By Paul Taylor
The idea of using garlic for hair growth stimulation is nothing new.
It’s long been known that rubbing certain natural substances like alliums (i.e., garlic and onion) onto your scalp can help hair grow, and might even stop the hair loss process itself.
So how much truth is there in all this?
This review reveals the pros and cons of using garlic as a home-made remedy for hair loss, as well as alternatives you might prefer.
Alliums like garlic and onion contain sulfur, which can boost circulation when applied topically.
And since healthy hair growth is assisted by a strong blood supply, straight away you can see why the sulfurous compounds alliums contain might be beneficial to your hair if you rub them onto your scalp.
But, unfortunately the sulfur content also explains why garlic and onion have such a pungent smell (an issue often encountered with another well known natural substance used for hair loss too).
Nevertheless, you might still think that this idea is fine as long as it works.
So, take a look at the pros and cons below, then decide whether or not you think it’s worth trying this radical approach to hair loss.
Affordable - using garlic as a home-made remedy for hair loss is just about as cheap as it gets. Pennies per day is probably all you need to spend.
Healthy - Unlike the topical drug minoxidil (Rogaine), rubbing garlic onto your scalp should be risk-free: you shouldn't suffer any side effects.
Smelly and messy - Rubbing raw garlic juice onto your scalp at night, three or four times a week, then trying to sleep with both you and your room stinking of sulfurous compounds, is completely impractical both to you and your partner in bed.
Even lemon juice, often said to be able to take away the garlic odor, might not do the trick.
And if trying to shampoo the smell away in the morning doesn't work, that might affect people you meet during the day - try explaining that one away when they ask you why your hair smells of garlic!
And when you're applying the garlic, don't forget that your hands will stink too, unless you wear plastic gloves to rub it on.
Time-consuming – Some people will simply not want to spend the time and effort this idea requires.
Buying and preparing the garlic (crushing it, mixing it perhaps with other beneficial ingredients into a paste), applying it, regularly apologizing to your partner for stinking out your home, washing it all off in the morning, and doing it all over again, week after week.
Long-term – You might have to keep using your garlic for hair growth idea for the rest of your life. Are you prepared to do that?
Does it work?
Neither the pros or cons lists include whether or not using garlic for hair growth treatment really does work.
There's plenty of praise on the Internet, of course. And, in theory, the high sulfur content in garlic and onion (alongside the other healthy nutrients they contain) should help.
In 2007, an Indian study demonstrated that garlic gel could improve the effectiveness of a topically applied cream (betamethasone valerate) in the treatment of alopecia areata (1).
In 2011, a meta-analysis (study of 23 studies) showed that topical garlic extract can also potentially help alopecia areata patients (2).
In 2002, a study showed that onion juice stimulated hair growth in nearly 90% of areata patients (3).
However, rather than applying gels or raw juice onto your scalp, there are other, better ways of delivering sulfur to your body:
Here are three very easy alternative ways to get sulfur into your body and onto your head:
1. Simply adding raw, fresh garlic (or onion) to the meals you cook on a regular basis will ensure you deliver all the beneficial sulfur-containing compounds they contain to your body.
And consuming these foods frequently is something that's highly recommended for good general health anyway (especially garlic).
However, the dose you receive from your meals probably won't be anywhere near the level you’d get from taking odorless garlic capsules every day instead.
So, popping down to your local health food store for some supplements is a quick and easy way to give yourself a more concentrated dose. You could even try piercing a capsule with a pin, squeezing out the garlic juice and then rubbing it onto your scalp. But, of course, that would probably mean it's no longer odorless.
2. Both garlic and onion contain the amino acids cysteine and methionine, both of which contain sulfur (4). So, you could also raise your sulfur levels by taking amino acids supplements.
3. You can substantially increase your intake of sulfur even more by taking Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM).
MSM is a very popular dietary supplement which provides
biologically active sulfur, and is often taken to help maintain normal keratin levels in hair, skin, and nails (5).
in mind that these ideas alone will almost certainly not be enough to
stop the hair loss process. They might, however, be able to improve the
growth and quality of your existing hair.
Clearly, rubbing garlic or onion juice onto your head is not the most practical remedy for hair loss!
Given though, that many people try it, this probably reflects just how desperate they are to find a solution to their hair loss problem.
However, using sulfur supplements such as MSM might be a much better idea.
Personally, I don't like garlic and absolutely hate onions! So there's no way I would ever torture myself by rubbing garlic or onion juice onto my scalp in a desperate attempt for hair regrowth.
Always consult with a qualified health care specialist before making
any lifestyle, dietary or other health related changes.
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