(WellnessNova.com) - Hair loss or thinning hair is something that can affect people of all different ages, and can be temporary or permanent. You often think of men being the only ones to suffer hair loss as they get older, but in fact women can also experience thinning hair and hair loss and the consequences for both can be quite dramatic — affecting self-esteem and confidence.
The causes of thinning hair are not just limited to aging and genetics. Everything from hormonal imbalance, to skin conditions, to reactions to various medications can cause loss of hair. Vitamin deficiencies, stress and autoimmune diseases (such as in alopecia areata) can also all be potential causes for hair loss, which can range from losing way more hair than usual to completely bald patches that seemingly come out of nowhere.
Millions are spent every year on hair loss treatments from big name pharmaceutical companies and even more drastic and expensive hair replacement surgeries, but there has yet to be any one guaranteed medication or treatment that will make your hair come back, permanently.
It’s always better to treat the cause of the problem rather than the symptom, so if there is a medical cause for your hair loss, such as a vitamin deficiency or a hormone issue, it’s best to treat it at its source, if possible. But hair loss is nothing new and natural remedies and treatments have been around and plentiful for many years and many different cultures have their own recipes for treating thinning hair in both men and women.
We have long looked to nature for concoctions we can brew up at home that can be used as hair rinses and tonics that can stimulate circulation in the scalp and provide you with a natural and safe solution to your thinning hair. Various herbal supplements can also be helpful in promoting hair growth. Let’s look at some of these amazing plants and herbs that you can use to strengthen the health of your hair and scalp from both inside and out!
1. Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is a small, fan-like palm that grows clusters of berries. This plant has been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans not only as a food source, but also as a treatment for urinary and reproductive problems.
As an alternative medicine, saw palmetto has been used as a treatment for prostate issues, including cancer, since it may block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT contributes to prostate enlargement as well as hair loss and so for this reason it’s thought to be a viable supplement to consider for the treatment of thinning hair.
In one double blind study, 60 percent of men undergoing treatment for hair loss with saw palmetto saw some level of improvement.
Although there is little research on the effect of saw palmetto and hair loss for women, there is some evidence to suggest that it can be beneficial for women as well.
Saw palmetto can be applied topically to the scalp or taken as a supplement, but can react with other prostate medications, so be sure to consult your physician if you are taking any other medications.
2. Blackcurrant Oil
Moving on to another berry, the blackcurrant is a powerful little berry that packs a whack of antioxidants, vitamin C (which is a powerful antioxidant itself), and three very important omega-3 fatty acids, including gamma linoleic acid or GLA. Like the berries from the saw palmetto plant, blackcurrants are also powerful blockers of DHT and may be beneficial for those suffering hair loss, especially when combined with other valuable supplements.
The alpha linoleic acid found in blackcurrants works to counteract the damaging and inflammatory effects of omega-6 fats found in hydrogenated oil products like margarine and deep-fried foods.
You can purchase the supplements and take them internally or use the oil topically by putting a few drops in your shampoo or conditioner or massaging your scalp with the oil directly.
Rosemary has been used for centuries for a number of health ailments. It has a refreshing and invigorating scent that is both astringent and stimulating to circulation. The scent can relieve stress and it’s also antimicrobial, making it a great addition to natural cleaners. Even a few drops in your washing machine can freshen up the load!
A member of the mint family, rosemary contains a number of phytochemicals and can also keep pests away when planted in your garden. It also has a number of culinary uses, particularly in Italian cooking.
What you might not know is that rosemary has long been used as a treatment for hair loss and can stimulate the circulation in the scalp, promoting new hair growth.
While you can take rosemary extract internally, in the case of supplements, you can also steep fresh rosemary leaves in hot water to make tea. It’s also very easy to make a rosemary-infused hair rinse at home. Simply pour a few cups of boiling water over a handful of rosemary sprigs in a large bowl of water and let steep for 30 minutes. After straining out the leaves, you can use this “hair tea” as a rinse after you shampoo your hair.
As with the other oils above, you can also add a few drops of rosemary oil to your shampoo or add it to another carrier oil, such as almond or coconut to use as a stimulating oil for scalp massage. There are also many commercial shampoos and conditioners on the market that contain rosemary oil.
4. Aloe Vera
No one disputes the health benefits of aloe vera. The juice is now readily available in most health food stores, and we have long since known of the benefits of aloe for the skin and how great it is for sunburn and other skin conditions.
Aloe vera is also great for digestive issues, such as heartburn and constipation, and can also improve circulation in the body. It’s a powerful plant with a lot of uses!
