There’s no magic bullet that cures hair loss completely. But natural hair loss treatments can be effective. What’s more, not everyone is comfortable taking prescription drugs. This article compiles the products, supplements, and treatments that really work to stop hair loss naturally. Based on clinical trials, theory, and community experimentation, this is the ultimate guide to natural hair loss treatments!
First off, I’m not saying natural hair loss treatments are more effective or better than prescription drugs.
There’s no doubt that finasteride (Propecia) is highly effective at stopping hair loss progression. However, many people experience side effects from finasteride such as reduced libido, impotence, and even gynecomastia. Others simply aren’t comfortable messing with hormone levels just to keep their hair.
For these people, natural hair loss treatments are a viable alternative.
And these alternative treatments really do work! Just because they’re not FDA approved, doesn’t mean they’re not effective.
If you’re still sceptical, consider this: FDA approval takes time and, most importantly, money. This investment is worthwhile for pharmaceutical companies if at the end of this process they have a patented hair loss treatment for which they have exclusive rights.
But natural treatments can’t be patented! So who’s going to fund these FDA trials?
As we’ll see, there are plenty of natural treatments that have been demonstrated to stop – and even reverse – male pattern hair loss. It’s just not financially viable to put them through FDA trials!
That said, no single treatment listed below is likely to be as effective as finasteride by itself. Many of these treatments complement each other. Others tackle the hair loss problem from a different angle. But together, they constitute an effective hair loss protocol that should at least maintain your existing hair. In some cases, you may actually experience some hair regrowth.
So, in no particular order, here is the ultimate guide to natural hair loss treatments!
Saw Palmetto is a herbal supplement extracted from the Serenoa Repens plant.
It’s an effective hair loss treatment as it is clinically proven to lower levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
The current understanding of hair loss is that DHT is the main cause. This hormone binds to receptors in hair follicles, causing them to shrink. Eventually, they get so small that they stop producing hair. By reducing DHT levels, you can slow or even stop this from happening.
A randomised clinical trial, Tissue effects of saw palmetto and finasteride: use of biopsy cores for in situ quantification of prostatic androgens, found that “tissue DHT levels were reduced by 32% from 6.49 to 4.40 ng/g.”
Though not as effective as finasteride (which lowers DHT by around 70%), a 32% reduction in DHT is enough to slow hair loss progression. It’s also less likely to cause negative side effects.
To achieve these reduced DHT levels, subjects took three 106mg saw palmetto capsules a day (318mg total).
Pumpkin seed oil
If you didn’t know, this kind of study is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ of medical trials. The conditions prevent researchers and subjects from reaching a biased and inaccurate result as neither know if they’re receiving placebo or pumpkin seed oil.
The outcome? According to the study, “Mean hair count increases of 40% were observed in PSO-treated men at 24 weeks, whereas increases of 10% were observed in placebo-treated men.”
In other words, pumpkin seed oil proved to be highly effective at regrowing hair.
The writers of the study suggest this hair-thickening effect is a result of reduced 5-alpha reductase levels. 5-alpha reductase is the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT – the hair loss hormone.
And although this trial didn’t test levels of 5-alpha reductase in subjects’ blood, further studies support the idea that pumpkin seed oil reduces DHT levels.
For example, this trial of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia found pumpkin seed oil to improve the symptoms of this DHT-related condition. At least two trials of rats (such as this one and this one) confirm that pumpkin seed oil reduces levels of 5-alpha reductase.
What’s more, pumpkin seed oil is rich in minerals, essential fatty acids and phytosterols. These bring additional health benefits besides improved hair growth.
Low sugar, low carbohydrate diet
With more and more people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to be mindful of your blood sugar levels.
But an additional benefit of a low sugar diet is reduced hair loss.
White bread, candy, breakfast cereal, soda – these foods lead to a sharp increase in blood sugar. The body responds to these high blood sugar levels by releasing more insulin.
However, high levels of insulin have been correlated with low levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds to hormones – such as DHT – preventing them from binding to hormone receptors. Essentially, then, lower levels of SHBG mean more DHT and more hair loss.
Healthy blood sugar levels can be maintained through both diet and exercise. Avoid consuming sugary, fast digesting carbs to keep your insulin levels under control. This will reduce the ability of DHT to bind to hormone receptors in your hair follicles, stopping hair loss from progressing.
