Hair loss can be a sign of a deficiency or imbalance in the body. So it makes sense that some natural foods can help restore optimum hair health.
In 2007, scientists investigated garlic’s effects on hair loss. They found that garlic applied topically to the scalp beat the control group, suggesting it does have a positive effect on hair.
This article will review the overall health benefits of garlic. You will learn more about the study and other research into garlic related to hair. You will also learn about the best way to incorporate garlic into your hair care routine.
What Is Garlic?
This bulbous plant, closely related to the onion, has a strong, pungent odor and spicy, heated taste.
Onion is native to central Asia and has been part of human history for centuries. It is used extensively in the Mediterranean and is a staple seasoning across the globe.
Aside from its incredible seasoning abilities (in the form of whole cloves, flakes, powder, and oil), garlic has also long been admired for its medicinal uses.
From its anti-inflammatory effects to its immune-boosting capabilities, it is no wonder that garlic is a common, household supplement.
Health Benefits of Garlic
From Ancient Egypt to the modern-day, garlic has been a beneficial supplement for centuries. Here are just some of its health benefits.
A number of inflammatory diseases may benefit from the use of garlic as an anti-inflammatory. This was the finding of a 2012 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food (1).
Allicin, a compound in garlic, has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and even anti-parasitic properties (2).
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of garlic lend themselves to the effective treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is a non-life-threatening condition linked to male-pattern baldness (3, 4).
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
A 2017 scientific review states that garlic plays a number of roles in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. These include lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, and even inhibiting the clumping of blood platelets (5).
A number of research studies have found that garlic supplementation stimulates immune cells. This boosts the immune system’s response to various harmful foreign bodies like bacteria or parasites (6).
How Can Garlic Be Used to Treat Hair Loss?
Garlic is an excellent food for all-around health and wellness. But you can also use it as an effective treatment for hair loss.
There are still many questions surrounding the mechanism behind garlic and hair growth. However, a number of well-known garlic properties can also benefit those who are struggling with hair loss.
It is Antimicrobial
Garlic has anti-microbial properties. It is effective at battling bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites. Garlic, then, can be used to prevent the natural buildup that occurs on your scalp, and leave you with healthier hair follicles and skin.
It Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Another health benefit is garlic’s anti-inflammatory effects. The application of garlic can help to reduce the inflammation and irritation that is sometimes present with hair loss and nourish the follicles.
It Protects Against Aging
When speaking of hair loss, it is important to touch upon aging. After all, the skin and hair are two of the first visible signs of aging.
Since we cannot stop aging, the next best thing we can do is protect our hair and skin from external damage that causes premature aging. One of the main culprits is the sun and its UV light.
According to a 2016 study published in Nutrients, garlic protected keratinocytes against UVB damage (7).
Keratinocytes are the cells that produce keratin. Keratin is a fibrous protein that is the key structural component of hair and nails. By protecting keratinocytes from damage, you ensure these cells are able to produce keratin and, as a result, contribute to hair growth.
Garlic for Hair Loss: The Science Behind It
In 2007, scientists performed a double-blind study on individuals suffering from alopecia areata (8).
Forty patients were split into two groups of 20. Both groups received a twice-daily application of betamethasone cream 0.1%. This is a corticosteroid commonly used for swelling, itching, and general irritation associated with a number of skin conditions.
One group, however, was also treated with an odorless 5% garlic gel which was combined with their betamethasone cream.
In the above table you can see the results. Individuals who received a combination of the betamethasone cream and garlic gel saw, on average, a 1.5cm2 reduction in patch size. The other group (“placebo”) only saw a 0.4cm2 reduction in patch size over the course of the study.
This particular study focused on individuals with alopecia areata, but it can help understand garlic’s effects on hair growth in general.
While alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia (male-pattern baldness) have different causes, the antimicrobial and antioxidant effects of garlic can still be beneficial for those suffering from male-pattern baldness.
