In an 8-week study with 38 people, onion juice was successfully used for hair loss with observable hair re-growth in almost all the participants.
This article will explain how onion juice can be used to regrow your hair, why it works, and the best method and application of the juice.
NOTE: While current studies on the topic show hair growth in humans, there is still room for further research. As this is not an FDA-approved treatment, it is best to speak with your doctor before you proceed.
Onion Juice and Its Historical Uses
Onion has been used for over 5000 years, both as a diet staple and for its use in the treatment of a wide range of maladies. While the exact location of the onion’s original cultivation is still unclear, these healthy and flavorful vegetables have been cultivated in one form or another around the globe.
As if the many benefits offered by onions were not enough, scientists have now learned of its effectiveness at treating hair problems and regrowing hair in those with thinning and baldness.
Can Onion Juice Help with Hair Growth?
While onion juice may seem like an odd treatment for thinning hair, there are a number of reasons why onion juice is effective at treating it and helping to regrow hair.
Onion Juice Contains Sulfur
Methylsulfonylmethane is an organic compound found within the body. This compound is broken down by the body for use of its sulfur, which contributes to bone, hair, and nail growth (1). While a sulfur deficiency may not be the main reason for hair shedding, supplementation with sulfur can certainly contribute to hair growth.
This is great news for onion lovers, as onions are sulfur-rich vegetables. If you are not an onion lover, however, the application of onion juice to the scalp can still provide benefits and contribute to hair growth and strengthening.
Onion Juice is Anti-microbial
Onion has been proven to contain anti-microbial properties, and this can be helpful in battling the natural buildup of oils, chemicals, and DHT on the scalp (2). Further, onion juice can fight infections and leave you with healthy and strong hair follicles.
Onion Juice is Full of Antioxidants
Onions are a particularly large source of flavonoids and are perhaps one of the main contributors of flavonoid intake in humans (3). Flavonoids (e.g. quercetin) are versatile compounds, and as such, they provide a number of functions in the plants they are found within. One such plant is the onion where they serve as an antioxidant.
For men suffering from male-pattern baldness, antioxidants can provide a number of benefits. One such benefit is the neutralization of free radicals, the molecules which are responsible for aging.
In men with male-pattern baldness, free radicals are, in large part, responsible for hair thinning and loss. This is because these molecules destroy hair follicles and make it difficult for hair regrowth to occur.
Onion Juice is Anti-inflammatory
As you can imagine, the damage done by free radicals to the hair follicles can be particularly irritating and inflammatory. That is one more reason that onion juice is an effective treatment for hair loss.
Onion juice’s anti-inflammatory properties make it useful at decreasing hair follicle inflammation and irritation and creating a healthy environment for hair growth to occur.
What Science Has to Say About Onion Juice for Hair Growth
There is no doubt that onion juice has a number of properties that could make it effective at treating thinning hair no matter the cause. But have there been any scientific studies done to prove its effectiveness?
More research is needed in humans, but animal studies show it is effective in encouraging hair growth and topical lotions of onion juice are recommended (4).
One study, performed in 2002 and published in the Journal of Dermatology, has shown the effectiveness of onion juice for the treatment of alopecia (5). This particular study focused on patients with alopecia areata (a form of hair loss that’s different from male-pattern baldness and which will be discussed later).
The study consisted of 38 patients split into two groups.
Group one, consisting of 23 participants (16 males and 7 females), was instructed to apply onion juice to their scalp twice per day for two months. Group two, consisting of 15 participants (8 males and 7 females), was instructed to apply tap water to their scalp twice per day for two months.
At the end of the 8-week study, only two patients from the tap water group showed signs of observable hair re-growth. The group which applied onion juice to their scalps, however, had a stunning 20 participants (86.9%) with observable hair re-growth by week 6.
Can Onion Juice Treat Other Forms of Alopecia Besides Alopecia Areata?
The above study was performed on individuals with alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is a form of hair loss caused by the immune system attacking healthy hair follicles. These attacks will eventually alter the hair growth cycle, miniaturize the hair follicle, and lead to halted hair growth (6).
But what about those who suffer from androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness?
While the reason for the miniaturization of the hair follicle is different than in those with alopecia areata (DHT vs immune system attack), the fact still remains that miniaturized hair follicles will halt hair growth completely.
While onion juice may not reduce the production of DHT found in the body, it can help to reduce the amount of DHT found on the scalp, reduce inflammation of the hair follicles, and reverse the effects of miniaturization of the hair follicles.
This means that onion juice can be effective at treating hair loss in those with male-pattern baldness and other forms of alopecia.
Are There Side Effects Associated with Application of Onion Juice?
As with any supplement, it is important to speak with your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns.
Onion juice, when applied directly to the skin, may cause temporary irritation and burning (particularly of the eyes). Apply onion juice to a small patch of skin on your wrist prior to use on your scalp. This will give you an idea of how your body reacts to its use and whether you will have any issues with its use.
If you are pregnant or nursing, consult with your obstetrician prior to use of the supplement.
Of course, if you are allergic to onion, avoid use, even if it is non-oral.
