The Safety and Efficacy of a Sustainable Marine Extract for the Treatment of Thinning Hair: A Summary of New Clinical Research and Results from a Panel Discussion on the Problem of Thinning Hair and Current Treatments

September 2015 | Volume 14 | Issue 9 | Supplement Individual Articles | 15 | Copyright © September 2015

Carl S. Hornfeldt PhD RPha and Mark Hollandb
Panel Discussion with Vivian W. Bucay MD,c Wendy E. Roberts MD,d Heidi A. Waldorf MD,e
and Steven H. Dayan MDf

aApothekon, Inc., St Paul, MN
bLifes2good, Inc., Chicago, IL
cCenter for Dermatology and Aesthetics, San Antonio, TX
dRancho Mirage Dermatologist, Rancho Mirage, CA
eDepartment of Dermatology, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY
fDepartment of Otolaryngology, University of Illinois Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Alopecia and thinning hair are highly prevalent conditions affecting a large proportion of men and women. Diffused hair loss is often more difficult to diagnose in women, mostly due to over-reliance on the assumption of hormonal influences, and it is commonly treated with a multi-therapy approach. Clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of a nutraceutical supplement to provide essential nutrients that aid in stimulating existing hair growth and reducing hair shedding. The supplement Viviscal® contains a proprietary blend of proteins, lipids, and glycosaminoglycans derived from sustainable marine sources. We present here a summary of studies that have examined the safety and efficacy of this nutraceutical; as well as discussions on hair loss and current therapies from a recently convened expert panel in dermatology and plastic surgery.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(suppl 9):s15-s22.


Alopecia is one of the most prevalent dermatologic conditions. In the United States alone, 50% of women will suffer from hair loss at some point in their lives and 50% of men experience hair loss before the age of 50.1 Furthermore, it has been reported that 20% of women under the age of 50 and 42% of women over the age of 70, who presented at a dermatology clinic for non-hair concerns, exhibited diffused hair loss that was diagnosed at greater than Ludwig stage II.2 By the age of 30, 25% of Caucasian men show signs of androgenic balding; and by the age of 60, 67% are bald or balding.3
Various factors can lead to hair loss. While androgenic alopecia is generally the most common type of hair loss in men, the involvement of androgens in patterned or non-patterned hair loss is not as well established in women. Identifying the causes of hair loss or thinning hair has proven especially complex in women; and factors such as diet, medications, past and existing medical conditions, and a family history of alopecia are considered. For example, telogen effluvium,a common source of hair loss in women, can result from a variety of factors such as stress, diet, hormonal changes, or medications.4-7
Current treatment options for alopecia and thinning hair include topical formulations, prescription medications, and oral supplements (Table 1).8-18 These are often used in combination as no one treatment has proven fully effective when used alone.19,20 Moreover, both topical and prescription medications can entail unwanted side effects.19-21 Hair transplantation is also a treatment option, but the procedure is invasive and can be costly. Hence, currently, a fully safe and effective therapy for hair loss does not exist.
Furthermore, as our understanding of the impact of alopecia and thinning hair has increased, the negative influence they can play in human social interactions has also increasingly come to light. In addition to aesthetic concerns, hair loss has been illustrated to have adverse psychological effects on patients, such as low self-esteem and poor self-confidence.3,13-17