Rosemary is a well-known remedy for hair. It’s been used since ancient times to reduce hair loss and promote healthy hair growth.
But is it just folklore? Or does rosemary stand its ground and prove that it has legs when challenged by modern science? We will find out in this article.
Recently, we ordered a new mattress. It was comfortable and everything, but its biggest problem was it got too hot. What does that mean? The mattress had a top layer of wool. Since it’s nine months of winter in London, we thought it would be a good thing to have a wool mattress.
But no, it was not a good thing. Sleeping on it felt like sleeping on hot log. It was hard to get any sleep. Thankfully, the mattress came with a 50-Night comfort guarantee. And we could return it.
But not everything in life comes with a guarantee, especially when you are looking for hair growth remedies.
You have to give it a try and see if it works for you.
But, of course, you can minimize the risk by finding out its benefits, which group of people it’s showing the most effect and does it prove its worth when put to the test by science..
In this article we are going to do just that, with rosemary. Rosemary has been used as a hair tonic for hundreds of years. It’s reputed to help with hair loss, promote growth and prevent dandruff.
Most of the evidence is through ancient texts and word of mouth.
But the good news is there are some studies demonstrating use of rosemary to reverse pattern hair loss, alopecia areata and more.
Let’s dig deep and find out more about rosemary, how it helps hair and scalp and whether it can regrow hair…
Latin name Rosmarinus officinalis or Salvia rosmarinus, belonging to the mint and sage family.
Rosemary is an attractive shrub with needle-like leaves and light-blue flowers. If you crush its leaves, it gives out a fresh, herby, camphorous aroma.
Native to the Mediterranean, the Greeks and Romans considered rosemary a sacred plant. It was burned as incense to drive away evil spirits and purify the air. Rosemary aroma is also said to aid in meditation, keeping the mind clear and alert.
Medicinally, rosemary has been suggested for a wide range of complaints, from arthritis to sinusitis to muscular pain. A Massage with rosemary oil helps to relax tight, overworked muscles, clears out lymphatic congestion and stimulates blood circulation.
And for our hair, rosemary is reputed to stimulate growth. But how…
Rosemary is packed with bioactive compounds that are very beneficial for the health of hair follicles. Some of the compounds in rosemary are: rosmarinic acid, ursolic acid, carnosic acid, carnosol and camphor (1).
These compounds are like vitamins that bring about positive changes in the scalp: increased blood flow, tissue regeneration and clearing of waste. And thus helping hair follicles thrive.
Here are three ways rosemary helps transform your thin hair to thick:
1. Rosemary increases blood flow to the scalp
2. Rosemary helps neutralise free radicals
3. Rosemary reduces DHT levels
This is huge. Because without a proper blood supply, the hair follicles do not get the nutrients they need to grow healthy hair.
Rosemary has a stimulant effect on the area it is applied. So when you apply it on the scalp, it helps increase the diameter of the blood vessels, also known as vasodilatation, and enhances blood circulation to the scalp (2, 3). For the hair follicles, it means more oxygen and nutrients, and, in turn, this can result in thicker and stronger hair growth.
The conventional drug for hair loss, minoxidil, is also a vasodilator but comes with its share of side effects, such as itching, headache and hair growth elsewhere on the body (4). Rosemary looks like a safe bet.
Why is this important?
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are unstable molecules in our bodies. They are generated as part of normal cellular function.
So, just as you can’t avoid air pollution, you can’t avoid free radicals (read more here). But then we have antioxidants – from the healthy foods we eat, plus our body also manufactures antioxidants – which work to neutralise these free radicals.
Why are free radicals bad for hair?
They rust our hair cells and cause them to become weak and damaged. And thus causing premature hair loss.
Increase in free radicals => Oxidative stress => Damage to hair follicles => premature hair loss
Decrease in free radicals => Decrease in hair loss
While you can eat healthy foods to get more antioxidants, applying antioxidant-rich plant extracts can also reduce free radicals (7). Rosemary is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to neutralise free radicals (2). And in this capacity, rosemary can protect hair from free radical damage and thereby reduce hair loss and thinning.
If you have male or female pattern hair loss, DHT is the hormone that needs to be curbed.
DHT or dihydrotestosterone is an androgen hormone that contributes to the development of ‘male’ characteristics such as deep voice and increased body hair. But it can also make you lose your hair.
About 10% of testosterone is converted into DHT in both men and women (8). But if the testosterone levels are too high, the DHT levels go up too, which can lead to pattern hair loss.
DHT latches to the hair follicles and causes them to shrink and grow thinner and shorter hair. Plus, there’s a delay in the growth of new hair to replace the fallen hair.
So how do you reverse and stop DHT from destroying your hair? One way to do it is by not allowing DHT to latch onto the hair follicles.
Rosemary can come to your rescue as it has an anti-androgen effect.
A study done on mice examined the effect of rosemary leaf extract on testosterone induced hair loss (9). The findings were promising. Rosemary worked two ways to reduce DHT. It decreased the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Plus it also prevented DHT from binding to the hair follicles, and thus preventing them being damaged by DHT.
Of course, the biggest drawback of this study was that it was done on mice and not humans. Nevertheless, the findings propose rosemary as a potential natural remedy to reduce pattern hair loss and promote hair growth.
Now that you know how rosemary benefits hair, lets find out ways to use rosemary.
A head massage with rosemary oil is very relaxing and rejuvenating for your hair. But before you put rosemary oil on your scalp, you need to dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond or olive oil. Applying it neat may irritate your scalp.
Take 1 tablespoon coconut oil and add 5 drops of rosemary oil, stir to combine. Using your fingertips, massage the oil onto your scalp. Leave it on for an hour or overnight if you can for maximum effect, then wash it out.
Buy rosemary essential oil online here
When you boil rosemary leaves with water, you get lovely reddish brown colour rosemary water. And this water has the rosemary goodness infused in it. You can apply it after shampoo to strengthen and condition your hair and then rinse it out.
More on how to make and use rosemary water read here.
Next Rosemary Article:
Next time we will look at the third point. How rosemary reduces the dreaded DHT, which is the main culprit in male and female pattern hair loss…