I found the website of a certain Dr. Sandra Brown MD, a dermatologist practicing in Southfield (MI), who claims she has developed a “proprietary and patented gel that has successfully reversed many types of hair loss in hundreds of [her] patients”.
According to Dr. Brown, this gel “thickens and lengthens hair and reverses many types of alopecia (hair loss) such as genetic thinning (e.g., male pattern baldness), chemical and stress related hair loss and other types of hair loss”. The treatment “is applied daily to the scalp” and “stimulates hair follicles causing hair to grow thicker and faster. Additionally, after the gel is discontinued the hair that you have re-grown does not catastrophically fall out (in contrast to the only commercially available product currently approved by the FDA which must be used forever to prevent hair loss).”
This gel contains bethametasone dipropionate 0.05% and tretinoin (all-trans-retinoic acid) 0.0125%.
The patent can be viewed at PatentStorm. Some quotes from the patent: “An application of betamethasone dipropionate and all-trans-retinoic acid is made to the patient. The betamethasone dipropionate and all-trans-retinoic acid are administered together in a compound applied topically to the scalp. The compound and method have been found to effectively restore hair growth even after discontinuance of use of the compound.” “Betamethasone dipropionate is a steroid and has a tendency to thin the dermis. All-trans-retinoic acid is also administered in combination with betamethasone dipropionate. However, one of the well-known side effects of all-trans-retinoic acid is that it acts to thicken the skin. Thus, when used in combination with each other, the negative side effects of betamethasone dipropionate and all-trans-retinoic acid act to cancel each other out while synergistically producing a large amount of hair.” “Outstanding results, including hair growth within one week of applying the compound, were observed.”
I also found a newspaper article about Dr. Brown. During the interview with the journalist, Dr Brown said: “85-percent of the patients that we treat can see the hair growing back thicker within 21 days.”
Now, what do you think about all this?
Bethametasone and tretinoin are very common and cheap drugs and can be easily obtained in any drugstore. So, it wouldn’t be difficult to try this treatment. However, I’m skeptical, because:
- There are no scientific studies to support Dr. Brown’s claims, only her clinical experience.
- It all seems too good to be true. As I said, the treatment is based on well-known and common drugs. If it really worked, it would have become the standard hair-loss treatment all over the world.
- Although dr. Brown says that tretinoin counteracts the side effects of bethametasone (and this claim seems to be backed up by some research, I’m still concerned about the negative effects of long-term use of a corticosteroid.
I’d like to hear some opinions before trying this treatment.
Betamethasone dipropionate is a steroid which I believe does require a prescription. I personally use it occasionally to treat my psoriasis and for that it works well. The application of steroids for various forms of hair loss has been proposed and it works in mild autoimmune diseases that may be responsible for hair loss, but it is usually not strong enough for these diseases. The use of retinoic acid could burn the scalp and cause blistering for repeated heavy use, partly controlled by the steroid effects of betamethasone dipropionate.
There is nothing new here, just some possible misrepresentation on the use of these two drugs in combination. And the 2nd point you made at the bottom of your email is spot on — common sense would tell most people that if some common medication turned out to be the greatest hair loss treatment ever, it’d be a standard treatment.