If you have heard about ashwagandha as a remedy for hair loss and graying, you have heard the right thing. Ashwagandha is a rasayana or elixir in the ayurvedic arsenal that helps preserve youth and reverse aging.1 In the ayurvedic tradition, people with a pitta constitution, which manifests in a fiery nature in both body and mind, who report premature graying of hair and hair loss are prescribed ashwagandha as a remedy.2
A rule of thumb – a healthy head of hair can be traced back to a healthy body! Several conditions such as stress, hormonal imbalance, and just simple aging can cause hair loss. Ashwagandha has a role to play in improving the overall health, lowering stress by 44%, reducing inflammation, and functioning as a health tonic especially as you age.3 4 By hitting straight at the roots (pun unintended!) of aging, it can help reduce hair loss and prevent graying – the natural signs of aging.
1. Strengthens Hair Root
Ashwagandha is also said to strengthen the hair roots. A hair tonic made with a few twigs of the herb and a neutral hair oil such as coconut can be used daily to reduce hair fall.
2. Improves The Scalp’s Grip
When combined with the herb guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) in a tonic, ashwagandha can provide support to the bones and increase the ability of the scalp to hold the hair.5
3. Reduces Stress And Cortisol Levels
One of the chief causes of hair fall in otherwise healthy people is high stress. This is known as telogen effluvium. Another problem stress can worsen is alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your hair. Alopecia areata can be prevented but not cured by stress treatment.
Telogen effluvium can be cured by ashwagandha therapy. Ashwagandha has been found to reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by 28% and reduce stress symptoms by 44%.6 It can also prevent alopecia areata though not cure it. However, onions can help regrow hair in alopecia areata patients in almost 90% cases.
4. Promotes Restorative Sleep
One of the ways stress manifests itself is in disrupted sleep. Lack of sleep or lack of restorative, body-repairing sleep, on the other hand, increases stress and anxiety and makes hair fall more likely. Ashwagandha promotes restorative sleep and works to reduce the negative effects of anxiety, a sure trigger for hair fall.7 In a study on adults suffering from chronic stress, ashwagandha could reduce anxiety and insomnia by 69.7%.8
5. Prevents Graying By Fighting Free Radicals
The ashwagandha root is known to slow down age-related graying of hair and also prevent premature graying. Premature graying of hair can be due to cell damage caused by free radicals.
Age-related hair graying, on the other hand, can be due to the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide, a metabolite from chemical reactions in the body, near the hair shafts. As you grow old, you have fewer natural antioxidants to help break down hydrogen peroxide into harmless chemicals. As a result, the hydrogen peroxide impairs the function of melanin-producing cells and causes age-related hair graying.
Studies find that ashwagandha can both scavenge free radicals and reduce free radical damage caused by hydrogen peroxide.9
6. Maintains Hair Color By Increasing Melanin Content
In another study conducted on elderly men, ashwagandha helped increase the melanin content of hair with minimal toxicity.10
Always Consult An Ayurvedic Doctor
Though ashwagandha can be used to treat a variety of conditions, it is important NOT to self-administer it. Always consult an ayurvedic practitioner before starting an ashwagandha regimen.
In some cases, adverse effects such as overgrowth of facial hair have been observed in patients, owing to ashwagandha’s action on the hormonal system. It is known to boost testosterone levels.11
It’s important to take stock of your hormonal health, among other factors, before starting a course of ashwagandha – an ayurvedic doctor will help you take these steps.
|↑1||Kumar, KP Sampath, Debjit Bhowmik, S. Duraivel, and Rajalakshmi AN. “Indian Traditional Rasayana Therapy and its Health Benefits.” (2014).|
|↑2||Verret, D. J. Patient Guide to Hair Loss & Hair Restoration. WJ Sonnier Publishing. 2009.|
|↑3||Dwivedi, K. K., and R. H. Singh. “A study on geriatric patients and response of Ashwagandha as anti-aging agent.” PhD diss., Ph. D. Thesis, Kayachikitsa, Banaras Hindu University, 1997.|
|↑4||Rathi, Vaishali, Jagdish Chandra Rathi, S. Tamizharasia, and Anupam Kumar Pathakb. “Phcog Rev.: Short Review Plants used for hair growth promotion: A review.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 2, no. 3 (2008).|
|↑5||Pathak, Sandhya, Ashwini Patil, S. G. Girbide, and K. N. Kadam. “Management Of Khalitya WSR To Androgenetic Alopecia Through Jalaukavcharana By Ayurveda: A Case Study.” Interntional Ayurvedic Medical Journal.|
|↑6, ↑8||Chandrasekhar, K., Jyoti Kapoor, and Sridhar Anishetty. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.” Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine 34, no. 3 (2012): 255.|
|↑7||Kalani, Amir, Gul Bahtiyar, and Alan Sacerdote. “Ashwagandha root in the treatment of non-classical adrenal hyperplasia.” BMJ case reports 2012 (2012): bcr2012006989.|
|↑9||Pal, Ajay, Kandikattu Hemanth Kumar, Bharat Bhushan, and Vinod Saharan. “Ashwagandha Root Extract Inhibits Acetylcholine Esterase, Protein Modification and Ameliorates H 2 O 2-Induced Oxidative Stress in Rat Lymphocytes.” Pharmacognosy Journal 9, no. 3 (2017).|
|↑10||Mishra, Lakshmi-Chandra, Betsy B. Singh, and Simon Dagenais. “Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.” Alternative medicine review 5, no. 4 (2000): 334-346.|
|↑11||Nguyen, Diep Dinh, Cheryl Lyda Dabon Almirante, Shilpa Swamy, Lauren A. Willard, Danielle Castillo, and Romesh Khardori. “SUN-4: Effect of ashwagandha on adrenal hormones.” (2013).|