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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can Nettle Extract Combat Hair Loss?

Author: Christiana Roberts

The nettle plant, also known as Stinging Nettle, or under its botanical names Urtica dioica and Urtica urens, has been used as a traditional medicinal herb for many centuries. A mental stimulant, it was found useful in ancient schools. Teachers applied stinging sprigs of fresh nettle to the bare backs of their students, to help them memorize their lessons better…

Both nettle roots and leafs were traditionally used to treat asthma, diabetes, kidney infections, arthritis, coughs, colds, and even enlarged prostates. They were believed to improve digestion, heal wounds, and lower blood pressure. An interesting action of nettle root is in its testosterone and estrogen-enhancing qualities, with makes this herb a praised aphrodisiac. However, the most famous application of nettle infusions is in treating alopecia areata. A gentle irritant, this herb is able to improve scalp circulation, stimulate hair roots, facilitate the flow of oxygen and nutrients into hair follicles, and promote overall hair growth. Clinical trials have confirmed the effectiveness of nettle root extracts in treatments of hair loss, including genetic male-pattern baldness and alopecia areata.

Nettle root extracts, infusions, oils, and alcohol preparations have been praised in many societies for their unique skin-smoothing, bacteria-killing, and hair-restoring properties. They found applications in numerous traditional hair care products - those ancients shampoos, soaps, rinses, and conditioners. Recently, both modern science and cosmetic industry have rediscovered many wonderful qualities of nettle, and incorporated its extracts into a vast variety of treatments and beauty products. Nettle root preparations are now being used in many health care items to enhance their cleaning and healing properties. One of the most important applications for nettle root extract is found in herbal hair care products. Due to their superb hair-growing properties, nettle preparations are included in modern hair massage oils, shampoos, conditioners, and hair loss treatments. Nettle is especially known for its capacity to improve the health of skin, scalp, and hair, remove dandruff, stimulate hair growth, and strengthen weakened hair follicles.

Nettle oil is, probably, the most powerful of nettle infusions. It is usually manufactured by mixing extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil with nettle root extracts. For centuries, this powerful herbal oil has been proven very effective in restoring dull, thinning hair. An anti-inflammatory remedy, nettle oil should be massaged into the scalp and hair at least once a week, to combat dandruff, dry hair, and an itchy, irritated scalp. Apply gently warmed nettle oil onto your scalp about one hour before shampooing, massage vigorously into the leather and especially inflamed areas, and leave there for more effective absorption. Nettle oil can also be left on the scalp and hair overnight. Long-term nettle applications are known to improve scalp psoriasis, eczema, and various types of dermatitis - the conditions which often result in the fall of hair. A hypersensitive skin reacts to nettle root oil especially well: weekly scalp massages are a great treatment that helps reduce inflammation, heal irritated areas, and reverse related hair loss.

What makes nettle so unique is its chemical composition featuring a wide array of healing components. It contains vitamins C and E, serotonin, formic acid, choline, chlorophyll, flavonoids, carotenoids, lecithin, caffeic acids, and beneficial minerals. Some chemical agents of nettle root are able to block the enzyme 5a-reductase, which is responsible for the formation of DHT from testosterone - the main villain involved in the development of male-pattern hair loss.

To enhance the healing effect of nettle oil on the scalp and hair, it is often mixed with other herbal remedies, such as Burdock root oil, Saw Palmetto extracts, or Plantain oil. Combined action of these traditional hair-restoring herbs is particularly beneficial for over-sensitive, reddish, dry, and irritated scalp. It is also a great strengthening remedy to rejuvenate and give a boost to hair follicles that have entered telogen - their “resting phase”, during which hair falls out. In addition, personal care products with nettle root can feature facial masks and skin lotions designed to smooth the skin, combat inflammation, and remove wrinkles.

Nettle root and leaf extracts, usually mixed with other herbal elixirs, can also be found in dietary supplements formulated to purify the blood, stop hair loss, improve various scalp conditions, and stimulate the growth of healthy hair.