Creatine – wonder supplement, performance booster, and hair loss culprit. As the most popular and most extensively studied supplement in the market, creatine deals with a lot of rumors and myths that obscure its real capabilities and effects.
This includes questions like, does creatine cause hair loss? Does it make you grow hair? Is it good or bad for you? By dispelling this hearsay and bringing facts to the table, I hope to help you make better and more well-informed decisions regarding your creatine use.
What is Creatine?
Creatine is a naturally-occurring compound that’s found in your muscles. Your liver manufactures roughly 1 gram of the compound every day. But you get most of your creatine from the food you eat, particularly proteins such as red meat and seafood, or even milk.
The body uses creatine to maintain a continuous supply of energy in working muscles. These muscles include the important vital organs such as your heart and brain.
As creatine is used in conjunction with movement, creatine supplements are believed to improve strength by boosting muscle performance. Creatine also helps improve lean muscle mass and reduce recovery time from strenuous exercise. The research on creatine is still out: while it has been documented to help with bursts of intense athletic activity, its effects on long-term or endurance exercises have yet to be scientifically verified.
How Does Creatine Cause Hair Loss?
Let’s get it out of the way. Creatine alone does not cause hair loss. However, it can exacerbate conditions that lead to hair loss. As our bodies are all different from each other’s, there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to creatine and hair loss.
There’s only anecdotal evidence regarding creatine causing hair loss and a ton of evidence that shows creatine does not cause hair loss by itself. But as mentioned before, it’s possible that creatine can worsen some conditions that cause hair loss. And one of the reasons is that creatine can increase DHT levels.
DHT and Hair Loss
Dihydrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT, is a hormone responsible for many masculine characteristics. Unfortunately, it’s also responsible for hair loss; too much DHT has been shown to shrink hair follicles and cause hair to fall out. DHT is also responsible for the growth time of hair: too much DHT means your hair takes longer to grow back.
While DHT is an androgen (a male hormone), this doesn’t mean women are spared from hair loss. On the contrary – women need testosterone too. And this makes them vulnerable to DHT alopecia. While it’s not quite as visible as male pattern baldness, the effect is no less pronounced, with hair loss all over the head.
It’s important to note that DHT by itself does not cause hair loss. Rather, it’s a mix of DHT, genetics, and other external factors that lead to hair loss and difficulty in hair regrowth.
DHT and Creatine Relationship
While creatine does not directly cause hair loss, it does increase DHT levels, as seen in a 2009 study on rugby players. However, while DHT levels for the rugby players did increase, none reported any hair loss as a result of the study.
The effects of creatine and how exactly DHT affects hair loss are hot research topics, but the bottom line is that creatine increases DHT but doesn’t cause hair loss. But if you already suffer from hair loss due to DHT, taking creatine may worsen your alopecia. Thus, it’s prudent to assess the cause of your hair loss before committing to creatine supplements or other nutritional products.
Creatine’s Interactions with Other Hair Loss Medication
Creatine has not been discovered to interact meaningfully with hair loss medication. The same can’t be said for DHT blockers – as creatine does increase DHT, don’t take creatine supplements if you’re already taking something to reduce or block your DHT synthesis.
Creatine Side Effects
All medications carry the risk of side effects, and creatine is no different. Creatine use can cause:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Kidney stones
- Weight gain
- Digestive problems
- Muscle cramps
How Do I Fight DHT Hair Loss?
DHT is a formidable foe but can be beaten through natural foods and substances (such as green tea, coconut oil, or edamame). Medications, such as minoxidil or finasteride, are also widely available today. DHT blockers can even be found in specialized shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products.
First, there’s nothing quite like creatine when it comes to improving your athletic and physical performance. However, there are substitutes if you’d rather avoid creatine due to its increased DHT production.
Beta-alanine is a pretty good substitute for creatine. This compound protects your muscles during intense activity, which is great for improving your performance when sprinting or lifting weights. Beta-alanine is also available in small containers, which are more affordable. Best of all, beta-alanine has zero interactions with DHT, so you can take it without worrying about accelerating hair loss!
