A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.
J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Apr;8(2):143-52. PMID: 12006122
BACKGROUND: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is characterized by the structural miniaturization of androgen-sensitive hair follicles in susceptible individuals and is anatomically defined within a given pattern of the scalp. Biochemically, one contributing factor of this disorder is the conversion of testosterone (T) to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) via the enzyme 5-alpha reductase (5AR). This metabolism is also key to the onset and progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Furthermore, AGA has also been shown to be responsive to drugs and agents used to treat BPH. Of note, certain botanical compounds have previously demonstrated efficacy against BPH. Here, we report the first example of a placebo-controlled, double-blind study undertaken in order to examine the benefit of these botanical substances in the treatment of AGA. OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to test botanically derived 5AR inhibitors, specifically the liposterolic extract of Serenoa repens (LSESr) and beta-sitosterol, in the treatment of AGA. Subjects: Included in this study were males between the ages of 23 and 64 years of age, in good health, with mild to moderate AGA. RESULTS: The results of this pilot study showed a highly positive response to treatment. The blinded investigative staff assessment report showed that 60% of (6/10) study subjects dosed with the active study formulation were rated as improved at the final visit. CONCLUSIONS: This study establishes the effectiveness of naturally occurring 5AR inhibitors against AGA for the first time, and justifies the expansion to larger trials.