Whether you use weed for medicinal purposes or you just enjoy it recreationally, you need to understand the impact that it can have on your body.
One of the main uses of weed is to relax you, but it’s no good if you’re worried about whether you’re going to lose your hair from taking it.
There are conflicting reports about whether weed causes hair loss or can actually promote hair growth, so in this guide, I’ll explain the facts and where some beliefs come from.
Can weed cause hair loss?
Smoking weed can cause you to lose your hair. Medical studies have discovered that the THC in marijuana can attach to hair follicles and inhibit growth, resulting in hair loss. There are also other reasons that weed can cause hair loss, including poor diet choices and increased stress.
As a quick guide:
- Medical studies have been carried out at the University of Debrecen, showing that THC attaches to hair follicles and prevents them from growing, causing hair loss
- Marijuana can also increase cortisol production which is linked to hair loss
- Using weed can lead to poor diet choices which can affect hair health
- There is anecdotal evidence that weed can help hair recover from stress-related hair loss
There are definite links between smoking weed and hair loss, and there are three potential causes.
The first is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive cannabinoid that is found in the cannabis plant.
There are two main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and the other is CBD. Cannabis products always contain both, but hemp and CBD oil have much higher concentrations of CBD while weed has a higher THC concentration. CBD is the ingredient that is more of a relaxant and can cause feelings of well-being, while THC is what gives the feeling of being high.
Inside the body, THC adheres to different receptors, including those in hair follicles. And when it does it can cause the follicle to weaken and stop producing hair.
You’re always producing and then losing hair – you just likely don’t notice because it’s constantly re-growing. So while THC won’t damage hair that has already grown, it will stop you from growing hair to replace it. And that’s one of the major reasons weed causes hair loss.
It’s not killing the hair, it’s just stopping the hair from growing again.
Other ways weed causes hair loss
Interestingly, weed can also cause hair loss due to ‘added stress’. I know that sounds odd because a lot of people use marijuana to combat the feeling of being stressed.
And it is true that weed does have the effect of making you worry less. However, when you’re stressed your body produces more of a hormone called cortisol, and in some cases, higher cortisol levels can trigger telogen effluvium – a type of hair loss.
Again, let’s go back to the science of hair growth. There are three stages – anagen (growth), catagen (resting), and telogen (shedding). We already know that THC can inhibit the anagen stage.
But cortisol is a stimulant for the telogen stage, which means you shed hair earlier than you should. Because the cycle gets messed up, you appear to be losing your hair because it’s shedding too quickly.
And even though marijuana can make you feel more relaxed, THC can actually stimulate your body to increase its production of cortisol. So your body is acting in a stressed-out way even if you don’t feel stressed.
So that’s the second way weed can cause hair loss. The third is more circumstantial but it is worth mentioning – and that’s the links between diet and hair loss.
Weed, diet, and hair loss
Healthy foods with good nutritional value can strengthen hair and prevent hair loss. But the consumption of marijuana is medically proven to increase the desire to snack on foods that are often unhealthy or have poor nutritional content.
This means that smoking weed can cause you to make worse diet choices which, over time, could weaken the health of your hair and ultimately lead to hair loss.
It is more long-term and will be impacted by other factors in your life, but it could be a contributing factor to your loss of hair and so it’s worth noting.
What’s also important to mention is that all three of these reasons are not linked to traditional pattern baldness, which is more prevalent in men. This means that weed can affect men and women equally – ladies are just as likely to lose their hair due to smoking weed as men are.
Can smoking weed accelerate hair loss?
Smoking weed can accelerate hair loss if you’re already showing signs of losing your hair. While weed can be a direct cause of hair loss it can also aid with the impediment of production in the follicles so that anyone already losing their hair appears to lose it even faster.
If you’re losing your hair, you might want to reconsider your recreational use of marijuana because there’s an increased chance that it will contribute to your existing symptoms, and speed up the rate at which your hairline recedes.
Obviously, if you’re using marijuana for medical purposes, you need to weigh up the pros and cons, and it’s likely that the benefits that marijuana provides for pain relief, reducing seizures and more will be more valuable than keeping your hair.
At that point, you may wish to look at either a hair transplant, or embracing baldness. It’s not a good idea to mix marijuana with medications for hair growth – more on that below.
