Topical Cannabis Found To Be Beneficial For Alopecia Patients
The main symptom of alopecia is hair loss; though there are different kinds of alopecia areata, they are all characterized by hair loss of some kind. That said, hair loss will present itself differently to people with this condition. It commonly involves losing hair in the scalp and face.
Alopecia areata can also be characterized by hair regrowth and loss simultaneously in various body parts, while others will experience major hair loss during a short period of time.
Treatments commonly involve corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory medicines, and others – some of which are injected directly into the affected area. Medications to help support the immune system may also be recommended.
However, studies have shown that cannabis may help complement alopecia areata treatment for better success.
In the latest study, researchers from St. Petersburg in Florida analyzed 31 participants suffering from androgenetic alopecia (AGA). They were given a topical solution of hemp-based compounds such as CBD, CBDV, and THCV everyday for 6 months. Interestingly, they found that every single one of the alopecia patients noticed hair regrowth during this period. However, they noticed that male patients saw more significant hair regrowth compared to women, and none of them reported any adverse side effects.
“This case study suggests that a topical hemp extract high in THCV, CBDV, CBD, menthol, and peppermint oil is associated with significant hair regrowth in both men and women with AGA,” the authors wrote. “This topical hemp formulation has superior results to the FDA-approved hair regrowth prescription medicines finasteride and 5 percent minoxidil once daily foam,” they added.
“Since this hemp extract works through novel mechanisms entirely different from finasteride and minoxidil, it can be used in conjunction with these current drugs and would be expected to have synergistic effects,” they concluded.
This is not surprising, considering that our body has neurotransmitters found all throughout even in the hair and skin follicles. These parts of the body, especially keratocytes, which help promote the growth of keratin, also contain CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system. After all, the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in many processes within the human body that promote hair growth including inflammation and homeostasis.
When given topical or internal CBD, it can help stimulate follicle growth and elongation because of the endocannabinoid system. When the CB1 receptors are activated, researchers find that this contributes to hair growth.
Another small study of 35 patients, whose results were released in 2021, investigated the effects of a topical hemp extract containing 3-4mg of CBD given once daily. The participants were comprised of 28 males and 7 females, all of whom were diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia. The topical extract was made using a high CBD cannabis flower that was pulverized, resulting in a powder with 10.78% CBD and 0.21% THC.
The researchers found that after 6 months, the participants saw a 93.5% improvement in hair regrowth. Again, the results were much better on men than on the women. They also found that hair regrowth was better in the vertex compared to the temporal areas of the head.
Alopecia Areata Patients Benefit From Cannabis In Other Ways, Too
Study results which were published in May 2022 analyzed alopecia patients, most of whom were women and Caucasian. The researchers from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Dermatology sought to understand how common cannabis consumption was among people with this condition, why they use it, and how cannabis affected alopecia symptoms by using a web-based poll.
The patients consumed cannabis in a variety of ways, such as smoking THC or CBD, ingesting it, or inhaling. The use of topical lotions and other products were also considered.
They found that 66% of participants admitted that they used pot, and over half of them were current consumers. Some 40% of them said that they started using pot after they were diagnosed with alopecia areata. Current users explained that the most common reason they used cannabis was to help treat alopecia symptoms, while 55% said that they also used it recreationally. Only 6% of those using cannabis currently were recommended to try pot by a healthcare provider.
However, most patients reported the most significant improvements in stress reduction as well as anxiety and depression. Many said that cannabis didn’t impact their alopecia, but we suspect that maybe they were not using the ideal clinical ratio of cannabinoids in the correct way that other studies have.
“A significant proportion of patients with AA use cannabis, oftentimes seeking relief from psychosocial symptoms related to their hair loss. These findings build on existing literature suggesting that patients are seeking alternative methods to address the emotional impact of AA that traditional solutions have been unable to achieve,” they wrote.
Medical marijuana has far-reaching therapeutic uses, which more studies show can even perhaps treat hair loss. However, we do need additional clinical trials and research to determine the best type of cannabinoids and how much of it to take in order for the wider population to benefit from its effects for alopecia.
If you are interested in using cannabis to complement your alopecia treatment, speak to a healthcare provider who is well-versed with marijuana. They may be able to advise the best course of treatment to maximize your success.