The Egyptians have long known about the benefits of aloe vera for the hair, and the gel of the plant can nourish the scalp, help repair damage to the hair, and help get rid of dandruff.
If the scalp is nourished and healthy, the hair follicles are then healthy, which can stimulate hair growth. Aloe vera can also reduce oil production in the scalp, which can lead to blocked hair follicles and impeded hair growth.
The best way to use aloe vera as a scalp treatment is to make a homemade scalp mask with fairly basic ingredients. If you don’t have access to aloe vera either in your own garden or the area around where you live, you can sometimes find it in international supermarkets.
Buy a long stalk of aloe and fillet it down the center, scraping out the gel into a bowl. You can then either apply this gel directly to your hair, massaging it into your scalp, or mix it with other scalp healthy ingredients, such as coconut milk or olive oil. A few drops of the aforementioned rosemary oil would also be a great additive. Leave the mask on for up to 30 minutes, wrapped with plastic wrap, and then wash as normal.
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another healthy food ingredient that has been getting a lot of good press lately. Not only great in cooking, coconut oil is found in many health and beauty products because of its amazing ability to nourish and repair dry skin. Not to mention, it smells great.
As an oil for scalp massage, coconut oil is a great product to stimulate your scalp and nourish hair follicles. It’s also an antibacterial and antifungal agent. If your hair loss is due to any skin or scalp issue, or because of blockage in your hair follicles, coconut oil might be of great benefit.
Coconut oil is vastly better for your hair than other oils, such as sunflower or mineral oil. One study found the oil can actually reduce protein loss in both damaged and undamaged hair.
Combined with other oils, such as rosemary, coconut oil can be part of a great hair treatment regime and can also be used as a hair conditioner, especially if you have dry or frizzy hair.
To make a stimulating coconut oil scalp massage and hair mask, warm three or four tablespoons of pure extra virgin coconut oil until it turns into a less viscous liquid, add any other additional healthy oils or herbs (such as rosemary), and apply to your fingertips. Massage your scalp for ten to fifteen minutes and apply plastic wrap or a towel over your hair and let sit for up to 30 minutes and then wash as normal.
6. Horsetail Extract
The clue to this great supplement is in the name, and while horsetail extract has many benefits, it’s also known to stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss due to its high concentration of silica.
A 2012 study on a number of female subjects that took a supplement containing horsetail-derived silica, along with shark and mollusk powder and acerola cherry, found that the women taking the supplement had significantly increased hair growth after 90 and 180 days. It’s unclear if these positive results were due solely to the silica found within the horsetail or the combination of ingredients in the supplement, but the results are promising.
Horsetail, called so because of its appearance, has been used as a medicinal herb by the Greeks and Romans and was said to stop bleeding and treat lung and kidney illnesses. Various skin conditions and bone diseases have been treated in different cultures by horsetail extract and it’s rich in a great number of minerals and nutrients including “manganese, calcium, iron, flavonoids… phytosterols and fatty acids.”
As a treatment for hair loss, you can either take the extract as a supplement or make it into a tea. As a hair rinse, you can either make a hair rinse by steeping fresh horsetail in a few cups of water, or adding the tincture to warm water. Then rinse your hair after shampooing with the horsetail water mixture and rinse out as you would your regular conditioner.
If using horsetail tincture, add a few drops to coconut oil and massage the scalp for ten minutes, 3 to 4 times a week. You can also purchase shampoo with horsetail extract already mixed in.
7. Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is yet another one of those fabulous plants taken for granted and chocked up as a mere annoyance. While it’s true that stinging nettle has to be handled with a certain amount of care, there are a number of benefits packed into this lowly, humble weed. Not only is it a great treatment for hay fever-related allergies, nettle has been used as a treatment for hair loss for quite a long time.
Much like some of the other plants mentioned here, nettle is also a great example of a plant that blocks DHT production, which is why it’s used as a natural treatment for enlarged prostate.
As a hair tonic, you can use stinging nettle much like the other plants. You can steep it in a tea and drink it, or apply it topically as a hair rinse. It’s also recommended to soak fresh nettle plants in a cup of olive oil up to three weeks, and massage it into your scalp a few times a week.
Better yet, combine it with fresh rosemary, and any of the other tinctures mentioned above, for an invigorating homemade scalp tonic you can keep in your shower and use whenever you have the time for a relaxing scalp self-massage.
Try these natural, healthy ways proven to better your hair health. Hopefully your hair will be restored to its former full, thick glory.