ALOPECIA: HERBAL REMEDIESHTML Full Text
ALOPECIA: HERBAL REMEDIES
- Kaushik*, D. Gupta and R. Yadav
Ram-Eesh Institute of Vocational and Technical Education, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss or baldness. It is a health condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp. Hair loss can be caused due to different reasons, such as genetic tendencies, environmental triggers, exposure to chemicals, medicines, nutritional deficiency, extreme stress or long illness etc. On the basis of hair loss pattern and causes, alopecia is classified into several categories. The two major forms i.e. Alopecia areata and Androgenetic alopecia are of main concern. At present a number of synthetic remedies like Corticosteroids, dithranol, tretinoin, minoxidil, zinc, systematic Cortisone, irritants, immuno-suppressive drugs, finasteride, azelaic acid are available for the treatment of Alopecia (both Androgenetic and Areata), but not a single or multiple drug therapy is giving satisfactory and permanent results to the Alopecia patients. Besides, a number of side effects are associated with the use of these synthetic compounds, including erythema, scaling, pruritis, dermatitis, itching, etc. So to cope with the problem of Hair loss, here we have looked into the Nature’s treasure and found a number of herbs with proven records for the treatment of alopecia. Nutritional support, DHT blockers and 5-α-Reductase blockers, Aromatherapy and improved scalp blood circulation are the proposed mechanisms of action for these herbal remedies. Being natural drugs there are many advantages of using them like patient compliance, less side-effects, easy availability, low-cost and more than one mode of action for treatment of Alopecia.
INTRODUCTION: Hair is one of the vital parts of the body derived from ectoderm of skin, is protective appendages on the body and considered accessory structure of the integument along with sebaceous glands, sweat glands and nails. They are known as epidermal derivatives as they originate from the epidermis during embryological development. Hair is an important of the overall appeal of the human body. Alopecia, a dermatological disorder that has been recognized for more than 2000 years is a common problem in cosmetics as well as primary health care practice. It is common throughout the world and has been estimated to affect between 0.2 % and 2% of the world population. A synthetic drug like minoxidil is a potent vasodilator and scientifically proved for the treatment of alopecia. But the use of these synthetic drugs are associated with many adverse events and generally not advisable for safe and effective treatment of alopecia, so the drugs of natural origin are necessary to replace the synthetic one and reduce the adverse effects associated with them. Hence this review article is presented compiling all the updated information on natural herbs exhibiting potent action against alopecia along with the mechanism of actions. Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss or baldness.
There are various causes for Alopecia such as genetic tendencies 1, environmental triggers, exposure to chemicals, medicines, nutritional deficiency, oxidative stress 2 or long illness etc There are various types of alopecia but the two types of major concern are Alopecia areata and Androgenetic alopecia 3.
Androgenetic Alopecia 4:
(Male Pattern Baldness 5/Female Pattern Baldness 6): Androgenetic Alopecia can occur in both men and women and is characterized by the loss of hairs in defined pattern. In women Androgenetic Alopecia appears as diffuse hair loss occurring over most of the scalp. In men however the pattern of loss usually starts with a receding hairline which then advances to thin the top of the head.
Alopecia Areata: Alopecia Areata is a highly unpredictable, common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis). Alopecia universalis is the rarest form of Alopecia areata.
In all forms of alopecia areata, the hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years.
Besides presence of a number of synthetic remedies like Cortocosteroids, dithranol, tretinoin, minoxidil, zinc, systematic Cortisone, irritants, immuno-suppressive drugs, finasteride 24, azelaic acid for the treatment of Alopecia( both Androgenetic and Areata), no single or multiples drug therapy is giving satisfaction to the Alopecia patients. The side-effects associated with the use of these synthetic compounds includes erythema, scaling, pruritus, dermatitis, itching or skin rash. Sunburn should be avoided while using minoxidil as some dermatologists have suggested minoxidil exacerbates the tissue damage.
Rare events include; acne at site of application, burning of the scalp, increased hair loss, inflammation or soreness at root of hair, reddened skin, swelling of the face, and an intolerance to tobacco. So to cope with the problem of Hair loss, here we have looked into the Nature’s treasure and found a number of herbs with proven records for the treatment of alopecia. Being natural drugs there are many advantages of using them like patient compliance, less side-effects and more than one mode of action for treatment of Alopecia.
The herbs used in the treatment of alopecia provide one of the following:
- Nutritional support
- DHT blockers and 5-α-Reductase blockers.
