Garlic does more than just jazz up a meal. The pungent plant works to lower blood pressure, fight infections from fungus and viruses, reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of blood clots and heart disease, Women Fitness says. Garlic also doubles as an antiseptic that sucks toxins from your body. If you opt to use garlic on your scalp, you also get some benefits for your hair.
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A substance called allicin is where garlic gets both its strong odor and its benefits, Women Fitness notes. Allicin comes in all forms of garlic, be it dried, fresh or a garlic extract. Garlic stimulates blood flow to the scalp and purges out toxins, Soulful Beauty says. Other hair benefits include making hair stronger, shinier and less prone to breaking as well as alleviating dry hair and itchiness in the scalp area.
Garlic induced hair regrowth in people suffering from a type of baldness known as alopecia areata in two different studies, one in Iran and another in the Philippines. In both studies, one group of participants used a garlic gel mixed into the their usual alopecia areata treatment while another group used the traditional treatment with no garlic gel added. After applying the treatments to their scalps twice a day for three months, those who included the garlic gel in their treatments showed a marked improvement in hair regeneration over the group that did not use garlic.
The Iranian garlic gel study took place at the Department of Dermatology, Booali Sina Hospital, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences in Sari, with the results published in 2007 online by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Doctors involved were Z. Hajheydari, M. Jamshidi, J. Akbari and R. Mohammadpour. Dr. Alma Atilano Bautista of the Philippine Dermatological Society undertook a similar study, with her results presented at the June 2010 Sixth World Congress for Hair Research in Cairns, Australia.
Some shampoos already contain a garlic additive, or you can mix garlic extract into your usual shampoo. Another option is using a raw clove of garlic directly on your scalp, Soulful Beauty says. Rub a sliced clove of garlic on the bald or thinning area of your scalp, let the garlic sink in for 60 minutes, then massage the area with olive oil. Sleep with a cap over your hair and wash your hair as usual in the morning.
Garlic does have a few side effects, MedlinePlus.com notes, with one of the most common being an allergic reaction. The reaction results in skin burns and rashes and can crop up in people using garlic for therapeutic purposes or those touching garlic while preparing food. Never use topical treatments of garlic therapy on children and babies as they are more prone to skin burns. The reaction, more prevalent in fresh garlic over extract, usually subsides on its own once garlic use stops. Other reactions sometimes include headaches, sweating or chills, itchiness, dizziness, an asthmatic reaction or a runny nose.