The truth is, the mechanism behind garlic’s hair growing powers is still unknown.
We do know that garlic has beneficial effects on the circulatory system, and this can be good for improving blood supply to the scalp (9). We also know that garlic’s microbial action helps kill yeast. This can combat chronic inflammation (10).
So while the exact mechanisms are unknown, there is still a lot to suggest that its use can be beneficial.
Are There Side Effects With Garlic Supplementation?
Garlic is a food regularly consumed around the world, often on a daily basis. However, there are instances where garlic consumption and supplementation may lead to unpleasant side effects.
For example, individuals with digestive problems, bleeding disorders, or low blood sugar should be cautious when supplementing. In these individuals, garlic can cause further digestive upset, increase the risk of bleeding, and cause dangerously low blood sugar.
For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, regular consumption should be safe. Applying it to the skin and consuming it as a supplement may be unsafe, however.
If you will have surgery, you should stop garlic supplements at least two weeks prior. Even if you have no known blood disorders, this can help reduce the risk of prolonged or excessive bleeding.
When applying to the skin, raw garlic is can cause irritation similar to a burn.
An allergic reaction is another possible, though uncommon response. If you suspect an intolerance or allergy to garlic, avoid consuming or applying it. If you are experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as hives, nausea, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, seek immediate medical attention.
How to Use Garlic for Hair Growth
Below are some ideas to help you incorporate garlic into your regular routine.
Apply Directly to the Scalp
The process is simple: cut a clove of garlic into two and rub it directly onto the scalp. This no-fuss method is the easiest one out there, and it only takes a matter of minutes.
Note that raw garlic can have a burning effect, and overuse can lead to skin sensitivity and irritation.
Apply It As a Paste
For people suffering from male-pattern baldness, this is an easy way to target areas of hair loss.
As a general precaution, it is a good idea to test this paste on a small patch of skin prior to applying it to your scalp.
You can easily and cheaply make garlic paste at home. All you need are two ingredients: fresh garlic and olive oil.
3-Step Garlic/Ginger Paste
- Peel and crush the garlic.
- Add the crushed garlic, along with olive oil, to a food processor
- Blend the mix until completely blended and no chunks or lumps are present.
That is it; it really is that easy!
In terms of measurements, 1 TBSP of olive oil to 1 clove of garlic should suffice. However, as clove sizes vary, feel free to use more or less olive oil until the paste is to your liking.
Apply the paste and leave it on overnight. In the morning, rinse away and wash with your favorite shampoo.
Add It To Your Diet
You probably already consume garlic on a regular basis, but if you are looking to up your intake, there are a few simple adjustments you can make.
First, if the taste of garlic is not your favorite, consider supplementing with a garlic tablet. This is also a great option for individuals with heartburn or upset digestion.
Of course, you can also easily add garlic to your favorite recipes. Mince garlic and add to salad, soup, chicken dishes, and rice. Or, roast an entire bulb of garlic and enjoy the sweet, spicy cloves as a snack or complement to your main dish.
When to See Your Doctor
If garlic or any other at-home treatment options work for you to keep hair loss at bay, great! But for many hair loss sufferers, that is not the case.
Hair loss is a complicated problem and often requires a multi-faceted approach. You may need to pull out all the stops if you want to put an end to your hair loss and reverse its effects.
The most important part of any hair loss treatment plan is to determine the cause of hair loss. There are an array of potential causes, from genetic predisposition to nutrient deficiency to stress to autoimmune conditions. Your doctor can help you to pinpoint the exact cause of your hair loss. You can then create an informed treatment plan.
If you need a more aggressive approach to treatment, your doctor can prescribe finasteride (Propecia) or recommend other options including hair transplantation.
As the body of research surrounding garlic and hair loss treatment continues to grow, it becomes more and more obvious that garlic can play a role in hair growth.
While more research needs to be done, particularly on human subjects, you can still benefit from the plethora of health benefits related to garlic as mentioned above.