We can’t help but get a little worried when we notice hair falling out as we brush – it’s an instinctive feeling. But it’s normal to lose around 50 to 100 hairs per day. This won’t actually affect how thick your hair is because new hair is constantly replacing the hair that we lose. However, sometimes this cycle goes out of balance and hair starts to thin out. And hair loss can be quite distressing.
Two kinds of hair loss – khalitya (gradual hair loss) and indralupta (sudden hair loss) – are described in ayurvedic texts. Acharya Charaka classified it under shiroroga. Khalitya is primarily a pitta dominant tridosha janya yyadhi i.e. vata, pitta, kapha with rakta dosha.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Many factors can lead to hair loss. Here’s a look at the main causes of this condition:
Family History: The most common kind of hair loss is hereditary in nature and occurs as we age. This is also known as male-pattern baldness or female-pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia. Hair loss typically occurs in a certain pattern such as a receding hairline in men and hair loss along the crown for women.
Physical Or Emotional Stress: Some people experience thinning of hair for months after experiencing an emotionally or physically stressful event. However, this tends to be temporary in nature.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Not getting sufficient amounts of nutrients such as iron, protein, zinc, and biotin can lead to hair loss.[Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing.
Medical Conditions And Hormonal Changes: Medical conditions such as scalp infections or alopecia areata (an immune system disorder which leads to patchy hair loss) can cause hair loss. So can hormonal changes caused by menopause, pregnancy, or thyroid problems, PCOD.
Supplements And Medicines: Hair loss can occur as a side effect of certain medications and supplements. These can include medicines used to treat heart problems, cancer, depression, arthritis, high blood pressure etc. Speak to your doctor to find out if any medication or supplement you’re on causes hair loss.
Certain Hair Treatments And Hairstyles: Hairstyles that pull your hair tight as well as harsh hair treatments can lead to hair loss.[Hair loss]. Mayo Clinic.
Sleep Disturbance: While sleep has a direct impact on the human body’s natural hormones, it means that poor sleep reduces the amount of melatonin, potentially causing hair loss. Lack of sleep will stress people. The psychological stress response has been shown to lead to hair loss due to telogen effluvium.
Digestive Disorder: Poor digestive system and related disorders due to irregular eating habits, trending diets, lifestyle irregularities etc. can lead to lack of nutrition for hair leading to thinning of hair.
Meanwhile, according to ayurveda, an imbalance in the doshas is considered to lead to hair loss – specifically pitta is thought to combine with kapha or vata to destroy hair. Ayurveda also suggests that people of pitta prakriti experience graying of hair as well as hair fall earlier than people with other constitutions. This is thought to be due to the usna guna (quality of heat) of pitta dosha. An improper diet, improper lifestyle practices, premature aging (and aging), problems with asthi dhatu (bone tissue), dandruff, as well as psychological factors such as anger etc. are considered to promote hair loss.
How To Control Hair Fall Naturally
Here are a few measures that can help control hair fall:
1. Nidan Parivarjan (avoiding factors that cause hair fall)
Prevention is always better than cure. And the way to prevent hair fall is by avoiding factors that can cause it. According to Ayurveda, the following factors can lead to hair fall and should be avoided:
- Foods that increase vata (vata vardak) like jamun, potato (aaloo),peas (matar) etc. should be limited. Unwholesome foods (apathya aahara ) such as foods that are excessively oily, starchy or rich in fat such as breads, cakes and other baked foods should also be avoided. As should pickles, curd, tea etc. It is also advisable to avoid the excessive use of salt and kshara (alkaline preparations).Shivgotra, Rachin. “Conceptual Study of Khalitya and its Management.”
- The head and hair should not be washed with warm water or with very cold water. Pouring warm water over your head reduces the strength of hair and eyes.
- Lifestyle practices that increase vata such as excessive sleep during the day and lack of sleep during the night. Kumari, Manju, Anita Sharma, and Sharad Morte Porte. “AYURVEDIC METHOD OF DIAGNOSIS, PREVENTION AND CURE OF HAIR FALL (ALOPECIA).” (2017).
