Can Smoking Weed Cause Hair Loss?

Can Smoking Weed Cause Hair Loss?

Hair loss can be extremely different from person to person. Sometimes, half of the battle is trying to figure out what might be the main cause of your hair loss. With so many factors at play, from genetic factors, to work- and life-related stress, to COVID, it’s sometimes not as easy as it may seem.

You might have that one, shall we say, more adventurous friend who's really into marijuana and smoking weed. Maybe you’re a recreational consumer yourself. You may have thought: “Can smoking weed cause hair loss”? Or even better: “Can smoking weed help my hair grow”? Besides, marijuana has several antipsychotic and anti-anxiety properties. Its been used to reduce chronic pain, muscle spasms, and provide relief for several other medical conditions. But when it comes to hair, can cannabis or marijuana cause hair loss? And for the guys out there, does weed affect facial hair growth? Let’s find out!

The clinical evidence: does smoking weed cause hair loss? 

Let’s cut the chase. The good news is that there is no definitive clinical evidence showing that smoking weed can directly cause hair loss. There are a few small anecdotal studies out there, including a commonly cited study from 2007 which showed that THC, the active ingredient in weed, can slow down hair growth. But the results should not be taken at face value as the study used human hair follicles grown in a dish in the laboratory and didn’t involve a clinical study.

The indirect link between smoking weed and hair loss

The actual link between smoking weed and hair loss is probably more indirect. Smoking weed can cause changes in your hormonal system, like increasing your body’s level of cortisol, or the “stress hormone”, which has been linked to Telogen Effluvium and rapid hair loss. Especially for those who are smoking weed to de-stress, while your brain feels great and relaxed, your body is producing more and more cortisol, which can cause hair loss.

On the other hand, while smoking weed itself can’t cause hair loss directly, it can give you the “munchies”. And getting the craving to consume what often ends up being unhealthy junk food can make a much bigger dent on your diet and nutrition. If you shift your nutritional balance too far, your body won’t have the much needed nutrients it needs (most often zinc and iron) to grow hair. 

So there’s no direct link between smoking weed causing hair loss?

Perhaps the most important evidence suggesting that smoking weed causes hair loss comes from smoking itself. While the specific evidence is unclear, there is a ton of evidence linking smoking to hair loss. So while the marijuana itself probably won’t cause hair loss, the smoking can. We will explore “does smoking cause hair loss” separately in a later blog!

Does weed affect facial hair growth?

Okay, so if there’s no clear link between smoking weed causing hair loss, what about hair growth? Specifically, facial hair growth? Does weed affect facial hair growth? 

You might have come across stories of heavy marijuana consumers growing thicker and bushier beards because of increased levels of testosterone. And while facial hair growth is largely driven by testosterone, for every success story out there, there is an equal number of failures of men with unchanged facial hair growth after consuming weed. Long story short, there is no clinical evidence showing that weed affects facial hair growth, only anecdotal stories. That’s usually a sign.

Similar to the relationship between smoking weed causing hair loss, what might really be going on is something indirect. So for the guys out there worried about weed affecting facial hair growth - don’t stress (no pun intended). The weed itself won’t do you harm, but all the other changes in your hormonal system, diet, and metabolism that come from smoking weed just might.

The verdict on smoking weed and hair loss

So can smoking weed cause hair loss? Does weed affect facial hair growth? The truth is, with so little clinical evidence out there describing the effects of smoking weed and its impact on hair loss or facial hair growth, the answer is not directly. Whatever the cause of your hair loss or slow-growing facial hair may be–whether it is from smoking weed or not–if you’re dealing with hair thinning, hair loss or balding, it’s important to do your research so you can make the best possible decision for yourself. 

There are dozens of potential solutions out there for you. But perhaps the most important thing you can do is to stay informed. That, and reduce your consumption of munchies-driven junk foods from smoking weed. Maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet will provide you with the best foundation to grow a healthy head of hair–something that smoking weed simply doesn’t do.

Profile photo for David Zhang

Reviewed by: David Zhang, PhD

David is an immunologist and bioengineer with over a decade of medical research experience. He completed his PhD at Harvard University, where he worked on developing life-saving cancer therapies. He received his undergraduate degree in immunology from McGill University and his master's degree from the University of Toronto

Written by: Revela Editorial Team

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