Nitric oxide is also a fantastic substitute for creatine. This stuff works by stimulating your body to produce more nitric oxide, which in turn gives you a burst of strength – especially for muscles involved in the exercise.
If you’re looking for something to fight your hair loss directly, I suggest going for a DHT blocker supplement, such as Folexin or Propidren. Not only do they contain natural DHT blockers such as saw palmetto, but they also contain other substances that promote hair growth, such as caffeine and rosemary oil.
You might also want to take supplements to promote hair growth. After all, prevention is only one part of the hair loss equation. Supplements such as Nutrafol are rich in biotin, collagen, and elastin. These are important building blocks that prevent hair loss and encourage the growth of thick, healthy, and beautiful hair.
Medical-Grade Topical Treatments
When it comes to topical treatments for DHT hair loss, nothing beats Minoxidil. Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which means that it dilates the blood vessels wherever it’s applied. By encouraging blood flow – and therefore nutrient delivery – to your scalp, you can nudge your body to grow more hair.
In the same vein is Rogaine. Rogaine works the same way as minoxidil as it’s major ingredient is minoxidil. Rogaine is just a brand name, while minoxidil is a generic name.
Natural Topical Treatments
There are a variety of natural ingredients that can promote hair growth. Oils such as jojoba oil and coconut oil can help to nourish the scalp and hair follicles, encouraging healthy hair growth. Extracts such as Rosemary and Caffeine can also promote hair growth by stimulating blood circulation to the scalp. In addition, these ingredients also moisturize the hair and scalp, making them more resistant to damage and breakage.
If you’re willing to go the distance, you may want to look into laser treatment. Laser treatment for DHT hair loss works by bombarding your scalp with protons. These particles stimulate your cells, stimulating nutrient delivery and hair growth.
When it comes to laser treatment, there are generally three options: laser combs, laser helmets, and laser caps. Laser combs are the most affordable of the three but require the most manual work as you’ll need to carefully handle the comb to reach every part of your scalp.
Laser helmets are much more expensive than laser combs but require minimal input and can be operated easily and comfortably from your own home. These are usually corded and quite big, so you’ll need to devote time to using them.
Laser caps are more for people who are constantly on the go. These laser devices are smaller than helmets and fit snugly under most headwear (the name “laser cap”). They’re also quite pricey.
FAQs about Creatine and Hair Loss
How fast does creatine cause hair loss?
Creatine doesn’t directly cause hair loss – but avoid taking it if your hair loss has been traced to DHT production.
Will 5g of creatine cause hair loss?
As far as our current studies go, no amount of creatine will cause hair loss. However, too much of a good thing is bad, and too much creatine is no exception!
Creatinine vs. Creatine
Creatine and creatinine are two very different substances. Creatine is produced in your muscles and is responsible for efficient energy consumption. Creatinine, on one hand, is a waste product created by your skeletal muscles via creatine processing. Creatinine is delivered to your kidneys via your blood for disposal when you urinate.
Is Creatine Hair Loss Reversible?
The question you’re looking for is “is DHT hair loss reversible,” and the answer is yes. There are many treatment options for DHT-caused alopecia, from DHT blockers to nutrient supplements and surgical procedures.
Is creatine a DHT blocker?
No. Studies have shown that creatine increases levels of testosterone in the body. DHT is a more potent form of testosterone, thus, increasing testosterone levels can indirectly increase DHT levels.
Making An Informed Decision
Now that you know what creatine can and cannot do, you can either take it or abstain from it. Always remember – a bit of research goes a long, long way!
Mel is a licensed Chemist in New Jersey who has worked in several cosmetics companies and has years of experience formulating hair care and beauty products. She uses her knowledge in cosmetics to distinguish and find the best products to recommend to Union Of Barber’s readers. When Mel’s not writing, you can find her walking her dogs or cooking and baking at home!