How Can You Add Onion Juice to Your Hair Care Routine?
Apply It Directly
If you want to reap the most benefits associated with onion juice, then direct application to the scalp is the best method to use.
There are two main ways of extracting onion juice from onions. One involves the use of a juicer, and the other uses a garlic press.
When using a juicer, cut the onion into quarter-sized pieces and peel. Feed the onion pieces, one by one, into the juicer.
With a garlic press, cut the onion into eighths (or smaller), and peel. Place one piece of onion into the garlic press, and squeeze over a cup or bowl until all of the juice has been extracted. Repeat until all onion pieces have been thoroughly juiced. Learn more about how to use vegetables juices for hair here.
Now that the juice has been extracted, pour it into your palm and massage it between hands. Rub the juice into your scalp in a slow, circular motion.
Be aware that juice may flow down your scalp, so avoid direct application to the front of the hairline to avoid onion juice getting into your eyes. Instead, apply to the top of the scalp and spread the juice outward.
The onion juice should absorb, though there will be left over residue. Rinse after at least 15 minutes, or leave the onion juice on your scalp overnight and then rinse and shampoo in the morning.
Add It To Your Shampoo
While the direct application of onion juice to the scalp is the simplest form of treatment for thinning, receding hair, it is understandable that some individuals may not be enthused with the idea.
If you are one such individual, then adding onion juice to your shampoo may be an easy way to incorporate onion juice into your hair care routine.
While onion juice can be added to store-bought shampoo, some individuals may be more interested in a natural and chemical-free shampoo alternative.
If you would like to give chemical-free shampoo a try, consider testing out the base shampoos mentioned below and adding onion juice for an extra boost.
- Nettle (2-3 bunches)
- Coconut Oil (1 teaspoon)
- Rosemary Essential Oil (10 drops)
- Powdered Tumeric (1 teaspoon)
- Apple cider vinegar (1 cup)
- Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
Bring water to a boil. Add 2 – 3 bunches of nettle and allow to steep. Strain.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the nettle tea, and mix. Also add one teaspoon of onion juice to the base.
Lather onto wet hair, and allow to sit for at least two minutes and up to five minutes. Rinse thoroughly.
If the onion scent is too strong, shampoo your hair a second time with the above shampoo base, this time without the onion juice included. Stinging nettle helps to clean the scalp pores, block DHT, and reduce inflammation.
Make an Onion Juice Hair Mask
Hair masks are a simple way to add onion juice to your regular hair care routine, and it can be applied in as little as five minutes.
Onion Juice and Honey Hair Mask
- 2 tablespoons onion juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
Cut a medium to large onion into quarter-sized pieces. Peel one of the quarter-sized pieces.
Next, with the help of a garlic press or juicer, juice the onion.
You may need to use more than one-quarter sized piece of onion.
Once you have collected two tablespoons of onion juice, combine with one tablespoon of honey and mix. Apply the onion juice and honey mixture all over your scalp in a thin layer. Leave on for at least 15 minutes, though you can also cover with a towel or shower cap and leave it on overnight.
Rinse, and then shampoo your scalp as usual.
This method can be done at least once per month, though it is best to do it no more than once per week.
When to Consider FDA-Approved Treatment Options
There is no solid evidence that onion juice will support hair growth in men and women with pattern baldness. There is still much research that needs to be done, especially on a larger sample size of humans.
Minoxidil and finasteride are an over-the-counter topical and a prescription oral drug, respectively. They have both been tested extensively on humans, and they have shown remarkable hair regrowth results.
There are many reasons one may want to consider more natural options before proceeding with FDA treatments. But the question then becomes, when should you consider the more traditional route? The answer will vary from person to person.
If your hair loss continues, you may want to consider minoxidil or finasteride. The more hair you lose, the more difficult it will be to regrow. Time is of the essence.
These drugs can have side effects and even long-term use implications, so it is important to speak with your doctor before you proceed.
When It Is Time to See a Doctor
Speaking of seeing your doctor, it is always good to speak with them once it is apparent that your hair loss is permanent and progressive.
There are many reasons why hair loss occurs. While pattern hair loss is the most common, there may be other causes. These include:
- Medication side effects
- Hormone imbalance
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Anxiety and stress
- Autoimmune deficiencies (such as alopecia areata)
In the face of permanent hair loss, it is best to visit with your primary care physician and a dermatologist to rule out these other likely causes.
What if it is pattern hair loss? Then your doctor can still be a great tool.
A dermatologist who specializes in hair loss will likely have the latest insight on effective treatments, as well as up-and-coming treatment possibilities. And they may even be able to provide you with information on other treatment options, including laser therapy and scalp massage.
Remember that seeing your doctor is not giving up. In fact, it is a great way to be sure you are using everything within your power to fight hair loss and even regrow your hair.
Although there is no absolutely firm evidence that onion juice can be used to treat male pattern baldness, there is good reason to believe that it would be a beneficial addition to your hair care routine due to its potential ability to reduce inflammation in the scalp.
If your skin is sensitive and you experience inflammation and discomfort, discontinue use.