Natural and holistic treatments are a gentler yet still effective alternative to treating hair loss than the harsh chemicals found in synthetic over-the-counter and prescription products. Using herbal and homeopathic remedies helps to promote healthy, strong hair and supports circulation, hormonal balance and thyroid functioning.
1) Essential Oils
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the use of a combination of essential oils or a placebo oil in 86 people with alopecia areata. The combination oil was a mixture of thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood essential oils in a mixture of carrier oils (jojoba and grapeseed). This oil was massaged into the scalp daily. The control group used only the carrier oils for their massage, also daily.
After 7 months, 19 (44%) of 43 people using the essential oil blend showed an improvement compared with 6 (15%) of 41 people in the control group. Although no side effects were associated with the topical application of essential oils, they may cause allergic reactions in some people.
2) Red Pepper
Red pepper is another topical solution that is used to fight hair loss. It is applied directly to the scalp in hopes of irritating the skin, so that the body’s immune system will respond to fight the irritant by releasing histamines. Histamines will increase the flow of blood to the hair follicles.
3) Onion Juice
A study published in the Journal of Dermatology examined the effectiveness of onion juice or placebo in people with alopecia areata. Twenty-three people with alopecia areata applied the onion juice twice daily for two months, and 15 people applied tap water twice daily for two months.
People in the onion group began to experience regrowth of hair after two weeks of treatment. At four weeks, hair regrowth was seen in 17 (73.9%) people and at six weeks, hair regrowth was observed in 20 (86.9%) people. Improvement was significantly higher among males. In the tap water control group, hair regrowth was apparent in only 2 people at 8 weeks.
Rosemary is an herb commonly used as a spice in Mediterranean dishes. It’s used in traditional medicine to stimulate hair growth, improve memory and support the nervous and circulatory systems. According to the UMMC, in a study of 84 participants with alopecia areata, some participants were treated by massaging their scalp with rosemary and other essential oils of lavender, thyme and cedar wood daily for seven months. These participants experienced significant hair regrowth, compared to the participants that massaged their scalps without the essential oils. However, better designed studies are needed to substantiate the effects of rosemary and hair growth.
A preliminary study explored the use of hypnosis on hair growth and well-being in people with alopecia. The study involved 28 people with extensive alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, or alopecia universalis who did not respond to previous conventional treatments.
After treatment with hypnosis, all patients had a significantly lower score for anxiety and depression. Hair regrowth of 75% to 100% was seen in 12 people after 3 to 8 sessions of hypnotherapy. Total regrowth occurred in 9 of these 12 people. In 5 people, a significant relapse occurred.
There were major limitations to this study, however, including the small size of the study, the lack of a placebo group, and the fact that the study was not double-blind. Larger, well-designed studies are needed.
6) Saw Palmetto
The most popular natural hair loss treatment is saw palmetto. Saw palmetto acts similarly to finasteride in treating enlarged prostates. Saw palmetto reduces the amount of didihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. It is believed that an excess of DHT is the leading cause of male pattern baldness.
Saw palmetto comes in two different forms of capsules–saw palmetto extract and saw palmetto berries–and can be taken once or twice a day. The extract is preferred for hair loss. The recommeded dose is 320 to 400 mg.
Biotin, or vitamin H, belongs to the vitamin B complex group. The B complex vitamins are important in promoting healthy hair, skin and eyes. Biotin is used to treat hair loss, brittle nails and loss of hair color associated with biotin deficiency. According to MedlinePlus, some preliminary evidence supports that biotin can reduce apolecia when taken orally in combination with zinc and topical application of the cream clobetasol propionate on the skin. However more studies are needed to substantiate its effectiveness.
8) Green Tea
Green tea is another item popular in natural hair growth products, although not for the reason first believed. Green tea proponents believed that green tea was a DHT blocker, but a 2005 study that appeared in the “Journal of the National Medical Association” concluded the driving force behind green tea was its ability to act as an anti-inflamatory agent.
9) Aloe Vera
Aloe vera contains seven different superoxide dismutases, which some believe will fight hair loss by fighting superoxides in the body. There are several patents using superoxide dismutases to combat hair loss. Aloe vera has also been touted for its ability to deep-clean the pores and bring pH levels in balance.
10) Nettle Root
Nettle root, or stinging nettle, is another supplement that is believed to inhibit DHT production. It has been shown to be more effective when used in conjunction with another product, such as saw palmetto or pygeum.
Honey is a natural sweetener produced by the honey bees. It’s also another natural treatment for alopecia. According to Hair-Loss-Causes-In-Women.com, a mixture of 2 tbsp. honey, 1 tbsp. cinnamon and 3 tbsp. olive oil may help. Apply this mixture over the hairless scalp. Leave it on for 20 minutes then rinse. Another recipe is to mix honey with egg yolk; apply this mixture to the affected scalp and leave on for one hour, then rinse and dry the scalp. These treatments may be done as needed to treat alopecia.
12) Dong Quai
Dong quai, which is sometimes referred to as Chinese Angelica, is another herb that is believed to be capable of blocking the formation of DHT. It has been used in Asia for centuries for all types of ailments.
Carefully selected herbal ingredients such as Ginkgo biloba, Rosmarinus officinale and Xanthoxylum clavaherculis promotes blood circulation which ensures that nutrient rich blood reaches the hair follicles. In addition, Equisetum arvense, Avena sativa and Echinacea also help to stimulate and nourish tiny hair follicles to encourage abundant hair.