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Don’t we all feel a tinge of envy when we see a shampoo ad? Who doesn’t dream of having a mane of thick gorgeous long hair? But simple things like a nutritionally poor diet and unhealthy hair care practices can cause hair loss and dash those dreams. But many foods and herbs have been known to promote hair growth. And flaxseeds are one such food – in fact, they just might be that surprising savior that your hair’s looking for.
In ayurveda, flaxseeds are known as “atasi”. This name means that they are beneficial in preventing disorders caused due to an imbalance in vata (vataja disorders). They’re valued for their high nutritional value (aharavarga). And they’re considered to have the qualities of heaviness (guru) and oiliness (snigdha) as well as sweet(madhura) and bitter (tikta) taste. These seeds are thought to be excellent for heart ailments and promoting weight loss. They’re also considered to be helpful in dealing with skin aging.
One animal study found that that supplementation with ground flaxseed increased hair length by 26% and also improved hair width.Beroual, K., S. Halmi, Z. Maameri, B. S. Benlaksira, A. Agabou, M. Chibat, and Y. Hamdi Pacha. “Pharmacological aspect of Linum usitatissimum: Flax ingestion on hair growth in rabbits.” J … Continue reading Meanwhile, another animal study observed that both supplementation with flaxseed as well as the topical application of flaxseed oil increased hair width.Beroual, K., Z. Maameri, S. Halmi, B. Benleksira, A. Agabou, and Y. Hamdi-Pacha. “Effects of Linum usitatissimum L. ingestion and oil topical application on hair growth in rabbit.” Int. … Continue reading However, the researchers who conducted these studies were not able to pinpoint the mechanism through which flaxseed worked its hair boosting effect.
However it’s well known that flaxseeds contain many nutrients that can potentially benefit your hair. Let’s take a closer look at some of these components:
This vitamin helps to maintain the health of your eyes and skin and supports your immune system.[Vitamin E].NHS. It is also known to be a potent antioxidant, that is, it counters oxidative stress. And research indicates that there’s a link between oxidative stress and alopecia (hair loss). In fact, one study which looked at the effect of vitamin E supplementation on people suffering from hair loss found it to be beneficial. The group that was given vitamin E experienced a 34.5% increase in the number of hairs at the end of 8 months while the control group (which was not given vitamin E) experienced a 0.1% decrease over the same period.Beoy, Lim Ai, Wong Jia Woei, and Yuen Kah Hay. “Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers.” Tropical life sciences research 21, no. 2 (2010): 91. The average daily recommended amount of vitamin E for an adult is 15 mg.[Vitamin E]. National Institutes of Health. And 100 gm of flaxseeds will give you 20.66 mg.[Seeds, flaxseed].USDA.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of cell membranes in your body and also help make certain hormones. You need to get these essential fats from your diet as the body cannot make them. There are three main kinds omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which can be obtained mainly from fish; and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which you can get from flaxseeds, as well as certain vegetable oils, nuts, etc. Your body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA in limited amounts. Research indicates that DHA can promote hair growth.Kang, Jung-Il, Hoon-Seok Yoon, Sung Min Kim, Jeong Eon Park, Yu Jae Hyun, Ara Ko, Yong-Seok Ahn et al. “Mackerel-derived fermented fish oil promotes hair growth by anagen-stimulating … Continue reading A tablespoon of flaxseed will give you 230 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA).[Flaxseed Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits].Verywell Fit. The daily recommended amount of ALA for men is 1.6 g and for women is 1.1g though pregnant or breastfeeding women may need slightly more.[Omega-3 Fatty Acids].National Institutes of Health.
Our body uses protein to build as well as maintain skin, bones, and muscles. According to experts, 10 to 35% of your total calories should come from proteins and protein deficiency is linked to hair loss.[ Protein in diet](https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm “Protein in diet”).U.S. National Library of Medicine. [Dietary Proteins]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. [Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing. 100 g of flaxseeds will give you 18.3 g of protein.[Seeds, flaxseed].USDA.
Iron is needed by your body for growth and development. It’s used to make hemoglobin and myoglobin which are proteins that carry oxygen to different parts of your body. Iron also helps your body make certain hormones. Iron deficiency is also linked to hair loss. The recommended daily amount of iron for adults is 8 mg, except for women between the ages of 19 to 50 years who need 18 mg.[Iron]. National Institutes of Health. [Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing. 100 gms of flaxseeds will give you 5.73 mg of iron.[Seeds, flaxseed].USDA.
Zinc supports your immune system, helps your wounds heal, and is important for the proper functioning of the senses of smell and taste. It’s also needed by your body to make DNA and proteins. Zinc deficiency is linked to hair loss. The daily recommended amount of zinc for adult women is 8 mg while for adult men it’s 11 mg.[Zinc]. National Institutes of Health. [Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing. 100 gm of flaxseeds will give you 4.34 mg of zinc.[Seeds, flaxseed].USDA.
Biotin is a B-vitamin which helps convert carbs, proteins, and fats from food into energy. A deficiency in biotin is linked to hair loss. The daily recommended amount of biotin for adults is 30 mcg.[Biotin]. National Institutes of Health.[Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing. 100 gm of flaxseed will give you 0.6 mcg biotin. Kajla, Priyanka, Alka Sharma, and Dev Raj Sood. “Flaxseed—a potential functional food source.” Journal of food science and technology 52, no. 4 (2015): 1857-1871.
