Native to the Mediterranean region, the lavender plant has been used since ancient times as a bath additive and an antiseptic. The name "lavender" comes from the Latin "lavare," meaning "to wash." These days, people use lavender's essential oil for aromatherapy. When inhaled, the calming floral scent helps to relieve anxiety, depression, headache, insomnia, and upset stomach. In addition to its benefits in aromatherapy, some research shows promise with the use of lavender for hair loss, or alopecia.
Causes and Types of Alopecia
Differing causes for alopecia include fungal infections and damage to the hair shaft or follicles causes by illness, hereditary conditions, prescription medication, poor nutrition, and hormonal changes that come with pregnancy and menopause. People experience two main types of alopecia. Alopecia areata causes patchy hair loss as a result of a confused immune system that mistakenly attacks hair follicles. Androgenetic alopecia is a hereditary condition that causes hair loss in men and women. In men, this type of alopecia is called male pattern hair loss due to thinning or complete hair loss along the hairline and top of the scalp. In women, it is called female diffuse hair loss because thinning typically occurs all over the scalp.
One study on 86 patients with alopecia areata found that a combination of lavender oil and other essential oils showed new hair growth in 44 percent of the subjects when massaged into the scalp daily for seven months. Lavender for hair loss was shown to be safe and effective with no adverse side effects. Anecdotal reports also indicate that lavender oil offers deep conditioning to the hair, keeps it shiny, and helps control dandruff.
Side Effects and Cautions
Diluted and used topically, lavender for hair loss is generally considered safe for adults, but applying the oil to the skin can cause irritation in some people. Because lavender oil can cause breast growth in young boys, use should be restricted to adults. Lavender teas and other forms of the herb taken orally may cause appetite changes, headache, and constipation. Used with sedative medications, lavender may increase drowsiness.
Overall, lavender has been successfully used by people all over the world for centuries. It’s refreshing to learn that lavender has yet another use for humanity: natural help with hair loss!