Biotin is a popular dietary supplement for hair loss.
And though there have been no clinical trials of its effect on androgenetic alopecia (at least that I know of), many hair loss sufferers online claim it has led to a noticeable improvement in their hair.
The commonly cited reason for this is that it biotin – also known as vitamin B7 – helps the body form keratin. Keratin is a key component of hair and nails. What’s more, one of the first symptoms of biotin deficiency is hair loss.
But it’s unclear just how important this is for sufferers of androgenetic alopecia. Male pattern hair loss is believed to be caused by hormones, not a lack of keratin. And while biotin deficiency does indeed cause hair loss, most people get enough biotin in their diet already.
So why is biotin included on this list of natural hair loss treatments? Well, a lesser-known effect of biotin (at least to hair loss sufferers) is its role in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
This 2013 study, Effects of biotin supplementation in the diet on insulin secretion, islet gene expression, glucose homeostasis and beta-cell proportion, found that biotin supplementation improved glucose tolerance in mice. As seen above, blood sugar and insulin levels are strongly linked with hair loss in men and women.
And while it’s unlikely to have a dramatic effect on hair loss by itself, every little helps. Biotin supplementation is likely to be especially beneficial for hair loss sufferers who struggle to adhere to the low sugar, low carb diets described above. If you’re one of these people, biotin is well worth adding to your hair loss treatment regimen.
I’ve discussed the benefits of scalp massage for hair loss in previous articles.
I know, it sounds crazy.
But there is a growing body of evidence which supports it as an effective hair loss treatment. It’s not just anecdotal reports in forums (although there are plenty of them out there) either, reports in medical journals are confirming its efficacy a well.
In this 2016 study, for example, a standardized scalp massage administered 4 minutes a day for 24 weeks resulted in increased hair thickness in subjects. What’s more, researchers also observed an increase in the expression of hair cycle related genes (NOGGIN, BMP4, SMAD4, and IL6ST) and a decrease in expression of IL6 – a gene associated with hair loss.
And this case report describes detumescence therapy, which is basically just a fancy word for scalp massage. In it, the researchers observe typical differences between bald and non-bald scalps. For example, they noted that bald men tend to have harder skin on their scalp, which is attributed to an excess of sebum. The scalp massage released this excess sebum and, it is claimed, “over 90% hair recovery was […] found to be regrown from the hair follicles for each bald person in this study.”
Whether scalp massage really can regrow 90% of hair remains to be seen. However, I firmly believe that mechanical stimulation of the scalp – whether through scalp massage, boar bristle brushing, etc. – has a positive and significant effect on hair loss.
You’ll notice, as many others have also reported, an initial increase in scalp grease and dandruff – it feels as if you’re squeezing all this stuff out of your scalp.
Afterwards, your scalp feels invigorated and loose. If nothing else, it’s a great stress buster!
The one big downside of this treatment is the time it takes. Though there’s no single correct way of massaging your scalp, most people who’ve seen success from this treatment do it for at least 20 minutes a day.
I think this is why scalp massage isn’t more popular. For many, it takes too much effort to keep up – especially when you have to wait as long as 6 months to see results.
I’m a huge fan of scalp massage and even I struggle to find the discipline to keep it up. I do it maybe four times a week to maintain my existing hair. I definitely feel the benefits, but I think it would take a lot more effort if I was actually trying to regrow lost hair.
Even so, scalp massage is a natural, safe, free, and effective hair loss treatment.
To get additional benefits from scalp massage, use rosemary oil.
The study, Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial, randomly assigned subjects either rosemary oil or a 2% minoxidil solution. The subjects would rub 1Ml of each solution into their scalp at 12 hour intervals.
At the end of the trial, “both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count at the 6-month endpoint compared with the baseline”. In fact, there was no significant difference between those treated with minoxidil and those treated with rosemary oil. Both saw the same increases in hair count after 6 months of treatment.
Rosemary oil is rich in antioxidants, which researchers suggest could be a reason for the improved hair count. It also has a high concentration of camphor, which is believed to improve blood flow to the hair follicles.
By itself, rosemary oil is no miracle hair loss cure. But it’s a topical solution that has a synergistic effect when used in combination with other natural hair loss treatments – especially scalp massage.
