An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
According to Wikipedia, this is a shortened version of a Welsh proverb from the 1860’s. The original version was
“Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” It was shortened to the current phrase around 1899.
Is it true? Surprisingly enough someone has actually researched the topic! And whilst they didn’t exactly find that people who consume one apple per day don’t need to visit a doctor at all, they did find these people often require fewer prescription medications.
Apples and their value as part of our diet have been the subject of many studies and the results invariably indicate they are an extremely valuable component of a well balanced diet. They’ve been described as a nutritional powerhouse because they’re high in important nutrients like Vitamin C, B group vitamins, dietary fibre, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and a host of apple polyphenols.
One of these polyphenols is procyanidin B-2. Procyanidin B-2 is also found in several other plants, notably chinchona, Ceylon cinnamon, common hawthorn, cat’s claw, grape vine leaf, litchi and Ecdysanthera utilis. B-2 is one of the Proanthocyanidins, a family of powerful tannins found in plants. Their primary role is believed to be protection against UV radiation as well as insects and microorganisms. Traditionally proanthocyanidins are used in foods and drinks as antioxidants as well as in cosmetics to protect skin and in medications that help protect blood vessels.
So what is the significance of procyanidin B-2 for hair?
Well, that saying about apples and doctors may not, strictly speaking, apply to your average GP but it may well apply to your hair transplant doctor! Several studies carried out by researchers at the Tsukuba Research Laboratories in Japan found that topical applications of apple procyanidin B-2 significantly increased hair growth and hair diameter in men with male pattern baldness. In a 6-month study involving 29 men with male pattern baldness, 19 of the men used a topical application of procyanidin B-2 extracted from purified apple juice. Thirty milligrams of the 94% pure procyanidin B-2 extract was applied to the affected areas of the scalp at a diluted strength of 1% daily in 2 applications (15 mgs per application). The other 10 men used a placebo. At the end of the trial, results for the following were recorded:
- Changes in the number of hairs in the affected scalp area
- Changes in the diameter of the hairs in the affected scalp area
- Changes to the appearance of the affected scalp area with respect to hair growth.
- Side effects – irritation etc
In line with earlier studies, it was found that the men using procyanidin B-2 had significantly more hair at the end of the 6 months than the men using the placebo. This was clearly apparent in the photos taken of the affected scalp area. The diameter of their hairs was also greater than the placebo group. Further to this there were no reported side effects in any of the men who used the procyanidin B-2. This led researchers to conclude that procyanidin B-2 derived from apples can promote hair growth by a staggering 300% even at just 1% strength! This is comparable to minoxidil therapy.
How does procyanidin B-2 from apples work as a hair regrowth agent?
Researchers believe that procyanidin B-2 works its magic on hair regrowth by shortening the telogen or resting phase and prolonging the anagen or growth phase of the hair cycle. It probably does this by stimulating the hair germ and outer root sheath (which contains stem cells) during the telogen resting phase, thereby speeding up the process of creating a new hair bulb and shortening this phase of the hair cycle. With a corresponding lengthening of the growth phase.
Procyanidins in general are also known to be powerful anti-oxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Given that male pattern baldness and inflammation in the scalp are linked, it’s presumed that procyanidin B-2 likely also helps reduce this inflammation to promote healthy hair growth. In fact, the researchers studying apple procyanidin B-2 for hair regrowth believe it’s highly probable there are a number of properties in the compound that combined, are responsible for its remarkable ability to promote healthy hair regrowth in androgenic alopecia.
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