If you are worried about hair loss, here’s are 2 interesting titbits to allay your anxiety. Losing about 100 strands of hair a day is natural; and rubbing an onion on the scalp was considered a cure for baldness in England and Ireland.1
Hair growth happens in 3 phases: active, resting, and shedding. The hair shaft actively grows only in the first phase. By the shedding phase, the hair falls out, having completed its life cycle. This is a continuous process, and other active hair strands take their place.
Onion is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that help fight hair loss.
But in the case of hair loss or alopecia, most of the hairs entering the shedding phase are not replaced as quickly or abundantly with new hair. The result is thinning hair, bald spots, and a visible scalp. This can be caused by heredity, stress, hormonal imbalance, anemia, vitamin deficiency, or even an autoimmune condition like alopecia areata where your immune system attacks the hair follicles (where hair grows). Medical science doesn’t yet have the exact reasons or a definitive cure. But the humble onion does. Moreover, with its curative and antibacterial properties, onion can cleanse and nourish the scalp and even stimulate new hair growth.2 Massaging it onto your scalp will also help blood circulation and keep the follicles healthy.
1. Promotes Hair Growth In Alopecia Areata Patients
After using onion juice twice daily for 4 to 6 weeks, 86.9% of alopecia areata patients in a study experienced new hair growth.
In one experiment on patients with alopecia areata, onion juice was applied to the scalp and massaged into areas where hair growth was minimal. After following this method twice daily for 4 to 6 weeks, 86.9% of the participants experienced new hair growth.3 Male patients benefited more.
The bountiful layers of the onion are rich in two beneficial chemical groups – the flavonoids and the sulfur compounds like alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides (ACSOs).
2. Can Fight Hair Loss Due To Inflammation
Apart from giving onions their color, these flavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation in the body is a result of cell damage by reactive molecules called free radicals. The flavonoids can help reduce hair loss by fighting free radical damage.4
Quercetin in onions treats alopecia areata and prevents it from recurring.
Quercetin (higher in red onions) is one such bioflavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents hair loss due to an inflammatory response in the body, possibly caused by strong medication like antidepressants, chemotherapy, or an infection.
In animal studies, quercetin has been found to be effective not only in treating alopecia areata but also in preventing it from recurring.5
3. Can Fight Hair Loss Due To Infections
Hair loss can also be a direct result of bacterial and fungal infections in the scalp. ACSOs also make onions rich in sulfur, which is both antibacterial and antifungal and can help combat hair loss.6 Dandruff, which can be caused by such infections, is another reason for hair loss. Onion juice is a home remedy for dandruff too.
4. Strengthens Hair By Boosting Hair Protein
Onions have sulfur, which helps develop keratin, the building block of hair, and strengthens hair.
The right amount of sulfur helps regenerate hair follicles and stimulate hair regrowth. Keratin, the hair protein, is also made of a sulfur-rich amino acid called cysteine. The cysteine molecules link with each other through strong disulfide bridges. This is what gives hair its additional strength. The sulfur compounds in onions can provide this essential element to hair. The magnesium, calcium, and potassium in onions also promote blood circulation and decrease inflammation.7
Onions also contain biotin, or vitamin B7, which is considered the hair growth vitamin. While the lack of biotin is thought to cause brittle hair, there is very weak evidence that biotin itself helps promote hair growth.8
5. Prevents Graying Of Hair
Do you know what most salons use to bleach your hair? Hydrogen peroxide. Your body produces hydrogen peroxide naturally, but when its levels go up, it builds up near your hair roots. This not only bleaches your hair, as was thought before, but also harms the hair shaft through oxidative or free radical damage.
Catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase are enzymes that your body produces to break down the extra hydrogen peroxide. Onion increases the activity of all three to fight hydrogen peroxide damage. So it can be said to provide protection against hair graying due to free radical damage.9 10 11
6. Is Safer Than Anti-Hair Loss Medicines
Onion juice is totally safe compared to steroidal medicines that can give you painful periods or even cause weight gain.
Another positive to using onion and garlic juice, as opposed to steroidal medication, is the negligible side effects. Steroids can cause hormonal disbalance and painful period in women.12
Prednisone, a commonly used steroid in the treatment of alopecia, can cause weight gain and severe mood swings – a heavy price to pay for a lustrous mane.13 Onion juice on the scalp, however, has shown no side effects, unless you are allergic to onions. Do a skin patch test first.
