Herbs have traditionally been used throughout the ages to treat all manner of health problems and conditions as well as for cosmetic purposes but in modern times with our fast-paced society and obsession with quick-fix solutions, a lot of that knowledge has been lost or forgotten.
Fortunately, the cosmetic industry has been quick to latch on to the power of herbs, particularly for hair care, and we can now purchase many of mother natures solutions in a bottle or packet. Our hair is our crowning glory as they say so we are keen to keep our locks long and beautiful and many of us would like to promote faster hair growth but with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
Hair follicles rely on a number of nutrients to ensure healthy and vibrant growth and if those nutrients are missing then the result is dry, lank, reduced hair growth and possibly hair thinning and hair loss. Herbs can facilitate faster hair growth in basically two different ways. Some herbs stimulate the hair follicles into action thereby facilitating new hair growth and there are others which have an impact on particular enzymes in the body, particularly 5 alpha-reductase which converts to dihydrotestosterone. High levels of DHT are known to cause hair thinning and hair loss.
Herbs that contribute to faster hair growth
Saw palmetto (Seranoa repens) – This is probably one of the best known herbs for treating hair loss and promoting faster hair growth. It is extracted from the berries of a type of palm tree and acts in a similar fashion to Finasteride (Propecia) by inhibiting the enzyme 5 alpha reductase. Saw palmetto forms the basis of many commercial hair care products on the market today. It is applied directly to the scalp.
Nettles (Urtica dioica) – Nettles have long been renowned for their medicinal properties, particularly for prostate health. They also have an inhibitory effect on two different enzymes, 5 alpha-reductase and aromatase. Nettles also promote good circulation and stimulate the hair follicles.
Green Tea (Camellia sinesis) – Green Tea is a powerful antioxidant but apart from that, it can lower DHT levels by inhibiting the enzyme that converts to dihydrotestosterone. Also, drinking green tea can increase the levels of sex hormone binding protein or globulin which transports testosterone in a bound form and reduces the amount of free testosterone available to be converted to DHT.
Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) – This is derived from the bark of an evergreen and is a popular remedy for treating male pattern baldness. It inhibits the activity of the enzyme 5 alpha reductase in much the same way that Green Tea does and also inhibits the enzyme aromatase, particularly when combined with nettle extract.
Ginkgo bilboa can stimulate blood flow and improve circulation and thereby stimulate the hair follicles
Gotu kola promotes good circulation and blood flow to the scalp ensuring that the hair follicles receive maximum benefit from nutrients
Rosemary (Rosmarinus) believed to stimulate the scalp and promote new hair growth and is a popular herb in many hair care preparations
Capsicum increases blood flow to the scalp and stimulates hair follicles
Combating hair loss and promoting faster hair growth
There is no single solution to combating hair loss and promoting faster hair growth as each individual will react differently to various herbs and treatments. There are also many factors that can contribute to hair loss including diet, genetic influences, hormones, age, medication, illness and even stress levels, and in order to treat hair loss effectively and promote new hair growth it is essential to identify the likely cause of the hair loss or poor hair growth in the first place.
Herbs have a natural appeal as they are less likely to result in the unpleasant side effects that are associated with medical treatments such as loss of libido and impotence. However, herbs are powerful in their own right and can carry side effects and as such should be used with care. It is advisable to consult your doctor before attempting to use herbs to treat hair loss conditions as there may be additional factors that need to be taken into consideration including the possibility of a particular herb interacting with other medications.