea successfully tackles hair loss, there are two medical treatments that we know are effective in the battle against baldness. These are known as Finasteride and Minoxidil – and they have both been medically approved to treat MPB.

Finasteride works in the same way as green tea should – by tackling 5-alpha reductase. The difference here is that Finasteride is proven to reduce DHT levels, by up to 60%. As a result, hair loss is halted – and in most cases reversed. In one clinical trial, Finasteride reversed hair loss in 87% of participants.

While Finasteride is taken as a pill, Minoxidil is a topical treatment. This means that you apply it directly to your scalp. It works as a vasodilator, meaning it widens your blood vessels to boost blood flow to the area. This is great for your hair health, as it means that your follicles receive the nutrients and oxygen that they need to remain in good shape.

You can use Finasteride and Minoxidil together, boosting your chances of reversing hair loss further.

Key Takeaways: Green Tea for Hair Loss

Besides its famed anti-inflammatory properties, there are an array of benefits that green tea offers. One of these may be tackling male pattern hair loss – as one of the compounds contained in tea appears to inhibit the production of DHT, the hormone most responsible for causing male balding.

While promising, the results are not yet certain. But there are other options available for those of you with MPB. Finasteride and Minoxidil are by far the most reliable.

References
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Sabu M Chacko, Priya T Thambi, Ramadasan Kuttan, and Ikuo Nishigaki (2010). Beneficial effects of green tea: A literature review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2855614/

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Richard A Hiipakka, Han-Zhong Zhang, Wei Dai, Qing Dai, Shutsung Liao (2002). Structure-activity relationships for inhibition of human 5alpha-reductases by polyphenols: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11931850/

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Adeleh Esfandiari, A Paul Kelly (2005). The effects of tea polyphenolic compounds on hair loss among rodents: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16173333/

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Yoon Young Kim, Sun Up No, Min Ho Kim, Hei Sung Kim, Hoon Kang, Hyung Ok Kim, Young Min Park (2011). Effects of topical application of EGCG on testosterone-induced hair loss in a mouse model: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21951062/

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O S Kwon, J H Han, H G Yoo, J H Chung, K H Cho, H C Eun, K H Kim (2007). Human hair growth enhancement in vitro by green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17092697/

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Anna J NicholsOlivia Bosshardt HughesAgnese CanazzaMartin N Zaiac (2017). An Open-Label Evaluator Blinded Study of the Efficacy and Safety of a New Nutritional Supplement in Androgenetic Alopecia: A Pilot Study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28367262/ 

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Akio Sato, Akira Takeda (2012). Evaluation of efficacy and safety of finasteride 1 mg in 3177 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21980923/

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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