- Environmental factors such as dust, fog, smoke, excessive exposure to sunlight, cold water etc.
- Stress is thought to cause hair fall. Practicing meditation and pranayama daily can be helpful in managing stress and avoiding its worst effects.
2. Have A Nutrient Rich Diet
- Nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss. Specifically protein, iron, biotin, and zinc deficiencies have been linked to hair loss.[Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing.Having too few calories can also lead to hair loss. So if you’re on a low calorie diet and find that your hair is thinning out your diet could be responsible.[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.Let’s take a look at some foods that can help you avoid nutritional deficiencies that cause hair loss:
- Chicken, fish, quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, dairy products, soy products etc. are good sources of protein.[Protein].Better Health Channel.
- Eggs, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach etc. are sources of biotin.[Biotin]. National Institutes of Health.
- Lean meat, seafood, lentils, poultry, kidney beans, raisins, nuts, peas, spinach etc. are sources of iron.[Iron]. National Institutes of Health.
- Oysters, red meat, crab, poultry, lobsters, beans, dairy products, whole grains, nuts, etc. are sources of zinc.[Zinc]. National Institutes of Health.
3. Don’t Use Supplements Indiscriminately
While vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients play a vital role in keeping us healthy, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Excessive amounts of nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin A, and selenium have been linked to hair loss. So it’s a good idea to get tested to find out if you are deficient in a nutrient before taking a supplement.[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.
4. Have Fresh Vegetables And Herbs
Fresh veggies and herbs offer a lot of health benefits. One study found that they might be beneficial in preventing androgenetic alopecia. Consuming raw vegetables (3 or more times weekly) and fresh herbs (3 or more regularly) as part of the Mediterranean diet was found to have a protective effect against androgenetic alopecia.Fortes, Cristina, S. Mastroeni, T. Mannooranparampil, D. Abeni, and A. Panebianco. “Mediterranean diet: fresh herbs and fresh vegetables decrease the risk of Androgenetic Alopecia in … Continue readingThe Mediterranean diet also includes elements like:
- The use of olive oil as the main fat.
- Lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. There’s an emphasis on using foods that are seasonal and local as well as minimally processed.
- Poultry and fish (moderate or low quantities) a few times in a week.
- Yogurt and cheese in moderate or low quantities.
- Wine in low or moderate amounts.[A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet].Harvard Health Publishing.
5. Include Soy Products In Your Diet
Soy is a source of high-quality protein and contains all the essential amino acids. It also contains compounds known as phytoestrogens which act like the female hormone estrogen. And adding soy foods to your diet can be beneficial for preventing hair loss. One study found that frequent soy bean drink consumption may have a protective effect against androgenetic alopecia.Lai, Ching-Huang, Nain-Feng Chu, Chi-Wen Chang, Shu-Li Wang, Hsin-Chou Yang, Chi-Ming Chu, Chu-Ting Chang et al. “Androgenic alopecia is associated with less dietary soy, higher blood vanadium … Continue reading[Soybeans and soy foods].Better Health Channel.
6. Avoid Harsh Hairstyles
Avoid hairstyles that pull your hair tight. That’s because constant pulling can result in hair breaking off or falling out. Over a period of time, you can even damage your hair follicles leading to permanent hair loss. This means it’s best to steer clear of tight ponytails, buns, dreadlocks, and braids. Hair extensions and weaves can also cause damage.[HAIRSTYLES THAT PULL CAN LEAD TO HAIR LOSS].American Academy of Dermatology Association.
7. Avoid Harsh Hair Treatments
Treat your hair gently. Harsh hair treatments can damage hair and cause hair loss. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Heating your hair can weaken it. So restrict your use of flat iron, curling irons, and hot combs. Also try to avoid blow drying your hair – air dry when possible – and when you do use a blow dryer set it at the lowest heat setting.
