Supplements to grow healthy hair

The focus of this article will be on natural supplements and topical treatments that are shown to slow hair shedding and/or promote hair growth.

Hair, like health in general, is dependent on lifestyle, nutrition, age, and genes. Thus, while there is no one treatment that works for all, these natural supplements and tropical treatments have shown to be effective in clinical trials.

Benefits, such as inhibiting the enzyme that causes hair loss, decreasing excessive inflammation, and providing antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that aid in hair growth.

As always, discuss with your health provider before taking any supplement, and do not take supplements if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Section 1: Supplements

Fish Oil

In a recent study, taking 460mg of fish oil daily displaced the following results; in 62% of the supplemental group showed a significant decrease in the telogen hair (which is hair after shedding, where the follicle stays dormant for typically 3 months before a new hair begins to sprout) and an increase the anagen hair (hair strands that are actively growing anywhere from 2 to 8 years).  The same study also showed a marked increase in hair density and thickness. {1}

Fish oil, omega3 fatty acids, is a strong anti-inflammatory agent that can aid in reduction of scalp inflammation, a factor in most hair loss. { 2}

Marine Protein

Viviscal is an amino acid rich protein that treats hair loss and accelerates hair growth. Part of its proprietary formula, Amino Mar C, is shark cartilage, mollusk powder, fish oil and silica.  This complex is combined with other hair boosting vitamins and minerals, vitamin C, biotin, niacin and zinc.

Viviscal is back by numerous clinical trials supporting its claims to improve hair length and decrease hair shedding. Even though Viviscal touts various kits with shampoo and conditioners, the most potent form of its formula is found in supplements. {3,4}

Individuals with fish or shellfish allergies should avoid all Viviscal supplements.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil may promote hair growth by its natural DHT blocking ability and its anti-inflammatory properties. The oil’s phytosterols, which are sterols found in many plants, may inhibit 5-alpha reductase activities.  5-alpha reductase is an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, which then results in hair follicle miniaturization and hair loss.

In a clinical trial, the group using pumpkin seed oil had a 30% higher hair growth than the control receiving a placebo.  {5}

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is an extract from the berries of the saw palmetto palm tree. Like pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto is able to stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT.  In addition to supplements, it was also used as a topical agent and demonstrated an increase in terminal hair counts at 12 and 24 weeks. {6}

Hydrolyzed Collagen

Collagen works to build keratin, the protein that makes up most of your hair, and increases blood circulation to the scalp. This process can helps create new hair follicles and can also  help to repair and strengthen damaged or thinning hair. Collagen can also act as a natural antioxidant that protects hair from graying.

Section 2: Topical Treatments

Essential Oils

 In a clinical trial, rosemary oil was found as effective as 2% minoxidil in treating men with androgenetic alopecia the most common form of hair loss. Minoxidil is one of two FDA drug approved to treat hair loss.  It requires continuous usage to be effective and if stopped the additional hair growth it produced will be lost.

 Looking closer at this trial after 6 months, even though rosemary oil produced more growth it was still only 5.5%.  (It should also be noted that Minoxidil is far more effective in 5% strength.) That said, Rosemary oil is believed to function similarly to minoxidil, by reinvigorating hair follicles that are thinning or damaged. {7}

One of the benefits of lavender oil for hair is that it soothes itchy scalp. It is antiseptic and antibacterial so it helps in fighting bacteria and other microorganisms. When used on the scalp it helps to reduce inflammation and dryness. and its fragrance provides a sense of calmness. In a Scottish study, lavender oil and other essential oils showed they could stimulate hair growth. Lavender oils and other essential oils were messaged daily into scalps of males with alopecia areata. At end of study, 44% show “significant improvement.” {8}

Like lavender oil, peppermint oil is also an antimicrobial and has anti-inflammatory properties, but it more often used for the menthol in peppermint.  Menthol is a vasodilator and vasodilator improve blood flow. Hair follicles can be damaged if there is insufficient blow flow, so by increasing circulation you can improve hair growth.

In one animal study showed dramatic result from peppermint oil conserving the blood flow to the papilla. and contributing to the induction of early anagen (where the hair is actively growing) stage.

However, other studies (one in 2011 and one in 2013) showed that menthol from peppermint essential oil promotes vasoconstriction rather than vasodilation. But this vasoconstriction only appears to happen when the skin or muscle area where oil is applied is inflamed, such as after exercise.

Undiluted peppermint essential oils can cause a burning sensation on your skin. Always dilute oils with a carrier oil to help protect your skin. {9}

Essential Oil Regrowth Formula

  • Jojoba oil, 3 milliliters
  • Grapeseed Oil, 20 milliliters
  • Rosemary Oil, 3 drops
  • Lavender Oil, 3 drops
  • Thyme, 2 drops
  • Cedarwood oil, 2 drops

Combine ingredients, generously apply to scalp leaving on for 20 minutes. Do daily or 3x a week.

Aloe Vera

Lastly, aloe vera is shown to improve hair health. Aloe vera is a topical that contains a specific proteolytic enzyme that can stimulate the hair follicles and repair damaged cells in your scalp. This in turn, can lead to hair growth.

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