VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor, is a growth factor that plays a key role in hair growth. VEGF is strongly associated with the growth phase of hair: it is highly active during the growth phase and much less so when hair goes into the resting phase. So it makes sense that increasing VEGF in the scalp hair will prolong hair growth enabling hair to grow thicker and stronger — which is exactly what has been demonstrated in research.
As the name suggests, VEGF, is a growth factor involved in the formation of blood vessels. This is partly why Minoxidil increases hair growth: it increases scalp VEGF, enabling blood to flow to the follicles for a longer duration (the follicles stay in the growth phase for longer).
You can purchase VEGF and apply it directly to your scalp but it’s extremely expensive. However there are many much cheaper chemicals that have been shown to increase VEGF when applied to the scalp.
How to Trigger Rapid Hair Growth
In order to significantly increase scalp VEGF to achieve much better hair growth, I recommend using a combination of ingredients.
The following ingredients have been shown to significantly increase scalp VEGF, resulting in increased hair growth:
Minoxidil is famously known as the hair loss treatment that increases scalp blood circulation.
Far less well known than Minoxidil, but also well worth using, are the following natural ingredients:
Topical application of safflower extract was found to promote the proliferation of both dermal papilla cells and HaCaT and significantly stimulate hair growth-promoting genes, including VEGF and keratinocyte growth factor.
I have to say, safflower extract looks like a really promising natural treatment for hair loss and it’s also relatively cheap.
I’ll be publishing a full write up on safflower extract over the next few days with full research references (use the link above to see my write up).
I’ve recently stumbled upon a study that examined the effect of the common gut bacteria lactobacillus (which you’ll often see in probiotic supplements).
The researchers stated that lactobacillus outperformed minoxidil in its effect of increasing hair growth.
Read nextWhats the best shampoo for hair loss?
I’ll be publishing a full write up on lactobacillus for hair growth here.
Oleanolic acid not only increases VEGF but also increases IGF-1, another important growth factor for hair growth. I believe IGF-1 is more important in the process of hair follicle neogenesis, while VEGF is more important for prolonging the anagen (growth phase) of hair. The longer you can prolong the anagen phase the less hair loss you will experience. But in order to grow new hair (and increase hair density) you need to use a method of wound induced hair follicle neogenesis.
In one study of Oleanolic acid for hair growth it was shown to cause a 164% increase in IGF-1.
There are several other proven ways to increase scalp IGF-1. I’ll be publishing a post all about that soon.
Korean Red Panax Ginseng has been shown to have similar results on VEGF as Minoxidil. One study published the following result:
Panax gingseng was shown to assist in increasing the number of human hair dermal papilla cells (DPCs) by preventing the programmed cell death (anti-apoptosis) of these cells
VEGF for Hair Loss: How it Works
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein responsible for the stimulation of blood vessels formation; it is active during embryogenesis to induce vasculogenesis (formation of new vessels), and after birth, when it becomes the primary compound that stimulates angiogenesis (formation of new vessels from pre-existing vessels).
While VEGF is implicated in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, the connection between VEGF and hair growth in alopecia areata (AA) was only recently established.
As you may know, hair growth requires nutrients and oxygenation of the stem cells (dermal papilla); these substrates reach the stem cells via blood vessels, so it would make sense that the protein responsible for blood vessel growth can induce hair growth, especially if it was used as a topical gel.
In this article, we will analyze the available data and clinical studies about the connection between VEGF and hair growth.
Research and Results
Both analyses showed a significant increase in the rate and diameter of hair growth in hamsters who received VEGF compared to the control group
In a 2013-study published by BMC dermatology, three groups of Mesocricetus auratus (golden hamsters) with alopecia areata were treated with different gel forms of Aristoflex®.
The first group (6 hamsters) received Aristoflex® with no added VEGF, the second group (6 hamsters) received the same gel with 1% VEGF added, and the final group (6 hamsters) also received the same gel but with 3% VEGF added.
After 15 days of topical use of the gel, macroscopic inspection using hair density dermatoscopy analysis, and microscopic inspection using hair diameter analysis were obtained.
Both analyses showed a significant increase in the rate and diameter of hair growth in hamsters who received VEGF compared to the control group.
The study concluded that “The treatment of alopecia using growth factors shows interesting activity in promoting hair growth. On the other hand, more toxicological studies are necessary to confirm their safety.” (BMC Dermatology)
Another study found that the topical use of a Janus kinase 3 (JAK3) inhibitor called Tofacitinib, showed noticeable hair growth in mice; this is believed to be a result of VEGF induction.
The study ended with the following statement:
Topical Tofacitinib is effective in promoting hair growth, and the possible mechanism involves increased VEGF levels and lowered inflammation. This study will help develop a new therapeutic option for non-scarring alopecia.
How it works
The exact physiologic and biochemical mechanisms that VEGF uses to promote hair growth are not completely understood; however, it is believed to be the result of enhanced blood perfusion of stem cells, which is crucial for hair follicle growth and cycling.
The studies conducted about VEGF and hair growth are relatively recent, and more data is necessary before commercializing VEGF-rich gels.
This is not only because of the insufficient clinical studies about the actual benefits provided by VEGF but also because of its unclear potential toxicity.
Moreover, all the studies discussed above were done on hamsters and mice inside the laboratory, and no human clinical trials were conducted so far.
Nevertheless, the potential benefits of VEGF in treating alopecia areata grant the need for more clinical trials and studies that could change the way we see and treat AA.