What's the best herbal hair loss treatment? - nicehair.org

What's the best herbal hair loss treatment?

Those who took tocotritenol had an increased number of hairs with 34.5% more than the ones receiving placebo While there are many herbal treatments for alopecia out there, not all of them are backed by science and sometimes they can do more harm than good. The following list of herbal treatments have been shown in […]

Those who took tocotritenol had an increased number of hairs with 34.5% more than the ones receiving placebo

While there are many herbal treatments for alopecia out there, not all of them are backed by science and sometimes they can do more harm than good. The following list of herbal treatments have been shown in reputable studies to help those experiencing hair loss either by promoting new hair growth, increasing scalp circulation or stopping hair loss altogether.

Castor Oil

Organic castor oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that has been extracted from Castor beans. There is a large number of reports from the public via online forums and blogs stating that castor oil promotes hair growth. Whether these claims are true or not is unclear due to the lack of credible research. However, castor oil contains high levels of vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant. There are studies showing the link between oxidative stress and alopecia as patients who have alopecia show low levels of antioxidants in their scalps.
In one such study 21 people received tocotrienols daily (part of the vitamin E family) while 17 volunteers received a placebo. Those who took tocotritenol had an increased number of hairs with 34.5% more than the ones receiving placebo. The study concluded that this may be due to the antioxidant properties of tocotrienols which can help reduce the oxidative stress in the scalp. (Beoy et al., 2010)
Another way castor oil might help with hair loss is by increasing levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in the scalp, which is thought to influence hair growth. A study showed that castor oil increased PGE2 levels in volunteers.
Besides these, Castor oil has considerable moisturizing properties and some anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. (Garza et al., 2012)
It may be its anti-inflammatory properties that cause the widespread reports of its hair growth and hair health benefits. Inflammation in the scalp leads to fibrosis, which causes hairs to become dry and brittle before leading to hair loss.

Olive Oil

Organic Olive Oil
Some have speculated that olive oil may help with hair loss because it inhibits DHT production in the scalp (md-health.com, retrieved 2016), but there hasn’t been any research to establish this. However, olive oil does contain azelaic acid, which has been shown to lower DHT production by inhibiting the activity of 5-alpha-reductase.
The study concludes that a combination of zinc sulphate with azelaic acid may help with various pathologies of the human skin. (Stamatiadis, 1988)
Other oils such as sunflower oil and coconut oil are sometimes marketed as hair loss treatments but they only work by protecting the hair and reducing the loss of moisture during various styling processes. (Rele and Mohile, 2002)

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana can work just as well as minoxidil

Arnica Montana is a fragrant perennial herb that grows in Europe and has been used as a herbal medicine to treat various illnesses for centuries. Studies have shown that this herb’s anti-inflammatory effects are comparable to ibuprofen in treating hand osteoarthritis.(Widrig et al.,2007). A study has shown that a combination of plants including Arnica Montana can work just as well as minoxidil as the components stimulate hair growth and also have great anti-seborroheic effects.


Safflower is a herbaceous plant cultivated to produce vegetable oil from its seeds. In a study that lasted 16 weeks on obese and post-menopausal women, researchers studied the effect of safflower oil on weight loss. During the study they found that safflower oil had inhibiting properties for 5-alpha-reductase which is involved in increasing DHT in the scalp. Thus, by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase, safflower can help with hair growth. (Norris et al., 2009)

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary Oil is made from the leaves of the rosemary plant, also known as rosmarinus officinalis. Throughout history, the plant has been used for medical purposes, cosmetic purposes as well as a spice for food. The plant has various medical properties: it is an antifungal, an antibacterial, an analgesic and antioxidant.
A paper from 2015 (Panahi et al.) studied the effects of rosemary in the treatment of androgenic alopecia: the researchers compared the results with the results from patients taking minoxidil 2%. Patients with androgenic alopecia had to use rosemary oil or minoxidil 2% for a period of 6 months. After 6 months, the two groups had no significant difference between the results; although, the group taking minoxidil experienced scalp itching more frequently.

