Using beta sitosterol for hair loss is not considered to be the most effective treatment, but some people have shown improvement when using it. Advocates believe that beta sitosterol blocks the action of 5 alpha reductase, which is an important enzyme in the hair loss process. This action hasn’t been proven conclusively, however, which relegates beta sitosterol to the large group of compounds thought to block the 5 alpha reductase enzyme. Studies have shown that around 60 percent of patients taking beta sitosterol for hair loss consider their condition to improve after four months, compared to only 11 percent taking the placebo. Limited success in clinical trials means that patients should generally choose a more reliable treatment such as finasteride instead.
Studies conducted into the effects of beta sitosterol for hair loss indicate that it is a moderately effective treatment for the condition. About 60 percent of patients reported an improvement in their condition in the majority of these studies. Research into the effects of treatments such as beta sitosterol often uses a control group, who believe they are taking the treatment but are actually given a placebo, a useless sugar pill. About 11 percent of patients receiving the placebo also noted an improvement in their condition.
Although the research relating to beta sitosterol for hair loss shows an overall positive result, the link between the drug and 5 alpha reductase is not conclusively proven. This means that while most patients seem to show an improvement, the effect of the treatment is not firmly established. While this may not matter to some users — who achieve their desired result with the treatment regardless — others may be skeptical of the drug’s effects. Patients concerned about the effectiveness of the drug should use a more reliable and scientifically verifiable treatment such as finasteride.
Hair loss is thought to be caused by the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which occurs as a result of the 5 alpha reductase enzyme. DHT is one of the most common causes of male hair loss, and is the target of many hair loss treatments. Many different treatments are thought to affect the enzyme which produces DHT, but only a handful have proven and repeatable effects. Unfortunately, beta sitosterol is only a member or the larger group of treatments which claim to have an effect on the enzyme.
Regardless of the studies conducted into the effects of beta sitosterol, many patients do claim to be helped by the treatment. It is often taken at the early stages of hair loss, but is much less effective for severe cases. The biggest positive for patients considering the treatment is that it causes no severe side effects, and most patients will experience none whatsoever. This is because the treatment is natural — it is even often found in food in small doses.