The bioactive components of garlic have been extensively researched and have been proven to have many therapeutic and preventative effects on various diseases and health problems (Santhosha, Jamuna & Prabhavathi, 2013). Recently, a study has found that garlic oil has significant effects on treating alopecia areata, a recurring, non-scarring type of hair loss which results in coin-sized patches of baldness on the individual (Hajheydari et al., 2007). The study was done on a sample size of 40 patients (20 control and 20 treated with garlic treatment) with significant improvements observed in 90% of the patients after three months and no recorded side effects. This study serves to bolster anecdotal claims of garlic containing hair-stimulatory effects.
A rich source of sulphur, vitamin C and iron: KEY hair growth nutrients
Sulphur: anti inflammatory and key component of keratin
Garlic has high levels of sulphur, Vitamin C and iron, all of which have been proven to aid in combating hair loss. Sulphur from garlic has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects which prevents inflammatory disorders from targeting hair follicles and prevents hair from growing (Lee et al., 2012). It is also one of the main building blocks of keratin which constitutes our hair, nails and other epidermal tissues; deficiencies can result in hair loss and brittle nails.
In a study by Sung et al., ascorbic acid 2-phosphate, a derivative of Vitamin C, was used to treat patients with androgenic alopecia (2006). The study found that there was “significant growth stimulation” in the cells located in the scalp, and the study eventually concluded that the vitamin C derivative promoted hair follicle growth in hair follicles.
Vitamin C which is an essential water-soluble vitamin that cannot be produced by our bodies is also found in garlic, which enhances the absorption of iron and is needed for a wide range of bodily functions (Weber, Bendich & Schalch, 1996). It enhances the development of hair and increases the strength of hair structures.
Garlic has anti-fungal properties due to the presence of allicin, an oxygenated sulphur amino acid which is produced when garlic is crushed (Ankri & Mirelman, 1999). Upon crushing, an enzyme rapidly converts allicin from its stable precursor alliin into the more biologically active allicin, which exhibits antibacterial activity against a wide range of Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria such as E. Coli and Candida albacans. This is important in the treatment of hair loss due to the presence of a naturally occurring fungus, Malassesia globose, which breaks down the oil on the scalp leading to hair loss.
How to apply garlic to make hair grow
There are several methods available to apply garlic juice to your scalp. The most straightforward method is to rub garlic bulbs on the skin and wash after 10 minutes. However, in order to obtain greatest effect, it is recommended to use crushed garlic juice as the crushing process activates enzymes contained in the garlic. It must be noted that crushed garlic juice is incredibly potent and will likely result in skin irritations if applied directly; hence it is recommended to mix with other substances in order for it to work as a topical treatment. Common options are honey, coconut oil and even simply soaking the bulbs in oil overnight and applying the resulting concoction.
In conclusion, garlic has been shown to have beneficial impact on hair growth and can serve as an easy, effective and hence attractive alternative to conventional medicine with regards to treating hair loss.
- Ankri, S. & Mirelman, D. (1999) Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic. Microbes and Infection. 1 (2), 125-129.
- Hajheydari, Z., Jamshidi, M., Akbari, J. & Mohammadpour, R. (2007) Combination of topical garlic gel and betamethasone valerate cream in the treatment of localized alopecia areata: a double-blind randomized controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. 73 (1), 29-32.
- Lee, D. Y., Li, H., Lim, H. J., Lee, H. J., Jeon, R. & Ryu, J. (2012) Anti-inflammatory activity of sulfur-containing compounds from garlic. Journal of Medicinal Food. 15 (11), 992-999
- Santhosha, S., Jamuna, P. & Prabhavathi, S. (2013) Bioactive components of garlic and their physiological role in health maintenance: A review. Food Bioscience. 3, 59-74.
- Weber, P., Bendich, A. & Schalch, W. (1996) Vitamin C and human health–a review of recent data relevant to human requirements. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research.Internationale Zeitschrift Fur Vitamin- Und Ernahrungsforschung.Journal International De Vitaminologie Et De Nutrition. 66 (1), 19-30.