Beehive 'Resin' Could Be a Cure for Hair Loss

Rubbing a resin-like beehive material on your scalp could promote hair growth. Thangaraj Kumaravel [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

Hair loss is a traumatic event in many men's lives, often leading to a decrease in social and sexual confidence. But a new natural remedy for hair loss from beehives could soon have bald men everywhere making regular trips to their local beekeeper, reports Fox News.

Scientists from Hokkaido University in Japan have recently discovered that propolis, a resin-like substance in beehives, encourages hair growth in shaved mice.

What prompted researchers to rub bee-stuff all over the smooth bodies of hairless mice? Propolis has long been used as a natural remedy for everything from wound healing to acne treatment due to its anti-inflammatory properties, but it has never been tested on hair loss. Since certain kinds of hair loss, including alopecia areata, are linked to inflammation, researchers thought it was worth looking into.

"I expect that propolis improves hair loss due to inflammation through the anti-inflammatory properties and the keratinocyte-proliferative effect," said Ken Kobayashi, who led the study.

Keratinocytes are the predominant cell type in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, and they play an important role in hair shaft and follicle production. Inflammation can shut this production down, however, so researchers surmised that propolis might help to reverse hair loss caused by inflammation. Although the mice in the study were merely shaved, and not balding or suffering from disease, Kobayashi and his team found that propolis stimulated the keratinocytes’ proliferation and migration into the hair shaft. Mice that received the topical treatment regrew hair much faster than untreated mice.

This isn't a prescription for bald men everywhere to start rubbing their heads in beehive resin, since it's not yet clear whether propolis treatment has the ability to reverse male-pattern baldness. Kobayashi and his team are curious, however, and the next step in their research will be to test propolis in conjunction with other baldness treatments. For instance, it might be combined with minoxidil, which is the primary substance used in Rogaine.

"Propolis is a natural ingredient without any side effects," Kobayashi said. "A combination of propolis and minoxidil may be effective."