Information and Solutions for Men and Women

Herbs, Nutritional Supplements, and Drugs that Promote or Block Male Hair Loss

Find out which supplements and products to use or avoid if you have male androgenetic hair loss.

Traditional medicines such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have long used herbs to help treat thinning hair and even to reverse hair loss, including male AGA. Western and traditional medical research supports the hair-growing benefits of some of these herbs and herbal compounds. In fact, research is expanding in the area of natural products for hair loss because they may have less side effects than pharmaceutical products.(379091338339)

The following is a brief listing of herbs and botanicals which have been shown to be helpful in treating male pattern (androgenetic) hair loss. These plants contain compounds that fight hair loss on a number of different levels, including:

Natural Substances that Promote Hair Regrowth




Bitter apple

(Citrullus colocynthis; also called colocynth for short)(339340)

Question: Can bitter apple help regrow hair?

Answer: Dried fruit and seed oil of bitter apple have both been used to treat thinning hair. Animal studies suggest extract from bitter apple fruit may promote hair growth by blocking testosterone receptors.(339)

Climbing fern


Question: Can climbing fern help with thinning hair?

Answer: Fatty acids in climbing fern extracts block 5-alpha-reductase activity, which could help stop hair loss.(339)

Cornus officinalis

(commonly known as medicinal dogwood in Traditional Chinese Medicine(341342)

Question: Can medicinal dogwood help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: One of the compounds in medicinal dogwood, morroniside, helps regulate hair growth cycle and promotes hair growth. Research shows that in herbal formulas another compound, loganin, has DHT-lowering effects.(341343)

Cuscuta reflexa

(giant dodder; an herbal vine used in Ayurveda)(339)

Question: Can giant dodder help with thinning hair?

Answer: Whole herbal extract and extracts made from one of giant dodder's main compounds (cuscutin) both significantly block 5-alpha-reductase, which can help reduce DHT and protect hair follicles. The herb also contains beneficial antioxidants (such as myricetin and quercetin) and beta sitosterol.(339)

Ginkgo biloba


Question: Can ginkgo help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Ginkgo contains sitosterol and antioxidant compounds. Studies show topical ginkgo made from leaf extract helps regrow hair by regulating hair follicle cells. Ginkgo also works synergistically with hormone therapy to promote hair growth.(339)


(Panax ginseng; in traditional medicine Ginseng radix is the steamed and dried ginseng root)(339)

Question: Can ginseng help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Besides the main ginsenoside compounds, ginseng contains vitamin b, vitamin C, vitamin E, and amino acids. Ginseng also blocks 5-alpha reductase. Research shows extract from red ginseng promotes hair growth better than white ginseng.(223339)

Green tea

(Camellia sinensis)(344)

Question: Can green tea help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Green tea contains 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, including catechin compounds in green tea leaves. These green tea compounds hep stop the formation of DHT.(93344)

Green tea also has phytoestrogenic effects and antioxidant effects, all of which protect hair follicles and promotes hair regrowth.(9394)

Indian gooseberry

(Emblica officinalisor Phyllanthus emblica; amla in Ayurveda339

Question: Can Indian gooseberry help stop thinning hair and regrow hair? Can amla help stop hair loss and regrow hair?

Answer: Indian gooseberry extracts stimulate hair follicle cells and potently block 5-alpha reductase enzymes to promote hair growth. It also contains vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.(339344345)

Nettle root

(Urtica dioica)(344)

Question: Can nettle root help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Leaves and minerals in nettle root stimulate hair follicles and block enzymes that contribute to hair loss.(344)

Polyporus umbellatus, a mushroom(339)

Question: What type of mushroom can help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Animal studies show extracts made from umbrella polypore mushrooms promote hair growth and increase the growing period. Although very limited research exists on its effects on testosterone, the mushroom may also block 5-alpha reductase. Results of lab studies caution that only low doses help grow hair, while high doses inhibit hair growth.(339346)

Pumpkin seed oil(347)

