Minoxidil and hair loss

Key facts:

  • Minoxidil is indicated for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in both men and women.
  • Apply twice a day to a dry, healthy scalp.
  • Generally, hair loss begins to slow down after 4 months of use. In rarer cases, new hair may also appear, usually very fine.
  • The positive effects of minoxidil disappear completely within 3 months of stopping treatment (massive hair loss and rapid return to pre-treatment condition).

A few words about how minoxidil came to be used to combat hair loss:

  • Minoxidil was discovered "by chance". In the 1970s, a new molecule was being tested (administered orally) against severe arterial hypertension. Its results did not live up to expectations in the fight against hypertension, but a significant side effect was noted: a general increase in hair growth in treated patients.
  • It was therefore decided to test this compound topically to encourage hair growth in patients with androgenetic alopecia.
  • Minoxidil 2% was first marketed in 1986. A more concentrated version (5%) has been marketed since 1993, initially on prescription only. This 5% version has been available over the counter since 2012, but only in pharmacies and only for males over the age of 18 (Order of 25 January 2012).
    • The use of minoxidil 5% is strongly advised against in women due to its low efficacy and the frequent occurrence of hypertrichosis (undesirable development of hair outside the scalp).
  • Minoxidil remains on the table of poisonous substances (Order of 22 February 1990) which includes 2 lists:
    • List I includes substances classified as dangerous and requiring mandatory medical surveillance.
    • List II lists molecules that may present a significant risk to human health.

Minoxidil is included in both lists. It is therefore considered to be both a "medicinal product requiring close medical supervision" and a "substance likely to present a hazard when used in humans".

  • Finally, despite the widespread use of Minoxidil since the 1980s, the mechanisms of action of Minoxidil on hair follicles, and therefore on hair growth, have not been fully understood. hair loss are still completely unknown.

What are the side effects of minoxidil?

The most common side-effects revolve around scalp irritationthe appearance of itching and also unexpected and excessive hair growth outside the treated area (bust, back, etc.). Source: Drug record in the Vidal dictionary.

It should also be noted that minoxidil is not recommended for use by pregnant women.

Can minoxidil cause hair loss?

The appearance of a hair loss following the use of minoxidil is one of the side effects reported (see Vidal dictionary). And that's the last straw, as the use of the drug can actually aggravate the symptoms it is supposed to combat.

At the Centre Clauderer, we see also a habit-forming effect (threshold effect): after 3 to 5 years of use, many people who consult us report a clear reduction in the effect of minoxidil on their hair loss. To date, this feedback has not been the subject of clinical studies by the pharmaceutical industry.

How do I stop taking minoxidil?

At the Centre Clauderer, many people consult us on this subject.

There are 3 reasons for these consultations:

  1. "The use of minoxidil is too restrictive" (2 applications of 1 ml per day), 
  2. "The application of minoxidil causes me to have skin reactions". These skin reactions to the application of minoxidil are becoming difficult for some people to tolerate (increasingly unbearable itching, marked and sometimes painful redness, etc.).
  3. "I don't see the effects of minoxidil any more and I have the impression that my hair loss is starting up again". In fact, we often observe that the action of minoxidil against hair loss tends to fade over time, often after 3 to 5 years of daily use.

However, stopping minoxidil exposes those who do so to sudden and massive hair loss.

At Clauderer, we absolutely advise against stopping minoxidil overnight. Instead, we work with the people who consult us to prepare a gradual withdrawal plan over a period of several months. This plan involves gradually reducing the daily doses of minoxidil used, while at the same time stimulating hair growth and the life cycle of the hair using our natural products. Sudden, massive hair loss is thus avoided, and hair life can gradually return to its optimum natural rhythm: each hair that falls out is replaced by a new hair. Hair loss is halted without recourse to minoxidil, so there's no need for addiction or side effects.

What deficiency causes hair loss?

The two main deficiencies that can cause hair loss are :

  1. Vitamin D deficiency.
  2. Iron deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D has long been associated with good bone development in children, and a proven deficiency was considered to be the primary cause of rickets.

Over the years, medical studies have revealed that vitamin D. is involved in many other biological processes.

In practical terms, vitamin D acts as a sentinel and guardian angel for our organs. In practice, its active substance (calcitriol) attaches itself to our cells and performs a triple function:

  1. Protective action against aggression,
  2. Powerful anti-inflammatory action,
  3. Immunomodulating action.

In the event of vitamin D deficiency, our hair follicles find themselves helpless and much more sensitive to external aggression (including aggression from male hormones in the case of androgenetic alopecia, or stress-related aggression causing local oxidative stress, etc.).

What's more, this phenomenon of aggression against hair follicles is compounded by a reduction in their anti-inflammatory response capacity. We know that inflammation of the hair follicle directly accelerates the normal hair renewal cycle, the symptoms of which can be excessive hair loss or marked thinning of the hair. In short, at the end of the day, a vitamin D deficiency is potentially a significant cause of major hair problems.

Iron deficiency

Iron plays a decisive role in the oxygenation and nutrition of the cells responsible for 'making' hair (the keratinocytes at the base of the hair cycle).

An iron deficiency may therefore be the main cause of hair loss. It can also be an aggravating cause. Insufficiently supplied with iron, the cells responsible for hair growth and the hair life cycle begin to function in slow motion and are no longer able to fully perform their role.

To detect a possible iron deficiency, ferritin (the body's iron reserve) should be measured by means of a blood test prescribed by a doctor. An optimal level is around 60 μg/L of blood. A level of less than 40 μg/L of blood is associated with a significant risk of hair loss.

What is the most effective treatment for hair loss? 

Using minoxidil certainly has an effect on hair loss.

However, this effect must be weighed against the constraints it imposes:

  • Apply twice a day.
  • Lifetime" application to prevent massive hair loss if you stop taking the medication.
  • Significant side-effects, very common on sensitive scalps.

As a result, 8 out of 10 users decide to stop this treatment before 2 years of use, with some turning to hair transplants.

However, minoxidil is still the drug most often recommended by the medical profession, as there is no "miracle" or unanimously accepted treatment for androgenetic alopecia. In short, minoxidil is seen as a last resort, a treatment that is recommended for want of anything better to offer.

At Clauderer, we tested our treatment protocols and compared them with minoxidil dosed at 5% in an in vitro study conducted at the Besançon Faculty of Medicine. The conclusions were clear: the clinical efficacy of Clauderer products on hair loss has been widely demonstrated and is much faster than minoxidil. What's more, Clauderer serums ensure very clear hair regrowth, which minoxidil does not.

And finally... Clauderer treatments do not generate addiction or side effects, unlike minoxidil. 

Jean-François Cabos

Jean-François Cabos is the creator of a unique hair care method based on the research he coordinated, which led to the publication of the book "Cheveux, Racines de Vie" with Hélène Clauderer by Robert Laffont (Collection "Réponses/ Santé").

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