3 Onion Juice Recipes For Hair Care
Onion And Honey Hair Pack
- Juice up or grate 2 medium-sized onions.
- Add 2 tbsps honey.
- Mix the two, and make sure it isn’t a runny mixture.
You can do this 2 to 3 times a week.
- Dip a cotton ball in it and apply on your scalp. Then massage gently.
- Leave it on for 20 minutes.
- Wash off with plain water or a mild shampoo.
Onion Juice For Dandruff
- Steam 1 onion in 8 oz water till the onion is soft.
- Let it cool off completely.
- Add some rum.
- Cover the mixture with plastic and let it stay overnight.
You can do this 2 to 3 times a week.
- Strain the liquid and discard the onion next morning.
- Massage a small amount onto your scalp.
- Leave it on for 15 minutes.
- Wash off with a mild shampoo.14
Onion Juice Hair Rinse
- Chop 4–5 onions.
- Put them in 1 L water and boil.
Follow this hair care regimen every time you shampoo.
- Cool the concoction.
- Strain the liquid.
- Use as hair rinse after shampooing.
- Onion juice is pungent; so add a few drops of your favorite fragrant essential oil. You could also use peppermint oil. It has proven benefits in regenerating hair.
- You can store the onion juice and its preparations in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
- It will take you about 3 months to notice the full effect.
Garlic Is Also Good For Hair Growth
As part of the same plant family as onions, garlic is also effective in promoting hair growth for many of the same reasons. In fact, garlic may be even more potent. In one study, 95% of trial patients experienced hair growth after applying garlic gel to the scalp.15
|↑1||Vickery, Roy. A dictionary of plant lore. Oxford University Press, 1995.|
|↑2, ↑3||Sharquie, Khalifa E., and Hala K. Al‐Obaidi. “Onion juice (Allium cepa L.), a new topical treatment for alopecia areata.” The Journal of dermatology 29, no. 6 (2002): 343-346.|
|↑4||Slimestad, Rune, Torgils Fossen, and Ingunn Molund Vågen. “Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55, no. 25 (2007): 10067-10080.|
|↑5||Wikramanayake, Tongyu Cao, Alexandra C. Villasante, Lucia M. Mauro, Carmen I. Perez, Lawrence A. Schachner, and Joaquin J. Jimenez. “Prevention and treatment of alopecia areata with quercetin in the C3H/HeJ mouse model.” Cell Stress and Chaperones 17, no. 2 (2012): 267-274.|
|↑6||Griffiths, Gareth, Laurence Trueman, Timothy Crowther, Brian Thomas, and Brian Smith. “Onions—a global benefit to health.” Phytotherapy Research 16, no. 7 (2002): 603-615.|
|↑7||Hajare, R. A. “Onion Juice: An Effective Home Remedy For Combating Alopecia.”|
|↑8||Biotin. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑9||Wood, John M., H. Decker, H. Hartmann, B. Chavan, H. Rokos, J. D. Spencer, S. Hasse et al. “Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair.” The FASEB Journal 23, no. 7 (2009): 2065-2075.|
|↑10||Lim, T. K. “Edible Medicinal and Non Nedicinal Plants: Volume 9, Modified Stems, Roots, Bulbs.” (2015), p. 156.|
|↑11||Trueb, Ralph M. “Oxidative stress in ageing of hair.” International journal of trichology 1, no. 1 (2009): 6.|
|↑12||Kurosawa, Masahiro, Satoshi Nakagawa, Masato Mizuashi, Yoshinori Sasaki, Maki Kawamura, Makiko Saito, and Setsuya Aiba. “A comparison of the efficacy, relapse rate and side effects among three modalities of systemic corticosteroid therapy for alopecia areata.” Dermatology 212, no. 4 (2006): 361-365.|
|↑13||Olsen, Elise A., Susan C. Carson, and Elizabeth A. Turney. “Systemic steroids with or without 2% topical minoxidil in the treatment of alopecia areata.” Archives of dermatology 128, no. 11 (1992): 1467-1473.|
|↑14||Cox, Janice. Natural Beauty From The Garden: More Than 200 Do-It-Yourself Beauty Recipes & Garden Ideas. Macmillan. 1999.|
|↑15||Hajheydari, Zohreh, Mojgan Jamshidi, Jafar Akbari, and Rezaali Mohammadpour. “Combination of topical garlic gel and betamethasone valerate cream in the treatment of localized alopecia areata: a double-blind randomized controlled study.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 73, no. 1 (2007): 29.|