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Polygonum and hair growth.

Park H, Zhang N, Park D. 2011. Topical application of Polygonum multiflorum extract induces hair growth of resting hair follicles through upregulating Shh and [beta]-catenin expression in C57BL/6 mice. J Ethnopharmacol 135;369-75.

Hair loss is a phenomenon experienced by men and women the world over. There are a number of causes for this including stress, malnutrition, ageing, hormone imbalance and more serious disease states. In a genetically succeptible person whose hair follicles are continually exposed to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the angen (growth phase) becomes gradually shorter, which leads to a finer less coloured shorter hair follicle. For this reason many hair growth agents are targeted at inducing anagen from telogenic hairs. Polygonum multiflorum (Fo-Ti) is a herb that is well known for its resveratrol content. In East Asia it is a traditional medicine for hair loss and baldness.

The current study set out to assess the scientific activity of the herb in promoting hair growth or reducing hair loss. Ten mice in 2 randomised groups were shaved at 6 weeks of age at which time hair follicles were synchronised in the telogen phase. One group had Polygonum extract (4.7 mg/12 [cm.sup.2]) or vehicle (water containing Lactobacillus sp) applied topically for four weeks.

After 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks, one mouse from each group was sacrificed and dorsal skin excised. Hairs were randomly plucked from the shaved dorsal area at the respective time points and measured for length. Black pigmentation of the hair was taken as evidence for transition of hair follicles from telogen to anagen phase of hair growth. At week 2 the Polygonum group had black colouration in the regrowing hair, while neither less visible hair growth nor black colouration was observed in the control group. At week 4 hair growth from the control group was limited to the proximal parts of the epidermis, while the actively treated group showed overall hair growth. In the treated mice, hair follicle also appeared earlier than in the controls and the hair was longer after weeks 2, 3 and 4. Histology of the dorsal skin showed increased P-catenin protein expression (a protein which induces the transition from telogen to anagen phase hair), and up-regulated Shh expression (a key regulator of follicular growth and cycling which induces the transition from telogen to anagen phase).

Overall topical treatment with Polygonum multiflorum extract promoted hair growth by inducing anagen in telogenic hair follicles. It may be a useful topical application in cases of hair loss.

Tessa Finney-Brown MNHAA

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Author:Finney-Brown, Tessa
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 22, 2011
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