DHT Inhibitors and Its Effect on Hair Loss
The most commonly implicated androgen in hair loss is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a very potent form of testosterone. It is created in the body by the conversion of testosterone. There is an enzyme (enzymes are just proteins that speed up biochemical reactions) known as 5-alpha reductase. It has this name because it “reduces”, or adds hydrogen, at the 5 position of the steroid molecule.
Well, it stands to reason that if we could decrease the amount of this enzyme, 5-alpha reductase, in the blood or in the hair follicles, then less testosterone would be converted to DHT, and therefore DHT levels would be lower. This is exactly the mechanism behind the drug Propecia (finasteride); it is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and thus decreases blood levels of DHT.
However, this sometimes causes problems, such as erectile dysfunction, diminished sex drive, and, rarely, enlargement of breast tissue in males (a distressing condition known as gynecomastia). It may be advantageous to use topical (applied to the hair and scalp) 5-alpha reductase inhibitors in order to avoid or minimize such side effects. This is one of the ways that the Hair Cycle products were designed, that is, they contain topical 5-alpha reductase inhibitors as well as androgen receptor blockers.
The androgen receptor is a protein structure that sits in the cell membrane. When an androgen, such as DHT, occupies, or fits into, this receptor site, it causes an effect on the interior of the cell. This is a common mechanism of all hormones; there are receptors for all hormones on various cell membranes, and this is the major way that they exert their physiological effects. Receptor blocking agents are designed to fit into the receptor site, but to NOT have any effect. Therefore, they have a blocking effect. An androgen receptor blocking agent will, for instance, occupy the androgen receptor on the hair follicle cell membranes. This prevents some of the DHT that is in the area from attaching to the membrane and having its effect (that is, promoting hair loss).
So we see a two-fold effect from the Hair Cycle products in terms of DHT: one, they decrease the conversion of testosterone to DHT, leading to lower levels, and two, the DHT that IS left finds it difficult to find unoccupied receptors to which it can attach and have an effect. This is beneficial in people with hair loss.