Reishi mushroom [ganoderma lucidum] has long been used in Eastern medicine to boost the immune system, increase stamina, lower cholesterol, and treat urinary disorders. Now, thanks to the internet’s broad reach, this kidney-shaped fungus is becoming a popular Western nutritional supplement – with the additional claim that it may also help your hair grow.
But do mushrooms really promote hair growth? If so, how do mushroom-based products work and are they safe?
Are Reishi Mushrooms a DHT blocker?
Studies on mice indicate that reishi mushrooms can help lower levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that contributes to male (and to a lesser degree, female) pattern hair loss. Research on reishi mushroom use in humans is still in its early stages, and there are many questions to be answered about their efficacy.
What Do Reishi Mushrooms Do for Hair?
With their DHT reduction and inflammation-fighting properties, reishi mushrooms seem like they have the potential to help with a variety of hair issues. That can include male pattern hair loss, alopecia areata, and even premature graying.
Reishi mushrooms contain high levels of antioxidants, which may help to protect the scalp and hair from environmental toxins and free radicals… which in turn could promote healthy hair growth. Additionally, they may reduce the inflammation that weakens hair follicles and impedes blood flow to the scalp. They also could play a role in fighting autoimmune issues like alopecia areata, where the body attacks the hair follicles, resulting in thinning hair and patchy bald spots.
Are Reishi Mushrooms Good for Hair Loss?
Reishi mushrooms appear to be promising for hair health but beware of products and supplements making claims that can’t yet be supported by science. Both topical and oral reishi products have a serious issue that may limit their effectiveness as hair treatments.
Ganoderic acids, the active compounds in reishi, have very short half-lives – only 40 minutes in humans. Oral reishi is metabolized quickly in the digestive tract and is soon eliminated by the body. Any DHT-reducing effect likely won’t last long enough to have an impact on hair loss, since DHT needs to be suppressed much longer to pave the way for new growth.
If you decide to try reishi anyway, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before taking it as a supplement. As with other herbal remedies, it may have unwanted side effects or interfere with other medications you are taking.
The half-life issue also applies to topical shampoos and serums containing reishi. Its effect likely will not last long enough for the hair follicle to maintain hair growth and support new growth phases.
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When trendy “miracle” products don’t perform as you hoped, RHRLI provides a variety of proven treatment options to address many different types of alopecia. Advancements in the treatment of hair loss – such as the FDA-approved ARTAS® Robotic Hair Transplant System – can help you get confidence-boosting, natural-looking results. To schedule a free consultation and scalp assessment, contact us today to get started.