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Product Review: Hirsana Capsules for Skin, Hair, and Nails

Posted Jul 12 2009 10:05pm

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Every year, men and women worldwide spend approximately $2 billion on skin care products, most notably on cleansers, lotions, and creams. However, customers may do better if they choose to invest in supplements as well: according to this 2007 study inThe Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, eating an ingredient is more beneficial than topically applying it, while getting the ingredient both orally and topically is most beneficial. 

Company Promises  

With that said, Hirsana Capsules for Skin, Hair, and Nails ($30 for 30 capsules or $72 for 90 capsules;  HirsanaUsa.com ) promise to provide more lustrous skin, thicker hair, and healthier nails with just three months’ of two-capsules-daily use, followed by one capsule per day thereafter.  The company asserts that the supplement is suitable for long-term use.  

“Does It Work?” |  Ingredient Analysis

The main ingredient in each 200-mg Hirsana Capsule is 59.7% golden millet oil.   According to this article by GeneCampaign.org, golden millet oil is genetically engineered from two lines of high-nutrition pearl millet bred from Zambia as a part of a project by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).  The chief purpose of golden millet oil is to deliver very high concentrations of beta-carotene, a lipid antioxidant.  Although other antioxidants have been shown to be chemopreventative and/or anticarcinogenic, it was found by a study inThe New England Journal of Medicine  that beta-carotene does not prevent against both basal-cell and squamous-cell skin cancers, and further established in a study in  The Lancet  that supplementation with beta-carotene  does not help to prevent or treat skin cancer.

So what is the potential benefit of taking Hirsana?  One potential benefit is that beta-carotene ingestion leads to the production vitamin A  in vivo  via the action of the intestinal enzyme  beta-carotene 15,15′-monooxygenase,  which specifically cleaves beta-carotene into two pro-vitamin A molecules.  Given that retinoids (a form of vitamin A) are considered by many dermatologists to be a “gold standard” in anti-aging, using beta-carotene supplementation to increase serum levels of vitamin A may be solid way to reap the benefits of the fat-soluble vitamin.  In fact, according to Juergen Erhardt, a researcher at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, who collaborated on the ICRISAT project, “ To have a staple food with a naturally high content of beta-carotene would be the easiest way to alleviate vitamin A deficiency.”   

Therefore, given that beta-carotene is a proven in vivo  precursor of vitamin A, it is very plausible that daily supplementation of beta-carotene could lead to some (or all) of the benefits provided by vitamin A, including prevention of collagen loss, stimulation of collagen production, and increased cellular turnover rates.  In fact, daily supplementation of beta-carotene in the prescription treatment Lumitene® has been found to be effective in treating the symptoms of erythropoietic protoporphyria, a rare inherited genetic disorder of porphyrin-heme metabolism that often results in photosensitivity (painful skin sensitivity to sunlight), as well as gallstones and liver dysfunction.  However, more research needs to be done before the benefits of golden millet oil supplementation can be deemed conclusive.

Other ingredients in Hirsana Capsules include 100% of the FDA Daily Value of vitamin E (primarily an antioxidant), vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, and biotin, as well as 50% of pantothenic acid and zinc.  Of these, vitamin E  and biotin supplements have been shown to have the most conclusive evidence supporting benefits for the hair, skin, and nails.   

Are There Potential Risks?

Beta-carotene supplementation is often questioned because high doses can lead to  carotenodermia, a harmless condition that presents as a conspicuous orange skin.  (This is due to the deposition of pigment in the epidermis, or top layer of the skin).  Because carotenodermia is harmless, the FDA does not provide an established upper level (UL) for beta-carotene.  However, proper usage of  Hirsana  should not cause carotenodermia in normal healthy individuals, as the average 150-lb (68 kg) adult requires approximately 1800 mg beta carotene/day to maintain adequate vitamin A levels, and each capsule of Hirsana contains only 200 mg golden millet seed oil, of which only part is directly converted to beta-carotene.  

According to the NIH, beta-carotene supplementation in combination with selenium (not in Hirsana), vitamin C, and vitamin E may also decrease the effectiveness of a combination of simvastatin (Zocor®) and niacin.  Talk to your physician if you have any concerns.

When taking any new supplement, I also like to sign up for a nutritional database so I can make sure I am not receiving any toxic levels of any vitamin from my combined supplement and food intake.  Free services are available at  CalorieCounter.com or FitDay.com.

As always, talk to your physician before starting this or any other supplement.

Personal Use & Overall Opinions

After using the capsules for two weeks, I have noticed that my nails seem to have grown faster, but it will be awhile before I can honestly tell a difference in my hair (it’s pretty long) or my skin (it’s already very ‘antioxidized’ and moisturized!).  One caveat:  the capsules do leave a bit of a grainy, cereal-like aftertaste (it’s hard to explain), so I recommend taking them with food.     

I personally like combining oral supplements and topical ingredients for skin care. And I like  Hirsana Capsules for Skin, Hair, and Nails  due to their very high concentration of golden millet oil (which in turn provides a high concentration of beta carotene) and the fact that they provide 100% of the daily value of antioxidant vitamin E and biotin, which have both been shown to have benefits for the skin, hair, and nails when ingested via supplement.  While I feel as though more research needs to be done before the benefits of golden millet oil can be deemed conclusive, I still like this product, and will continue to use it for a while.   Product Rating: 7/9 (= 7.8/10).  (High concentration of proven-effective ingredients: 2.5/3.  Value for the money: 2/3.  New technology or original formulation: 2.5/3.  Sunscreen: 0/0 (N/A).)

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