Hair Loss Advice


Proanthocyanidin - Natures Minoxidil

Pine bark and grape seed contain the flavonoids OPCs, which offer antioxidant protection against heart disease and cancer.

Proanthocyanidins--more technically oligomeric proanthocyanidins and, hence, the OPC moniker--are a class of flavonoids.

Formerly called "condensed tannins," all proanthocyanidins are chemically similar, the only differences being slight changes in shape and attachments of their polyphenol rings.

In nature, a jumble of different proanthocyanidins is always found together, ranging from individual units to complex molecules of many linked units (oligomers).

OPCs are found in many woody plants. The two most common sources of proanthocyanidins are grape seeds (Vitis vinifera) and the white pine (Pinus maritima, P. pinaster) of southern Europe.

Proanthocyanidin hair loss Grape seeds can have 7 to 15 percent more OPCs than pine bark and can be more potent as well as more economical.1 OPCs are also abundant in blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha), as well as in apples, berries, barley (and beer made from it), bean hulls, chocolate, rhubarb, rose hips and sorghum.

Proanthocyanidins deserve their stellar reputation as antioxidants that quench free radicals and potentiate other antioxidants. In one in vitro study, the OPCs in a patented pine bark extract prolonged the life span of vitamin C by 400 percent.2

Another in vitro study showed that exposing blood vessel linings to pine bark OPCs boosted their vitamin E content by 15 percent.3 Grape seed has also shown recycling and potentiating effects. The test tube-based activity of vitamin E, in a system mimicking cell membranes, has shown enhancement by grape seed OPCs.4

A recent mouse study by Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Creighton University School of Pharmacy in Omaha, Neb., also found that a patented grape seed extract protected tissue from oxidation better than the antioxidant vitamins C and E or beta-carotene.

Proanthocyanidins may do even more than prevent disease; they may make us more youthful looking. Oxidation damage causes most visible signs of aging in our skin.

By preventing this damage, skin will stay younger looking. One way to achieve this is to reduce the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) light. Sunscreen products have incorporated a variety of antioxidants with the intent that they will prevent sun injury to the skin.

In one study, grape seed OPCs exerted a solo antioxidant effect at a level of potency on a par with vitamin E--protecting different polyunsaturated fatty acids from UV light-induced lipid peroxidation.26 In this same study, the grape OPCs synergistically interacted with vitamin E, recycling the inactivated form of the vitamin into the active form and thus acting as a virtual vitamin E extender.

OPCs may even help us grow a thick head of hair, if the results of animal experiments apply to humans. 

Japanese researchers shaved mice and found that 40 percent of their hair grew back naturally. When a 1 percent solution of any of three proanthocyanidins was applied to the skin, however, between 70 and 80 percent of the hair grew back.

Test tube studies confirm that OPCs actually stimulate the hair keratinocytes to produce three times more hair than the controls.

The health benefits of OPCs have prompted some researchers to suggest they should have an official "recommended optimal intake." Doses used in many animal experiments are 100 mg/kg of body weight, which is equivalent to between 50 and 200 mg for the average adult, according to Bagchi. With the prevalence of refined foods today, our intake is much lower than the amount we likely evolved with, but there has been little attempt to quantify current OPC intake.

One exception is the German National Food Consumption Survey, which found Bavarians consume an average of 3.7 mg/day of OPC.30 According to Bagchi, one glass of red wine contains 4­5 mg of OPC, while white wine contains only a small amount.

Proanthocyanidins show tremendous promise. However, we still have much research to do before there is a single pill to keep us feeling healthy and looking youthful. Fortunately, consumers don't need to wait for the results of large-scale clinical trials to begin enjoying the benefits of proanthocyanidins. These compounds are available today in food and supplements.

Apple Juice Ingredient May Stop Hair Loss

Bald men who don't like the side effects of conventional hair growth medicines may soon be slathering apple juice on their heads instead.

hair loss A recently released study shows that an ingredient in apples and apple juice--procyanidin B-2--significantly increases hair growth in men with male pattern baldness.

Proanthocyanidins are natural chemicals that have a wide range of benefits, including skin protection and hair growth.

Previous studies in mice have showed that procyanidin B-2, a type of proanthocyanidin, causes hair growth at a rate that is 300 percent faster than a similar placebo.

In this study, authors from the Tsukuba Research Laboratories and the Watanabe Dermatological Clinic in Japan investigated the hair growth and side effects of a 1 percent procyanidin B-2 solution extracted from commercially available apple juice.