1. Apply flaxseed oil
Flaxseed oil can be massaged into your scalp or applied to your hair.
2. Apply flaxseed gel
3. Consume flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are really versatile. You can knead them into the dough when you make parathas or bread, add them to your smoothie or salad, and use them to top up a cup of yogurt or oatmeal. But make sure you use ground flaxseeds as the whole seeds might pass through your system without being digested. According to experts, you can have around 2 tablespoons of flaxseed in a day. Since flaxseed are rich in fiber, remember to drink lots of fluids when you have them. And increasing your intake of fiber suddenly might cause bloating or gas. So it might be better to start off with a smaller amount – say a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds a day – and slowly work up to having a couple of tablespoons.[Flaxseed: Little Seed, Big Benefits].Cleveland Clinic.
Here are a few general tips that’ll help you help your hair healthy:
1. Be gentle with your hair
Use a gentle shampoo and apply a conditioner after you wash your hair. The conditioner coats your hair, reducing split ends, frizz, and breakage. Also, don’t tug on your hair when you brush. This can cause hair loss. Hair treatments such as perming, coloring, chemical straightening, etc. can also harm your hair. If you must go for them make sure you choose a good professional to handle your hair.
2. Let your hair air dry
Limit your use of a hair dryer, and when you do use it put it on the lowest heat setting. Heat can weaken and damage your hair. Similarly, the use of curling irons, hot combs, and flat irons can also damage your hair.
3. Don’t use hair styles that pull on your hair
A tightly pulled back bun, pigtails, ponytail, or braids can lead to hair loss. Over a period of time this could even result in permanent hair loss.
4. Stop smoking
You must be wondering what smoking’s got to do with your hair. Well, smoking can result in inflammation throughout your body and this can worsen hair loss.[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.
5. Manage stress
If you have felt like pulling your hair out when stressed, know that there is a reason behind that feeling. Stress and anxiety can actually lead to a condition called Trichotillomania, it is a psychological condition where under stress you feel like pulling your hair out. Hence, managing stress is of utmost importance. Unregulated stress can also cause the hair follicles into a ‘resting’ phase, this condition is called telogen effluvium. It is a temporary condition whereby no new hair strand is produced. It is caused by stress and even poor nutrition.
6. Eat healthy
There’s no doubt that a well-balanced healthy diet is the panacea for a healthy life, it stands true for hair health too. A nutrient-dense diet will ensure good health of the hair follicles, giving you not just sturdy but also shinier ‘full of life’ hair strands. Make sure you include leafy vegetables and foods that are a good source of iron.
|↑1||Beroual, K., S. Halmi, Z. Maameri, B. S. Benlaksira, A. Agabou, M. Chibat, and Y. Hamdi Pacha. “Pharmacological aspect of Linum usitatissimum: Flax ingestion on hair growth in rabbits.” J Nat Prod Plant Resour 4, no. 1 (2014): 4-7.|
|↑2||Beroual, K., Z. Maameri, S. Halmi, B. Benleksira, A. Agabou, and Y. Hamdi-Pacha. “Effects of Linum usitatissimum L. ingestion and oil topical application on hair growth in rabbit.” Int. J. Med. Arom. Plants 3, no. 4 (2013): 459-463.|
|↑4||Beoy, Lim Ai, Wong Jia Woei, and Yuen Kah Hay. “Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers.” Tropical life sciences research 21, no. 2 (2010): 91.|
|↑5||[Vitamin E]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑6, ↑13, ↑16, ↑19||[Seeds, flaxseed].USDA.|
|↑7||Kang, Jung-Il, Hoon-Seok Yoon, Sung Min Kim, Jeong Eon Park, Yu Jae Hyun, Ara Ko, Yong-Seok Ahn et al. “Mackerel-derived fermented fish oil promotes hair growth by anagen-stimulating pathways.” International journal of molecular sciences 19, no. 9 (2018): 2770.|
|↑8||[Flaxseed Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits].Verywell Fit.|
|↑9||[Omega-3 Fatty Acids].National Institutes of Health.|
|↑10||[ Protein in diet](https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm “Protein in diet”).U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑11||[Dietary Proteins]. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑12, ↑15, ↑21||[Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑14||[Iron]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑17||[Zinc]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑18||[Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑20||[Biotin]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑22||Kajla, Priyanka, Alka Sharma, and Dev Raj Sood. “Flaxseed—a potential functional food source.” Journal of food science and technology 52, no. 4 (2015): 1857-1871.|
|↑23, ↑24||[Flaxseed: Little Seed, Big Benefits].Cleveland Clinic.|
|↑25||[Flaxseed and flaxseed oil].Mayo Clinic.|
|↑26||[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.|
Dr. Aswathy has 10+ years of experience as an Ayurvedic consultant and medical officer in different nursing homes and hospitals. She has a deep knowledge of classical texts, Ayurvedic treatments, and Panchkarma. Dr. Aswathy is proficient in diagnosis through traditional Ayurvedic means and plans treatment that is specific to an individual’s constitution.
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