Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/21/2022
A magical, natural cure for almost every imaginable ailment is the original MacGuffin of science, medicine and alchemy. Society has fantasized since the beginning of humanity about the “water of life,” the “fountain of youth” or any number of a dozen names for the same thing.
That thing, of course, is immortality and agelessness, or more realistically, improved health and an easy, effective way to treat issues such as hair loss naturally.
What we're getting at here is that people have been looking for magic plants that make illnesses go away for a long time. As such, herbs for problems of age like hair loss are still, to this day, an extremely common search term.
Overall, most research suggests that herbal treatments for hair loss aren’t very effective, at least not compared to modern hair loss medications such as minoxidil and finasteride.
In short, scientific research isn’t there yet, and it might never be. However, a few popular herbal ingredients have displayed potential as supportive substances for promoting strong hair strands and a healthy scalp.
We’ve listed these herbs below and explained how they could fit into your hair care routine as a second layer of protection against male pattern baldness and other forms of hair loss.
Before we discuss specific herbs, it’s important to get one thing out of the way -- currently, there are no medicinal herbs that can be thought of as a proven “treatment” or “cure” for male pattern baldness.
This type of hair loss, which is also referred to as androgenetic alopecia, occurs due to a mix of genetic and hormonal factors.
If you’re genetically predisposed to hair loss, a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, can attach to your receptors throughout your scalp and cause your hair follicles to gradually shrink in diameter and stop producing new hairs.
This process can take a serious toll on healthy hair growth, resulting in a receding hairline, bald patch around your crown or diffuse thinning of hair that affects your entire scalp.
Treating hair loss typically involves using medication to stop your body from producing DHT, all while stimulating hair regrowth by improving blood circulation in your scalp.
While some herbs do seem to reduce DHT levels and stimulate blood flow, their effects tend to be on the small side, meaning there’s no single herbal “cure” that we can rely on to slow down, stop or reverse conditions like male and female pattern hair loss.
As such, it’s important to keep things in perspective. While the herbs below could certainly offer real value for promoting good scalp health and assisting with other forms of hair loss treatment, they aren’t treatments on their own.
Put simply, if you’re starting to lose your hair, you don’t want to bet the farm on herbal products alone bringing it back or preventing further damage.
Instead, if you like the idea of using Ayurvedic herbs, dietary supplements and other products to thicken your hair, you’ll get the best results by using them in a supportive role alongside proven, evidence-based medication.
We’ll get into this in more detail later. For now, let’s take a look at herbs that are supported by at least some scientific evidence suggesting that they may help to reduce hair loss or promote hair growth activity.
Over the years, studies have revealed that several herbs may offer benefits for treating hair loss and promoting hair growth. Many of these studies are small in size and have limitations, but still offer an interesting perspective on these naturally-occurring substances.
In other words, the science behind most of these herbal remedies isn’t strong, but that’s largely because there hasn’t been that much research yet.
There are many herbal therapies that show sufficient promise for further research though, with the following ingredients worth keeping an eye on.
Green tea is promoted as everything from a weight loss supplement to a treatment for just about every conceivable ailment. Over the last few years, a few small studies have found that some of the natural compounds in green tea may offer benefits for hair growth.
For example, one study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that a major constituent of certain polyphenols in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, may help to lower the production of DHT by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.
However, this study was performed on hair samples “in vitro,” meaning in a test tube, petri dish, or otherwise outside the human body. As such, it’s best viewed as a “maybe” rather than as firm proof that green tea stimulates hair growth.
Ginseng has healing and medicinal properties that are ancient by human standards. Throughout history, it’s been used to stimulate appetite, improve vitality, reduce cold sensitivity and for many other purposes.
Some research has found that ginseng promotes hair growth in cultured hair follicles. However, like with other popular herbs for hair growth, we don’t yet have any high quality data from clinical trials on the effectiveness of ginseng as a hair growth or hair health product.
You may remember hearing the slightly ridiculous sounding name of this herb on infomercials as a kid. It has a long history of medicinal uses, largely in traditional Chinese medicine, and it’s still used today as a dietary supplement.
Although many of the supposed benefits of ginkgo biloba aren’t supposed by research, there’s a small amount of evidence suggesting that this herbal ingredient may help with hair growth.
