Can CBD help with hair loss, and if so, how?
- Androgenetic alopecia is a common type of disorder that results in the loss of hair in affected men and women(1). Scientists believe the condition is caused by several factors, determining that the lack of proper nutrients in the body is one reason that can lead to hair loss(2).
- Many popular over-the-counter products claiming to cure hair loss are available in pharmacies today. However, most of these so-called treatments do not have a scientific basis and lack evidence of their efficacy(3).
- Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound obtained from cannabis, contains several properties that are said to promote healthier hair and less hair breakage overall. Studies show that CBD oil contains vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and antioxidative traits that may benefit people suffering from hair loss(4-5).
- However, CBD is not an approved cure for alopecia. Individuals planning to use it should consult with a trusted medical expert to avoid complications.
Why People Are Turning to CBD for Hair Loss
Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss that affects both men and women(6). Scientists believe that a range of genetic and environmental factors cause this condition.
The main distinguishing factor that differentiates male and female alopecia is their pattern of hair loss.
Men generally lose their hair around the temporal region and in the front. In contrast, women tend to experience hair loss around the center of their scalp(7).
A study published by the journal Dermatology and Therapy reveals that hair loss may be improved by consuming the right vitamins and minerals the body needs to encourage its growth. Researchers found that supplementing low levels of vitamin D, C, and iron can contribute to healthy hair(8).
In 2015, a study on hair loss was conducted to analyze the effects of a six-month nutritional supplementation on women with alopecia. The researchers of the study learned that regular intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, including antioxidants, effectively improved their subjects’ hair density(9).
There are only a few treatments that have been approved for alopecia. Although many over-the-counter hair loss solutions are readily available for purchase in pharmacies, the efficacy of most of these treatments is questionable(10).
Cannabidiol (CBD) is growing in popularity, with CBD manufacturers producing cosmetic products in the form of shampoos and lotions. CBD is one of the primary compounds derived from the Cannabis sativa plant and is known for its numerous therapeutic applications (11).
Several studies show that CBD oil contains specific vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and is a potent antioxidant(12-13). A patent by the U.S. government states that cannabinoids, like CBD, act as free radical scavengers used in preventive healthcare and the treatment of disease(14).
Research data also reveals that CBD is even better than vitamin C and vitamin E with regards to its neuroprotective activity(15-16).
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Hair Loss
Compounds, like CBD, interact with a biological system in the human body, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is known to regulate a wide range of biological systems, influencing aspects, such as mood, memory, and the body’s immune response(17).
A study in 2009 suggested that the ECS might also play a role in skin care, noting that its primary function is to ensure balance in the cells present in the skin(18). Data from the study further mentioned that a disruption of this balance might result in multiple pathological conditions and skin diseases, one of which is hair growth disorders(19).
Two main types of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are present in the ECS. These receptors engage with cannabinoids, such as CBD, to bring about its biological effects in the body.
Based on a study published by the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, inflammation plays a role in hair loss, especially with regards to male pattern baldness(20).
Studies show that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that may inhibit overactive immune responses in the body(21).
By administering CBD, the compound supposedly engages with the ECS receptors to reduce inflammation, which may be useful for individuals suffering from hair loss.
Furthermore, the studies mentioned earlier stated that cannabidiol as CBD oil contains the essential nutrients that the hair needs.
The amino acids present in CBD oil help contribute by providing the essential building blocks that hair follicles need to remain healthy. These acids also play a role in red blood cell production, which is vital since the cells provide the necessary nutrients for healthy hair.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are found in many nutritional supplements to help in hair growth. CBD oil can also contain these essential fatty acids, which show potential use in preventing hair loss(22).
Finally, the use of CBD for its antioxidative effects may protect against free radical damage that could cause damage to hair.
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Hair Loss
- Studies show that CBD is a potential natural anti-inflammatory agent that may inhibit inflammation in the body, which may be the leading cause of hair loss in specific individuals.
- There are CBD hemp oil formulations that contain the essential nutrients that the hair needs to grow strong.
- CBD hair products are available in the form of CBD shampoos and creams, which can be applied directly to dry scalp to maximize its purported benefits to the hair.
- According to the World Health Organization, CBD is relatively safe for human consumption, with no adverse side effects identified concerning its use(23).
- There is no direct evidence that proves CBD to be an effective treatment for hair loss. The therapeutic benefits of the compound are merely suggestions that may help with the said condition.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration only allows the use of one CBD product, Epidiolex, a prescribed drug for epilepsy(24).
- Labeling inaccuracies are common among CBD products due to the industry’s lack of regulation(25).
- The FDA does not allow CBD products to be sold as dietary supplements.
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Hair Loss
There are several forms of alternative treatments that experts suggest can help with hair loss. Some of the most prevalent include consuming supplements containing ginseng, iron, selenium, and zinc.
Massaging the scalp is also a well-known approach with people recommending the use of aloe vera, coconut oil, fish oil, and onion juice for the therapy.
Aloe vera, for instance, has long been used as a solution for hair loss(26). Likewise, coconut oil contains properties that can prevent hair damage(27).
Similarly, CBD has shown to have characteristics that can encourage the healthy growth of hair.
