The prickly pear cactus grows in desert regions of the United States, South America, Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean. It has been used in traditional folk medicine to treat sunburn, cuts and insect bites. While treating hair loss is not one of its known benefits, prickly pear cactus may help reduce hair loss due to nutritional deficiencies. Your doctor can tell you whether it can help your specific case.
Cactus Pear and Hair Loss
While it is not known for reducing hair loss directly, the prickly pear is high in amino acids, iron and protein, which are nutrients that are necessary for hair growth, according to the AltMD website. A deficiency of these nutrients can lead to hair loss, so eating prickly pear cactus to supplement these nutrients, as a part of a balanced diet, might help reduce hair loss. In addition, the prickly pear cactus can be applied topically to help your hair feel soft and look shiny.
Causes of Hair Loss
In addition to dietary deficiency, hair loss can also result from hair disorders, diseases, other dietary factors, hair treatment or medication. Some hair disorders, such as alopecia areata, and certain diseases, such as thyroid disease and ringworm, can lead to hair loss. Stress, weight loss, too much vitamin A and an eating disorder can result in short-term, nonpermanent hair loss. Medications, such as those for treating cancer and thinning the blood, can also cause hair loss and hair thinning, as can treating your hair harshly.
Some people are genetically predisposed to hair loss disorders, such as male-pattern baldness, which you cannot prevent at home. However, you can prevent hair loss from dietary imbalances and stress by eating a proper diet and exercising regularly. You can also reduce hair loss from harsh treatment by limiting how frequently you color-treat your hair, by cutting back on the use of blow dryers and flat irons, and by brushing and shampooing your hair gently. You should also use soft hair bands and loose clips to hold hair back, instead of tight rubber bands, which can break your hair.
If your hair loss is due to the side effects of medication, you should discuss medication changes with your doctor, who can tell you whether you need to use prickly pear or similar foods or supplements to correct a nutritional deficiency if that is the cause of your hair loss. If your hair loss is caused by alopecia, male- or female- pattern baldness or something else that isn't preventable, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options. According to MayoClinic.com., hair loss treatments include prescription medication, such as finasteride; over-the-counter topical treatment, such as rogaine; and surgical options, such as hair transplants and scalp reduction.