|Year : 2012 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 1-2
Can beverages grow hair on bald heads?
President, The Hair Research Society of India, No. 10, Ritherdon Avenue, Vepery, Chennai - 600 007, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Web Publication||12-May-2012|
President, The Hair Research Society of India, No. 10, Ritherdon Avenue, Vepery, Chennai - 600 007, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Yesudian P. Can beverages grow hair on bald heads?. Int J Trichol 2012;4:1-2
The answer may be yes. A beverage is a liquid which is specifically prepared for human consumption. One may wonder what the connection is between beverages and baldness. Recent trichological literature suggests a nexus, which could be taken advantage of in certain types of alopecia like the androgenetic alopecia (AGA).
It is well known that the latter is due to end-organ sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in genetically predisposed men. Hitherto only two drugs have been shown to be effective in AGA viz. oral finasteride and topical minoxidil. But only 70 to 80% of AGA patients respond to these drugs. Clearly, therefore, alternative modalities should be sought. The topic of discussion today is the world's favorite hot beverages coffee and tea and their positive effects on the bald scalp.
Coffee plants originated in Africa and since then have been grown in many parts of the world, Brazil being the highest producer. Coffee is prepared from the beans after they are roasted; Caffeine is a methylxanthine and about 100 mgm is present in a cup of coffee. One of the important modes of action of caffeine is to competitively inhibit phosphodiesterase and thus increasing the level of cyclic AMP, the second messenger within the cell and for the discovery of the latter, Sutherland received the Nobel prize.
Using elegant methods, Fischer and colleagues cultivated human hair follicles from balding areas in AGA male patients and then used different concentrations of caffeine to study its stimulatory effects on the hair follicles.  It was shown that 0.001% of caffeine prevented the suppressive effect of testosterone on the cultured hair follicles. The stimulatory effect of lower concentrations of caffeine may be partly due to the increased levels of Cyclic AMP and partly due to a direct effect against apoptosis, which is induced in AGA.
The prospect of treating AGA, a worldwide trichological problem, by simply drinking a dozen cups of strong coffee is indeed like a utopian dream come true. However, large amounts of coffee can cause nervousness, insomnia, and tremors. Being a central nervous system stimulant it can cause addiction. Even a reduction in consumption of coffee by a few cups daily can bring about withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, sedation, headache, and nausea. Hence, trichologists are now trying topical caffeine in the management of AGA.
It would appear that there is a similar connection between tea, the other favorite beverage of human beings and hair. Legend has it that tea came into use in 2737 B. C when Chinese Emperor Shan Nung enjoyed the fragrant beverage produced after dried tea leaves from a nearby bush blew into a pot of boiling water. From China, where it was called Cha, it was introduced into Europe in the 17 th century A. D and became the Englishman's favorite "cup of tea." Today, India is one of the biggest producers of tea as also Sri Lanka.
Tea is obtained from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis shrub. Black tea is roasted and dried, whereas green tea, popular in China, is obtained by very rapid drying of the leaves without fermentation. The ancient Chinese claimed medicinal properties for green tea and used it for arthralgia, infections, and antipyresis. In recent times, tea extract is used in many shampoos, moisturizing crams, and sunscreens because the tea polyphenols are supposed to have a soothing effect on the skin and also act as antioxidants.
The major chemical constituents of tea are the polyphenols and the predominant polyphenols are catechins. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can play havoc at the molecular level. The catechins have known antioxidant properties. Both green and black teas have significant scavenging ability against ROS both in vivo and in vitro, and can also inhibit carcinogenesis in all three stages.
End-organ androgen production causes many disorders. Of interest to trichologists are hirsutism and AGA. These two conditions depend on conversion of testosterone to 5 alpha DHT, which is catalyzed by 5 alpha reductase of which 2 types exist-type 1 is mainly in the skin while type 2 is found in the prostate, epididymis, and seminal vesicles. The widely used finasteride is mainly type 2 selective, whereas catechins in tea possess activity that is relatively type 1 isoenzyme selective. So, theoretically, tea should have definite applications in the management of androgen-dependent conditions like hirsutism, pattern alopecia, and acne. 
Historically, the American war of Independence started with the Boston tea party, which was not actually a tea party but a form of protest against having to pay tax on tea. Shiploads of tea were dumped into the sea by the protestors-what a waste of a beverage considered to a precious commodity all over the world. We are familiar with the phrase "more than all tea in China."
So, for the Dermato-trichologist, it is neither just "tea for two and two for tea" like the popular song of the sixties, nor is it just "tea for five" like in the cozy Japanese tea parties but "tea for all," hopefully to prevent pattern alopecia and coffee in future may reduce the use of toupee.
| References|| |
|1.||Fischer TW, Hipler UC, Elsner P. Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro. Int J Dermatol 2007;46:27-35. |
|2.||Alexis AF, Jones VA, Stiller MJ. Potential therapeutic applications of tea in dermatology. Int J Dermatol 1999;38:735-43. |