posted by Rajesh Rajput, MCh, FISHRS on April 6, 2015
Can a herbal treatment for hair loss really work? Best practices in herbal hair growth treatment
An herbal program for hair loss can work well for some patients. Those with grade III to IV hair loss are expected to thrive on the program. It is also beneficial for patients with patchy loss of hair on the scalp, called Diffuse Unpatterned Hair Loss (DUPA), who don’t want to take vitamin pills. The herbal program can work well as an alternative for patients who suffer constipation when taking iron and calcium supplements, patients who already have a balanced diet, but who require more of an antioxidant effect, or patients who feel heavy and bloated after taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
An herbal treatment consists of antioxidants, which are nutrients derived from super foods instead of vitamin supplements. Other treatment, such as medicines and low-level laser therapy for hair loss many still be used for treatment in conjunction with the herbal diet at the patient’s choosing.
Diet’s Impact on Hair Loss
What we feed ourselves has a major role in how our body functions. Consumption of any food repeatedly can be bad for us. There are many studies that show an overabundance, or a lack of certain foods and vitamins can lead to hair loss.
- Studies have shown that consuming high fat meals, and meals with meat, can increase sex hormones, and in turn impact our scalp and the hair on our heads. For example, DHT, which stands for 5α-Dihydrotestosterone, is a sex hormone. 5α-reductase, an enzyme, makes DHT in the adrenal glands, hair follicles, testes and prostate. Male and female adults can lose hair as a consequence. DHT plays a major role in hair loss. Male pattern baldness, also known as is caused by the hair follicle’s sensitivity to DHT. The follicles shrink resulting in a shorter lifespan and the abnormal production of hair.
- Also, a high consumption of sugar causes the release of Insulin and testosterone from its binding protein, leading to the possibility of more hormones being available for conversion to DHT.
- There are two kinds of vitamins – fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are essential for shine, bounce and luster in the hair. Those on a fat free diet, and those crash dieting, can suffer hair loss when they don’t consume the proper nutrients. At least 10% of the calories must come from fat.
- Consumption of fast foods, MSG in Chinese food, preservatives, additives and artificial flavors in processed foods, and packed juices not only are devoid of any nutritional value but also cause increased activity that could lead to a conversion to DHT.
- The chicken loving population also has highrisk for hair loss. Chickens today are fattened artificially using hormonal derivatives, oral contraceptives, tranquillizers and antibiotics to prevent them from falling sick. The estrogen left in chicken-eating school children is causing larger breasts in boys and early menstruation in girls, which alters hormonal balance leading to hair loss.
- Lacto vegetarian diets – which are diets devoid of meat or eggs, but including dairy, lead to a deficiency in vitamin B12, micronutrients, minerals, iron, and zinc. Those deficiencies are a leading cause of hair loss.
- Regular alcohol intake reduces the absorption of iron, folic acid, zinc and nutrients from the stomach creating nutritional deficiencies leading to hair loss.
- Poor water intake, working in pressurized aircraft cabins, night shifts, and altered circadian rhythm can all lead to hair loss.
- Smoking shrinks the end arteries and capillaries in addition to accumulation of free radicals and poor oxygen exchange from the lungs, leading to hair loss.
The Herbal Diet for Growth
You know what not to eat, and now you may be wondering what you should ingest instead on an herbal diet aimed at stopping hair loss or producing hair growth. Here are some products that have been found to have a benefit.
Amla / Amalaki
Amla: Known also as Emblica officinalis, or Indian Gooseberry, an effective extract of fruit of Amla contains 28% Tannins, which consists of gallic acid, elagic acid, phyllemblic Acid, emblicol and Vitamin ‘C’. Amla is an astringent – which is a substance that causes body tissues to contract – protecting the skin, and traditionally used for hair loss prevention, preventing premature graying of hair, and promoting natural hair growth.
Manjishtha: Also called Rubia cordifolia, this is an astringent, and is a well-known blood purifier. It neutralizes toxins and helps in hair growth.
Neem: Known also as Azadirachta indica, Neem has anti-septic, anti-fungal and anti-allergic properties, which means it detoxifies blood and imparts natural skin health. It reduces micro-inflammation, which is responsible for disrupting hair growth cycles. A 250mg extract of Neem Pan contains 3.5% Bitter, which helps detoxify and improve the immune system. It has anti-viral & antibacterial properties, and is excellent on skin disorders and useful for hair growth.
Sariva: This is an excellent blood purifier. It reduces lymphatic swellings and stops itching. It reduces micro-inflammation, which is responsible for disrupting hair growth cycles.
