Ashwagandha Hair Loss: A Complete Guide
An excessive hair fall is a distressful event in an individual’s life. Hair loss affects confidence, self-image, and the overall physical outlook of a person. Some form of hair loss affects both men and women around the globe. One of the most common forms of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, also called male pattern baldness. Ashwaganda for hair loss has been discussed by a lot recently, but does it work?
Hormonal imbalance and increased dihydrotestosterone (DHT) damages the hair follicles and cause the hair to fall out. Alopecia areata is another form of hair loss in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair fall.
Telogen effluvium is stress-related hair loss. Pregnancy, childbirth, medical treatments, malnutrition, and tension elevate stress hormones, disrupting the normal hair growth cycle and causing excess hair fall.
While many medical formulations have been developed to treat and reverse hair loss, herbal supplements or adaptogens are paving their way into the hair care industry.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera is famous by the name ‘Indian Winter Cherry’ or ‘Indian Ginseng’. Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine. This evergreen shrub originated from the Indian subcontinent and is widely grown in temperate regions all over the world.
The name ‘ashwagandha’ signifies horsepower and sleep, as it brings about tranquility and strengthens a person’s body. Ashwagandha is used as Rasayana or tonic in Ayurveda and has numerous health benefits. This herb is available for use in several forms and is known for boosting mental and physical health.
The herb is non-toxic and promotes the overall wellbeing of an individual. These three attributes of ashwagandha qualify this herb as an adaptogen
How Does Ashwagandha Work?
Ashwagandha houses many biologically active components that work together to improve hair growth.
These components include alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, and steroidal lactones. The steroidal lactones present in ashwagandha are withanolides and withaferin.
These compounds help reduce stress and combat hair fall associated with stress. Furthermore, ashwagandha accelerates the production and release of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that has antioxidant properties. This substance protects the hair follicles and scalp from free radical damage.
Ashwagandha also stimulates the release of nitric oxide by increasing the activity of nitric oxide synthetase, which leads to arterial vasodilation and improved blood flow to different areas of the body. Not only does this vasodilation elevate the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the hair follicle but it amplifies muscle activity and increases an individual’s endurance.
The anti-inflammatory property of ashwagandha residing in the major ingredient, withanolide, is helpful for treating scalp conditions that are responsible for hindering hair growth.
Withanolides suppress the activity of cyclooxygenase 2, which reduces pain and inflammation. Ashwagandha contains glycoproteins that possess anti-microbial properties and protects the scalp from harmful microorganisms.
Benefits of Ashwagandha for Hair
Stress, anxiety, and hormonal imbalances lead to hair loss. This form of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium. As per Ayurveda principles, stress and hormonal imbalances occur due to loss of equilibrium among the three doshas – Kapha (earth and water), Pitta (fire and water), and Vata (space and air).
Ashwagandha balances the three doshas and treats hair loss. Following are the ways ashwagandha benefit a person’s hair:
Ashwagandha for Scalp Irritation
Various skin conditions cause scalp irritation and lead to hair loss. These conditions include eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, and allergy-mediated scalp irritation. Ashwagandha soothes the scalp and provides a suitable environment for optimal hair growth.
Ashwagandha Regulates Thyroid Hormones
The thyroid gland is located in a person’s neck and produces two key hormones – thyroxine or T3 and triiodothyronine or T3. T3 and T4 regulate a wide variety of body functions. The imbalance of the thyroid hormones manifests as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism that disrupt the normal hair growth cycle. Ashwagandha balances the levels of T3 and T4, which eventually restores hair health.
Ashwagandha Strengthens Hair
Ashwagandha increases the production of DHEA, which is an antioxidant hormone in the body. This hormone reduces oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Reduction of free radicals and the associated damage ultimately leads to thicker and healthier hair.
Ashwagandha also causes vasodilation of arteries supplying the hair follicles that provide adequate nutrition for hair to be thick, strong, and resistant to breakage.
Hair and Scalp Conditioning
Ashwagandha potentiates the production of DHEA. This hormone stimulates the production of collagen and sebum release from the sebaceous gland, lying close to the hair follicles. Collagen repairs the dry and damaged hair whereas sebum nourishes the hair and the skin of the scalp. Collagen and sebum protect the hair and scalp from sun damage as well as lock the moisture in the skin.
Ashwagandha Nourishes Hair and Scalp
In addition to the chemicals mentioned above, ashwagandha contains essential proteins, which are integral for hair structure, elasticity, and strength. Ashwagandha is also rich in vitamin C that has antioxidant properties, iron, tannins, glucose that nourishes hair follicles, potassium, nitrate, and other compounds. The vasodilating effects of ashwagandha further enhance the delivery of these components.
Relieves Hair Loss
Cortisol is the stress hormone responsible for causing the destruction of the hair follicles and impeding healthy hair growth. Ashwagandha manages the cortisol levels in the blood and controls follicular damage.
By reducing stress and anxiety, this herb reduces hair fall and increases hair density on the scalp. Moreover, ashwagandha treats postpartum hair loss that occurs due to hormonal imbalance post-pregnancy.
Ashwagandha for Scalp Inflammation
Inflammation is a two-edged sword – it eliminates the disease-causing pathogen but also causes tissue destruction and widespread damage to body organs if severe. The inflammation also involves the scalp and the hair follicles. Ashwagandha modulates inflammation by suppressing the inflammatory mediators. This reduces scalp inflammation and the cell destruction in hair follicles, which eventually re-establish normal hair growth cycle.
Premature Greying of Hair
Melanin is the pigment required for imparting color to the hair. A decrease in melanin production leads to premature graying of hair and may be associated with several skin conditions. Tyrosine, an amino acid, is an integral component of ashwagandha. Tyrosine is the precursor amino acid for melanin production in the skin and hair follicles. Using ashwagandha will replenish melanin stores and reverse the premature greying of hair.