Bhringaraj oil is a natural remedy often used to promote hair growth. Most commonly used in ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India), it contains a combination of extracts of the bhringaraj plant (Eclipta alba) and a natural oil (typically sesame or coconut). Bhringaraj oil is also used to treat certain health problems, such as difficulty sleeping.
Also known as false daisy, bhringaraj grows in India, China, Thailand, and Brazil. Preliminary studies suggest that it shows promise in the treatment of health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. However, it's important to note that these studies tested the effects of oral intake of bhringaraj, whereas standard use of bhringaraj oil involves applying the oil to the scalp and skin.
Uses for Bhringaraj Oil
According to the principles of ayurvedic medicine, bhringaraj oil can help to treat imbalances in pitta (one of the three doshas). Since excess pitta is thought to contribute to problems with hair health, bhringaraj oil is touted as a natural solution for hair loss and prematurely graying hair. Using bhringaraj oil is purported to increase the hair's thickness and luster as well.
Bhringaraj oil is also used to stimulate hair growth in people with alopecia areata.
Because treating pitta imbalances is said to increase feelings of calmness, massaging the scalp with bhringaraj oil is sometimes used to improve sleep and alleviate stress.
In addition, some proponents suggest that bhringaraj oil can enhance skin health.
Health Benefits of Bhringaraj Oil
Although there's currently a lack of clinical trials testing the potential benefits of bhringaraj oil, some preliminary research indicates that extract of the bhringaraj plant may help promote hair growth.
In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2009, for instance, tests on mice determined that treatment with bhringaraj extract helped stimulate hair growth in the animals. Additionally, a 2008 study from the Archives of Dermatological Research found that bhringaraj extract was more effective than minoxidil (a substance commonly used in the treatment of hair loss) in promoting hair growth in rats.
While these findings suggest that bhringaraj extract holds promise as a natural treatment for hair loss, more research is needed to determine its hair-growth-promoting effects in humans.
Alternatives to Bhringaraj Oil
Two other popular ayurvedic remedies said to improve hair health are amla oil and brahmi oil (a product made from extracts of the herbs bacopa monnieri and gotu kola, typically combined with sesame oil or coconut oil). However, as in the case of bhringaraj oil, there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the effectiveness of brahmi oil or amla oil in promoting hair growth or treating any health condition.
There's some evidence that certain essential oils (a class of plant-derived oils commonly used in aromatherapy) may be beneficial in the treatment of alopecia areata. For example, a small clinical trial published in Archives of Dermatology in 1998 found that massaging the scalp with a blend of thyme, rosemary, lavender, cedarwood, jojoba, and grapeseed oils daily for seven months led to some improvement in symptoms for alopecia areata patients.
For help in sleeping more soundly, try self-massaging with a blend of lavender oil and a carrier oil before bedtime. Research shows that essential oil of lavender may possess sedative properties that could be beneficial in the treatment of insomnia.
Learn more about using aromatherapy for sleep problems.
Where To Find Bhringaraj Oil
Available for purchase online, bhringaraj oil is sold in some natural-foods stores and stores specializing in natural products.
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Datta K, Singh AT, Mukherjee A, Bhat B, Ramesh B, Burman AC. "Eclipta alba extract with potential for hair growth promoting activity." J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 30;124(3):450-6.
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