For 6 months, 19 men received a daily topical dose of 30 mg of the procyanidin-B2 hair tonic, while another 10 received a placebo that looked and smelled the same. Hair growth--including hair density and diameter--were measured using microscopes and photographs.

Results revealed that men who received procyanidin B-2 grew more total hairs and more dense hairs than the placebo group. When the researchers compared their results with those of currently available medications, they found that procyanidin B-2 caused less hair growth than minoxidil (Rogaine), but a greater increase in total hairs than finasteride (Proscar). Unlike these prescription drugs, procyanidin B-2 produced no side effects such as itching or irritation.

The scientists speculated that antioxidants in procyanidin B-2 defeat male baldness by decreasing the scalp swelling that may cause hair loss. "The suppression of inflammation mediated by procyanidin B-2 returns the scalp to a healthy condition, consequently leading to a cure for baldness," they said. The authors are now planning further research on the length of time and the dose at which procyanidin B-2 is most effective. And they've figured out a way to get this natural chemical to bald men without using apple juice off the grocery shelf--by extracting it from green apples.


Kamimura A, Takahashi T, Watanabe Y. Investigation of topical application of procyanidin B-2 from apple to identify its potential use as a hair growing agent. Phytomedicine. 2000;7(6):529-536.

Proanthocyanidins Clinical studies

“Proanthocyanidins promote hair follicle cell proliferation and the anagen phase of hair growth.”

Takahashi T, Kamiya T, Yokoo Y. Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh) 78: 428-432, 1998.

In recently published research, Takahashi et al examined 1000 different plant products to determine if any of them could influence hair growth. They determined that proanthocyanidins extracted from grape seeds promoted the proliferation of hair cells by 230%. They also determined that proanthocyanidins converted the telogen (non-growing) phase of hair growth into the anagen (growing) phase of hair growth [1]. In this experiment, proanthocyanidins displayed hair-cycle-converting activity which was similar to that of minoxidil. At the end of their report, the authors say that “We are now investigating the possibility of the use of proanthocyanidins as agents for curing androgenic alopecia.”

"Several selective protein kinase C inhibitors including procyanidins promote hair growth."

Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol 2000 May-Aug;13(3-4):133-42
Takahashi T, Kamimura A, Shirai A, Yokoo Y. (Tsukuba Research Laboratories, Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co., Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

We have previously reported that procyanidin oligomers selectively promote growth of murine hair epithelial cells in vitro and stimulate anagen induction in vivo. We report here the possible relationship between the protein kinase C-inhibiting activity of procyanidins and their hair-growing activity. Of the procyanidins, procyanidin B-2 and procyanidin C-1, which selectively inhibit protein kinase C, intensively promote hair epithelial cell proliferation in vitro and stimulate anagen induction in vivo.

On the other hand, procyanidins, which inhibit both protein kinase C and A, showed relatively low activity in in vitro and in vivo evaluations. We also found that calphostin C, which is a selective inhibitor of protein kinase C, possesses hair epithelial cell growth-promoting activity in vitro and anagen phase-inducing hair-growing activity in vivo.

Other selective protein kinase C inhibitors, such as hexadecylphosphocholine, palmitoyl-DL-carnitine chloride, and polymyxin B sulfate, also show marked anagen phase-inducing hair-growing activity in vivo. Nonselective protein kinase inhibitors, such as staurosporine and K252a, inhibit the growth of hair epithelial cells. 1,2-Dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol, a protein kinase C activator, dose-dependently decreases the growth of hair epithelial cells.

Forskolin, an adenylate cyclase activator, promotes hair epithelial cell growth and boosts the growth-promoting effect of procyanidin B-2. It is speculated that the hair-growing activity of procyanidins is related to their protein kinase C-inhibiting activity. Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel PMID: 10859531 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

"Procyanidin oligomers selectively and intensively promote proliferation of mouse hair epithelial cells in vitro and activate hair follicle growth in vivo.

"J Invest Dermatol 1999 Mar;112(3):310-6 Takahashi T, Kamiya T, Hasegawa A, Yokoo Y. (Tsukuba Research Laboratories, Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, Ibaraki, Japan.)

We have previously reported that proanthocyanidins extracted from grape seeds possess growth-promoting activity toward murine hair epithelial cells in vitro and stimulate anagen induction in hair cycle progression in vivo. This report constitutes a comparison of the growth-promoting activity of procyanidin oligomers and the target cells of procyanidins in the skin.

