Pumpkin Seed Oil for Male-Pattern Baldness

research Jul 11, 2017

"Androgenic alopecia" is the medical jargon name for the male-pattern baldness that affects most men later in life. Genetics and hormones (particularly testosterone) are well known factors in the process. Topical and oral medications have not provided a satisfactory treatment option to date due to adverse side effects.

This study investigated the use of simple pumpkin seed oil for the problem and has some interesting results!

Study Details:

76 men with mild to moderate androgenic alopecia were randomized to either a control (i.e. placebo) group or treatment group (i.e. pumpkin seed oil). As a condition of enrollment in the study, the participants did not use medication or topical treatments for hair loss within the previous 3 months. Both the participants and researchers were blinded to who was in each group.

Each group was given two 100mg capsules 30 minutes before breakfast and supper.

The study lasted for 24 weeks (6 months).

Assessments & Results:

​The study made 3 assessments:

  1. Patient self assessment on a scale of 0 to 10 for "self-rated improvement" and "satisfaction with treatment" at 12 and 24 weeks. At 12 weeks, scores were about the same for both groups. At 24 weeks, the treatment groups scores were significantly better ratings than the placebo group.
  2. Investigator assessments of photographs of the top of the head and the forehead at baseline and 24 weeks. This investigator was blinded to treatment versus control group.
    1. Control group of 39 participants: assessed as 3 people having slightly or moderately improved, 25 unchanged, and 11 worsened.
    2. Treatment group of 37 participants: assessed as 17 people having slightly or moderately improved, 19 unchanged, and 1 worsened.
  3. Hair count and thickness assessment via phototrichography were assessed at 12 and 24 weeks. While the thickness of the hairs didn't change much in either group, the hair count in the treatment group was reported as about 30% higher at 24 weeks.

Regarding safety, the study was completed by most participants without adverse symptoms. Symptoms reported included "whole body itch" by 1 control and 1 treatment group participant and mild abdominal discomfort by 1 treatment group participant. No relevant changes in blood work were identified, including free testosterone levels.

This study is very small with only 76 participants, but it appears to me to be well designed and it's results are interesting. Given the safety profile of pumpkin seed oil often being eaten as food, I would be happy to try this option with male patients suffering from mild to moderate hair loss. I think more work completed on the mechanism of action of pumpkin seed oil would reveal new understanding of details of the condition and therefore potential for new and effective options for treatment in the future. For now, I'll be happy to recommend a 6 month trial to patients and track their progress. It's certainly a better first line treatment option than the ones with significant adverse effects being used.

Cho YH, 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.

​​If you are looking for pumpkin seed oil capsules, try here. Please note the dosage per capsule is different than in the study, and do your math if you choose to take it.

​I hope you enjoyed this article and have found it informative. If you are suffering from male pattern baldness and would like to try this treatment, please consult with either your medical or naturopathic doctor to ensure it's right for your unique situation before proceeding.


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