In this article I’ll answer the question: Can flaxseed oil be used to effectively treat hair loss?
The short answer, which you’ll read about below in more detail, is YES – Flax has been proven to increase hair growth when taken as a supplement over a 3 month (12 week period) when compared to a control.
The caveat here is that the test was performed on mice, but you’ll see why flax can still be useful for you if you suffer from hair loss.
First I’ll review what flaxseed is and why its good for overall health. Then you’ll learn about the medical study into hair growth and how it could apply to your hair. Finally you’ll learn the 3 most effective ways to start using it today to improve your own hair health.
What is Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed oil is extracted from whole flax seeds (also known as linseed) and is used in a variety of ways.
This mildly nutty oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and fiber, and is considered one of the more nutrient dense oils on the market.
Aside from its delicious taste and nutritious contents, the flax plant is also used for its fibrous stem, and flax fiber can be commonly found in linens, twine, tea bags, and even banknotes.
Fun Fact: Usitatissimum, the species into which flax was assigned, literally means “most useful.”
Flax is largely produced in the Americas (with Canada being the leading country of production), but can also be found in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania.
Flax has been widely used throughout the world, and throughout history, and is highly esteemed for its many medicinal and industrial uses.
Flaxseed Oil and General Health
It’s no wonder that flaxseeds are the natural supplement of choice for health fanatics! This small crop packs some serious punch when it comes to nutrition and overall health benefits.
Take a look at some of the more common benefits associated with flaxseed oil use below.
Flaxseed oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acid and, more specifically, alpha-lineolic acid.
This particular type of omega-3 fatty acid has been proven to reduce inflammation, and it can be a helpful supplement for those with arthritis or other chronic, inflammatory conditions.
If you want to prevent cell damage and aging, then antioxidants need to become a regular part of your diet.
Flaxseed oil offers a powerful source of antioxidants because unlike other antioxidants, like Vitaman A or Vitamin E, the alpha-lineolic acid found within flax is both water soluble and oil soluble.
Learn more about tocopherol (a form of vitamin E and how it improves hair count here.)
This means that ALA is found in all parts of the body, and is the all-star of antioxidants.
Reducing the Growth Rate of Breast Cancer Cells
A 2015 research study concluded that alpha-lineolic acid, an antioxidant which is abundant in flaxseed oil, is effective at reducing the growth rate of breast cancer cells.
While the mechanism behind this result isn’t fully understood, the results are groundbreaking all the same.
According to this 2010 clinical study of the cardiovascular effects of flaxseed oil (and, more specifically, the omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-lineolic acid found within it), flaxseed is a natural and effective way to combat cardiovascular disease.
In addition to the omega-3 fatty acids found in flax, which can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the digestive tract, flax is an excellent source of fiber.
Fiber is essential to gastrointestinal health, and adequate consumption can help increase the regularity of bowel movements and prevent the development of conditions, such as diverticulitis.
In men with Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), also known as male-pattern baldness, it’s believed that the chemical known as DHT plays a large role in the condition. Flax, however, was proven to block the production of DHT.
What Can Flaxseed Oil Can Do for Hair Loss Sufferers?
While more research needs to be performed in regards to flaxseed oil and how it can help hair loss sufferers, there is reason to believe that it can provide a number of benefits for those with male-pattern baldness.
First, flaxseed oil is high in antioxidants. To prevent damage at the cellular level and to keep hair follicles healthy and strong, a diet that incorporates antioxidants is vital.
Second, flaxseed oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids which promote the growth of strong, healthy hair at the root.
Third, lignans are a chemical compound found in flax which are believed to inhibit the production of 5 α–reductase, the enzyme which converts testosterone to DHT.
Men with male-pattern baldness tend to be more sensitive to DHT than men without MPB so, in theory, less DHT means more hair growth.
What Does Science Have to Say About Flaxseed Oil for Hair Growth?
As previously mentioned, there are a lack of human studies regarding the effectiveness of flaxseed oil on male-pattern baldness, but that doesn’t mean that animal studies are any less valuable in helping us to understand the benefits provided by this multi-purpose oil.