- Aromatherapy and improved scalp blood circulation
Nutritional Support: Minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, chromium, iodine, zinc, and magnesium are necessary to maintain healthy hair growth. Mineral deficiency will reduce the chance to regulate the blood circulation that promotes healthy hair growth and thyroid hormones that prevent dry hair and hair loss as well as defects in hair color. Too much iron is toxic to your body. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any mineral supplement.
B vitamins (especially B6, B3, B5 and folic acid), biotin (anti-oxidant, sources of biotin are: whole grains, egg yolks, liver, rice and milk. Vitamin A is important for over-all good health. It’s also beneficial to hair follicles, as it keeps the hair root lubricated. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that aids effective circulation in the scalp due to increased oxygen uptake in blood, therefore it plays an important role in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss. Coenzyme Q10 (CQ-10) is an essential vitamin that provides our body with the nutrients needed to grow healthy hair. They also promote overall vitality, and contribute to beautiful skin and strong nails.
Yogurt and soy, dark green vegetable, whole grain products, essential fatty acid, nuts and seed
are fatty foods which are typically the best sources of vitamin E, an immune enhancing antioxidant and nerve protector. Carrots contain high amounts of vitamin A. It is an antioxidant that helps produce healthy sebum in the scalp. Having too much vitamin A can lead to hair loss. There are many other foods that help promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, such as fruits, egg, spinach, and broccoli. The various herbs providing nutritional support are summarized below in table 1.
TABLE 1: HERBS PROVIDING NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT IN THE TREATMENT OF ALOPECIA
|Biological Source||Family||Common name||Part used||Chem. Const.||Action|
|Aloe barbadensis||Liliaceae||Aloe vera||Leaves||Minerals||Nutritional support|
|Amaranthus spinosus L.||Amaranthaceae||Bathua||Seeds, leaves||Fe, Cu, Zn & other Minerals||Nutritional support|
|Avena sativa||Poaeceae||Wild Oats||Seeds||Carbohydrates, Fibers, Fe, Zn and Mn||Nutritional support|
|Bacopa monniere||Scrophulariaceae||Brahmi||Entire plant||Triterpenoids saponins, bacosides||Nutritional support and nerve stimulant|
|Cajanus cajan||Fabaceae||Pigeon pea||Seeds||Protein, starch & minerals.||Nutritional support|
|Daucus carota L.||Apiaceae||Carot||Roots||Β-carotene, antioxidants & minerals||Nutritional support|
|Juglans regia L.||Juglandaceae||Akhrot||Fruit||Fe, Cu, Mn, Zn, K, proteins and fats||Nutritional support|
|Lactuca sativa L.||Asteraceae||Lettuce||Leaves||Vit. A & folic acid||Nutritional support|
|Medicago sativa||Fabaceae||Alfalfa||Leaves||Proteins, Calcium, Minerals & Vitamins||Nutritional support|
|Pelvetia canaliculata||Fucaceae||Channelled wrack||Brown algae||Isoflavones||Antioxidant action like Vit. E|
|Phyllanthus embelica||Euphorbiaceae||Amla||Fruit||Gallic acid, Vit. C, Quercetin||Nutritional support|
|Prunus amygdalus||Rosaceae||Badam||Seed oil||Vit B1, B2, B3, minerals, Vit. E, fats||Nervine tonic|
DHT blockers and 5-α-Reductase blockers 7, 8, 9, 10: After knowing the well established role of DHT in hair loss, it is recommended that the use of herbs that have pronounced DHT or 5-α-Reductase blocking activity can be used for the treatment of Alopecia (especially Androgenetic). There are some herbs that have proved DHT blocking activity like Pygeum africanum, Seneroa repens, Urtica dioica and others with potential 5- α-Reductase inhibiting ability like Camellia sinensis, Panax ginseng etc (table 1.). The proposed mechanism of action of DHT blockers and 5-α-Reductase blockers is given in the (fig. 1).
FIG. 1: PROPOSED MECHANISM OF ACTION OF DHT BLOCKERS AND 5-Α-REDUCTASE BLOCKERS
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used as a supplement to treat alopecia. It uses highly concentrated extracts which are derived from the flowers, leaves, bark and the roots of various plants like Arnica montana, Cedrus atlantica, Lavandula agustifolia, Oscimum sanctum, Pilocarpus jabarondi, Rosmarinus officinalis, Thyme vulgaris etc., (table 2). In aromatherapy, the essential oils enter the body through the olfactory system (inhalation) and/or through your skin. As with herbs that are taken orally, the essential oils reach the circulatory system (the blood) where they bind to receptors and change the chemical composition. These oils work not only on a cellular level to strengthen/calm the nervous system, but also on a spiritual one, providing with a sense of well being. Topical herbal therapy stimulates hair follicles and it is proved as safest way to cope up with different type of hair loss (alopecia), however perfect pharmacological actions of these herbs and oils are yet not known.