Results show that procyanidin dimer and trimer exhibit higher growth-promoting activity than the monomer. The maximum growth-promoting activity for hair epithelial cells with procyanidin B-2, an epicatechin dimer, reached about 300% (30 microM) relative to controls (= 100%) in a 5 d culture.

Optimum concentration of procyanidin C-1, an epicatechin trimer, was lower than that of procyanidin B-2; the maximum growth-promoting activity of procyanidin C-1 was about 220% (3 microM). No other flavonoid compounds examined exhibit higher proliferative activities than the procyanidins. In skin constituent cells, only epithelial cells such as hair keratinocytes or epidermal keratinocytes respond to procyanidin oligomers.

Topical application of 1% procyanidin oligomers on shaven C3H mice in the telogen phase led to significant hair regeneration [procyanidin B-2, 69.6% +/- 21.8% (mean +/- SD); procyanidin B-3, 80.9% +/- 13.0%; procyanidin C-1, 78.3% +/- 7.6%] on the basis of the shaven area; application of vehicle only led to regeneration of 41.7% (SD = 16.3%).

In this paper, we demonstrate the hair-growing activity of procyanidin oligomers both in vitro and in vivo, and their potential for use as agents to induce hair growth. PMID: 10084307 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

"The Hair-Growing Activity of Procyanidin Oligomers"
Department of Dermatology, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Sugitani, Toyama, JP.

Procyanidins are a family of condensed tannins we have identified in apples, which act as a hair-growing factor in the murine model both in vitro and in vivo. We have previously reported that the growth-promoting effect on murine hair epithelial cells attributable to procyanidin B-2, one species of procyanidin oligomer, reaches about 300% relative to controls; and have also shown that procyanidin B-2 possesses intensive anagen-inducing activity in the C3H in vivo mouse model.

This presentation describes our investigations during a 12-month clinical trial of highly purified procyanidin oligomers isolated from unripe apples, chiefly comprising procyanidin B-2, procyanidin B-1, and procyanidin C-1. The clinical trial was performed in a total of 21 subjects showing male pattern baldness on the head.

The test agent (about 1.8 ml per dose) was applied to the subjects’ affected scalp area twice a day, giving a daily dose of 16 mg of procyanidin oligomers.

During the 12 months of twice-daily application of the agent, the hair-growing effects were evaluated according to the following parameters: the macrophotographically recorded change in the number of hairs in the designated scalp area, the changes in the diameter of hairs clipped from the designated scalp area, and the changes in the photographically recorded global view of the subjects’ heads. No side effects were observed in any subjects.

After 12 months of use, 71% of the subjects showed an increased number of hairs in the designated scalp area relative to pre-trial measurements.

The numbers of total hairs in the designated scalp area after the 12-month trial were significantly greater than the measured values at the start of the trial (paired t-test, p < 0.005).

We also observed a clear trend towards increased number of non-vellus hairs (> 40 µm) in the designated scalp area after the 12-month trial compared to the values measured at the start of the test.

A number of the subjects showed cosmetically satisfactory changes. Procyanidin therapy shows promise as a potential cure for male pattern baldness.

Further Reading

  • Introduction Nature usually has a solution for most health ailments and the problem with hair loss in no exception.

  • Saw Palmetto Natural Propecia

  • Nettles Applying an extract of Nettles to the scalp was said to stimulate hair growth, and chronic rheumatism was treated by placing nettle leaves directly on to the afflicted area.

  • Capsaicin Capsaicin induces the release of substance which is believed to play an important role in murine hair growth and cycle. 

  • Soy Extract An American Herb company was recently issued a patent for the use of soy extract for the treatment and prevention of hair loss.

  • Cayenne Pepper Excellent results have been seen with alopecia, male pattern baldness and excellent results also in women that have lost their hair.

  • Proanthocyanidin Natures Minoxidil

  • Pygeum Bark Pygeum africanum a herb derived from the bark of the African evergreen,which inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, is widely used in Europe to prevent and treat prostate problems and to prevent and treat male pattern baldness.

  • Sapote In Santo Domingo, the seed kernel oil is used as a skin ointment and as a hair dressing believed to stop falling hair.

  • Aromatherapy Evidently, one or more of the essential oils is able to promote hair regrowth.