Throughout history hair has had strong cultural and social significance. In some cultures, hair has come to symbolize strength and virility. In others, people believe hair is an extension of the spirit or soul.
Hair is an outlet for self-expression for many and is often intertwined with one’s identity. The importance we have assigned to hair is perhaps what makes losing it such a painful experience.
How Common Is Hair Loss in Men?
Approximately two-thirds of American men will experience some kind of obvious thinning or hair loss by the time they are 35. Despite its commonality, hair loss and male pattern baldness cause tremendous distress among men who experience it.
It’s strongly associated with the development of depression, anxiety and poor self-image. There are treatments on the market, but they have varied efficacy. Without true solutions, hair loss continues to be a persistent problem and a significant source of distress for men as they age.
Some recent studies have investigated how different cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidivarin (CBDV), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system and stimulate hair growth. The available research offers hope and alternative solutions to individuals struggling with hair loss.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
With the federal legalization of hemp in 2018, CBD products began to pop up all across the United States in topical, edible, and smokable forms. Claims were made about CBD’s ability to treat everything from anxiety to chronic pain. However, it can be difficult to distinguish between facts and fake news. Firstly, it’s important to understand how cannabinoids like CBD interact with the body.
When you ingest CBD, or any cannabis product, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an extensive system comprised of fat-based neurotransmitters found throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and a variety of other organs in the body.
Studies have found CBD does in fact possess remarkable analgesic—pain-relieving—and anti-inflammatory properties. What does the available research tell us about CBD’s therapeutic benefits specific to treating hair loss?
CBD and Treating Hair Loss: A Tale of Two Studies
One study published in 2021 examined CBD’s potential to generate hair growth in patients with alopecia. This study had 35 participants use topical hemp oil containing 3-4 milligrams of CBD along with minimal amounts of other cannabinoids. To monitor results, measurements were taken before and after six months of using the CBD oil.
Results were overwhelmingly positive with a 93.5% average increase in hair growth on the top of the head and the temporal area. In this study, men had a better success rate of hair growth on the top of the head as opposed to female participants.
It’s important to note that because CBD works through different pathways in the body than other hair loss medications—such as finasteride and minoxidil—it is safe to use in conjunction with these medications. Further research is needed to replicate and expand on these results.
Another study focusing exclusively on the topical use of CBD and its potential to influence hair growth also produced promising results. This 2019 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that when used topically, CBD likely reaches human hair follicles, activating certain receptors that have been linked to improving hair loss by promoting hair growth in a separate study conducted in 2015.
Research supports topical use of CBD both in oil form and in shampoos for hair regrowth in patients with different types of hair loss. Further research is needed, but the results from studies that have been conducted thus far are promising.