Potassium and the hair follicle

POTASSIUM IN A BIOLOGICAL SYSTEM

Potassium ions are essential for all living cells, its main job being the polarisation of nerves to transmit impulses. Potassium contributes to the acid/base regulation in the body as well as the excretion of the body’s fluids, it assists in the formation of glycogen in the liver and acts as a muscle relaxant. 

A mild potassium deficiency may cause problems like bloating and constipation because it can slow the movement of food through the digestive system.  Inadequate levels of dietary intake has also been linked to female pattern hair loss.

POTASSIUM AND YOUR HAIR

Potassium deficiency can cause dry hair and skin. The opening of intracellular potassium channels has been suggested as a mechanism regulating hair growth. This potassium channel hypothesis was examined by testing these drugs for effects on hair growth both in vitro and in vivo. These studies provide correlative evidence that the opening of potassium channels is an important regulatory mechanism for hair growth.

Hair loss drugs such as minoxidil (a vasodilator and potassium channel opener) has been shown to increase hair growth.  It has been thought that by opening potassium channels and thus causing hyper-polarisation of the cells it allows more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the follicles.  This encourages telogen hairs to shed and allows the hair follicle to re-enter anagen quicker producing a thicker hair.

Hair loss results placebo

No hair regrowth can be seen after 48 weeks. Patient treated with a placebo [2].

Minoxidil clinical trial results

Hair regrowth after 48 weeks. Patient treated with a potassium channel opener (5% minoxidil) [2]

Hair loss results placebo

No hair regrowth can be seen after 48 weeks. Patient treated with a placebo [2].

Minoxidil clinical trial results

Hair regrowth after 48 weeks. Patient treated with a potassium channel opener (5% minoxidil) [2]

POTASSIUM AND YOUR HAIR

Potassium deficiency can cause dry hair and skin. The opening of intracellular potassium channels his been suggested as a mechanism regulating hair growth. This potassium channel hypothesis was examined by testing these drugs for effects on hair growth both in vitro and in vivo. These studies provide correlative evidence that the opening of potassium channels is an important regulatory mechanism for hair growth.

Potassium channels will not open when blood sugar levels are high.  When blood sugar levels are reduced, back to normal, potassium channel function resumes.

Hair loss drugs such as minoxidil (a vasodilator and potassium channel opener) has been shown to  increase hair growth.  It has been thought that by opening potassium channels and thus causing hyper-polarisation of the cells it allows more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the follicles.  This encourages telogen hairs to shed and allows the hair follicle to re-enter anagen quicker producing a thicker hair.

REFERENCES

  1. Emedicine.medscape.com. (2017). Androgenetic Alopecia Treatment & Management: Medical Care, Surgical Care. [online] Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1070167-treatment [Accessed 24 Oct. 2017].
  2. Lucky AW, Piacquadio DJ, Ditre CM, Dunlap F, Kantor I, Pandya AG, Savin RC, Tharp MD. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2004 Apr 1;50(4):541-53.

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