Onions for Healthy Hair and Scalp?

We’ve heard stories about using certain food products for long, beautiful locks of hair, but what about onions? Rita Pichardo-Geisinger, MD, Assistant Professor, Dermatology Department, Wake Forest Baptist Health, answered a reader’s question about using onions for healthy hair and scalp.

Rita Pichardo-Geisinger, MD:

For centuries, people have investigated medical properties in natural products. The truth is: many actual medications are derived from herbs and plants.

There are many articles, videos and opinions posted on the internet with personal experiences related to the excellent properties of onions. But do they really work? I have found articles in magazines, internet, and books summarizing the multiple and apparently wonderful good health properties of onions.

Onions are rich in sulfur which is one of the essential nutrients in promoting hair growth. High amounts of sulfur in onions make them particularly effective in regenerating hair follicles and stimulating hair regrowth. Onions contain many important and essential minerals and vitamins, such as vitamins C and B6, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They appear to be particularly useful in skin conditions because of their abilities to promote circulation and decrease inflammation.

The fascinating world of the natural products in medicine has motivated me to investigate this more. There are not many medicine-based evidence articles which demonstrate in a scientific way the benefit of applying onion extract to scalp may help to improved hair loss.

A review of 10 years in the literature only identified one article that was published in 2002 in the Journal of Dermatology; this investigation was designed to test the effectiveness of topical crude onion juice in the treatment of patchy alopecia areata, a non-scarring hair loss condition, in comparison with tap water. In this study, one group of subjects applied the onion treatment twice daily for two months. Re-growth of terminal coarse hairs started after two weeks of treatment with crude onion juice. At four weeks, hair re-growth was seen in 17 patients (73.9%), and, at six weeks, the hair re-growth was observed in 20 patients (86.9%) ; it was significantly higher among males (93.7%) compared to females (71.4%) P<0.0001. This was definitely a great report to evaluate.

A hair loss remedy with onion

So how exactly does this work? Here’s what Dr. Pichardo-Geisinger recommends:

Apply freshly-squeezed, raw onion juice directly onto the scalp, massage deep into the scalp and hair roots. Leave on the scalp for about half-an-hour before shampooing. Do these treatments at least 3 times per week. In most cases, regular onion treatments are alleged to result in dramatic improvement of hair thickness within just several months. Since onion juice restores hair follicles and improves scalp circulation, it will help to promote the strong-hair growth. I found experiences with alopecia areata, female pattern hair loss and traction alopecia. The smell may be neutralized using a mixture of water and vinegar after the use of onion juice.

It’s an interesting and cheap alternative, but my recommendation is to visit your dermatologist if you do not see any improvement with this home remedy.

invasion of the red onions” by Robert Couse-Bakermizo is licensed under CC BY.