If you’ve been experiencing hair loss and are looking for a natural and healthy way to stop losing more hair, you might have come across green tea for hair loss. Green tea has a rich history (and is still popular) across the globe, especially in China. It has been associated with many fantastic health benefits. But is there scientific evidence backing up green tea for hair loss? In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not green tea can help with hair loss using scientific research as support evidence, and provide context on the use of green tea throughout history and in today’s world.
What is green tea and what are green tea’s benefits?
Green tea is a type of tea made from the plant Camellia sinensis, the same plant used for oolong tea and black tea (green tea is distinguished from these other types of teas because it doesn’t undergo the same withering and oxidation processes). Green tea is often consumed not just for its health benefits, but also for its caffeine content, though green tea contains around a third of the caffeine in a same-sized cup of coffee.
Green tea can help to improve your brain function, and it’s not just by increasing alertness due to caffeine; it contains a compound (L-theanine) that can cross the blood-brain barrier and directly increase your levels of dopamine - the pleasure hormone. Green tea can also help with weight loss and fat burning by increasing your metabolism, indirectly preventing the incidence of type 2 diabetes, while simultaneously lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease.
A history of green tea in East Asia and in medicine
Green tea has always been a very popular drink in East Asia, with origins in China. Supposedly, it was popularized when the Chinese emperor Shen Nung accidentally drank water with a dead leaf in it; he loved the resulting refreshing taste and thus, green tea was born, at first only available to almost exclusively the members of the upper class. Green tea had such an important role both societally and medicinally that scholars wrote books about it.
In the 18th century, when European explorers discovered China, green tea spread across Europe and ultimately, the Americas. Green tea even made an appearance in the American Revolution, as it accounted for about 20% of the tea thrown overboard in the Boston Tea Party.
Does green tea for hair loss really work?
According to studies on mice, green tea may work for hair loss: the study, conducted on mice with alopecia areata, a condition causing hair loss, showed that a green tea-based supplement improved hair regrowth in 33% of mice, compared to 0% of the control group. The most likely reason that green tea can provide benefits for hair loss is because it contains a large amount of antioxidants, specific substances that has been associated with slowing aging and cellular damage. A particular antioxidant in green tea that works against hair loss is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to slow the action of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, hormones that directly damage the hair follicles ultimately speeding up the aging process in hair, thus preventing hair loss. These antioxidants can also encourage healthy hair growth and re-growth by stimulating hair follicles, the part of your hair strand where growth begins and where the strand is anchored to the scalp.
It is important to keep in mind the effectiveness of green tea relative to other solutions like minoxidil and finasteride: green tea lacks the clinical evidence to back whether it is effective in treating male pattern baldness, and more research, particularly clinical testing is required. Also keep in mind that green tea is extracted in different ways and could vary dramatically in effectiveness depending on these processes and to how you consume it.
Although using green tea specifically for hair loss lacks clinical evidence, green tea as a whole can help with improving your overall health. If you are interested in learning about ingredients that can or can't help you regrow your locks, check out other misconceptions on our blog!