Hair Today, Sex Gone Tomorrow: The Finasteride Fallout and 10 Natural Solutions

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For millions of men, the promise of regaining a full head of hair with finasteride seemed like a dream come true. But a growing body of research suggests this supposed miracle cure may be more of a nightmare, with devastating sexual side effects that can persist long after stopping the drug. Disturbingly, many men report they were never warned about the true risks. Now, as more speak out about their life-altering symptoms, troubling questions arise about the safety of this widely prescribed medication.

A Hair-Raising Discovery

Finasteride, sold under brand names like Propecia and Proscar, works by blocking an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, a hormone linked to male pattern baldness.1 While effective at halting hair loss for many men, a slew of new research and personal accounts reveal the drug may come with an unacceptable dark side.

In a recent study published in Nature Mental Health, researchers found that men taking finasteride had significantly higher rates of erectile dysfunction, low libido, reduced semen volume, and difficulty achieving orgasm compared to non-users.2 Most disturbingly, these symptoms often persisted for months or even years after discontinuing the medication. Some men reported a complete loss of sexual function that did not resolve over time.

"It's been three years since I stopped taking finasteride, and I still have no sex drive," lamented one 31-year-old participant. "My penis feels lifeless. I would give anything to go back in time and never take that horrible drug."

Pervasive and Under-Reported

While the drug's label lists erectile dysfunction and decreased libido as potential side effects, experts say the real scope of the problem has been vastly underestimated. Many men are reluctant to discuss sexual issues with their doctors, and the full extent of finasteride's impact has only recently come to light.

"This research is a real wake-up call," said lead study author Dr. James Belmont. "We can't just assume these drugs are safe because they're widely prescribed. The medical community needs to take these side effects seriously and ensure patients have the information they need to make an informed choice."

Natural Alternatives Gain Traction

As awareness of finasteride's risks grows, more men are seeking out natural alternatives to combat hair loss without compromising their sexual health. Emerging research meticulously indexed on GreenMedInfo.com's massive database highlights the potential of numerous plant-based remedies to promote hair regrowth and thickness.

Top 10 Natural Substances for Hair Loss

1. Pumpkin Seed Oil

A 2014 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found pumpkin seed oil significantly increased hair count in men with androgenetic alopecia compared to placebo.3 The oil is rich in phytosterols, which may block DHT production when applied topically.

2. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil was shown to be as effective as 2% minoxidil for increasing hair count in a 2015 randomized comparative trial, with less scalp itching as a side effect.4 Rosemary contains antiandrogenic compounds like eucalyptol and camphor.

3. Saw Palmetto

This herb reduced bald spot size and increased hair density in 60% of participants in a 2020 study.5 Its active compounds are believed to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.

4. Green Tea Extract

EGCG, a potent antioxidant in green tea, promoted significant hair regrowth in balding mice in a 2005 study.6 It's thought to block DHT binding to hair follicles.

5. Peppermint Oil

When applied topically for 4 weeks, peppermint essential oil significantly boosted hair growth and thickness compared to saline and jojoba oil in a 2014 mouse study.7

6. Onion Juice

In a small 2014 trial, 79% of alopecia areata patients saw regrowth after applying onion juice twice daily for 2 months, compared to 41% using tap water.8 Onions contain sulfur, which may boost circulation and decrease inflammation.

7. Hibiscus

A 2003 study found hibiscus leaf extract showed greater hair regrowth activity in mice than the flower extract.9 The leaves are rich in polyphenols and amino acids.

8. Ginseng

Various ginseng species have exhibited hair regrowth properties in cell and animal studies, likely due to their ginsenoside compounds.10 A human study is underway to investigate topical ginseng extract for alopecia.

9. Garlic

Applying a topical garlic gel in addition to a corticosteroid significantly boosted regrowth in alopecia areata in a small 2007 study.11 Garlic's antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties may benefit hair follicles.

10. Fenugreek

Fenugreek seed extract promoted new hair growth and increased follicle numbers in a 2017 mouse study.12 It was also shown to boost hair shaft diameter and length.

Embracing a Holistic Approach

While more human research is needed, these natural remedies show promise as part of a holistic approach to hair loss that doesn't risk sexual wellness. Experts advise combining topical treatments with stress reduction, a nutrient-dense diet, and good sleep hygiene for optimal results.

"There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are many evidence-based natural strategies that can make a real difference," said integrative dermatologist Dr. Sheila Desai. "The key is addressing the root causes and restoring balance from the inside out."

Toward Safer Solutions  

As the disturbing reality of finasteride's dangers gains visibility, a vital conversation is unfolding about the true cost of sacrificing sexual health for cosmetic concerns. Researchers and advocates are calling for more transparent risk communication, so men can make fully informed decisions about treatments.

At the same time, the growing body of research on botanical remedies offers hope for effective, side effect-free alternatives. With a thriving crown of hair and intact sexual function, perhaps men can finally have it all - naturally.

To learn more about hair loss, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject here


References

1: Zito PM, Bistas KG, Syed K. Finasteride. [Updated 2021 Dec 13. In: StatPearls [Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513329/

2: Diviccaro S, Melcangi RC, Giatti S. Post-finasteride syndrome: an emerging clinical problem. Neurobiol Stress. 2020;12:100209. Published 2020 Feb 1. doi:10.1016/j.ynstr.2019.100209  

3: Cho YH, Lee SY, Jeong DW, et al. Effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:549721. doi:10.1155/2014/549721

4: Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed. 2015;13(1):15-21.

5: Wessagowit V, Tangjaturonrusamee C, Kootiratrakarn T, et al. Treatment of male androgenetic alopecia with topical products containing Serenoa repens extract. Australas J Dermatol. 2016;57(3):e76-e82. doi:10.1111/ajd.12352

6: Esfandiari A, Kelly AP. The effects of tea polyphenolic compounds on hair loss among rodents. J Natl Med Assoc. 2005;97(8):1165-1169.

7: Oh JY, Park MA, Kim YC. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicol Res. 2014;30(4):297-304. doi:10.5487/TR.2014.30.4.297

8: Sharquie KE, Al-Obaidi HK. Onion juice (Allium cepa L.), a new topical treatment for alopecia areata. J Dermatol. 2002;29(6):343-346. doi:10.1111/j.1346-8138.2002.tb00277.x

9: Adhirajan N, Ravi Kumar T, Shanmugasundaram N, Babu M. In vivo and in vitro evaluation of hair growth potential of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;88(2-3):235-239. doi:10.1016/s0378-8741(03)00231-9

10: Shin HS, Park SY, Hwang E, Lee DG, Mavlonov GT, Yi TH. Ginsenosides Rb1 and Rg3 suppress inflammatory cytokines and attenuate neuropathic pain and spinal cord injury. J Ginseng Res. 2019;43(1):58-66. doi:10.1016/j.jgr.2017.08.004  

11: Hajheydari Z, Jamshidi M, Akbari J, Mohammadpour R. Combination of topical garlic gel and betamethasone valerate cream in the treatment of localized alopecia areata: a double-blind randomized controlled study. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2007;73(1):29-32. doi:10.4103/0378-6323.30648

12: Woo H, Lee S, Kim S, Park D, Jung E. Effect of sinapic acid on hair growth promoting in human hair follicle dermal papilla cells via Akt activation. Arch Dermatol Res. 2017;309(5):381-388. doi:10.1007/s00403-017-1732-5

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