Modafinil and Hair Loss | Should You Be Concerned?
Out of all the side effects that nootropic users are concerned about, Modafinil hair loss seems to be a rather touchy subject.
Some men are genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, while others are simply worried about losing the shininess and thickness of their hair.
There are numerous anecdotal instances of users asking “does Modafinil cause hair loss” on Internet forums.
Sadly, the responses are not entirely helpful. Smart drug users are either fed horrific stories about Modafinil speeding up the rate of hair loss, or told to stop worrying because it won’t happen.
Of course, neither response definitively answers the question.
Which is why we want to solve the matter once and for all!
Is hair loss one of the Modafinil side effects that occurs most often? Is there any proven connection between Modafinil and hair loss whatsoever?
This informative guide will walk you through the science of hair loss, what can cause it, and then show you if there is any legitimacy regarding the use of Modafinil and hair loss.
P.S.: This is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or medical professional. Always consult a doctor before taking any prescription drugs. And make sure to read our disclaimer.
What is Modafinil?
Before we can have a discussion about hair loss, it’s important to understand what Modafinil does and exactly how it works.
Modafinil is a wake-promoting drug that was discovered in the late 1970s by Lafon Laboratories in France. It was initially approved in 1994 for treating the excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) suffered by patients with narcolepsy.
Since that time, it has gone on to be approved by the FDA for treating EDS in patients with obstructive sleep apnea or shift work sleep disorder.
We don’t quite know its exact mechanism of action despite studying the pharmaceutical drug for decades, but there are a few things scientists are certain about.
Namely, Modafinil increases the production of wakefulness-associated neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and histamine. At the same time, Modafinil inhibits the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is known to induce sleepiness .
Modafinil has also been shown to enhance brain function and mental performance in sleep-deprived individuals, which is why it has emerged as a popular “smart drug” for individuals in extremely stressful careers .
Benefits such as enhanced alertness, increased concentration, and heightened focus are claimed by avid Modafinil users.
Combined with its lack of addictive properties and low potential for abuse, people started using Modafinil because it works so effectively for improving overall cognition.
But how is any of this connected with Modafinil hair loss, you may ask?
Modafinil and Hair Loss | The Basics
In order to understand if any connection exists between Modafinil and hair loss, let’s examine how hair loss arises in the first place.
According to research done at Harvard Medical School, there are numerous factors contributing to the thinning and disappearance of hair :
- Side effects of certain medications – Cancer chemotherapy treatments, amphetamines, blood thinners, etc.
- Symptoms of certain illnesses – Hormonal imbalances, nutritional/vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorders, etc.
- Androgenic alopecia (hereditary pattern baldness) – Affects mostly men. Appears as receding front hairline and/or thinning hair on the top of the head that starts as early as the teenage years. Genetics, hormonal levels, and older age can contribute to this.
- Alopecia areata – autoimmune disease causing the hair to fall out in small patches.
What each of these factors fundamentally does is interfere with the regular cycle of hair growing on your scalp :
“Anagen, the growth phase, lasts between 3 and 10 years. During this phase, rapid cell division occurs in the hair bulb and dermal papilla. In addition, new hairs begin to protrude from the scalp.
Catagen is a transitional phase that lasts 2 to 3 weeks. During this phase, cell division stops and the melanocytes stop producing pigment.
Telogen, the resting phase, lasts 3 to 4 months during which hairs are shed from the scalp.”
There are two common ways in which this cycle can be disrupted :
- Telogen effluvium – hair follicles enter telogen phase and fall out prematurely. Hair loss is 30-70% greater than the normal rate of 100-150 hairs lost per day, and appears within 2-4 months after the drug/stressor.
- Anagen effluvium – prevents the hair-producing cells (i.e. matrix cells) from dividing normally in the anagen phase. Hair loss begins with a few days to weeks after the drug/stressor
It’s also worth mentioning that high-stress levels are connected to hair loss, specifically telogen effluvium and alopecia areata .
