Hair-health herbal ingredient poses topical and oral efficacy: Natural Products Expo West 2022 report

The new ingredient, introduced by Gencor, is called HairAge Vitae and comes from Ageratum conyzoides, a plant common in Africa, Asia, and South America.

A new hair-health ingredient aimed at reducing hair loss and increasing hair growth in both men and women made its debut at March’s Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA. The new ingredient, introduced by Gencor (Irvine, CA), is called HairAge Vitae and comes from Ageratum conyzoides, a plant common in Africa, Asia, and South America that also goes by the names billygoat weed and goat weed.

At Expo West, R.V. Venktatesh, Gencor’s managing director, explained that Ageratum conyzoides has a history of traditional use for hair growth. “We’ve been doing research on this product for the last 10 years or more,” he said of Ageratum conyzoides. “We started looking at it in 2011. This is an extract of a leaf of a particular plant that was traditionally used in India by villages to make a concoction for hair growth. And we did extensive work to understand what makes it tick.”

First, the company conducted two in vitro studies in human hair dermal papilla cells to determine the effects of the ingredient. Based on these studies, Gencor found that the mechanism of action by which HairAge Vitae helps with heart health is by inhibiting production of 5-alpha-reductase, which is the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone production is believed to promote hair loss and hair thinning. By inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase and thereby preventing conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, the ingredient reduces stunted hair growth. Gencor points out that, like HairAge Vitae, oral medications on the market targeting hair growth also contain 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.

In addition, another one of HairAge Vitae’s mechanisms of action is inhibiting prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), a molecule implicated in hair fall and balding. By addressing 5-alpha-reductase, dihydrotestosterone, and PGD2, HairAge Vitae can both improve hair growth and decrease hair loss.

Gencor also studied these effects in humans. In an open-label, randomized, double-blind study that Venktatesh said has been submitted for publication, researchers provided a topical HairAge Vitae cream for eight weeks to 28 healthy males and females over age 18. Subjects experienced increased hair growth and decreased hair loss, the company says.

Venktatesh said that an oral-supplement study with HairAge Vitae is now being conducted, which he expects to be completed very soon and will also be submitted for publication. He said he believes that the ingredient will be effective when used both topically or orally. “We believe so,” he said. “The topical is already efficacious.”

This isn’t the first time Gencor has studied Ageratum conyzoides. In 2019, the company introduced another Ageratum conyzoides ingredient, called AGEprost, for the men’s health market. Again, by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase production and thereby preventing conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, Ageratum conyzoides was found to help address conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).