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Garlic and health

Garlic, a plant closely related to onions and shallots, offers us much more than just a way to add some zing to a pasta dish. Eating garlic may help combat colds, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and even reduce your risk of dementia.

Garlic contains sulphur compounds linked in some studies to slowing or stopping the growth of certain cancer cells. And garlic has antioxidants that can protect our skin from the aging effects of free radicals.

Garlic has also gotten attention as a possible remedy for thicker, longer hair. But does it actually work?

Short answer, yes. Used topically or as a part of your diet, garlic has properties that may help with hair growth, but more research is needed. Here are benefits that might help with hair growth:

  • Some of garlic’s nutritional benefits may extend to your hair. Raw garlic is high in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B-6 and C, manganese, and selenium — all of which promote healthy hair.
  • Natural antimicrobial and antifungal properties found in garlic may also contribute to the benefits for hair, as these properties can help kill bacteria and fight germs, keeping you and your scalp healthy.
  • A 2016 study found that garlic protected keratinocytes from UV damage and showed promise as an anti-aging material. Keratinocytes are skin cells that produce keratin. These cells are on the outer layer of your skin, including the skin on your scalp, and in your hair follicles.
  • A study published in 2007 found anecdotal evidence that participants with alopecia areata who applied garlic gel to bald spots on the scalp may have improved their hair regrowth.

Though the research is promising, more scientific evidence is needed to verify the benefits of garlic for hair.

As with other natural remedies, there are risks to consider when using garlic on your hair or any other part of your body. This is especially true for people with sensitive skin.

Garlic can cause burns when applied to the skin, and instances of serious chemical burns from garlic used as home remedies are well-documented.

This risk isn’t limited to raw garlic. Products containing garlic, such as essential oils, can also irritate the skin and eyes. So it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning any treatment that incorporates garlic.

There are several garlic-infused hair treatments and garlic oils on the market. It’s important to note that garlic cooking oil and garlic essential oil aren’t the same thing. Garlic essential oil is very concentrated and often contains an alcohol as part of storing the extracted garlic oil.

Remember that the sulphur compounds present in garlic make any garlic oil potentially very irritating to your skin and eyes.

You can make your own garlic conditioner using ingredients from your kitchen. To limit the risk of skin irritation, it’s important to dilute garlic with an oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil, which are both good for your hair.

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of carrier oil garlic per clove
  • fork, garlic press, or blender
  • small pan
  • strainer

How to make the conditioner:

  1. Crush the garlic using a fork, garlic press, or blender.
  2. Warm the oil in a pan over low heat and add the garlic when the oil is warm — not hot.
  3. Swirl the garlic around the pan just until it becomes fragrant — you don’t want to cook the garlic.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and let cool.
  5. Pour the mixture through a strainer and discard the pulp.
  6. Store the oil in a glass jar or bottle (dark glass may help the mixture last longer).

How to use the conditioner:

  1. Gently massage 2 tablespoons of the oil into your scalp.
  2. Continue massaging your scalp, or wrap your hair in a towel and wait 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo.

Repeat this twice a week for best results.

You can also make a garlic hair mask by adding equal parts honey-to-oil to your homemade garlic treatment and following the same application steps.

Remember, talk with your doctor before you try an at-home treatment.

Many other treatments may help you get thicker, healthier hair. The best place to start is by doing your part to reduce the amount of damage to your hair.

Here are some helpful tips to help you reduce damage:

  • Wash your hair less often to avoid drying it out.
  • Air dry instead of using a blow dryer.
  • Limit the use of heat-styling tools, and apply a protectant before use.
  • Use fewer styling products.

There are also natural treatments that may help you grow thicker, healthier hair or prevent hair loss. Some of these include:

  • Coconut oil. Applying coconut oil to your hair can help prevent breakage and damage, resulting in longer, thicker hair. It also protects hair against damaging UV rays.
  • Avocado oil. The minerals in avocado oil help seal cuticles and prevent breakage. Avocado oil is also an excellent moisturizer.
  • Biotin. Taking a biotin supplement may improve hair health. Though more research is needed, one 2015 study suggests that biotin may increase thickness and length.

Eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can also improve the health and appearance of your hair and prevent thinning.

More research is needed into the benefits of garlic for hair, but there are other treatments that can help improve your hair’s health. Eating well and limiting the use of harsh products and damaging heat-styling tools can really benefit your hair.

If you’re concerned about hair thinning or hair loss, talk to your doctor. While brittle and thinning hair is often the result of damage from everyday styling, it can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and medications.