Potassium is a mineral found in many foods. When in body fluid potassium is an electrolyte, which means it carries an electric charge, which is used for various cellular processes. It’s believed by some researchers that potassium ions in the hair follicles are required for hair growth. And there is some good evidence for this…
One of the mechanisms by which the hair loss treatment Minoxidil increases hair growth is the opening of potassium ion channels. The active chemical in minoxidil binds with potassium ion channels, opening them. This enables potassium ions to travel through the cell membranes in greater numbers.
It’s been suggested in a few studies that increasing the flow of potassium ions in the hair follicle dermal papilla cells increases hair growth.
KATP channels are protein channels that control the flow of potassium ions across cell membranes in many tissues, e.g., heart (24⤻ , 26⤻ , 27)⤻ . Recent research has yielded much information about the structure and function of these channels. Physiologically they are regulated by intracellular levels of nucleotides, e.g., ATP and ADP, thereby linking the electrical activity of a cell’s membrane to its metabolism, controlling diverse cellular functions such as pancreatic insulin secretion or providing protection against heart ischemia
Via FASEB Journal
How do potassium ions increase hair growth?
As far as I can see, the answer to this question is still a complete mystery. Nobody seems to know why potassium ions increase hair growth. There are a couple of studies that have (inconclusively in my opinion) shown that opening potassium ion channels increases hair growth. These studies used Minoxidil at 2% on hair follicles. It’s previously been established that Minoxidil only has vascular effects at a minimum 5% concentration. Therefore it should have no effect below 5%. However, in the study the 2% concentration still improved hair growth. It’s hypothesized that it does this via potassium-ion channel opening rather than vascular improvement.
Hair loss treatments/products that open potassium-ion channels
There are two ingredients I know of that seem to open potassium ion channels: Minoxidil and the supplement TRX2, which contains L Carnitine. TRX2 is an oral supplement but apparently still has a similar effect as Minoxidil on the potassium ion channels (according to their self published research). Interestingly I have seen some good results from topical carnitine:
In this prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled observational study, topical treatment of volunteers with moderate-level androgenetic alopecia with a 2% CT solution increased the total number of terminal scalp hairs/cm2 and the anagen/telogen ratio after 6 months of treatment.
Is it worth trying?
Certainly Minoxidil is an effective product. I’m not certain TRX2 will have great benefits. I’d be interested to see a topical product that combined TRX2 ingredients (carnitine, etc) with 10% minoxidil. This would certainly be an extremely potent hair growth stimulator! Of course, I have already made this! And I can confirm — it is amazing. If you’re interested in acquiring some pre-mixed bottles, please contact me.