A derma roller is a handheld device that uses many small surgical needles to create microscopic wounds in the skin.
Sounds painful, right? But microneedling is a popular cosmetic treatment that is said to improve a range of cosmetic conditions – from stretch marks to wrinkles.
And this 2013 study found that this device can also be used to regrow hair.
In the experiment, 100 participants were randomly assigned either 5% minoxidil or 5% minoxidil plus a weekly derma rolling session.
Minoxidil is a proven hair loss treatment. But the investigators found that the addition of the derma roller significantly improved hair regrowth. The mean change in hair count in the minoxidil only group was 22.2. But those who were treated with a derma roller as well saw mean hair counts increase by 91.4.
Within 12 weeks, subjects treated with the derma roller had noticeably improved hair.
The reason for this is that the tiny wounds created by the derma roller activate the body’s healing response. Stem cells and growth factors rush to the site of the injury, causing the skin to regenerate as well as the hair.
The photos below are before and after shots of two patients treated with a derma roller. Pretty impressive for just 12 weeks!
Of course, these patients were treated with minoxidil as well. But the positive effects of microneedling – increased growth factors, stem cells, and expression of hair growth-related genes – can be seen even without the addition of minoxidil.
From my own experience, I wouldn’t recommend using a derma roller in combination with minoxidil anyway. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with pretty bad tachycardia (increased heart rate) – a symptom of systemic minoxidil absorption. And since minoxidil isn’t a natural hair loss treatment, it has no place on this list!
Microneedling is a pretty extreme hair loss treatment, and not one that I personally use anymore. However, the science is pretty solid. We’re seeing increased interest in harnessing the body’s wound-healing abilities to cure hair loss, and derma rolling is currently one of the most effective tools to actually regrow lost hair.
OK, this one isn’t technically a natural hair loss treatment, but it’s well worth considering if you’re trying to beat baldness.
If you use a shampoo, it might as well be one containing ketoconazole. This ingredient has powerful antifungal properties which reduce the inflammation commonly associated with male pattern hair loss.
Have you noticed your scalp is more itchy? It’s a common symptom among people with androgenetic alopecia.
Ketoconazole shampoos – such as Nizoral and Regenepure DR – reduce microflora on the scalp, which alleviates this itchy feeling. Best of all, though, there is plenty of clinical evidence to suggest it helps prevent hair loss.
For example, this trial found it to be just as effective as minoxidil: “Hair density and size and proportion of anagen follicles were improved almost similarly by both [Ketoconazole] and minoxidil regimens.”
Androgenetic alopecia is multi-factorial and inflammation plays a major role. The treatments described above should go some way toward reducing inflammation, but Ketoconazole shampoo is the most effective way to tackle this angle.
It’s also pretty safe. However, some people may find that it dries their scalp out. If this is you, try switching to a different brand or using it less frequently. Nizoral, for example, is not an every day shampoo.
Ketoconazole shampoo was one of the first hair loss treatments I ever used. Almost immediately I noticed that my scalp no longer had that itchy feeling it once did. In my view, it’s the best shampoo for hair loss.
Natural hair loss treatments: summary
As you’ve probably noticed, treating hair loss naturally is a bit of a kitchen sink approach.
- Ketoconazole shampoo
- Low sugar/low carb diet
- Pumpkin seed oil
- Saw palmetto
- Scalp massage
- Topical rosemary oil
Yes, there’s a lot here. That’s probably why many people prefer to just take a Propecia pill once a day.
But hair loss can be controlled using natural methods. It takes time and effort, yes, but it does work.
And, of course, it is far easier to maintain your existing hair than to regrow hair that has already been lost to the damaging effects of DHT. Natural methods can lead to hair regrowth (particularly derma rolling and scalp massage), but it takes serious commitment to go from a Norwood 4, say, to Norwood 2.
It’s understandable to be sceptical as to how effective natural hair loss treatments really are. But each of the treatments described above has at least one clinical trial supporting its efficacy – in many cases more than one.
And the more angles you attack the hair loss problem from, the more effectively you will control it. That’s why it’s better to use as many of these treatments as you can.
If you’re serious about stopping hair loss naturally, be patient. Hair loss is a chronic condition. It takes years to lose your hair – and it takes even longer to grow it back.
It does take discipline and effort, but natural hair loss treatments really do work. Good luck!