In 2014, a 3-month research study was performed on 16 rabbits. The rabbits were split into two groups of eight, where one group was given regular feed (control) and the other group was given regular feed in addition to crushed flax (test).
Each month, a 10cmx10cm patch of hair was shaved from the back of each rabbit. Prior to this shave, however, measurements were taken to determine how well the hair had grown in the same shaven patch.
At the end of the study, the results were clear: the supplementation of flax had a positive effect on both the length of the hair (with a 26% increase seen in the third month), as well as the width and weight.
CTLi (Control); LSI (Test)
So, what does this mean? As researchers concluded, there’s no doubt that the use of flax aided in the growth of hair.
And, while this study was only 3 months long, even that short period of time was enough to for researchers to see the positive results.
Are There Any Side Effects Associated with Flaxseed Oil Supplementation?
Prior to starting a new supplement, it’s best to speak with your physician about any concerns.
While flaxseed oil is a safe and healthy supplement for the majority of individuals, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Remember, an allergic reaction is possible with any supplement.
If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after ingesting or topically applying flaxseed oil, such as shortness of breath, hives, or nausea and vomiting, it’s best to stop supplementation immediately and seek medical attention.
Large, daily doses of flaxseed oil (30 grams and higher) can cause loose stools and diarrhea, so this is certainly something to take into consideration when supplementing with the oil.
Women who are pregnant should consult with their doctor prior to supplementation, as flaxseed oil may be linked to pre-term labor, and as there is not enough research available at this time, women who are breastfeeding should also avoid supplementation.
How To Add Flaxseed Oil to Your Hair Care Routine
If the health benefits and accompanying research have convinced you, you’re probably excited to give flaxseed oil a try.
For those suffering from male-pattern baldness, there are three ways you can use flaxseed oil to give your hair growth a boost.
Pick one, use all three, or mix and match to create a flaxseed oil hair care routine that’s right for you.
Apply Directly to Your Scalp
One of the simplest ways to include flaxseed oil into your regular hair care routine is to apply it directly to the scalp.
Pour the oil into your palm, and rub your hands together to warm the oil and evenly distribute. Massage the oil into your scalp, being sure to move your fingertips in a gentle, circular motion.
You can leave the oil in overnight and rinse with water in the morning, or apply the oil in the morning for use as an all-day moisturizer.
Add It To Your Diet
This versatile (and delicious!) oil is easily added to any and all of your favorite recipes and meals.
Add a bit of honey and lemon to 1 TBSP of flaxseed oil and enjoy it as a dressing, or use it to stir fry your favorite blend of vegetables.
Is your diet currently low in fiber? For those with low-fiber diets, it’s best to start out with smaller doses of flaxseed oil and slowly work your way up. This will prevent the majority of gastrointestinal upset.
My favourite way to get more flaxseed in my diet is by adding milled flaxseed (mixed with other nuts and seeds) into my morning smoothie. It only adds to the taste and texture of the smoothie.
Make Your Own Flaxseed Oil Conditioner
Homemade conditioners are simple, cheap, and best of all, tailored to fit your exact needs.
One of the easiest and most cost-effective methods for making your flaxseed oil conditioner involves only two ingredients: flaxseeds and distilled water.
Add 3 TBSP of whole flaxseed to 2 cups of distilled water, and boil. To create a flaxseed spritz, Lavishly Natural recommends boiling for 2 to 2 ½ minutes. To create more of an oily consistency, however, Delishibly recommends 8 minutes.
You may be wondering, “isn’t flaxseed oil available for purchase at the supermarket or health food store?” Absolutely.
However, flaxseed oil tends to go rancid quickly, so to save money, it’s a good idea to make small batches of the oil yourself.
This will ensure that your homemade conditioner is using only the freshest ingredients.
The bottom line is, there have yet to be studies done on the effectiveness of flaxseed oil on male-pattern baldness.
However, that doesn’t mean that flaxseed oil offers no benefits to hair loss sufferers and, in fact, there is research to support the many positive health benefits associated with the oil.
So, is flaxseed oil for hair growth right for you?
If you’re unsure of the benefits, it never hurts to give it a try! Flaxseed oil, whether applied directly, ingested, or used as a conditioner, is an easy-to-use supplement and may offer you more benefits than you know.