Question: Can pumpkin seeds help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: In a preliminary 24-week clinical trial, oral supplements of pumpkin seed oil (400 mg of PSO (Octa Sabal Plus®) helped regrow hair in male patients with mild or moderate androgenetic hair loss better than those patients randomly assigned to take a placebo instead.(347)

However, the sample before-and-after photo provided by the researchers only showed hair regrowth on the vertex (top of scalp). No photos were provided to show if the pumpkin seed oil helped regrow hair at the frontal hairline.(347)


(Boehmeria nipononivea; also commonly known as China grass)(339340)

Question: Can ramie help stop thinning hair and regrow hair? Can China grass help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Ramie (China grass) contains lots of beneficial compounds, including alpha linolenic acid, caffeic acid, and protocatechuic acid. Ramie extract and its leaves are also potent 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (although not as strong as finasteride) and promote hair growth.(339)

Rosa multiflora root and fruit (rosehips) extracts

(commonly known as Japanese wild rose or baby rose)(338348349)

Question: Can rosehips help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: In a small clinical study, topical solution of rosehips promotes hair growth and increased hair thickness. Lab research indicates extracts made from rosehips block 5-alpha reductase.(338)


(Rosmarinus officinalis)(339)

Question: Can rosemary help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Rosemary is a common edible herb that contains many beneficial compounds, including 1,8 cineole, borneol, and camphor and stimulates hair follicles. Some compounds in rosemary also block 5-alpha reductase and also prevent DHT from binding to androgen receptors. In a randomized clinical trial, patients with AGA were randomly assigned to use either topical rosemary oil or minoxidil (2%). Results showed that after 6 months both groups had significant hair regrowth, with no significant difference between the 2 groups. Scalp itching as a side effect was less in the group that used rosemary oil.(339350351)


(Carthamus tinctorius)(351)

Question: Can safflower help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Lab studies show safflower extract strongly inhibits 5-alpha reductase and promotes hair growth.(351)

Saw palmetto(95)

Question: Can saw palmetto help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Saw palmetto is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, similar to Propecia®.(95)

However, results of a two-year clinical study showed that saw palmetto supplements (320 mg/day) did not work as well as finasteride—especially in the front hairline area.(352)

Sophora flavescens

(the root of this plant is called Ku shen in Traditional Chinese Medicine)(339)

Question: Can Ku shen help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Ku shen extract is thought to promote hair growth by stimulating growth factors in the dermal papilla of hair follicles and blocking 5-alpha-reductase activity.(339)

Thujae occidentalis

(an evergreen tree in the cypress family)(339351)

Question: Can thuja help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Thuja extracts inhibit 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, as shown in both lab and animal studies.(339)

Tridax procumbens

(called ghamra in Ayurveda and coat buttons in English)(339)

Question: Can ghamra help stop thinning hair and regrow hair?

Answer: Ghamra contains antioxidants (including quercetin) and beta sitosterol, which inhibits testosterone. Studies show it promotes hair growth both by itself and in herbal formulations.(92339)

Diet Tip for Thinning Hair

Clinical case studies suggest eating lots of fresh herbs and raw vegetables can lower the risk of male balding. Diets that emphasize herbs and vegetables, such as the Mediterranean diet, could therefore be an ideal choice for men with thinning hair.(353)

Avoid these Herbs, Drugs, and Nutrients if You Are a Man with Thinning Hair

Some herbs and nutritional supplements may actually worsen androgenetic hair loss in men and should be avoided:

Substances That Can Cause Hair Loss





Question: Can DHEA cause thinning hair?

Answer: DHEA is a precursor to androgen hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. Excess androgen effects such as hair loss have been noted in women taking 200 mg/day of DHEA and may be the same in men. However, DHEA may be helpful if you have adrenal deficiency.(96)

Testim® 1%

(testosterone gel)

Question: Can topical testosterone cause thinning hair?

Answer: Side effects of testosterone gel include male pattern baldness.(97)


Question: Can sarsaparilla cause thinning hair?

Answer: Sarsaparilla may be counterproductive to hair growth since it stimulates testosterone production.(98)

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