Among over-the-counter hair loss treatments, the use of Cimetidine is quite common. Usually, referred by its brand name of Tagamet, Cimetidine is actually a conventionally recommended medication for gastrointestinal disorders. However, it is now being increasingly sought by women for treating hair loss.
Cimetidine is among the few medications that are known to treat androgenic alopecia in women in a comprehensive manner. Cimetidine is also recommended to women who are suffering from thinning or weak hair, since it has the ability to arrest the hormonal factors that might lead to greater hair loss in the near future.
Tagamet is advertised as an antacid, often recommended for people suffering from heartburn. In this mode, it can be used by either of the sexes for a few days. However, a sustained use is recommended only among women. The hormonal effect of Cimetidine means that it is not suitable for men. This is because the hormonal affect of Cimetidine can lead to the subtle but disturbing development of female traits among men. This includes the development of breast-like tissue in the chest, called gynecomastia, along with a disturbed libido.
Treating Female Pattern Baldness with Cimetidine
Androgenetic alopecia, or hair loss due to intrinsic or hormonal factors, is among the most common causes of hair fall among men and women. Androgenetic alopecia is responsible for shrinking the size of hair follicles. It usually begins as slight thinning or weakening of hair shafts, but soon hair loss progresses into a chronic condition.
Among women, this condition can be treated if the action of a particular enzyme upon the female hormones is reduced. Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is the compound responsible for alopecia patterns among women. This compound is created when the female hormones (androgens) are acted upon by an enzyme, called 5-alpha-reductase. The activity of this enzyme is genetically coded among most people. This is why androgenic alopecia is also called genetic hair loss.
Cimetidine reduces the amount of androgens available for this reaction, thereby reducing the DHT concentration. However, the effect of Cimetidine on DHT is not permanent, i.e. high doses of Cimetidine have to be maintained over a long period for sustained results and hair loss is likely to return upon discontinuation of Cimetidine.
Usage of Cimetidine
Though Cimetidine is easily available as an over-the-counter medication, using it for treating hair fall treatment without medical supervision is not advised. Please note that in high dosage, this medication has a definite hormonal and metabolic effect. For instance, in smaller dosages, Cimetidine is also used for reducing facial hair in women. In fact, before it cures hair loss, Cimetidine might temporarily increase hair fall for a few days. Understandably, evaluation of such symptoms and fixing the appropriate dosage needs medical expertise.
Many doctors don’t prefer using Cimetidine for a sustained period and use it as a supplementary treatment since adverse contradictions are possible among some women. This is particularly true for women who have a history of hormone-linked menstrual problems. Further, using Tagamet for long periods can lead to nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes and other allergic reactions. Seeking a medical opinion before starting Cimetidine ensures that such adverse reactions are avoided.