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Hair Loss, Pomegranate and Yoga Updates

September 10, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Trust but verify. That’s a key principle in both life and medicine. Use the best information possible to guide your decisions and then make sure that the expected outcome actually occurs. In health care, this can be accomplished by being consistent with any new treatment and then following that up with some sort of objective testing method. If you’re going to go to the expense and the effort of making a real change in your life, it’s important to determine whether it’s really effective in your individual circumstance. As a wise man once said, “I am not a statistic”.

Update #1 – A Pre-Diabetic Alternative

Maybe you’re slightly overweight and out of shape. The idea of embarking on an intensive exercise program or making major dietary changes either doesn’t appeal to you or doesn’t seem realistic at the moment. If so, a new study published in the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine may hold promise for you. In this trial, a group of 22 participants “at high risk for type 2 diabetes” were asked to engage in a 12 week educational program, consisting of dietary and lifestyle advice, or a twice weekly yoga program. Blood tests measuring relevant health markers relating to blood sugar and cardiovascular health were taken pre and post study. Questionnaires assessing the tolerability of both practices were also issued and completed.

  • Over 99% of the participants engaging in the yoga program “expressed high satisfaction” and reported no associated complications.
  • The yoga group revealed improvements in various risk factors such as reduced insulin production, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Also of note, yoga practice significantly benefited “exercise self-efficacy”, an indication of an improvement in overall physical condition.

The authors of this study concluded that, “a yoga program would be a possible risk reduction option for adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, yoga holds promise as an approach to reducing cardiometabolic risk factors.” (1)

Update #2 – A Hair Raising Experiment

In May I wrote a column about natural methods to support vibrant hair growth. I focused primarily on internal approaches to addressing the root causes of this primarily cosmetic issue. A specific set of ingredients may hold promise with regard to a topical aid in the battle against hormonally influenced hair loss (androgenetic alopecia – AGA). Researchers from SUNY (State University of New York) have recently discovered that a a combination of alpha lipoic acid, carnitine and saw palmetto can reduce follicle inflammation and cell death in a laboratory setting. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) has previously demonstrated activity against a form of testosterone, known as DHTdehydro-testosterone. The dual effect of hormone modification and anti-inflammatory properties “could represent a novel two-pronged approach in the treatment of AGA with improved efficacy over current modalities.” (2,3,4)

Update #3 – A Natural “Polypill”

In conventional medicine, there’s a considerable amount of excitement about a so called “Polypill”. This term refers to a combination of several medications that address various risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke risk. Researchers from the University of Naples, Italy have recently published the results of a trial conducted on a natural “Polypill”. The product in question contains red yeast rice, policonsanols and berberine. Red yeast rice is an Asian culinary ingredient that contains certain “statin-like” phytochemicals. Policosanols are a variety of waxes typically derived from bee byproducts or sugar cane. Berberine is a phytochemical found in the antibiotic herbs goldenseal and Oregon grape root.

  • A formula containing 500 mg of berberine, 200 mg of red yeast rice and 10 mg of policosanols was administered daily.
  • 50 middle-aged men and women with high cholesterol participated in this 6 week trial. Half received the “medication” and the remainder was given a placebo.

Improvements in circulation (endothelial dependent, flow mediated dilation) were noted. Reductions in LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides were also apparent. In addition, there was a trend toward better insulin sensitivity in those receiving the “nutraceutical” supplement. No adverse reactions were documented. (5,6,7,8)

Update #4 – Follow Your Gut Instincts

In previous columns, I’ve discussed how pomegranate can support efforts to avoid influenza, prostate conditions and even protect against tooth decay. A report presented in the August 25th edition of the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry reveals yet another benefit of regular pomegranate consumption: improved intestinal health. A group of naturally occurring chemicals in pomegranates (tannins) appear to inhibit the growth of certain pathogenic microorganisms such as clostridia (associated with Botulism) and Staphyloccocus aureas (a culprit of Staph infections). On the other hand, pomegranate extract supported the growth of select beneficial bacteria (probiotics), namely Bifidobacterium breve and Bifidobacterium infantis. Collectively, this evidence suggests a positive shift in the bacterial content of digestive environments exposed to pomegranate via food consumption and/or supplementation. (9)

Yoga Reduces Cardiometabolic Risk Factors


(12 Volunteers)

Education Group

(10 Volunteers)