- Coloring, chemical straightening, relaxing, and perming hair can damage it. If you do go in for any of these treatments, use a professional who will be able to select products that suit you.
- Be gentle when you comb your hair. Tugging at your hair roughly can cause hair to break off and lead to hair loss.
- Opt for a gentle shampoo. And use a moisturizing conditioner after you shampoo. Hair conditioners coat your hair which means fewer split ends and less breakage.[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.
8. Quit Smoking
Smoking is linked to many harmful conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, lung diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes.[Smoking & Tobacco Use].CDC.And if that’s not reason enough to quit it can also worsen hair loss because it causes inflammation throughout your body.[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.
9. Try Nasya
The practice of instilling oil or medicine in the nostrils is known as “nasya” – it’s one of five types of panchakarma described in ayurvedic texts. According to Ayurveda, administering nasal drops of “anu tail”, which is a medicinal nasal drop that contains many herbs can be beneficial in preventing hair fall and promoting hair growth. Anu tail should ideally be administered during spring, autumn, and the rainy season when it’s not cloudy. Do check with your ayurvedic doctor to find out if nasya therapy is suitable for you and make sure you follow the proper procedure for nasya advocated by your doctor. And keep in mind that overexertion after nasya can actually promote hair loss.Shivgotra, Rachin. “Conceptual Study of Khalitya and its Management.”[Importance of Nasya in Today’s Era: A Practical Approach]. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences.
10. Use Hair Oils That Promote Hair Growth
Ayurveda recommends regularly oiling your hair. Of course, many of us already do this as part of our hair care regimen. But did you know that certain oils can promote hair growth? Try the following hair oils to control hair fall:
- Almond Oil: Almond oil has traditionally been used in certain communities for tackling excessive hair fall. And according to an animal study the application of almond nut extracts promoted hair growth. However, the researchers were not able to identify the exact mechanism through which almonds worked their magic.Suraja, R., G. Rejitha, Sunilsona B. Anbu Jeba, K. Anandarajagopala, and P. Promwichita. “In vivo hair growth activity of Prunus dulcis seeds in rats.” Biol Med 1, no. 4 (2009): 34-8.
- Olive Oil: Most of us think of olive oil as a healthy fat that’s used in cooking. But topical application of this oil can also help ward off excessive hair fall. That’s because it contains a phenolic compound called oleuropein which has been found to promote hair growth. Omar, Syed Haris. “Oleuropein in olive and its pharmacological effects.” Scientia pharmaceutica 78, no. 2 (2010): 133-154.Tong, Tao, Nahyun Kim, and Taesun Park. “Topical application of oleuropein induces anagen hair growth in telogen mouse skin.” PLoS One 10, no. 6 (2015): e0129578.
- Cold Pressed Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has traditionally been used as a hair oil in India. One study found that it was able to reduce protein loss (hair is mostly made up of a protein known as keratin) from hair when used as either a post wash or a pre wash grooming product. What does that mean for you? Applying coconut oil can strengthen your hair. And stronger hair means less breakage. The presence of a fatty acid known as lauric acid is thought to be responsible for this beneficial effect.India, MumbaL. “Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage.” j, Cosmet. Sci 54 (2003): 175-192.Yang, Fei-Chi, Yuchen Zhang, and Maikel C. Rheinstädter. “The structure of people’s hair.” PeerJ 2 (2014): e619.
- Onion Juice: Onion juice might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re thinking of tackling hair loss. But research shows that it can promote hair growth. One study found that 86.9% of people suffering from alopecia areata who applied onion juice experienced hair regrowth. Meanwhile, only 13% of the control group experienced hair regrowth. 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. Peel, chop and juice onions and add the juice to an equal quantity of coconut oil. Massage this solution into your scalp and let it sit for about half an hour before rinsing it off to take advantage of the hair growth promoting properties of onion juice.