This is important to mention as most Modafinil users work in high-stress environments. Often, they’re in a competitive industry that requires high levels of focus and enhanced productivity.
Most Modafinil users work in high-stress environments. They’re competitors. Competition causes stress in certain people.
Now that we have a basic understanding of how hair loss works, let’s answer the most pressing question: Does Modafinil cause hair loss or not?
Does Modafinil Cause Hair Loss?
This is the part where we take a deep dive into the myth (or reality) of Modafinil hair loss.
What The Science Says About Modafinil and Hair Loss
A cursory search on PubMed for the queries “Modafinil hair loss” and “Modafinil alopecia” does not turn up any results in the form of published scientific studies.
Unfortunately, our attempts to search through papers published on alternative journals were equally unsuccessful.
This would naturally lead to the conclusion that no aspect of Modafinil’s biological activity is directly connected to hair loss.
Searching for the side effects of Modafinil on trusted medical websites also leaves us without any results. Headache, nausea, dehydration, and diarrhea are frequently mentioned but hair loss isn’t even mentioned as an extremely rare adverse event .
And according to RealSelf.com, an online advisory platform hosted by plastic surgeons and cosmetic procedures experts, there are no reported drug-drug interactions between Modafinil and any of the common hair loss medications (Finasteride, Dutasteride, etc.) .
There is a possible immunological connection between androgenic alopecia and narcolepsy, but it has not been extensively studied to date . And it certainly isn’t relevant to healthy adults who are using Modafinil.
In short: No reliable medical evidence exists to support the notion that Modafinil and hair loss are connected. Modafinil does not directly induce or inhibit hair loss.
What Anecdotal Reports Say About Modafinil and Hair Loss
DrugInformer.com, a search engine for the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, claims that 89 official FDA reports have been submitted with regards to Modafinil hair loss .
eHealthMe, a data analysis company examining real-world outcomes of drug use, found that 233 patients out of all 20,270 reports on Modafinil suffered hair loss (1.15%). According to their research, there is a particular demographic most susceptible to hair loss :
“Hairloss is found among people who take Provigil, especially for people who are female, 50-59 old, have been taking the drug for 6 – 12 months, also take Aubagio [for relapsing multiple sclerosis], and have Multiple sclerosis.”
Numerous user testimonials also exist on Reddit.com, especially on subreddits dedicated to the use of smart drugs.
- The overwhelming majority of Modafinil users are males in their 20s and 30s in highly stressful careers, who may also be more susceptible to balding
- A possible connection between histamine and/or dopamine overload and hair loss
So what can we reasonably conclude from all this? How can we answer the question “Does Modafinil cause hair loss” in a satisfactory way?
It MAY be possible for Modafinil to cause hair loss in some of its users.
This topic simply hasn’t been thoroughly investigated or studied enough to reach any definitive conclusions. Nor have any comprehensive side effect profiles consistently documented hair loss as a possible outcome of Modafinil use.
As you saw at the beginning of this article, hair loss is a complex issue with multiple causes. Genetics, drug use, hormone levels, stress levels, diet, and much more all play a part in the shedding of hair. All of those factors should be considered before blaming Modafinil for hair loss.
To date, the vast majority of information regarding the subject comes from forums and first-hand accounts. This is not to say that these accounts are lying or fabricating information.
However, even if a few hundred Modafinil users experience hair loss, that doesn’t mean the smart drug is causing the shedding.
Many Modafinil users have taken the smart drug for years without any significant hair loss issues.
Overall, we would say that “Modafinil hair loss” is extremely unlikely for 99% of people taking it.
How to Combat Hair Loss While Taking Modafinil
None of these strategies have been scientifically demonstrated to reverse any possible hair loss brought on by Modafinil.
With that being said, numerous nootropic users have found they may be effective for some individuals.
Limit your use of Modafinil
Supposedly, excessive use of Modafinil — 4-7 days a week for 2-12 months — increases one’s chances of hair loss. In the majority of stories online involving Modafinil and hair loss, subjects noticed their hairlines receding with 5-12 months of consistent use.