Green Tea

Organic green tea
Green tea is widely known for its enormous list of health benefits so naturally, researchers have asked themselves whether its benefits may extend to hair loss. (Nagaya et al, 2015) In a study on mice that had developed hair loss (Esfandiari and Kelly, 2005), researchers showed that those receiving green tea in their drinking water experienced reduced hair loss. Although there haven’t been any studies made on humans, green tea seems to be a viable treatment, or at least an adjuvant in the treatment of hair loss.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Organic pumpkin seeds
Researchers from South Korea’s Pusan National University studied pumpkin seed oil’s effects on alopecia.
76 male patients who suffered from moderate androgenic alopecia and have not tried another treatment at least 3 months prior to the study were divided into groups. Half of the patients were given a placebo while the other half ingested capsules containing 400 milligrams of pumpkin seed oil per day. The patients’ situation was assessed mid-study and at the end of the study, after 6 months. The subjects were scored from -3 (greatly decreased) to +3 (greatly increased), they underwent hair counting using different lenses, rated their own hair gain and were photographed using phototrichography. 44% of the group that took pumpkin seed oil had an improved hair growth slightly or moderately, while one patient had slightly more hair loss. Among the placebo group 28% had increased hair loss and 64% experienced no changes while 7.7% had a slight to moderate hair growth. The treatment was also found to be without any side effects, except for one person who experienced a mild stomach problem. (Young et al., 2014)
Other studies on pumpkin seed oil have shown that it can also inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, which is involved in slowing or stopping hair growth. ( Ejike and Ezeanyika, 2011); (Williams et al., 2006)

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto for hair loss
In recent years, Saw Palmetto has become synonyms with the treatment of hair loss. However, there aren’t a sufficient number of studies to show if this herb really does help significantly.
It seems that saw palmetto does help treat an enlarged prostate by inhibiting the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, having similar effects to medication prescribed for hair loss, such as finasteride. (Pais et al.,2006) A study that involved topical application of saw palmetto showed promising results:

  • the total hair count increased by 11.9 % compared to the pre-treatment period,
  • the anagen/telogen hair had a positive increased ratio of 38% and
  • during the evaluation of vertex photographs taken before and after the treatment the reviewers noted a positive change in 48% of the cases and no difference in the rest. (Arca et al.,2014)

Although research on the above herbal treatments is limited I conclude that saw palmetto is the most effective herbal hair loss treatment.
If you’re considering using a herbal or natural hair loss treatment, I recommend using a product that has been created from a combination of natural plant extracts by a manufacturer with many years if experience in combining and using plant extracts for the promotion if hair growth.
To see what I consider to be the best natural treatments view these articles:


  • Olive oil:
    • http://www.md-health.com/Olive-Oil-For-Hair-Growth.html
    • STAMATIADIS, D., BULTEAU-PORTOIS, M.-C. and MOWSZOWICZ, I. (1988), Inhibition of 5α-reductase activity in human skin by zinc and azelaic acid. British Journal of Dermatology, 119: 627–632. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.1988.tb03474.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3207614
    • Rele AS, Mohile RB. Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. J Cosmet Sci. 2003 Mar-Apr;54(2):175-92.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12715094
  • Castor Oil
    • Beoy, L. A., Woei, W. J., & Hay, Y. K. (2010). Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers. Tropical Life Sciences Research, 21(2), 91–99. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075/
    • Garza, L. A., Liu, Y., Yang, Z., Alagesan, B., Lawson, J. A., Norberg, S. M., … Cotsarelis, G. (2012). Prostaglandin D2 Inhibits Hair Growth and Is Elevated in Bald Scalp of Men with Androgenetic Alopecia. Science Translational Medicine,4(126), 126ra34. http://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.3003122
  • Arica Montana

    • R. Widrig, A. Suter, R. Saller & J. Melzer (2007). “Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study”.Rheumatology International. 27 (6): 585–91. doi:10.1007/s00296-007-0304-y.PMID 17318618.
  • Safflower
    • Norris, Leigh E., et al. “Comparison of dietary conjugated linoleic acid with safflower oil on body composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 90.3 (2009): 468-476.
    • Kumar, Naphatsorn, et al. “5α-reductase inhibition and hair growth promotion of some Thai plants traditionally used for hair treatment.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2011).
  • Rosemary
  • Green Tea
  • Esfandiari, A., & Kelly, A. P. (2005). The effects of tea polyphenolic compounds on hair loss among rodents. Journal of the National Medical Association, 97(8), 1165–1169.
  • Pumpkinseed Oil

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    • Ejike CE, Ezeanyika LU. Inhibition of the experimental induction of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a possible role for fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis Hook f.) seeds. Urol Int. 2011;87(2):218-24. doi: 10.1159/000327018.
    • Gossell-Williams M, Davis A, O’Connor N. Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of sprague-dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil. J Med Food. 2006 Summer;9(2):284-6.
  • Saw Palmetto