Does Smoking Marijuana Lead to Hair Loss?
Aside from being an inhalant and harmful to the lungs and throat, there is mounting evidence that marijuana can cause hair loss through a variety of mechanisms.
Androgenetic Alopecia (male and female pattern baldness), is caused when 5-alpha-reductase enzyme attaches to testosterone and creates a sensitivity to the hormone DHT.
Hormones are critical to major bodily functions, but if Androgenetic Alopecia is in play, hormones play an important part in hair loss.
Most AGA sufferers don’t have too much DHT. In most cases, the normal levels of DHT trigger responses in sensitive hair follicles, leading to hair miniaturization. As a result, many hair loss treatments (Propecia, Duasteride, etc.) focus on reducing DHT in hair follicles.
This might sound great in theory, but, in reality, low testosterone levels can lead to reduced sex drive and performance issues, infertility, increased body fat, lower muscle mass, less body hair, anxiety and depression.
While chronic marijuana use can result in the stabilization of affected hormone levels due to tolerance, chronic users may still suffer from the symptoms, listed above.
Recent studies strongly suggest that the cannabinoid system is a key player in cell growth control, and endo and exocannabinoids inhibit the growth of human hair follicles.
Endocannabinoids, receptors which are located all over the body, are involved in many physiological processes, including mood, pain-sensation memory, and appetite.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is an exocannabinoid, which attaches to the cannabinoid receptors just like endocannabinoids do.
According to the 2007 study at the University of Debrecen, “the prototypic endocannabinoid, and … the exocannabinoid, THC, both inhibit human hair shaft elongation and proliferation of the hair matrix keratinocytes, and induce premature HF regression (catagen). “
As the amount of AEA exocannabinoid increases, so do the percentages of follicles in the catagen phase – a short transition stage that occurs at the end of the anagen phase, signaling the end of active growth.
The Role of Stress
Cortisol is the hormone produced during physical or mental stress. Contrary to popular belief, THC may increase cortisol levels and induce telogen effluvium (a condition where the follicles enter the telogen, or resting phase, prematurely).
There’s no doubt that chronic use of marijuana is linked to hair loss. And while there are many causes of hair loss, including hormones, toxicity, stress, inflammation and genetics, reducing the risks by decreasing marijuana – at least as an inhalant – seems to be the best decision.
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