People often come and ask us, can we use onion oil to treat intense hair fall? When we suggest Krya products combined with change in diet and lifestyle practices instead, they still ask if they can combine these with the onion oil treatment.
What is the onion hair oil treatment all about? Is it really as effective as many claim it to be? What is the Ayurvedic perspective on using onion on hair and scalp? Let’s find out.
Decoding the Onion Hair Oil Trend
Today, a simple search on the Internet will throw up numerous results around brands selling onion hair oil for hair growth and hair fall, or bloggers posting DIY videos on making onion hair oil at home. In fact, there’s even a study by Research & Markets, which indicates that the onion hair oil is set to touch a whopping US $112.6 million by 2030!
But, what is the basis of this sudden rise in demand? Is there even scientific evidence to the claims being made about onion oil effectively treating hair loss?
We did a lot of probing around this subject to find that there is only ONE scientific study which has attempted to analyse the effects of onion hair oil on the scalp. This study was performed in 2022 on a very tiny sample size of people aged between 18 and 22 years. It was later published in the Journal of Dermatology.
The study divided patients into two groups. Group A had 15 patients (8 men and 7 women), and Group B had 23 patients (16 men and 7 women). Group A applied tap water on their scalp, and Group B applied onion juice on their scalp. After 4 weeks, the study observed that 17 out of 23 patients had hair growth, and after 6 weeks 20 out of 23 patients had hair growth.
While it used these results to prove the effectiveness of onion juice, this study had some glaring gaps.
The sample size was statistically insignificant. The groups did not have a fair pattern of selection like the same number of people in each group, the same composition of men and women, and same composition of age groups. More importantly, if tap water was considered a neutral hair growth ingredient, anything in comparison to it, like vegetable oil or any other herb oil, would obviously yield better hair results.
This study, therefore, did not do justice to the hype around onion juice as a miraculous hair growth ingredient. It did not form any kind of basis either for the hundreds of websites out there now promoting this treatment.
Understanding Properties of Onion from an Ayurvedic Perspective
According to Ayurveda, onions are guru (heavy), madhura and katu (sweet and pungent), snigdha (oily) and teekshna (penetrative). They balance vata, slightly increase pitta, and aggravate kapha. They are also warm in potency, and promote strength and appetite.
Using onions on the scalp comes with its pros and cons. Their moderately pitta-aggravating and heavily kapha-aggravating properties can improve hair thickness and growth. But, using onion can also increase heat in the scalp if not combined with the right pitta-balancing herbs and oils.
Moreover, if used in excess, their oily (snigdha) and sweet properties can create a breeding ground for microorganisms. And, this can trigger oily dandruff.
The third concern is the variety of onion we use. Some varieties of onions, like white onions, are also known to be picchila (sticky and slimy). If such onions are used in the scalp, they can clog the srotaas (minute channel openings on the skin and scalp). When the srotaas get clogged, they can impair the supply of nourishment to hair roots, which can lead to weak, brittle hair, and hair loss.
It is also worth noting that classical Ayurvedic preparations using onion are very less. Instead, the texts have suggested a very wide array of herbs of both plant, mineral and animal origin. If at all, there are a few Kerala Ayurveda traditional formulations like murivenna oil, which is used for treating fractures, sprains, joint aches etc because of the “sandhaneeya” or fracture healing properties of onion.
Although the onion has hair thickening properties, this has not been traditionally used in any Ayurvedic hair oil, maybe due to the concerns we highlighted above.
So, what then is the Ayurvedic solution for hair fall? To answer this, let’s first look at why you might be facing hair fall.
Note: After this section, we’ve also suggested Ayurvedic solutions for addressing different kinds of hair fall.
Oiling regularly can prevent hair fall (sometimes better than using an onion hair oil)
Everyday, when you spend long hours working at home or at the workplace, you put a strain on your brain and eyes. This strain can aggravate Vata and pitta dosha. In effect, this means that your scalp can get quickly heated up and dry, with a possible constriction in blood vessels , leading to eye strain, frequent headaches, etc.
To offset this, Ayurveda tells us that regular hair oiling must be done everyday. You might ask, when the body is already producing sebum, why do we need to oil our hair?
Sebum production varies depending on our dosha imbalances and our diet and season. So, there can often be an imbalance in sebum levels that we need to address. Secondly our sebum comes with the same dosha imbalances in the rest of our body. An ayurvedic hair oil can help counter these imbalances using the right targeted set of herbs chosen for our scalp.
So we should not rely on sebum alone for nourishment. The hair needs regular oiling to balance the doshas and get the required nutrition to grow.
When we oil our hair regularly, our vata and pitta doshas get regulated. Our scalp and hair roots get nourished, and sebum levels get balanced. There is also enough food for the hair to grow thick, dark, strong and long.
Chemical shampoos and conditioners can weaken hair leading to hair fall (even if you use an onion hair oil)
A shampoo, even minus the SLS is effectively a detergent made primarily of two ingredients; a degreaser invented in the 1940s to clean factory floors, and cars and petroleum-based emollients to artificially coat hair.
