Genetic hair loss is a progressive condition: it will continue unabated if there is no intervention as there is a biological reason why hair is falling out. But what about hair that has been shaved off, or, perhaps, that has been lost to another hair loss condition? Might there be things you can rub into the scalp to help hair grow back more quickly?
It is a conundrum that has challenged scientists (and the ‘quacks’ that masqueraded as scientists before them) for millennia, and explains why people have been known to rub everything from coffee to onions and garlic on their scalp when they notice their hair is thinning out.
Shaved mice tested
But there may be more to it than mere folklore if a Korean study on mice is to be believed. In brief, scientists shaved a group of five-week-old mice, split them into groups and then applied different solutions to their skin six times a week for four weeks. According to the official report submitted by the team, they used a saline solution, jojoba oil, minoxidil and peppermint oil (a French brand named Saniflore).
Their findings are certainly food for thought: the team state that the most impressive regrowth was seen in the mice on which the peppermint oil was applied. This, they say, scored slightly higher than Minoxidil – medically proven to regrow hair on humans – and their observations suggest that peppermint was significantly better than both the jojoba oil and the saline solution, with the most marked difference in growth happening in weeks two and three.
In their report the team state that: “Peppermint (Mentha piperita) extracted from peppermint leaves is generally regarded as an excellent carminative and gastric stimulant, and also has been used in cosmetic formulations as a fragrance component and a general skin conditioning agent. The principal ingredient of peppermint oil, menthol, is primarily responsible for its beneficial effects.”
They go on to say that peppermint has been reported to show anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal activities as well as strong antioxidant activity.
Which conditions could it help?
There is little doubt that these findings are interesting, though how the results would translate to human subjects remains to be seen.
It is also crucial for the hair loss conditions it is intended to treat be named. We suspect they are likely to be temporary types of shedding such as Telogen Effluvium or perhaps Diffuse Thinning as these conditions cause thinning hair, mostly in women, but the hair will usually regrow by itself within up to a year of the underlying cause – which can be anything from stress to a side effect of certain medications or child birth – is resolved. These conditions can also be treated and Belgravia offers various high strength minoxidil products to help combat both, as part of a bespoke treatment plan tailored to each client.
As previously stated, peppermint certainly won’t stop hair being lost to Male Pattern Baldness – the most common form of hair loss – as this is cased by a genetic sensitivity to something called DHT, a testosterone by-product which can cause hair follicles to shrink and stop producing hair.
Restorative powers of menthol
Belgravia is certainly aware of the restorative powers of menthol: it can help to stimulate the scalp, temporarily improving localised blood flow in the same way as massage does. However, it does not work on a molecular level, so it is more of a therapeutic “booster” and should not be considered a treatment or medication.
Menthol scalp treatments are often used during certain Belgravia clinical therapy treatments, alongside a range of other therapies including Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), infra-red stimulation and scalp massage, as menthol does have some beneficial properties.
It is not for everyone, however, as some people find it too harsh. For that reason, it is recommended that anyone wishing to try it at home is very careful about what they are using.
It is best to only use specifically designated peppermint oil/menthol hair products rather than mix your own, as essential oils can easily be damaging in the wrong hands and can also be an irritant to some people. A small skin patch test of the product you intend to use before applying it to the scalp is advisable and if you feel more of a warmth and burning sensation than a mild tingle, rinse your hair and scalp immediately using warm water and a mild shampoo.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.