I can’t possibly imagine building up my muscles, and trying to train to be the very best at whatever athletic venture I was currently participating in, only to discover, my super beneficial supplement causes hair loss.
But have no fear, this is NOT the case here.
Let’s break down all those myths, and get straight to the scientific facts.
Is it a myth?
Let’s get one thing straight, hair loss as a direct result from creatine supplementation is a big time myth. Taking a creatine supplement will not cause you to lose hair.
But it may produce a hormone that in turn could up your chances of the begging process that we call hair loss. (More on that below). But the myth that creatine makes your hair disappear as fast as your muscles appear needs to be ruled out according to a medically reviewed article by the Manual Team.
Dr. Earim Chaundry explains that the study that started this widely circulated myth was as he quotes “in thanks” to a study done in 2009 that involved college age rugby players. The study was small with only 20 participants and it was short, lasting only 3 weeks.
So while some did have an increase of DHT (more on that below) a component responsible for loss of hair, nothing substantial could be proven from a study conducted with such few participants and over such a small period of time.
Many of the guys panicked and didn’t want to have to choose between having muscles to rival a Greek God, and also fear having the next Mr. Clean worthy head.
Some of these participants genetically could have been already prone to hair loss. As any major side effects listed for creatine users, hair loss was not one that has been listed.
Dr. Chaundry again elaborates that there hasn’t been really any other studies further evaluating the link between hair loss and creatine. He further explains that a lot of this so-called “evidence” used as ammunition to further build the myth paranoia surrounding the creatine hair loss debate is from non verified sources.
There are hundreds if not thousands of faceless sources that are commenting on online forums that swear up and down the street that creatine is “causing” their hair loss.
It’s a big case of “he said, she said”, (although mostly a male dominated scenario here), where they swear that their uncle, brother, roommate, or brother in laws groomer has experienced hair loss at least once while taking creatine.
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet Dr. Chaundry warns, anyone and everyone can be typing their own version of the truth.
Alright, so if creatine isn’t responsible for hair loss, then what is? The exact cause for hair loss is unique to each individual person. But the three most common reasons are genetics, hormones, and age.
But definitely not creatine. Sadly, there’s no way around it, as with age comes hair loss. The hormonal process that leads to balding increases as you age.
Then, that pesky hormonal based hair thinner DHT comes into play. When stored in the teeny tiny hair follicles the hair will shrink and effect your follicles ability to grow healthy hair.
Millions of men suffer from a condition that is called MPB, or male pattern baldness. The U.S National Library of Medicine shares that 50% of men over the age of 50, will have some sort of hair loss at this stage in their lives.
How to prevent hair loss from creatine
Let me take some time to explain briefly what may cause hair loss, and why it isn’t a big concern. From our friends over at Healthline, Debra Sullivan, Ph.D, MSN, R.N., CNE, COI, and in conjunction with Jill Seladi-Schuman, Ph.D they note that again creatine supplementation doesn’t directly lead to hair loss. (Yay!)
What they do caution is if you are already at risk for hair loss, such as a genetic trait, another medication side effect, or already naturally thinning hair you may want to lessen your dose of creatine as it does contain the hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which is associated with hair loss.
Here’s the skinny on that hormone dihydrotestosterone and its relation to creatine: Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is a hormone that is derived from another hormone you may be familiar with, testosterone.
(Hair follicles have their own life cycle, hair has a growing phase and then a resting phase after it falls out, similar to a cat or dog shedding)
So, how does this all relate? Well, I’m glad you asked. DHT can often bind to hormone receptors in our hair follicles, this in turn can lead to a more brief period of your hair growth cycle, as well as hair that is shorter and thinner in result.
Then, you have overall less hair growth growth because your hair is falling out faster than this being replaced.
Will your hair grow back?
So far we’ve learned that hair loss as a direct from creatine is still something that needs to be studied. But what scientists and doctors do know is that creatine can increase the DHT hormone, which in turn can lead to the increase of hair thinning and hair loss.
The Belgravia Centre which is a hair loss and treatment center has some insight into whether you can grow your hair back or not after thinning from the DHT hormone, (or for those who believe that it’s from their creatine supplements).
They share that if your hair loss is because of the increase in your dihydrotestosterone, you should notice the hair thinning or loss within the first two months of use.
You cannot regrow what hair you have lost, but with less use of creatine, your DHT levels may drop as a result, and then the shedding or thinning process of your hair will slow down.
But it’s important to talk to your doctor if you feel that your hair loss is happening too rapidly, or to see if it may be a cause from another source.