- Red Ginseng Oil: Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for ages. But did you know that it can be used topically to promote hair growth? One animal study found that the application of red ginseng oil promotes hair regeneration in shaved mice. Beneficial compounds present in red ginseng oil such as linoleic acids and β-sitosterol are thought to contribute to its hair growth promoting activity.Truong, Van-Long, Young-Sam Keum, and Woo-Sik Jeong. “Red ginseng oil promotes hair growth and protects skin against UVC radiation.” Journal of Ginseng Research (2021).
11. Hair Treatments
- Dhoomapana (medicated smoke)– Along with health of head & senses, dhoomapana cures the problem of hair fall by clearing the dosha from head region and also improves the firmness of hair.
- Purification Procedure (Panchkarma)- For patients of hair fall therapies like vaman, virechan, vasti and rakta mokshana should be done according to the dosha.
Test all new hair care ingredients on a small patch of skin first to make sure that you do not react adversely to it before applying it on your scalp.
|↑1, ↑5||[Hair Loss]. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑2||[Hair loss]. Mayo Clinic.|
|↑3, ↑20||Shivgotra, Rachin. “Conceptual Study of Khalitya and its Management.”|
|↑4||Kumari, Manju, Anita Sharma, and Sharad Morte Porte. “AYURVEDIC METHOD OF DIAGNOSIS, PREVENTION AND CURE OF HAIR FALL (ALOPECIA).” (2017).|
|↑6, ↑11, ↑17, ↑19||[HAIR LOSS: TIPS FOR MANAGING]. American Academy of Dermatology Association.|
|↑7||[Protein].Better Health Channel.|
|↑8||[Biotin]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑9||[Iron]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑10||[Zinc]. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑12||Fortes, Cristina, S. Mastroeni, T. Mannooranparampil, D. Abeni, and A. Panebianco. “Mediterranean diet: fresh herbs and fresh vegetables decrease the risk of Androgenetic Alopecia in males.” Archives of dermatological research 310, no. 1 (2018): 71-76.|
|↑13||[A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet].Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑14||Lai, Ching-Huang, Nain-Feng Chu, Chi-Wen Chang, Shu-Li Wang, Hsin-Chou Yang, Chi-Ming Chu, Chu-Ting Chang et al. “Androgenic alopecia is associated with less dietary soy, higher blood vanadium and rs1160312 1 polymorphism in Taiwanese communities.” PloS one 8, no. 12 (2013): e79789.|
|↑15||[Soybeans and soy foods].Better Health Channel.|
|↑16||[HAIRSTYLES THAT PULL CAN LEAD TO HAIR LOSS].American Academy of Dermatology Association.|
|↑18||[Smoking & Tobacco Use].CDC.|
|↑21||[Importance of Nasya in Today’s Era: A Practical Approach]. Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences.|
|↑22||Suraja, R., G. Rejitha, Sunilsona B. Anbu Jeba, K. Anandarajagopala, and P. Promwichita. “In vivo hair growth activity of Prunus dulcis seeds in rats.” Biol Med 1, no. 4 (2009): 34-8.|
|↑23||Omar, Syed Haris. “Oleuropein in olive and its pharmacological effects.” Scientia pharmaceutica 78, no. 2 (2010): 133-154.|
|↑24||Tong, Tao, Nahyun Kim, and Taesun Park. “Topical application of oleuropein induces anagen hair growth in telogen mouse skin.” PLoS One 10, no. 6 (2015): e0129578.|
|↑25||India, MumbaL. “Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage.” j, Cosmet. Sci 54 (2003): 175-192.|
|↑26||Yang, Fei-Chi, Yuchen Zhang, and Maikel C. Rheinstädter. “The structure of people’s hair.” PeerJ 2 (2014): e619.|
|↑27||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.|
|↑28||Truong, Van-Long, Young-Sam Keum, and Woo-Sik Jeong. “Red ginseng oil promotes hair growth and protects skin against UVC radiation.” Journal of Ginseng Research (2021).|