If you search online for "natural hair loss treatments," a long list of tonics, creams, and supplements appears.
But do they work? Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist for Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, Calif., spends a lot of time steering patients away from products recommended by their friends and family members. Most of those products are costly and have little to no benefit.
"Most natural hair treatments are bunk," Mirmirani says.
Though few natural treatments have been well-studied for hair loss, there are a handful that may help you hold onto your mane longer if it's starting to disappear.
Depends on the Cause
You may be seeing more hair in your brush than normal for several reasons. Vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, and menopause are all culprits of hair loss.
If a medical condition is causing your hair loss, it may need to be treated.
"If something needs our attention, you fix that and the hair takes care of itself," says Molly Roberts, MD, president of the American Holistic Medical Association.
Sometimes medication is needed, Roberts says, but she often tries more general methods first -- such as the following:
Sally Kravich, CNHP, a nutritionist and author, finds in her practice that "vanity is a good way to inspire people (to eat better) -- we all want shiny eyes and radiant hair and skin."
She encourages her patients to get nutrients and minerals from the food they eat. Unfortunately, many people don't have the best diets.
Protein is important to strengthen hair and promote growth. The recommended daily amount is about two to three 3-ounce servings of meat or a combination of four to five servings of dairy and beans.
Kravich tells patients dealing with hair loss to include nuts and seeds, eggs, and fish in their diets. All are important sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower inflammation and create a healthier scalp.
It's best to avoid a rut; eat a variety of foods every day. Kravich recommends eating six to 10 servings of various vegetables daily, two to four fruits, and an assortment of grains and legumes and lean meat products.
Roberts says there are some nutrients that may be helpful for hair:
- Iron: Anemia can cause hair loss. But iron supplements are only recommended if you've tested positive for iron-deficiency anemia, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
- Zinc and biotin: These supplements are assumed to help with hair growth because people with metabolic disorders lacking them can have thin or brittle hair and nails, Mirmirani says. She doesn't recommend supplements, but she also doesn't discourage their use.
Saw palmetto is sometimes touted for hair growth, but there isn't enough evidence to back that up, according to the National Institutes of Health.