Finasteride, also known by its brand names, Propecia and Proscar, is one of only two drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of hair loss. Finasteride originally came on the scene in 1992 as a treatment for an enlarged prostate. Over time scientists noticed that the drug helped with hair loss and, in fact, inhibited dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the scalp.
Now a recent study in mice suggests that finasteride may lower blood pressure, increase blood vessel elasticity and increase blood flow all over the body including to the brain.
As the body ages, the blood vessels become less elastic. This stiffening contributes to many vascular and circulatory problems. Finasteride appears to alter the structure of blood vessels to make them more elastic and ease blood flow. Scientists hope that future clinical trials will show the same benefits in people as the study found in mice.
The one negative about finasteride is that a small percentage, about three percent, of those who take the medication notice some sexual dysfunction. Those suffering side effects report erectile dysfunction and/or ejaculatory dysfunction. Some former patients claim that they suffered long-term effects after stopping the medication, although this complaint is not well-documented or confirmed by the medical community.
To address this potential unpleasant side effect, some doctors use small, subclinical, doses of the drug or on/off treatment regimens. Perhaps knowing that the drug may improve blood vessel health will help with patient compliance.
For the treatment of hair loss, finasteride takes several months before the patient will notice the hair changes. And the drug is not a cure for male pattern baldness, but only a treatment for it. Improvement in hair growth only lasts while the patient continues taking the drug.
If you suffer from hair loss, rest assured you are not alone. Millions of men and women battle hair loss worldwide.