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Alternative names - Regaine, Minoxidil

In 1988, Pharmacia & Upjohn Company introduced the first FDA-approved product proven to regrow hair. In 2000, Rogaine is still the only topical product proven to grow hair. While bringing much hope to the hair loss sufferer, early Rogaine results were not very spectacular. Part of the problem resulted from peoples unrealistic expectations of this "miracle" drug, and part resulted from the FDA only approving a 2% strength solution.

In 1996, after proving to the FDA that Rogaine had an excellent safety profile, Rogaine Extra Strength, or 5% Minoxidil, was approved as an over-the-counter (non prescription) medication for use by men. Rogaine Extra Strength delivered the goods for a lot of men since the effects of Minoxidil are dose dependent so the higher the strength the better the results.

What it is
Rogaine is a clear alcohol based solution that is applied to thinning areas twice a day with the supplied dropper or spray. Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Rogaine, was originally used a drug to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) when it was discovered to cause hair growth.

How it works
How Minoxidil works to grow hair has been the subject of speculation for many years. Reseachers initially believed it worked as a vasodilator, stimulating blood flow to the follicle. However the most current research hold that Minoxidil works by opening potassium channels in the cells of the follicle. The opening of intracellular potassium channels has been suggested as a way of regulating hair growth. Regardless of the exact method it works, Rogaine stimulates dormant hair follicles and reverses the miniaturization of the follicles. This makes Rogaine the drug of choice for treating all types of hair loss since it has a very specific action without unwanted side effects.

What to expect
Results from Rogaine vary depending on the individual, but in clinical studies it was show that it grew 25% more hair than the placebo. Additionally Rogaine also increased the hair weight or thickness of existing hairs. Ultimately the severity and duration of your hair loss will dictate how effective Rogaine is. It is not a miracle cure but it does have good results when used consistently. Consistency is the key to success since stopping the application of Rogaine will cause the hairs gained to be lost in about 6 months. On the other hand the results from Rogaine can diminish over time, some doctors believe there is a tolerance that is built up over many years of use. One way of remedying this tolerance concern is to take a week or two off the treatment every 3-4 months. However it is not recommended to do this until you have been using it consistently for at least 12 months.

Rogaine and DHT
Rogaine unfortunately does not reduce or remove DHT which is the cause of Androgenic Alopecia. However this can be remedied by using a DHT inhibitor in combination with Rogaine. In fact some dermatologists recommend using Rogaine in conjunction with Propecia, and there have been studies that have show that these two drugs work synergistically and give far better results than using either drug on its own. Pharmacia, the manufacturers of Rogaine actually hold a patent for using Rogaine with a DHT inhibitor, or Anti Androgen.

Rogaine for women
To date Rogaine Extra strength has not yet been approved for use by women, although some women do use the product. Upjohn sells a Rogaine for Women brand but it is no different to the 2% Rogaine for men, so a women can use any generic 2% or Rogaine 2% for men since the ingredients are identical. The main reason for women not using Extra Strength Rogaine is that it can result in excessive facial hair growth. Women should consult with their physician before using a higher than 2% version of Rogaine. Pregnant or nursing mothers should also contact a physician before use.

Generic and Custom Formulations
Rogaine 5% Extra Strength is adequate for most men and Rogaine guarantees results in 90 days. However since Minoxidil is dose dependent some doctors and pharmacies compound their own custom formulations up to 15% strength. Unfortunately Minoxidil crystallizes at about a 10% concentration so anything higher has to be formulated as a cream. These higher formulations however have not been approved for use by the FDA and are only available to patients by prescription. Upjohn's patent for 2% Minoxidil has expired so any company can produce their own version of generic Minoxidil. These generics have exactly the same ingredients but at a lower price. At this time only Upjohn can sell a 5% version of Minoxidil, however the patent for 5% Minoxidil will expire in November 2000 and then there will be generic version of 5% Minoxidil available at a lower cost.

Side effects
Side effects are not common, but some people can experience a contact dermatitis or irritated skin from the alcohol in the Rogaine. Excessive doses can cause a rapid heartbeat or dizziness but is very uncommon with normal use.

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