Putting aside the issues with hair loss, taking Modafinil every single day for cognitive enhancement purposes will eventually lead to your tolerance building up. You will have to take a higher dosage of Modafinil to feel the same effects, and possibly expose yourself to other unwanted side effects.
If you are a smart drug user concerned with hair loss while using Modafinil, here are some dosing recommendations to follow:
- Use Modafinil 1-2 times per week.
- Only use 100-200 mg each day.
- Use the smart drug for 4-5 weeks, then take a week off.
By following this protocol, you’ll minimize any negative effects of Modafinil on your hairline.
Use hair loss supplements
Some users have reported using certain supplements to combat any supposed Modafinil-induced hair loss supplements.
In particular, our test subjects have reported the following combination to slow down issues with androgenic alopecia while taking Modafinil:
The stack above won’t put a full-stop on hair loss, especially when adding pharmaceutical drugs to the mix. But they will significantly slow down any issues with alopecia for many users.
Optimize the quality of your sleep
Sleep loss is not directly related to hair loss, but it can certainly increase your anxiety and lead to higher levels of stress :
“We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain.”
“While a full night of slumber stabilizes emotions, a sleepless night can trigger up to a 30% rise in anxiety levels”
“Our study not only establishes a causal connection between sleep and anxiety, but it identifies the kind of deep [non-rapid eye movement] sleep we need to calm the overanxious brain.”
If you refuse to supplement before bed after experiencing the effects of Modafinil all day long, you may find many sleepless nights ahead of you.
We highly recommend taking these three supplements before going to bed on days you consume Modafinil:
These will ensure you get to sleep and stay asleep after a day using smart drugs.
Out of all the three listed, our test subjects told us that cherry juice extract is most effective for inducing a state of deep sleep.
Modafinil Hair Loss | The Verdict
Does Modafinil cause hair loss, or is there no real connection between Modafinil and hair loss?
It appears as if Modafinil-induced hair loss is a very rare phenmenon that occurs in a very small percentage of users.
No scientific evidence published to date has found a connection between Modafinil use and hair loss, nor has the subject been investigated thoroughly by medical professionals.
If you follow our recommended tips for dosing Modafinil and using additional supplements, you may experience a reduction in hair loss while using Modafinil.
But if all else fails, please see your physician immediately and talk to them about Modafinil may possibly be causing your hair loss.
- Guo T, Zhao LS, Xia DY. Pharmacokinetic study of modafinil in relation to gender and ethnicity in healthy young Chinese volunteers. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2010;13(3):443‐449. doi:10.18433/j3fk5r
- Gerrard P, Malcolm R. Mechanisms of modafinil: A review of current research. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007;3(3):349‐364.
- Hair Loss. Retrieved June 1, 2020. health.harvard.edu
- Schwartzenfeld DM, Karamikian J. Chapter 18 – Hair Transplantation. Plastic Surgery Secrets Plus (Second Edition). 2010:123-127. doi:10.1016/B978-0-323-03470-8.00018-1
- Medications That Can Cause Hair Loss. Retrieved May 31, 2020. webmd.com
- Does Stress Cause Hair Loss? Retrieved May 29, 2020. healthline.com
- Modafinil Side Effects. Retrieved May 30, 2020. drugs.com
- Can I use modafinil and finasteride at the same time? Retrieved June 2, 2020. realself.com
- King LE Jr, Eastham AW, Curcio NM, Schmidt AN. A potential association between alopecia areata and narcolepsy. Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(6):677‐679. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.108
- Modafinil Related Alopecia. Retrieved June 1, 2020. druginformer.com
- Will you have Hairloss with Provigil? – a study of FDA reports. Retrieved May 28, 2020. ehealthme.com
- Modafinil and Hairloss. Retrieved May 29, 2020. r/modafinil
- Considering trying modafinil but concerned over possible hair loss. Retrieved May 28, 2020. r/afinil
- Stressed to the max? Deep sleep can rewire the anxious brain. Retrieved June 3, 2020. sciencedaily.com