While these ingredients are effective for removing grease and dirt from factory floors and vehicles, they can be very harsh on the human scalp. When used regularly, your body can overreact and increase the sebum production. Or, it can strip your scalp off sebum and make the hair strands dry, brittle and rough.
An ideal and safe alternative to shampoo and conditioner is using natural hair wash powders made with whole herbs that have been processed in the right manner.
Is your shampoo truly natural?
Heat, styling products and texture alteration can damage hair leading to hair fall
Have you wondered why, in your younger days, your hair looked more naturally glossy, shiny and smooth for long periods of time? Whereas now, you need to frequently wash, style and comb it to get the same effect? Two very possible reasons for that could be that; the cuticular structure on your hair has been damaged. And, the di-sulphide bond in your hair has been broken.
Cuticles are layered structures on the outer part of your hair. Healthy cuticles look like fish scales, and they make your hair look smooth and shiny. When you don’t oil your hair regularly, colour your hair using chemical products, or perm, straighten or smoothen your hair, your cuticular structures get damaged. Not only that. When they do, your hair strands become dull, feel rough and break easily.
Di-sulphide bonds, on the other hand, give natural strength and texture to hair. They give your hair strength and elasticity. They allow you to plait, braid and style your hair without breaking it. When the di-sulphide bonds are strong, the eratin (protein in your hair) also remains strong.
Every time you iron or perm your hair and do chemical rebonding, they aggressively break the di-sulphide bonds. When they break, your hair strands become weak and prone to breakage and split-ends. When done repeatedly over long periods of time, these treatments permanently damage your hair.
Is this hair damage reversible? Yes, hair responds to good treatment. We’ve written about how you can treat chemically damaged hair in the later part of this article.
How do coloring, perming and other salon treatments damage hair?
Poor sleep and high stress can trigger hairfall (and this needs inner work)
These can cause two types of dosha aggravation; vata and pitta.
Vata aggravation happens when you don’t sleep on time or don’t get sound sleep because of insomnia or high stress. The aggravation makes your hair strands weak, and your hair growth becomes poor. Your hair quality also becomes frizzy and static.
Similarly, pitta aggravation happens when you are facing anger management issues, or you are stressed because of work overload. Pitta aggravation can cause hair thinning, hair greying and widened parting of your scalp. It can also lead to headaches, anger issues and more.
An unhealthy diet creates weaker hair leading to hair fall
According to Ayurveda, when we eat, the food we consume gets absorbed by our body in layers. For example, the food we eat first builds our rasa dhatu (lymph system). It then goes on to build the next system, ie blood, and so on. So after each body system is nourished, the nutrition available after nourishing this system goes to form the next system. Hair is considered an offshoot of the bone and joint system in Ayurveda. In fact it is said to be formed from the mala / wastes after nourishing the bone and joint system. Therefore the food we eat must be rich in nutrients and be able to be processed well Only then it will deeply nourish each system and have enough left over to form good quality hair.
When we eat over-processed or junk food, the food does not contain enough nutrients to nourish the body deeply. This leads to poor quality or weak hair. That is why for healthy hair growth, a healthy diet, and regular meal timing is crucial.
Find out more about what constitutes a healthy diet and ideal meal timing according to Ayurveda
How Krya Treats Different Kinds of Hair Fall
At Krya, whenever we receive complaints of excessive hair fall, we try to analyse the dosha imbalance behind this hairfall and accordingly suggest treatment, diet and lifestyle practices you can adopt.
For hairfall due to lack of oiling and use of chemical shampoo and conditioners, we recommend regular scalp oiling & switching to an ayurvedic hair wash choornam. You need to oil your scalp at least 3 to 5 times a week. And to eliminate the clogging effect of shampoos and conditioners, you can use a hair mask and hair wash powder regularly. Depending on your dosha imbalance, at Krya we have a range of hair care products. For vata hair type (dry hair), you can use the Krya Dry Hair Care range. For pitta hair type (hair thinning and hair greying), you can use the Krya High Pitta range.
For heat-styled and damaged hair, which requires a lot of care, we suggest the Krya Damage Repair range.
To supplement all these hair treatments and abhyanga, you also need to ensure you have a healthy diet, and keep regular meal times.
The Krya Verdict: Should you continue with onion hair oil or not?
Like we said earlier, while using onion on the scalp can improve hair thickness and growth, when not combined with the right herbs, it can also increase scalp heat and trigger oily dandruff. For the different kinds of hair fall reasons we have looked at above, solely adding onions may not be adequate. For example, onions may be too thick to treat hair fall due to chemically damaged or treated hair.
Therefore, onion oil or onion in hair oil is NOT an overall panacea. It is just one of the thousands of Ayurvedic herbs available. And, it comes with its own pros and cons. To understand and treat your hair loss correctly, you should understand the trigger and proceed accordingly.
Ayurveda always tells us that we must choose a holistic, long term solution to ailments, and choose good health. When we follow health giving habits and a healthy diet, our imbalances become gently, but steadily corrected.
If you would like to talk to us about your hair fall concerns and identify ways to treat it, reach out to us by email. You could also DM us on WhatsApp using the link below.
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