Baseline 3 Months Change Baseline 3 Months Change
BP (mmHg)
Systolic 119.3 114.1 -5.17 115.7 119.3 3.60
Diastolic 68.7 69.3 0.58 68.9 72.6 3.70
Fasting Glucose Level 90.1 92.8 2.75 91.2 95.8 4.60
Insulin 10.5 8.1 -2.42 9.8 9.9 0.01
Lipid Panel
Total Cholesterol 209.8 193.3 -16.50 198.8 187.6 -11.20
Triglycerides 120.5 109.0 -11.5 98.3 114.3 16.00
LDL-C 130.3 117.8 -12.41 126.1 116.0 -10.10
HDL-C 60.3 56.6 -3.75 57.0 51.4 -5.6
Weight (Ib) 175.5 174.7 –0.79 188.4 189.4 1.02
Exercise Self-Efficacy 43.9 57.9 13.97 52.5 49.2 -3.33
Source:Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine – Aug 2009 (link)

Update #5 – All That Shines Isn’t Chromium

Chromium is a trace mineral that is commonly used to help regulate blood sugar and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics. Those with metabolic syndrome are considered at high risk for developing diabetes and related complications. A recent study examined the effects of high dose chromium on such patients to determine whether it could decrease the likelihood of this progression. 63 patients with diagnosed metabolic syndrome were involved in this experiment. Over a 16 week period, half of the participants were given 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate. Various measures of blood sugar control and cardiovascular health were tested prior to and post trial. Disappointingly, no significant improvement was found with regard to body weight, glucose metabolism, inflammation, insulin sensitivity, lipid levels and oxidative stress. However, “insulin response to glucose” did show a slight benefit. Overall, these results indicate that chromium picolinate does not appear to be an effective treatment option for “non-obese” individuals with metabolic syndrome. (10)

Someday in the future, genetic testing will help doctors better determine exactly which medications or treatments will be effective for each patient. Unfortunately, I believe that day is still pretty far off. In the meantime, the best we can do is to be conscientious patients and our own medical advocates. It’s vitally important to: a) keep informed and current; b) keep a close eye on how new therapies affect us and share those findings with our health team; and c) verify the efficacy and safety of said treatments via appropriate medical tests. This is the definition of “pro-active medicine”. By approaching your personal health care in this manner, you’ll not only improve your individual outcome, but also contribute information that may be helpful for your family, friends and physicians.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diabetes, Exercise

8 Comments & Updates to “Hair Loss, Pomegranate and Yoga Updates”

  1. Alexandra Says:

    I never thought you could link hair growth… That’s amazing…

    But if you think about all the benefits from a sport such as yoga, you’ll have to admit that the effects go beyond the obvious fitness… A little exercise makes everything work better.

    Good post!

  2. JP Says:

    Thanks, Alexandra.

    Be well!


  3. Gowtham Says:

    Thats a nice and useful post..

  4. JP Says:

    Update: A cold cap may protect against chemotherapy-induced hair loss …

    More Info: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/09/keeping-your-hair-in-chemo/?_r=0

    “Hair loss is one of the most obvious side effects of cancer treatment. Now, a growing number of breast cancer patients are freezing their scalps as a way to preserve their hair during chemotherapy.

    The hair-saving treatment, widely used in Europe, requires a specialized frozen cap worn tightly on the head before, during and for a couple hours after a chemotherapy session. The method can be time consuming, expensive and uncomfortable, but numerous women swear by the results.”

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Update 06/06/15:


    Australas J Dermatol. 2015 May 25.

    Treatment of male androgenetic alopecia with topical products containing Serenoa repens extract.

    BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Male androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a common hair problem. Serenoa repens extract has been shown to inhibit both types of 5-α reductase and, when taken orally, has been shown to increase hair growth in AGA patients. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of topical products containing S. repens extract for the treatment of male AGA.

    METHODS: This was a pilot, prospective, open, within-subject comparison limited to 24 weeks using no placebo controls. In all, 50 male volunteers aged between 20 and 50 years received topical S. repens products for 24 weeks. The primary end-point was a hair count in an area of 2.54 cm2 at week 24. Secondary end-points included hair restoration, investigators’ photographic assessment, patients’ evaluation and discovering adverse events.

    RESULTS: The average hair count and terminal hair count increased at weeks 12 and 24 compared to baseline. Some of these positive results levelled off at week 24, presumably because the concentrated topical product containing S. repens extract was stopped after 4 weeks. The patients were satisfied with the products and the side-effects were limited.

    CONCLUSIONS: The topical application of S. repens extract could be an alternative treatment in male pattern baldness in male patients who do not want or cannot tolerate the side-effects of standard medications, but the use of a concentrated S. repens product beyond 4 weeks may be necessary for sustained efficacy.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 02/24/16:


    Eplasty. 2016 Jan 25;16:e8.

    Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue.

    Objective: In this study, we evaluated the effect of scalp massage on hair in Japanese males and the effect of stretching forces on human dermal papilla cells in vitro.

    Methods: Nine healthy men received 4 minutes of standardized scalp massage per day for 24 weeks using a scalp massage device. Total hair number, hair thickness, and hair growth rate were evaluated. The mechanical effect of scalp massage on subcutaneous tissue was analyzed using a finite element method. To evaluate the effect of mechanical forces, human dermal papilla cells were cultured using a 72-hour stretching cycle. Gene expression change was analyzed using DNA microarray analyses. In addition, expression of hair cycle-related genes including IL6, NOGGIN, BMP4, and SMAD4 were evaluated using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

    Results: Standardized scalp massage resulted in increased hair thickness 24 weeks after initiation of massage (0.085 ± 0.003 mm vs 0.092 ± 0.001 mm). Finite element method showed that scalp massage caused z-direction displacement and von Mises stress on subcutaneous tissue. In vitro, DNA microarray showed gene expression change significantly compared with nonstretching human dermal papilla cells. A total of 2655 genes were upregulated and 2823 genes were downregulated. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction demonstrated increased expression of hair cycle-related genes such as NOGGIN, BMP4, SMAD4, and IL6ST and decrease in hair loss-related genes such as IL6.

    Conclusions: Stretching forces result in changes in gene expression in human dermal papilla cells. Standardized scalp massage is a way to transmit mechanical stress to human dermal papilla cells in subcutaneous tissue. Hair thickness was shown to increase with standardized scalp massage.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 06/11/16:


    Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Jan 30;14(1):e33835.

    Effects of Concentrated Pomegranate Juice on Subclinical Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes: A Quasi-Experimental Study.

    BACKGROUND: The health benefits of pomegranate juice have been reported in several studies. However, limited clinical trials have examined the effects of concentrated pomegranate juice (CPJ) on inflammatory factors.

    OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate the effects of CPJ on metabolic risk factors, including inflammatory biomarkers, in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

    PATIENTS AND METHODS: In a quasi-experiment trial, 40 type 2 diabetic patients were asked to consume 50 g of CPJ daily for 4 weeks. Anthropometric indices, dietary intake, blood pressure measurements, and fasting blood samples were conducted at baseline and 4 weeks after the intervention.

    RESULTS: The intake of CPJ produced a significant increase in both total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (4.7% and 3.9%, respectively) from baseline (P < 0.05). However, changes that were observed in serum triglyceride (TG), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), fasting blood glucose, and blood pressure were not statistically significant. Administration of CPJ caused significant reduction in serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) (P < 0.05), but tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) remained unchanged during the study. The mean value of serum total antioxidant capacity (TAC) was substantially increased (~ 75%) from 381.88 ± 114.4 at baseline to 1501 ± 817 after 4 weeks of CPJ consumption. CONCLUSIONS: Consumption of CPJ (50 g/day) appears to have favorable effects on some markers of subclinical inflammation, and to increase plasma concentrations of antioxidants in patients with type 2 diabetes. Be well! JP

  8. JP Says:

    Updated 09/07/16:


    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:2914745.

    A Different Weight Loss Experience: A Qualitative Study Exploring the Behavioral, Physical, and Psychosocial Changes Associated with Yoga That Promote Weight Loss.

    Yoga interventions improve obesity-related outcomes including body mass index (BMI), body weight, body fat, and waist circumference, yet it is unclear whether these improvements are due to increased physical activity, increased lean muscle mass, and/or changes in eating behaviors. The purpose of this study is to expand our understanding of the experience of losing weight through yoga. Methods. Semistructured interviews were qualitatively analyzed using a descriptive phenomenological approach. Results. Two distinct groups who had lost weight through yoga responded: those who were overweight and had repeatedly struggled in their attempts to lose weight (55%, n = 11) and those who were of normal weight and had lost weight unintentionally (45%, n = 9). Five themes emerged that differed slightly by group: shift toward healthy eating, impact of the yoga community/yoga culture, physical changes, psychological changes, and the belief that the yoga weight loss experience was different than past weight loss experiences. Conclusions. These findings imply that yoga could offer diverse behavioral, physical, and psychosocial effects that may make it a useful tool for weight loss. Role modeling and social support provided by the yoga community may contribute to weight loss, particularly for individuals struggling to lose weight.

    Be well!


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