Minoxidil tablets are vasodilators used to treat high blood pressure by widening blood vessels and improving blood flow, according to Drugs.com. Topical minoxidil stimulates hair growth and slows balding most effectively in individuals under age 40 who have experienced recent hair loss, reports MedlinePlus.
When minoxidil in tablet form is used to treat hypertension, it is usually prescribed in conjunction with a diuretic, states Drugs.com. It should not be used to stimulate hair growth. Patients often receive their first few doses of the drug in a hospital where blood pressure and heart rate are monitored to ensure no serious side effects occur. The most common side effects of minoxidil are irregular heartbeat, bloating, rapid weight gain, swelling in the lower extremities and skin flushing. Shortness of breath, chest pain and numbness in the face, hands and feet are less common.
Topical minoxidil does not cure baldness because any new hair that results from its use is lost within a few months of the drug’s discontinuation, explains MedlinePlus. The drug comes in a liquid form that is typically applied to the scalp twice a day. Results are usually not seen until minoxidil has been used for at least four months, and sometimes for as long as one year.