Extract of Chinese Mallow Seed May Reduce Hair Loss Naturally
added 18th April 2016
Korean researchers have found that an extract taken from seeds of the Malva Verticillata plant, better known as Chinese Mallow, is ‘a good candidate for treating hair loss’.
A relation of the hibiscus and popularly drunk as a tea, Chinese Mallow is currently used in traditional medicine as a natural remedy for renal disorders and for lowering blood sugar. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists from National Universities across Korea have now widened the scope of the plant’s use after discovering its ability to interfere with the pathway responsible for regulating the hair growth cycle.
Regulation of hair growth is controlled by something called the Wnt pathway. Many experts have speculated that being able to manipulate this channel is the key to developing the next generation of hair loss treatments, however, whilst previous research has investigated doing so through the use of stem cells, this Korean study is the first to explore a natural, plant-based component.
By using a Wnt/ß-catenin reporter activity assay system (ß-catenin–TCF/LEF reporter gene) and cell proliferation analysis, the team were able to assess the effects of the Malva Verticillata seeds on the cultured human DPCs.
The full study was published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science and details how an extract of Chinese Mallow seeds – myristoleic acid – altered the Wnt/ß-catenin pathway sufficiently to prolong the ‘anagen’ active growth stage and stave off the resting ‘catagen’ stage which comes between the stages of active growth and shedding. It was also shown to be dose-dependent, meaning its efficacy should increase in line with the volume used.
Key information, including which hair loss conditions it could potentially help with, what form or formulation the treatment would take and whether it would promote hair growth or inhibit hair loss are all missing from the published data. We would assume that conditions that cause thinning hair – most obviously male pattern baldness and a number of conditions in women including female pattern hair loss and telogen effluvium – could benefit the most.
The findings state that through clinical trials the researchers observed how: ‘The ß-catenin pathway of dermal papilla cells (DPCs) plays a pivotal role in morphogenesis and normal regeneration of hair follicles. Deletion of ß-catenin in the dermal papilla reduces proliferation of the hair follicle progenitor cells that generate the hair shaft and induces an early onset of the catagen phase.’
If the myristoleic acid can, as is suggested, increase ß-catenin levels in cultured DPCs in order to extend the active phase of the hair growth cycle, it may provide a natural solution to treating hair loss. Much more investigation is still needed, however, as even natural remedies can have serious side effects.