TABLE 2: HERBS FOR ALOPECIA WITH THEIR MODE OF ACTIONS
|Biological Source||Family||Common name||Part used||Chem. Const.||Action||Ref.|
|Arnica Montana||Asteraceae||Mountain tobacco||Flowers||Terpenoids||Aromatherapy||11|
|Cedrus atlantica||Pinaceae||Cedarwood||Wood chips & saw dust||Terpenoids||Aromatherapy||12|
|Lavandula agustifolia||Lamiaceae||Lavender||Flowering tops||Terpenoids||Aromatherapy||12|
|Oscimum sanctum||Lamiaceae||Tulsi||Whole plant||Terpenoids||Aromatherapy||11|
|Rosmarinus officinalis||Lamiaceae||Rosemarry||Flowering tops||Terpenoids||Aromatherapy||12|
|Thyme vulgaris||Lamiaceae||Thyme||Flowering tops & leaves||Terpenoids||Aromatherapy||12|
|Allium cepa L.||Alliaceae||Onion||Cloves||Allicin, Vit. C S- containing compds., minerals||Stimulates hair regrowth||13|
|Allium sativum L.||Alliaceae||Garlic||Cloves||Allicin, Vit. C S- containing compds., minerals||Anti-microbial & nerve stimulation||14|
|Camellia sinensis||Theaceae||Tea||Leaves||Catechins, epicatechins, caffeine, & other tannins||5-α reductase inhibitor||15, 16, 17|
|Capsicum annum||Solanaceae||Pepper||Fruits||Capsiacin and isoflavones||Nerve stimulation and production of IGF-I||18|
|Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk||Asteraceae||Bhringraj||Leaves||Ecliptasaponin C, daucosterol, stigmasterol-3-O-glucoside||Follicular enlargement and prolongation of Anagen phase||19, 20|
|Ginkgo biloba||Ginkgoaceae||Ginkgo||Leaves||Flavonoids glycosides, terpenoids||Increases cerebral microcirculation||21|
|Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn.||Malvaceae||Gudhal||Flower||Flavones, cyclopeptide alkaloid, hentriacontane, riboflavin, thiamine||Follicular enlargement and prolongation of Anagen phase||19|
|Nardostachys jatamansi||Valerianaceae||Jatamansi||Rhizomes||Bornyl acetate, valeranone, jonon, menthylthymyl-ether and 1,8-cineol||Follicular enlargement and prolongation of Anagen phase||19|
|Panax ginseng||Araliaceae||Ginseng||Roots||Ginsennosides, phytoestrogens &Minerals||5-α reductase inhibitor||16, 22|
|Pygeum africanum||Rosaceae||Pygeum||Dried bark||Ferulic acid esters (n-docosanol and tetracosanol)||Lowerdown DHT levels||16, 23, 24|
|Seneroa repens||Arecaceae||Saw Palmetto||Berries||Steroidal saponins, fatty acids, phytosterols, volatile oil, resins and tannins||DHT blocker||23, 24|
|Urtica dioica||Urticaceae||Stinging nettle||Roots||Vit. K, A & C and minerals||DHT blocker||16, 23, 24|
|Zanthoxylon rhetsa (Roxb.) DC.||Rutaceae||Indian Ivy Rue, Cape Yellowwood||Seeds||Zanthoxylin, vol. oils||Enhances microcirculation in scalp||25|
|Polygonaceae||Fo-Ti, He Shou Wu||Roots||Glycosides, antioxidants||Nutritional support||26|
Few Herbal preparations and method of application for the treatment of Alopecia:
- Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgoaceae)
Chemical constituents: Ginkgolides A, B, C, J, M, bioflavin, sitosterol, lactones and anthrocyanins.
Mode of Application: The drug is extracted in coconut oil and is massaged for at least 2 minutes.
Reason 21: The drug is known to improves cerebral microcirculation and hence increases oxygen supply.
- Phyllanthus embelica (Euphorbeaceae)
Constituents: Vitamin C, phyllemblin, tannin, phosphorous, iron, calcium
Mode of Application: Indian gooseberry oil, prepared by boiling dry pieces of Indian gooseberry in coconut oil, is considered a valuable hair tonic for enriching hair growth. A mixture of an equal quantity of fresh Indian gooseberry juice and lime juice, used as a shampoo also stimulates hair growth and prevents hair loss.
