Red Panax Ginseng, also known as Korean Red Ginseng, has been 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 (Park, Shin, & Ho, 2011). This property of Korean Red Ginseng is what allows it to promote hair growth.
In addition, Panax Ginseng is known to reduce blood pressure in a similar manner as the FDA approved drug minoxidil, allowing for Panax Ginseng extract to have similar rates of hair re-growth in test subjects as minoxidil (Kim et al., 2015). This study also showed that using the active components (ginsenosides) present in Panax Ginseng promotes hair re-growth at a rate even faster than minoxidil.
These results are similar to the ones found in a study of Panax Ginseng on Alopecia areata patients in Korea. (Oh & Son, 2012) This study treated twenty-five human test subjects with a combination of Korean Red Ginseng and corticosteroids and compared the rate of hair growth to a control group who were treated with only corticosteroids. The results of their study show that both hair density and hair thickness improved in test subjects treated with the Korean Red Ginseng and corticosteroid combination, while no statistically significant hair growth was seen in the control group.
They concluded that Panax Ginseng could be a useful treatment for people suffering from Alopecia areata. It is hypothesized that the anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects of Panax Ginseng found in the ginsenosides of the herb may be the cause of the hair growth seen in the patients.
It has been expressed, however, that further studies of the basic mechanisms of Panax Ginseng need to be conducted in order to understand precisely how Korean Red Ginseng stimulates hair growth and how ginseng should be applied in order to stimulate hair growth (Oh & Son, 2012). More clinical studies should be also done against a minoxidil control group using both men and women in order to conclusively prove the hair re-growth properties of Korean Red Ginseng. (Kim et al., 2015)
A patent for a green tea extract and ginseng extract has been filed by AE Amorepacific Corporation (Patent Number KR2015030095-A) that claims to prevent dandruff, promote hair growth, and to protect the scalp.
Gingseng was shown to increase the growth factor VEGF. Increasing scalp VEGF has been shown to increase hair growth by promoting the development of blood vessels in the scalp — helping to improve scalp blood circulation.
The below is an abstract from a study which demonstrated Korean Gingseng Extract (KGE) increases VEGF, thereby inducing angiogenesis. This is key for the promotion of hair growth: Hairs require a supply of blood in order to grow. This is created by the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is crucial for the formation of the blood vessels, which connect hair follicles to a source of amino acids required for increased hair growth.
In fact, when hairs transition from the growth phase to the resting phase, VEGF decreases significantly. Therefore by increasing scalp VEGF, we can prolong the growth phase and increase hair growth.
VEGF is absolutely critical to healthy hair growth, making gingseng an excellent potential hair loss treatment.
According to the results of miRNA sequencing and TaqMan microRNA assay, decreases in miR-15b, -23a, -214, and -377 expression were found, which suggests an increase in the expression of angiogenic proteins VEGF, VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), and MET transmembrane tyrosine kinase (c-MET), respectively. To validate the expression of proteins, western blot analysis was performed. VEGF, the potent angiogenic protein and essential growth factor for vascular endothelial cells , was examined with respect to miR-377 downregulation . Results indicate that KGE at 100 μg/mL, 200 μg/mL, 500 μg/mL, and 1,000 μg/mL was found to increase VEGF expression significantly, and KGE at 500 μg/mL is the optimal concentration to induce VEGF expression (Fig. 6A). In response to the suppression of miR-15b, -23a, and -214 expression, the expression of the corresponding proteins, VEGFR-2 , c-MET , and eNOS , respectively, were investigated. KGE at 500 μg/mL was found to increase VEGFR-2, eNOS, and c-MET expression significantly (Fig. 6B), thereby inducing angiogenesis, which correlated very well to the result of downregulation of the corresponding miR-15b, -23a, and -214 expression.
- Kim, S. N., Kim, S., Hong, Y. D., Park, H., Shin, S. H., Kim, A. R., . . . Park, W. S. (2015). The ginsenosides of Panax ginseng promote hair growth via similar mechanism of minoxidil. Journal of Dermatological Science, 77(2), 132-134. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2014.12.007
- LEE, O., KIM, D., Hwang, K., Yeom, M., & Cho, J. (2013). Korean Patent No. KR2015030095-A. Seoul, South Korea: Korean Intellectual Property Office
- Oh, G., & Son, S. (2012). Efficacy of Korean Red Ginseng in the Treatment of Alopecia Areata. Journal of Ginseng Research, 36(4), 391-395. doi:10.5142/jgr.2012.36.4.391
- Park, S., Shin, W., & Ho, J. (2011). Fructus panax ginseng extract promotes hair regeneration in C57BL/6 mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 138(2), 340-344. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.08.013