Does melatonin cause hair loss or could it in fact be the answer to your hair growth struggles? Our handy guide reveals everything there is to know about the hormone and the benefits and side effects it holds.
Written By Chia Kougianos
So, does melatonin cause hair loss? Primarily used as a sleep aid, melatonin can also be used to treat alopecia, help improve hair density, and to promote growth. It acts as a protective shield for your scalp and hair follicles against inflammation and tissue damage that contributes to hair loss.
What is Melatonin
Often referred to as the “hormone of sleep”, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant. It is naturally produced by the pineal gland located near the center of your brain.
Melatonin can improve the quality of sleep, and it helps to determine how long you will be asleep. However, melatonin can also have other effects on your body and is not limited to its role in regulating your sleep patterns.
For some, it can have a direct impact on regulating your blood pressure, controlling your body temperature, and even has effects on sexual and immune functions. For others, melatonin has been known to be influential in the cycle of hair growth.
Benefits of Melatonin
While this powerful hormone may have direct effects on your natural sleep cycle, it also holds a list of other benefits that include:
Does Melatonin Cause Hair Loss?
If you’re wondering if melatonin can cause hair loss and what effect it may have on your hair growth cycle, you won’t need to worry.
Melatonin is largely considered to be a natural booster. Scientific studies suggest this hormone may be a great tool in the fight against thinning hair.
During studies that took place during the mid- ‘90s at Harvard Medical School, a group of researchers discovered melatonin receptors were found in our body, including our skin and hair.
This means that levels of the hormone are actually naturally produced in our hair follicles and it has its own role in the hair growth process.
This would lead to the thought that increased levels of melatonin produced in your hair would lead to hair growth rather than hair loss.
So, melatonin does not in fact cause hair loss but promotes and nurtures new hair from forming during the growth process.
Melatonin helps your strands to grow during the first stage. It can therefore be
influential in strengthening your hair follicles to prevent them from shedding or breaking.
The powerful hormone also has an effect on blood circulation. It helps to fight off any possible inflammation in your scalp or roots enabling a healthy environment for new growth to take place.
Also Read: The Truth About Energy Drinks And Hair Loss
How Does Melatonin Help Prevent Hair loss?
Melatonin has proven to be highly beneficial for those looking to achieve healthy hair and works as a great antioxidant. This can be seen in the effects that melatonin has on the first stage of the hair growth cycle.
To explain this a bit better, let’s look at the four unique stages of hair growth:
- The anagen stage which is one of growth
- The catagen stage which is one of transition
- The telogen stage which includes the resting part of the cycle
- The exogen stage which ultimately means shedding
When your hair is considered to be in a healthy state, the anagen or growth stage can last between 5-7 years.
However, if your strands get affected by hair loss or experience any thinning or balding this stage shortens. If you continue to experience hair loss, this stage can shorten to the point of affecting new hair from growing resulting in baldness.
The goal of any hair loss treatment is to prevent the anagen stage from shortening so you can continue to experience hair growth and enjoy long, healthy hair.
According to scientific studies, melatonin has the ability to extend the anagen stage. This helps to promote and encourage hair growth.
As it is also an antioxidant, it has the ability to help reduce oxidative stress on your body which sometimes leads to your hair follicles being damaged.
Should I Take Melatonin?
Melatonin is generally available as an over-the-counter supplement or as an ingredient combined with other mineral supplements.
We recommend checking with your local GP first if melatonin is safe for you to take. A few instances where melatonin is recommended include:
If you have a specific sleep disorder
Melatonin is most commonly used to treat different sleep disorders as it is known to be the “hormone of sleep”. For some, it has become a great solution to fight insomnia or jet lag.
If you tend to work at night you may experience a common sleep disorder called Shift Worker Disorder.
This could lead to you having difficulty sleeping during the day and melatonin has been known to help with sleep patterns.
If you are looking to promote hair growth
Does melatonin help fight balding or thinning hair, and can it cause new hair to grow?
There have been studies to suggest that melatonin does help with fighting hair loss and treating thinning hair.
The hormone melatonin will help to sustain new growth so you can enjoy healthy, shiny hair.
How Often to Take Melatonin
There are several factors that influence the recommended levels of melatonin. This includes your age; your body weight and any possible reactions or side effects you may experience.
Other medications that you have been prescribed may also affect the way melatonin is metabolized in your body and may affect the recommended dosage.
We advise consulting with your local physician first before adding melatonin to your daily intake.
Ultimately, the right dose varies from one person to another and can range between 0.5 milligrams and 5 milligrams once daily.
Side Effects of Melatonin
Melatonin is generally safe for short-term use. However, it has been known to cause a few side effects in some cases. It is not recommended for use for any expecting or nursing women.
It’s also advised that you do not drive or handle any machinery for between four to five hours after taking melatonin.
The most common melatonin side effects include:
Other less common melatonin side effects may include:
- Short-lasting feelings of depression
- Mild tremors
- Feeling anxious
- Light abdominal cramps
- Reduced levels of alertness
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