Reason: Iron is involved in the oxygenation of your body’s red blood cells. It is essential for normal hair growth and maintaining healthy hair. If the amount of iron can not be replaced with food intake, iron deficiency will cause hair loss because of oxygen deficiency.
- Allium cepa (Liliaceae)
Constituents: Protein (albumin), allyl propyl disulphide, diallyl sulphide, alliin, allicin. It also contains some mineral like potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and traces of chromium.
Mode of Application: Onion has also been found beneficial in patchy baldness .The affected part should be rubbed with onion juice morning and evening till it is red. It should be rubbed with honey afterwards.
Reason 13: Zinc helps to secrete the scalp with much needed oil and avoid dandruff that may cause hair loss. Iron is involved in the oxygenation of your body’s red blood cells. It is essential for normal hair growth and maintaining healthy hair.
- Rosmarinus officinalis (Labiatae) and Lavandula angustifolia Miller (Labiatae)
Constituents: Rosmary constitutes 1-2% volatile oil containing 0.8-6% of esters and 8-20% of alcohols, The principal constituents are 1, 8-cineole, borneol, camphor, bornyl acetate and monoterpene hydro- carbons.
The chief constituents of lavender oil are Lavenanlol, linalyl acetate, linalol, lavendulyl acetate, terpineol and cineol.
Mode of Application: These oils were massaged into the scalp for a minimum of 2 minutes daily for seven months.
Reason 12: The essential oils enter your system through the olfactory system (inhalation) and/or through your skin and reach your circulatory system (the blood) where they bind to receptors and change the chemical composition. Topical herbal therapy stimulates hair follicles and it is proved as safest way to cope up with different type of hair loss (alopecia), however perfect pharmacological actions of these herbs and oils are yet not known.
- Juglans regia 27 (Juglandaceae)
Constituents: Fatty acids, linoleic acid (50.58 - 66.60%) are the predominant fatty acid followed by oleic acid (14.88 - 28.71%) and linolenic acid (9.16 -16.42%). The other fatty acids were found in trace contents. The macronutrient contents of walnut are 100 g-1 for K (911.0 - 684.3), P (434.7 - 356.2), Ca (756.7 - 388.2), Mg (444.0 - 330.8) and Na (48.9 - 26.1) while micronutrient contents of walnut are Fe (6.6 - 4.3), Cu (2.8 - 1.8), Mn (5.7 - 2.7) and Zn (4.3 - 2.7). The potassium contents were found to be higher than those of the other minerals in all kernels of the walnuts.
Mode of Application: The application of walnut oil all over the scalp and massaging it into the hair roots is also beneficial in the treatment of hair loss. It nourishes the hair and promotes hair growth.
Reason: The fruit contains essential minerals which are helpful in the growth of healthy hair. Iron increases blood circulation and oxygen supply as stated earlier. Zinc helps to secrete the scalp with much needed oil and avoid dandruff that may cause hair loss. In case of Copper, study shows that these tripeptide complexes may actually be able to regrow hair, even in patients with total hair loss due to alopecia. Healthy tissue concentrations of copper lies between 1.7 and 3.5 milligrams.
- Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn. (Leguminosae):
Constituents: The chief constituents are glycyrrhizin, potassium and calcium salt of glycyrrhizinic acid.
Mode of Application: The paste of liquorice, made by grinding the pieces in milk with a pinch of saffron, is another valuable remedy for patchy baldness. This paste should be applied over the bald patches at night before going to bed.
Reason: The extract of liquorice has proved to possess constituents which promote growth of hair.
CONCLUSION: The condition of hair has been the centre of attention of human civilization since ancient times. Alopecia is one of the major problems amongst urban people due to subjection to stress, environmental problems, etc. So with the help of this review article, we conclude that there are many herbal drugs having potency for curing alopecia with no sides effect. These herbal extracts having multiple phytoconstituents can treat alopecia either by providing nutritional supplements or by acting as DHT and 5-α-Reductase blockers. There are also few natural treasures having volatile oil active constituents which can be used as aromatherapy for treating alopecia by improving scalp blood circulation.
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R. Kaushik*, D. Gupta and R. Yadav
Ram-Eesh Institute of Vocational and Technical Education, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
14 April, 2011
21 May, 2011
18 June, 2011
01 July, 2011