Kumari / Aloe
Kumari / Aloe: Also known as Aloe Indica, Aloe speeds up the regenerative process of the skin and helps keep the skin healthy. Although it is a good for applying to the skin, it can be taken orally for healthy benefits.
Methi / Fenugreek: This is an Anti oxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that help in hair growth. It is used to treat arthritis and asthma, improve digestion, maintain healthy metabolism, and help with reproductive disorders and hormonal disorders as well. It is known to be effective in helping to treat male pattern baldness.
During germination, plant cells create new enzymes and amino acid nutrients required for rapid cell division and growth. Wheat grass contains Chlorophyll, flavonoids, amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and more. It is a nutritional storehouse, antioxidant and detoxifier. It cleanses the lymph nodes, builds blood, restores balance in the body & rejuvenates. It provides essential micronutrients to the body and helps boost immunity. It improves tissue nutrition and helps to reduce fatigue.
Nutritional Analysis of Wheat Grass Antioxidant Animoacids Enzymes Minerals Vitamins Chlorophyll Arginine, Cysteine, Superoxide dimutase Selenium, Copper Vit. A, Vit. C,
Vit. E, Vit. K
Flavinoids Glucine, Lysine, Hystedine Peroxidase, Lipase Magnesium, Cobalt B1- Thiamine,
B2 – Riboflavin
Linoleic acid Lucine, Isolucine, Hexokinase Molybdenum Iodine B3 – Niacin Lecithin Methionine,
Malic dehydrogenase Iron Calcium Phosphorus B5 – Pantohtenic acid Saponins Glutamine, Tryptophan Catalase Sulphur, Zinc B6 – Pyridoxine
B9 – Folic Acid,
Alpha Lenoleic acid Valine, Phenylalanine Cytochrome oxidase Sodium, Pottasium B12 – Cyanocobalamine
This is a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folic acid, B6 and B12. It improves hemoglobin levels and improves metabolism. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron. Iron is required to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A.
Brahmi: Also known as Bacopa monnieri, Brahmi improves blood supply to the scalp, relieves stress and thus prevents hair fall. It is a rejuvenating herb for nerve & brain cells. Brahmi helps hair growth through improved blood flow.
Bhrungraj: Known by the name Eclipta alba, this is a liver cleanser. It detoxifies the body and rejuvenates it for hair growth. Local effects have been compared to Minoxidil in control clinic trials, as known in the following study:Roy RK1, Thakur M, Dixit VK. Hair growth promoting activity of Eclipta alba in male albino rats. Arch Dermatol Res. 2008 Aug;300(7):357-64. doi: 10.1007/s00403-008-0860-3. Epub 2008 May 14.
This is an excellent antioxidant that helps in improving multiple essential metabolic functions for good hair growth. Curcumin also aids in iron absorption. It forms the main stem of the Herbal Hair Growth program. Some useful references are listed separately.
A Sample Herbal Regimen
You have seen the properties of the herbal diet, but how do you go about starting? You should talk to a doctor, first, before starting. However, here is an example of how an herbal diet can be used.
This is a typical once every 3 Day use of Herbal Benefits in the Cyclical Therapy:
Cyclical Herbal Therapy for Hair Growth
Two combinations per day in a 3-day cycle allow users to derive benefits.
Mon & Thu : Curcumin 450 mg + Black pepper 50mg and Spirulina 500 mg
One each in the morning after breakfast
Tue & Fri: Fenugreek 500 mg and Wheat grass 500 mg or Bhringaraj 500 mg
One each in the morning after breakfast
Wed & Sat: Amla 500 and Sareva or Neem
One each in the morning after breakfast
Sunday: Break – nothing to take on Sunday
Nighttime: Additional formulations can be added as required for stress relief, Constipation, hyperacidity or other complaints.
A topical application of 5% Bhringraj Oil with other additives as required. Also use herbal Shampoo 2-3 times a week.
This routine has shown new hair growth visible on the photographs, along the hairline and along the parting line within 2-4 months.
The therapy can be combined with LLLT Laser OR PRP injections, or used as in addition to any other modern treatments.
Anything we do for hair is an ongoing care program. Hair loss is not a disease so there is no cure. There is no magical advanced research that can provide a one-time therapy. As with other cares, Herbal therapy must be a continued care.
We should follow herbal therapy, eating foods that are good for us, and avoiding those that cause problems.
The careful use of low dose vitamins in a one in three day cycle ensures a balanced nutrient and mineral environment. It neutralizes free radicals. We also must add local scalp hygiene and stimulation of hair growth cycles. Herbal care is cost effective, delivers wellness and good health as well as hair growth.
We suggest following the care for 4-5 hair cycles. Take a break for 2-4 months and watch out for hair loss. Start again if you notice thinning, slow growth or hair loss.