An overview of herbal alternatives in androgenetic alopecia

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019 Aug;18(4):966-975. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12930. Epub 2019 Apr 13.


The second most common alopecia-Androgenetic alopecia (AGA)-occurs due to hormonal imbalance. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) an androgenic hormone is a sex steroid, produced in the gonads. The target sites of DHT are similar to that of testosterone, and it attaches easily remaining bound for 53 minutes as compared to 35 minutes of testosterone. Excess of DHT causes miniaturization of hair reducing the anagen phase and increasing the telogen phase leading to hair loss. Normally up to ten percent of testosterone in the body irreversibly gets converted into DHT by the action of enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. Inadequate blood flow to the scalp can also be another reason for hair loss encountered due to lower oxygen and nutrients reaching it. AGA affects both sexes; however in males, it leads to major hair loss. Conventional drugs such as minoxidil and finasteride are widely used for the treatment. However, several drawbacks such as allergic contact dermatitis, burning, ejaculation disorder, and decreased libido are reported. Available literature suggests the role of herbal drugs to have the action against 5-alpha-reductase enzyme inhibiting it and reducing the hair loss. This can be further potentiated since they exhibit lesser side effects. Recent advancements observed in the medicinal, cosmetic, and engineering fields can prove to be an asset. This article focuses on herbs which can be used in AGA. A review of Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), Green tea (Camellia sinensis), Pumpkin seed (Curcurbita pepo), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Grape seed (Vitis vinifera), and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is attempted.

Keywords: androgenetic alopecia; conventional drugs; dihydrotestosterone; herbal alternatives; mechanism of action; side effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Alopecia / etiology
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry
  • Cucurbita / chemistry
  • Dihydrotestosterone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Dihydrotestosterone / metabolism
  • Glycyrrhiza / chemistry
  • Hair / drug effects
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Serenoa / chemistry
  • Vitis / chemistry


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Plant Extracts
  • Dihydrotestosterone