There are CBD products sold as nourishing CBD shampoos and creams that contain herbal extracts, like aloe vera and essential oils.
CBD can be combined with these natural treatments to maximize its effectiveness in combating hair loss.
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Hair Loss
CBD oil from the hemp plant is available in three variations, which are full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant to bring about the synergy known as the entourage effect. It also contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive substance from marijuana.
Broad-spectrum CBD also possesses all of these chemical compounds except for THC. People that are allergic to THC, or prefer not to consume it, may opt for the broad-spectrum variety.
Cannabidiol isolates contain only pure CBD and are often sold in crystalline form.
Individuals planning to use CBD oil for their beauty routine should first consult a doctor to avoid complications.
The following are a few tips that can help users find the most effective CBD products for hair loss:
- Before buying CBD, ensure that the laws in the state where one plans to purchase it are fully understood to avoid legal repercussions.
- Only purchase CBD products made with natural ingredients, as other chemicals and artificial additives may lessen its effects or even cause adverse reactions.
- Look for CBD products with a certificate of analysis (COA), as this document proves that the item has undergone proper testing and manufacturing processes.
CBD Dosage for Hair Loss
Medical experts have not identified the proper CBD dosage to alleviate the symptoms of hair loss or thinning hair.
A person may respond to CBD oil products based on several factors, including their tolerance, age, and weight.
Unless recommended by a trusted doctor, it is best to start with the lowest CBD dose possible. Users should then observe its effects in their body and can slowly increase their dosing until they experience the desired results.
Keep in mind that CBD oil is not a cure for alopecia. However, its properties may help slow down hair loss and improve the overall appearance of existing hair follicles.
How to Take CBD Oil for Hair Loss
CBD in the form of topical is perhaps the most popular form of the compound suggested for hair loss. Today, some brands sell CBD daily hair care lines, such as shampoos and serums, that are said to contribute to scalp health and provide it with the necessary elements to stay healthy.
Topical CBD products for hair loss are said to have moisturizing effects that can encourage hair growth and help with split ends and dandruff.
One can also find CBD for hair loss sold as tinctures, capsules, gummies, and edibles for sublingual applications. CBD tinctures are known to take effect faster than the other edibles since they are applied under the tongue.
Although there are also CBD vape and aromatherapy oils, these products may not be the best for hair loss, especially since their effects are short-lived.
Several studies show that CBD possesses characteristics that may prevent hair loss in individuals.
There are CBD and hemp seed oil products available containing the necessary nutrients that the hair follicles need to stay healthy.
However, these studies do not prove that CBD can indeed cure hair loss in both men and women. Research data are severely lacking, and more clinical trials are needed to fill in the knowledge gap.
It is crucial to seek medical advice from a health expert experienced in CBD before purchasing and consuming the extract for hair loss.
- Genetics Home Reference. Androgenetic alopecia. Retrieved from: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgenetic-alopecia#.
- Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, Tosti A. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019;9(1):51-70. doi:10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
- Bater K, Rieder E. Over-the-Counter Hair Loss Treatments: Help or Hype?. J Drugs Dermatol. 2018;17(12):1317-1321.
- Meissner H, Cascella M. Cannabidiol (CBD) [Updated 2020 Mar 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556048/
- Pavlovic R, Nenna G, Calvi L, et al. Quality Traits of “Cannabidiol Oils”: Cannabinoids Content, Terpene Fingerprint and Oxidation Stability of European Commercially Available Preparations. Molecules. 2018;23(5):1230. Published 2018 May 20. doi:10.3390/molecules23051230
- Genetics Home Reference. op. cit.
- Al Aboud AM, Zito PM. Alopecia. [Updated 2020 Feb 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538178/
- Almohanna HM. et al. op. cit.
- Le Floc’h C, Cheniti A, Connétable S, Piccardi N, Vincenzi C, Tosti A. Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015;14(1):76-82. doi:10.1111/jocd.12127
- Bater K, Rieder E. op. cit.
- Meissner H, Cascella M. op. cit.
- Pavlovic R. et al. op. cit.
- Meissner H, Cascella M. op. cit.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Retrieved from: https://patents.google.com/patent/US6630507B1/en.
- Booz GW. Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011;51(5):1054-1061. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.01.007
- Iffland K, Grotenhermen F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):139-154. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.1089/can.2016.0034
- Lu HC, Mackie K. An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biol Psychiatry. 2016;79(7):516-525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028
- Bíró T, Tóth BI, Haskó G, Paus R, Pacher P. The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2009;30(8):411-420. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2009.05.004
- Magro CM, Rossi A, Poe J, Manhas-Bhutani S, Sadick N. The role of inflammation and immunity in the pathogenesis of androgenetic alopecia. J Drugs Dermatol. 2011;10(12):1404-1411.
- Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M. Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future Med Chem. 2009;1(7):1333-1349. doi:10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Le Floc’h C. et al. op. cit.
- World Health Organization (2018, June 4). Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf.
- US Food and Drug Administration (2020, March 5). What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis.
- Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Aloe Vera. Retrieved from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/aloe-vera.
- Rele AS, Mohile RB. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci. 2003;54(2):175-192.