On an average, the scalp is estimated to contain between 100,000 – 200,000 individual strands, of which 100 to 150 are lost daily as part of the normal hair cycle and it occurs after mechanical manipulation like washing, detangling or styling hair. Normally, these hairs are telogen hairs, which are in the resting phase of growth. The telogen phase lasts about 3-4 months before the strand is pushed out by a younger, budding strand. Once the old strand is pushed out of the follicle, it is no longer bound to the scalp and hence sheds. Since most of our hair strands (90%) are in the anagen phase of active growth, there are much fewer numbers in the dormant telogen phase (8%), which is why we shed roughly 100-150 strands per day. When the telogen phase is terminated abruptly, shedding increases dramatically. If shedding more than 100-150 hairs/day over a time period of 2-4 weeks, this condition is called Telogen Effluvium (TE).
Trigger events for Telogen Effluvium (TE) that could result in excessive shedding and hair loss include:
- Accidental trauma
- Febrile illness (e.g., malaria)
- Major surgery
- Emotional stress
- Chronic systemic illness
- Large hemorrhage
- Crash diets
- Drugs and Medications
A 2007 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology documents successful growth stimulation using garlic gel topical treatment in people suffering from alopecia areata (which is classified as female pattern hair loss). The exact science behind how garlic worked to stimulate growth is still an on-going experiment among biologists and dermatologists. The hypothesis is garlic’s high sulfur (also present in the allium species which includes onions, shallots, scallions, leeks and chives), which happens to be a prime structural part of many amino acids in the human body including the fibrous protein called keratin that is the main component of hair, was responsible for the growth. Aside from sulfur, garlic is also a rich source of vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B6 as well as selenium, copper and manganese. The sulfur and selenium contained within garlic is believed to help fortify the structure of the hair shaft and strengthen the hair root as well.
The good news is shedding that occurs postpartum or as a result of accidental trauma on the scalp, febrile illness (e.g. malaria), emotional stress and dietary issues can all be easily rectified with nutrition and better hair care methods. More serious conditions might require advanced intervention by a dermatologist. Garlic oil, applied topically could be very useful in strengthening the hair strands and stimulating the hair root but, realistically, it is not a magic portion that will work overnight or on it’s own. To see results, the oil must be coupled with proper nutrition, better hair care methods and products as well as a generally healthy body.
¼ cup crushed garlic
1-cup oil of your choice
Option 1: Combine ingredients in a Mason jar and leave in sunlight for two weeks. Shake or invert the Mason jar every few days.
Option 2: Place herb and oil in a crockpot and set it to warm for 6-8 hours.
Strain over a cheese cloth and bottle in a dark amber bottle
- Click here for the oils I used in my infusion
- If you use your own oil, I recommend avocado, coconut or olive with singularly or in combinations. These three have scientific backing as oils that penetrate the hair strands
- You can go higher with the amount or garlic but be careful not to over do it to where the oil becomes excessively stimulating. If you have an uncomfortable burning sensation when you apply the oil, you used too much garlic. Over stimulating your follicles could destroy them or even make them dormant
- Garlic essential oil can be used in place of garlic oil infusion. The essential oil is extremely potent, you only need five drops in two ounces of oil or add a few drops to your shampoo/conditioner.
- You can use fresh garlic but make sure you make a small batch and discard within a week because the water content in fresh garlic will cause the oil to go rancid
- Chop two medium size garlic and leave the pieces in open space for a week. The sun’s heat will dehydrate the garlic and voilah, you have dried garlic that will last the same as store bought. You can leave it out in the sun for a day and then just place in an empty contain without a lid for a week or so
- Store the oil in a dark glass amber bottle and keep away from sunlight. It’s recommended that you put a separate a small amount into your oil bottle, store the rest away in a glass amber bottle then replenish your oil bottle as needed.
- Apply the oil as often as you can to your scalp and hair strands. Every day would be ideal. Remember consistency is key if you want results. I’m using the oil once a week overnight in preparation for the weekly muds
- Increase strengthening treatments to your hair routine. Products that have proteins and panthenol are great strengtheners. Amla combined with brahmi has been documented to strengthen the hair. Teas rinses like nettle, horsetail, burdock root and black tea have also been documented to curb shedding
- Eat well, exercise and mitigate stress as much as possible
- This is not a magic portion; you will not see results overnight. Be patient
- If you’ve been shedding excessively for more than three months, see a dermatologist to figure out why and get help for your condition
PS: Even if you consider your shedding rate normal, garlic oil is still a useful hair oil because:
- Reinforces the disulphide bonds to strengthen existing hair strands
- It’s antibacterial and anti fungal oil that will annihilate parasites like head lice and mites
- Soothes itchy scalp
- It’s has been scientifically documented to stimulate hair growth
- The oil can be used the same way you use any other hair oil (pre-poo, conditioner additive, hot oil, oil rinsing etc)
PS: I re-infused garlic into a mixture of my growth (available here) and dry hair (available here) oil blends. I usually saturate my hair with oil and leave it to marinate overnight then follow with my weekly hair routine (usually a mud mask or deep conditioner) the next day. This video demonstrates how I use oil on my hair.