Technical specialist Jocelyn Mathern explained to NutraIngredients-USA.com that androgenetic alopecia, the most common from of hair loss, is a hormonal as well as a genetic issue. It affects 50 percent of 50 year-old men.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent form of the male hormone testosterone, can get inside hair follicles and make them shrink so that they produce thinner hair and eventually none at all, she said. Secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), the main flax lignan, can help prevent this by inhibiting production of the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT, called 5-alpha reductase.
The study took place at a health company in Taiwan over a six-month period. Ten male sufferers of androgenetic alopecia aged between 20- and 70- years received a 50mg daily dose of SDG in the form of one 250 mg capsule of Acatris' LinumLife Extra.
The condition of their hair was documented at the beginning of the study by photographs and the men measured their hair loss throughout the period by counting the number of hairs on their pillows each morning.
Initial effects of the flax lignans were noticed on average one to two months into the study, says the company, and the end of the period, eight of the participants reported a modest improvement in their hair loss condition, one reported a great improvement and one reported no effect at all. The more severe the participant's hair loss condition at the start of the trial, the more noticeable the improvement.
Half the subjects also noted decreased oil secretion in their scalp. No adverse effects were reported.
"This pilot study confirms earlier research on flax lignans with respect to their promise in the care of AGA and without the sometimes harmful effects of a prescription medication," said Mathern.
"In addition to benefits for hormone related conditions, such as hair loss, lignans have long been reported to help improve prostate health, reduce menopausal symptoms, promote heart health and have benefits for breast health."
The pilot study's results mean Acatris is going ahead with sponsoring a clinical trial at a research center in Maastricht, The Netherlands, this year.
In this case 100mg SDG will be used, which may give an indication of whether the lignan's effects on hair loss are commensurate with dose.
As well as androgenetic alopecia, participants selected for this trial will have an inflamed prostate. The researchers will also measure the flax lignans' effects on this health condition.