The hair loss world is familiar with minoxidil, aka Rogaine, but most are unaware that minoxidil was first used orally in the '80s. Initially, patients took minoxidil to treat their hypertension (high blood pressure), but many reported a positive side effect- hair re-growth. As a result, the makers of minoxidil submitted trials to the FDA to be the first treatment approved for male and female pattern hair loss, in 1988, the FDA approved minoxidil as the first drug to treat hair loss, and the rest is history. In this article, we will be going over the efficacy and safety of oral minoxidil for the treatment of hair loss.
Efficacy of Oral Minoxidil
Recently, in May 2019, Spanish Dermatologist created a clinical study involving 41 men with a median age of 33 years of age. The participants took 2.5 mg daily of oral minoxidil (10 patients), or 5 mg of oral minoxidil (31 patients). Overall, 25 patients (over half) had tried other treatments. Eighteen patients used oral dutasteride. Nine patients took oral finasteride. Two patients used topical minoxidil, and one patient used topical finasteride.
Out of all of the participants, sixteen used oral minoxidil as their only treatment. Every participant in the monotherapy group (only oral minoxidil) showed clinical improvements. Six participants showed marked improvements, which represents 37% of that group. The monotherapy group who used only oral minoxidil took 5mg per day.
Side Effects of Oral Minoxidil
Topical minoxidil is received very well by the general population, with a tiny percentage of men and women experiencing adverse reactions. However, this is not the case with oral minoxidil. In the study, twelve participants experienced adverse reactions, which represents 29.3% of the entire clinical trial.
Out of the twelve participants who experienced adverse reactions- twelve developed hypertrichosis, also known as 'werewolf syndrome.' Two patients experienced lower limb edema. One patient experienced excessive hair-shed. The study noted that all of the adverse reactions were mild, and only one patient discontinued the study due to the adverse reaction. The adverse reactions were present in participants who used 5 mg daily, except for two participants who experienced adverse reactions with 2.5 mg daily.
The study had apparent limitations, one being the number of participants and two being no double-blind-placebo-controlled trial. The adverse reactions were on the high side as well, with the most common adverse reaction being hypertrichosis. I don't know about you guys, but I don't want the 'werewolf' condition. Hopefully, this study is just the beginning, and perhaps this could prompt some additional clinical trials.