More specifically, some research has found that ginkgo biloba may affect inflammation signaling pathways, including those that contribute to forms of hair loss such as alopecia areata.
However, this research has only been carried out on animals, meaning we don’t yet know if the same findings will occur in humans affected by hair loss.
Rosemary has long been known to have medicinal effects, with scientific research showing that it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Several studies have found that products containing rosemary may offer benefits for hair growth and act as treatments for androgenic alopecia.
For example, one study found that topical application of rosemary oil produced improvements in hair growth and an increase in hair count in balding men, without any noticeable increase in dry hair, dandruff or greasy hair.
You can find rosemary oil as a common natural ingredient in many shampoos, conditioners and other hair care products.
Hibiscus is another shrub that’s associated with improvements in hair growth, albeit in research that’s very small in scale.
In one animal study published in 2003, researchers found that extracts of leaves and/or flowers of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis produced an improvement in hair growth. However, the effect size of the treatment was not mentioned in this research.
As such, it’s best to wait for more, higher quality scientific research before incorporating hibiscus into your hair loss prevention toolkit.
Indian gooseberry, or Amla, has long been used as a major ingredient of Thai traditional recipes for slowing down the aging process. It’s also used as a traditional hair tonic, often for enriching hair and enhancing its color.
Although research into the hair growth effects of Indian gooseberry is limited, a study published in the journal Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology in 2020 found that people with thinning hair experienced improvements after using a serum that contained this ingredient.
However, it’s important to note that Indian gooseberry wasn’t the only ingredient in the hair loss prevention serum, meaning it may not be responsible for all of its positive effects.
Still, it’s an interesting finding that suggests that this ingredient might hold promise as a natural treatment for hair loss in the future.
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When it comes to treating hair loss, there’s a widespread belief that natural products, including hair tonics, herbal treatments, hair masks and scalp oils, are much less likely to cause adverse effects than medications available at your local pharmacy.
While this might be accurate in some cases, it’s important to keep in mind that herbal products and other natural treatments aren’t totally free of side effects or risks.
Because these products are marketed as supplements rather than drugs, they aren’t subject to the same strict FDA regulations. This means that some herbal supplements may have adverse effects, including potentially serious ones, that we aren’t fully aware of.
Some herbal ingredients may also cause issues or interactions if you currently use medication to treat other conditions, such as autoimmune disease. Others may affect your ability to digest and absorb nutrients, potentially leading to issues such as vitamin deficiency.
To keep yourself safe while using any type of herbal medicine or natural treatment for hair loss, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider first.
Let them know what you’re planning to do, as well as if you currently have any health issues or use any medications. They’ll be able to help you treat your hair loss safely and limit your risk of side effects from your choice of treatment.
Right now, there’s only a limited amount of scientific evidence that suggests that herbs can help to stimulate hair growth and treat issues such as male pattern baldness.
If you’re starting to lose your hair and want to take action, you’ll generally get the best results by using evidence-based medication to reduce your DHT levels and put your hair follicles in a state for optimal growth.
You can do this using medications such as finasteride and minoxidil, both of which are approved by the FDA for treating hair loss.
Finasteride works by reducing DHT levels throughout your body. This protects your hair follicles from the damaging effects of DHT, allowing you to stop male pattern baldness from progressing and potentially regrow hair.
Minoxidil works by stimulating hair growth directly. It’s available as a liquid solution or foam and is applied directly to the areas of your scalp affected by hair loss, usually twice a day.
We offer finasteride and minoxidil online, with finasteride available following a consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Other options for treating hair growth include shampoos and conditioners that contain hair loss prevention ingredients. Our Hair Thickening Shampoo contains saw palmetto -- one of several shampoo ingredients worth looking for -- to block DHT at the scalp level and protect your hair.
Natural ingredients such as herbal extracts, coconut oil and others are often marketed as safe, readily available treatments for hair loss that lack the side effects of medication.
However, while some of these ingredients may help to relieve an irritated scalp or give your hair a nice scent, there’s very little scientific evidence to suggest that they increase hair thickness or produce results comparable to FDA-approved alopecia treatments.
As such, if you’re starting to lose hair, you’ll get the best results by sticking to proven hair growth medications such as finasteride and minoxidil.
Interested in getting started? You can learn more about successfully treating and preventing hair loss by talking to your healthcare provider, or participate in an online hair loss consultation to get more information about your options.