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A hairy situation – Natural treatments for hair loss

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Question: My family is very unlucky when it comes to hair. I suffer from thinning hair; my 17-year-old daughter has dry brittle hair that tends to split; my husband, who has a full head of hair, regularly gets dandruff and has a permanently itchy scalp; my youngest son, at 14, has alopecia areata, where patches of hair have just disappeared; and my oldest son, who is 19, is beginning to show all the classical signs of male pattern baldness, and a minoxidil scalp solution hasn’t helped him at all. Can you suggest any natural remedies for us?

Answer: You’ll be pleased to know there are a number of cheap natural remedies that are easy to get hold of and can help improve the health of your hair; there are even a few that might encourage hair regrowth.

Here’s a batch of the best that I’ve come across, including a few you might already have in your kitchen cupboard.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is a great moisturizing remedy for dry, itchy scalps. It can help balance your husband’s scalp’s pH levels. The gel should be applied directly to the scalp and gently massaged in with the fingers for about 10 minutes. It should be left on for two hours, then rinsed out with lukewarm water.

Tell your husband to give this a go twice a week for best results.

Apple cider vinegar

A solution of apple cider vinegar with a little added cayenne pepper will help keep your husband’s scalp clean and prevent the development of dandruff and itching. He should shampoo his hair first with a mild shampoo (Aubrey does a good range of 100 percent natural shampoos and conditioners; see, then give it a rinse with apple cider vinegar (plus the cayenne pepper) diluted in water.

Your sons might also benefit from apple cider vinegar. Apart from having shiny healthy hair, they may experience some hair regrowth with this remedy as it contains procyanidins, plant flavonoids shown to be twice as effective as the much-hyped orthodox medicine minoxidil. In fact, procyanidins derived from apples have proved to be more than 40 percent more effective than those derived from grapes in wine vinegars.1

Apple cider vinegar has a very long history of use – it was used by the Egyptians, the Babylonians and by Hippocrates – and cayenne pepper is a natural blocker of cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB1), which means it could counteract hair loss.2

Onion juice

Crude onion juice is one of the oldest folk remedies for encouraging hair growth in cases of alopecia areata, a common autoimmune condition resulting in patchy hair loss. The sulfur in onion juice promotes collagen proteins, which aid the growth of new hair. Your younger son could give this simple remedy a try:

1) Chop a few red onions (or shallots will also do) into small pieces

2) Squeeze out all the juice and collect it in a bowl

3) Apply the juice to the scalp and leave it on for about 20 minutes

4) Rinse off with a mild shampoo and repeat daily.3

Coconut oil

This is a brilliant remedy for your daughter’s dry brittle hair. Coconut oil – packed with potassium, iron and a variety of essential fats – can significantly reduce the protein loss that leads to damaged hair and split ends; it can be used as both a prewash scalp treatment and a hair grooming product.4

Viviscal® supplements

A Nordic dermatologist, after studying the abundant hair of Inuits in Greenland and analyzing their regular diet, devised a marine protein complex called AminoMar C®, the main ingredient in Viviscal supplements (available online at These supplements are ideal for you to take as they can help with thinning hair, and they may benefit the rest of your family too.

They contain cartilage from moko, tiger and dogfish sharks, oyster meat, vitamin C sourced from acerola cherries and ascorbic acid, and silica extracted from horsetail herb – a plant traditionally known to have beneficial effects on hair, skin and nails by promoting microcirculation and improving tissue elasticity.5

A small but well-controlled study of Viviscal clearly demonstrated that women treated with the supplements had significant improvements in overall hair volume, scalp coverage and hair thickness after three months compared with those taking a placebo. After six months, the supplement group noticed further improvements, including shinier hair. No adverse effects were reported, leading the researcher to conclude that the supplement “safely and effectively promotes significant hair growth in women with temporary hair thinning”.6



Br J Dermatol, 2002; 146: 41–51


FASEB J, 2007; 21: 3534–41


J Dermatol, 2002, 29: 343–6


J Cosmet Sci, 2003, 54: 175–92


Asian J Pharm Clin Res, 2010, 3: 146–50


J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 2012; 5: 28–34

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