Does Smoking Marijuana Lead to Hair Loss?
Trichologist Assoc., Physician Trainer, CEO-Cellustrious®
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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.
Hormones are critical to major bodily functions, but if Androgenetic Alopecia is in play, hormones play an important part in hair loss.
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.
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.
Slowed Cell Production
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.
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.
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. Hormonal Changes Hormones are critical to major bodily functions, but if Androgenetic Alopecia is in play, hormones play an important part
Balding Pot Heads – Cannabis Smoking Linked to Hair Loss
Results haven’t been published yet but researchers at the University of Amsterdam suggest that regular smoking of cannabis contributes directly to hair loss.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug and is used by roughly two million people in the UK, despite the many known negative side effects. The study of men and woman aged between 18 and 60 who regular smoked the drug found that young males in particular were prone to the effects of regular smoking and hair loss is one of them.
If we think about it hypothetically for a second, the link between marijuana, skunk, green, gear – whatever you want to call it – and thinning hair makes sense, and can be inferred through previous studies. Regular cannabis use harms the body in two distinct ways – via the effect of the substance itself and via negative lifestyle changes, such as increased stress levels, irregular eating habits and poor dietary intake.
Hormonal link between cannabis and hair loss
Any major change in our lives can be reflected in the condition of our skin, hair and scalp. Studies suggest that smoking cannabis alters multiple hormonal systems within males and females, which can lead to side effects such as hair loss, lowered libido, increased aggressiveness, acne, and increased facial hair.
General link between smoking and hair loss
The general toxicity of smoking has been linked to hair loss. The carcinogen content has been shown to slow down cell proliferation in the hair follicles – the result being significant hair loss as the follicles prematurely enter telogen (resting phase of the hair growth lifecycle) until the environment is more conducive to growth. Sometimes hair loss treatments are necessary to promote regrowth.
Nutritional link between cannabis and hair loss
According to one study, cannabis use “affects food and liquid intake behavior, taste preference, and body weight. Changes in specific nutrient status and metabolism can also develop”. Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to increased hair shedding by weakening hair shafts that cause breakage to the hair and slow regrowth.
Cancer link between cannabis and hair loss
Studies have concluded that higher consumption of sodium, lower fruit and vegetable intake, lower serum carotenoid levels, higher alcohol intake, higher cigarette use and the compounded carcinogenic effects of marijuana place users at a higher future risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer, particularly site-specific cancers such as cervical and prostate. Hair loss has also been linked to cancer, particularly of the prostate, and a recent study suggests frequent or long-term marijuana use may double a man’s risk of testicular cancer. It’s currently one of the most common cancers in younger men, with approximately 2,000 new cases each year in the UK.
Stress link between cannabis and hair loss
Stress is a key player in hair loss and regular marijuana users tend to have a lot of stress and use the substance to alleviate the problem. However, cannabis is a depressant and because it affects hormone levels it only exacerbates stress which in turn aggravates hairloss.
There are numerous factors that can cause thinning hair which must also be considered when diagnosing the condition, such as a genetic tendency to thinning hair despite the use of marijuana. However, as head of the most recent study, Dr Bob van Rossum said: “This just goes on the ever growing list of negative effects of smoking cannabis.”
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam suggest that regular smoking of cannabis contributes directly to hair loss but there's a genetic tendency to thinning hair despite the use of marijuana.