Does weed ever help with hair growth?
There are anecdotal accounts of marijuana helping people to grow their hair back if they have been suffering from stress-related hair loss, but no medical study has proven this accurate. Instead, studies suggest the opposite and that the THC in marijuana has a stress-like effect on the body.
When people undergo stress-related hair loss they can usually work out that it’s the stress getting to them. People tend to be aware that they’re probably losing their hair because of the pressure they’re feeling in their lives.
And that’s when they may turn to marijuana to help reduce that feeling of being stressed. But as I’ve already explained, the Debrecen study shows that THC can actually cause an increase in cortisol being produced in the body and that doesn’t promote healthy hair growth, it inhibits it.
So is weed good for your hair? Not according to medical studies. You might feel more relaxed, and it may reduce other stress-related symptoms, but your body will more likely still react in a way that causes you to lose your hair, unfortunately.
Can second-hand weed smoke cause hair loss?
Second-hand weed smoke can still cause hair loss, although the risks are reduced. Weed smoke still contains THC, the chemical which causes people to get high, and that can be a direct contributor to hair loss.
Obviously, the likelihood of losing your hair due to second-hand weed smoke depends on a number of factors:
- How often you are exposed to it
- The proximity of you to the person smoking weed
- The ventilation of the space
If you’re sat on your front porch, in the fresh air, and you’re a few feet from the person smoking weed then you’re going to feel the effects of the THC – and suffer the potential hair-loss impact – much less than someone sat on the sofa next to a pot smoker in an enclosed room with no breeze.
So, if your partner or someone else in your home is a weed smoker for any reason, and you have concerns about losing your hair, it might be a good idea to ask them to smoke it when you’re not around, or to at least open a window.
If I stop smoking weed will my hair grow back?
If you are smoking weed and you notice you’re now suffering from hair loss, in many cases, it will grow back if you stop smoking, although it may take some time. It depends on the cause of the hair loss, which you likely won’t know, but in most cases, hair will return.
Let’s revisit the reasons that weed can cause hair loss:
If you’re losing your hair because THC is attaching to your hair follicle cells and impending them, then it will break down over time. So if you stop introducing THC into your body, your follicles will recover and will start to grow hair at a normal rate again.
If the cause is due to increased levels of cortisol, recovery is normally quicker. When you stop smoking weed the cortisol levels should return to a more normal state, and the cycle of hair production should return to normal. Telogen effluvium is typically a temporary condition.
If it’s a more long-term cause due to poor nutrition in your diet, then changing your diet will be what causes your hair to grow back. You could keep smoking weed, provided you make sure your diet is well-balanced, and you should see your hair get stronger.
But – and this is an important but – your hair loss might be unrelated to smoking weed. If you stop smoking weed and you don’t see your hair regrowing within a few months, it’s a sign that the cause is something else instead.
Does Finasteride work if you smoke weed?
Finasteride – the drug which helps to prevent hair loss – typically isn’t impacted by smoking weed. Marijuana is listed as having only a minor interaction with Finasteride, and so there is no solid link between them in terms of effectiveness – Finasteride and marijuana will still have their intended effect.
However, I would recommend caution if you wanted to smoke weed while using Finasteride. Both drugs have similar side effects, and you could increase the risk of being impacted significantly by using both at the same time.
The side effects of Finasteride include erectile dysfunction, depression and anxiety, and gynecomastia – growth and sensitivity in breast tissue, for both men and women. They only affect around 1.5% of people using the drug, but that’s still a significant number of people.
But those same symptoms can be a side effect of smoking weed too, so the potential to suffer from anxiety, grow breast tissue and have problems with erections increases.
I would recommend looking at alternative hair loss treatments, or embracing baldness, if you’re someone who wants or needs to smoke weed.
Obviously, you do you, but I’d at least think about it.
So, does weed cause hair loss? It’s hard to give a definitive ‘yes it does’ because everyone is affected differently. There are plenty of people who smoke weed who don’t lose their hair, but there are definitely more links between weed and hair loss than there are between weed and healthy hair growth.
If you live in a state where weed is legal for either recreational or medical use then I’d just be careful using it, and if you notice that you’re losing your hair you might want to explore stopping smoking weed, if you can. If your hair grows back then you know you’re one of those where it will be a cause, and you can weigh up your options.
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