Scientists have discovered two natural proteins that can turn skin cells into hair follicles, which may offer a solution for people with either too much or too little hair.
The interaction between the proteins Wnt and Noggin has been found to cause parent cells, known as stem cells, to develop into hair follicles rather than skin cells. The proteins work by changing a stem cell’s shape so that it can separate from other cells and move downward, which is an important part of hair follicle formation.
This natural interaction may hold the key to stimulating the growth of hair or preventing the formation of unwanted hair, researchers said.
Skin has a vast reservoir of stem cells that allows skin to renew. Researchers are exploring whether certain drugs could activate the natural factors and "coax" some cells to become follicles rather than skin cells.
Similarly, drugs that halt the signals may be useful in getting rid of unwanted hair.
Additionally, the research may apply to some treatments of cancers, such as colon and breast tumors. The process that results in the separation of a stem cell from other cells may be the same process that allows cancer cells to spread, according to researchers.
Nature March 20, 2003;422(6929):317-22
This is an important issue, as up to 80 percent of the population has some degree of hair loss, and each year more than $7 billion is spent on treatments and cures for the problem.
While the clinical applications of this development are likely many years off, it is an exciting concept even before we see the fruits of this research.
However, it certainly seems worth waiting for considering the terrible disaster that hair transplants can be as I reviewed in an article in April 2003.
However, we don’t have to wait for many years to achieve help for hair loss as it has been established for quite some time that abnormal hormone levels can be a major contributor to this problem.
One of the more common ones for women would be low thyroid levels. In March 2003 I wrote an update on the revisions of the way that traditional medicine is now diagnosing hypothyroidism. You can even get more specific screening to determine if you have thyroid issues.
The only caution you need to exercise here is not to be too quick to jump on the thyroid replacement bandwagon, for once you are started on thyroid hormone replacement, even natural hormones, your thyroid gland starts to atrophy. If you remain on thyroid replacement for more than three years it becomes very difficult to ever stop it. This essentially condemns you to a lifetime of having to take thyroid hormone.
My first choice of care in thyroid patients involves replacing iodine and selenium and doing extensive emotional rebalancing with techniques like EFT.
The other hormonal contribution is insulin. You will want to make sure your fasting insulin level is below 5 if you struggle with hair loss. Usually this will require a substantial amount of cardiovascular exercise and strict sugar and grain avoidance.