The idea is that the sulfur in onion juice helps hair regrowth. There’s not much research on this, but a small study tested it in people with alopecia areata, which causes patchy hair loss. Half put onion juice on their scalp twice a day; the rest used tap water. After 2 weeks, 74% of the onion juice group had regrown some hair, compared with 13% of tap water users. If you try it, you might want to add something that masks the smell.
This crucial nutrient helps your body make blood, and low levels of it are linked to hair loss. The reason why isn’t clear, but make sure you eat plenty of iron-rich foods like meat, fish, poultry, tofu, broccoli, and all kinds of greens. Talk to your doctor before taking iron pills, though. Too much can cause vomiting and constipation. Very high doses can even be fatal.
Some doctors prescribe biotin (a.k.a. vitamin B7) for hair loss and get good results. (It’s also good for your skin.) Although it’s safe, you probably get plenty from the foods you eat. Eggs, wheat germ, and mushrooms all contain a high amount of biotin. Don’t worry so much about putting it on your scalp. While many hair products boast that they contain it, there’s not much proof that your hair loss will be helped by them.
Since zinc helps with most processes in your body that keep you alive, it’s no surprise that it also strengthens the follicles under your scalp that nourish your hair. Your body doesn’t have a way to store zinc, so you need some in your diet every day. If your levels are low, there’s some proof that taking zinc by mouth could help with hair loss, but more research is needed. Your doctor will likely have you try other treatments first.
From the fruit of a small palm tree comes this herbal remedy, which is sometimes hyped as a hair growth wonder drug. Some studies have shown that it keeps the male hormone testosterone from breaking down, which can help prevent hair loss. While it’s unclear how well saw palmetto works, the good news is that it’s believed to be safe, can be taken with other drugs, and doesn’t cost much to try.
Sandalwood, lavender, rosemary, and thyme oils have been used to treat hair loss for over 100 years. A compound in them is thought to boost hair growth. You can try rubbing one or more of these oils into your scalp for at least 2 minutes every night. Then, wrap your head in a warm towel to help it absorb. A bonus: This nightly massage smells good and can help you feel more relaxed.
High levels of this common element can slow down hair loss. (Not to mention, make your locks brighter.) You’ll find different types of silicon supplements at the store, but a manmade version called orthosilicic acid (OSA) may be absorbed best by your body. Still, talk to your doctor first. It’s not clear how safe silicon supplements are.
Some hair growth supplements contain a nutrient called selenium. It can help your body fight off any toxins you’re exposed to (like through smoking or unclean air) and keep your hair follicles healthy. Although rats and mice with low selenium start to go bald, this hasn’t been proved true for people. In fact, too much selenium can actually cause hair loss, as well as problems with your memory.
You may know melatonin as the “sleep hormone.” Many people take it as a supplement for a good night’s rest or to cut jet lag. But a cream with melatonin can also boost hair growth or slow down hair loss. The reasons aren’t clear, but in a study, people who used a melatonin mixture on their scalp saw less hair loss in 30 days. Struggle with dandruff? Melatonin could help that too. As with all supplements, check with your doctor first.
Daily doses of pumpkinseed oil taken by mouth could safely help bring your hair back. While more research is needed, one small study found that men who took four capsules of PSO each day for 6 months saw their hair count increase by 40%. One reason why? Like saw palmetto, pumpkinseed oil could block testosterone from changing into a compound called DHT, which is linked to hair loss.
An extract made from its compounds may help a range of health issues, including hair loss. It may be a compound called EGCG that helps with hair growth. Researchers saw a difference when they gave balding rats green tea extract for 6 months. But that hasn’t been tested in people. Use green tea supplements with caution, though. Some contain other compounds that can make you sick.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Doctors sometimes inject platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which comes from your own blood, to help with healing after surgery. PRP, which is rich in growth factors, might also help your hair grow. You give a little blood, and a lab spins it in a centrifuge to home in on platelet-rich plasma protein. You then get it injected into different points on your scalp. Many people who have PRP notice their hair grows back — thicker than before.
These are “building blocks” for proteins. They help your body work the way it should. Some amino acids — such as cysteine and L-lysine — play a special role in keeping your hair healthy and growing. But you don’t need to take them as supplements. You should get plenty of amino acids through a healthy diet. Good food sources include cottage cheese, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts, whole grains, and meat.
Smart Hair Care
In some cases, you can help your own hair loss with small and easy changes. Be gentle when you wash, dry, and brush your hair. Don’t yank! Limit the use of curling irons and hot rollers, which can weaken your hair. (So can often wearing your hair in a tight ponytail, braid, or bun.) If you smoke, now’s a great time to quit. Men who light up are more likely to have hair loss than those who don’t.
Tame Your Stress
Going through a rough time can sometimes lead to hair loss. Try to head it off by getting a better grip on your stress. Try techniques like meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery, relaxation exercises, or talking to a counselor. Exercise is also a great option. These are all easy to learn and proven to help ease tension. Keep in mind, the best treatment for your hair loss depends on the cause. Talk to your doctor for guidance.
Medically Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD
Natural Treatments for Hair Loss