The Problem with Hair Health Supplements

I’ve been a practicing hair transplant surgeon and hair loss expert for more than 35 years. Over these past decades, there have been numerous hair growth supplements sold to the public, touting amazing results with no drugs, no side effects while boasting all-natural ingredients.

The big problem with these supplements is the lack of scientific evidence to back up their claims. In the US, supplements have zero regulation by the government, in other words, the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) has no order to test their safety and effectiveness. The FDA only requires that the supplements are not misbranded or adulterated. The manufacturers themselves are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling before they are marketed. No scientific studies are required of them, as opposed to all other medications. All claims are anecdotal via client testimonials, which can be very compelling, but not scientific. 

That being stated, the most common hair growth supplement, saw palmetto, is called the natural PropeciaTM because it is a DHT-blocker; however, it has never been shown to block enough DHT to make any difference in treating hair loss. It has been shown to be effective to decrease prostate size, however.

A non-medication treatment that is cleared by the FDA for efficacy and safety is low level laser therapy or photobiomodulation, which very effectively treats male and female pattern hair loss. In fact, laser therapy works 90% of the time to decrease shedding and thinning and 60% to regrow hair in both men and women.

The specific device that I recommend to my patients is the AUXO A300 laser cap, which utilized an innovative feature called Surface Mount Technology (SMT) diodes, that create laser energy that penetrates more deeply into the scalp where the follicular blood supply runs. These create a wider laser footprint to cover much more scalp and, therefore, hair follicles.

Dr. Robert Leonard is Director of the Hair Health Institute in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  Learn more about his practice & techniques at

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