Question: My wife is Chinese and swears that ginger rubbed on the scalp causes new hair growth. She had some small bald patches herself, but after 2 months of rubbibing ginger onto these areas daily, her hair has fully re-grown. Could this help men in any way, or is it just the action of rubbing that stimulates the scalp and hair growth?
Answer: Hi, Mike. Good circulation is often the key to healthy hair as it allows nutrients in the blood to reach the hair follicles, although it has not been proven that massaging the scalp helps hair to grow. A few decades ago there was a bit of a craze where people were being advised to stand on their heads in the belief that a topsy-turvey stance would increase blood flow to the scalp. However, other than giving you a headache it won’t do much good.
Minoxidil is a topical hair loss treatment that has been proven to promote hair growth. It is a vasodilator and stimulates blood circulation, but whether or not it promotes hair growth by this mechanism isn’t entirely understood. The fact, however, is that it does help hair growth when suitable formulations are used consistently and as directed.
With regards to the ginger your wife used, it’s unlikely that it caused the sporadic re-growth of her hair. Ginger is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and in homeopathy but, although it has anti-inflammatory and circulatory properties, it alone is unlikely to regrow hair. Herbal supplements and treatments may be beneficial to improve hair quality but none have regulatory approval for the effective treatment of hair loss.
Also, hair loss in women is generally a bit more complicated than male pattern baldness. It may have been that your wife was experiencing telogen effluvium (a common temporary form of hair loss) or if the patches of hair loss were coin-shaped, bald patches and not thinning hair as such, it may have been alopecia areata (an autoimmune condition where the hair grows back on its own without treatment in majority of cases where only the scalp is affected).
Rubbing ginger on a man’s head to treat hair loss is not recommended as male pattern baldness is largely due to the effects of a testosterone by-product the body produces, known as DHT. There are clinically-proven, MHRA licensed and FDA approved solutions to promote hair growth and inhibit DHT in order to treat male pattern hair loss and these are far more likely to produce results than ginger scalp rubs.
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