Although hair is not essential to life, it is of sufficient cosmetic concern to provoke anxiety in anyone when it starts thinning, falling, or disappearing. To a woman, the sight of a comb or brush covered with lost hair can cause intense mental strain.
Hair is formed in minute pockets in the skin called follicles. An upgrowth at the base of the follicle, called the papilla, actually produces hair when a special group of cells turn amino acids into keratin, a type of protein of which hair is made. The rate of production of these protein ‘building blocks’ determines hair growth. The average growth rate is about 1.2 cm per month, growing fastest on women between fifteen to thirty years of age.
Causes and Symptoms
The most important cause ofloss ofhair is inadequate nutrition. Even a partial lack of almost any nutrient may cause hair to fall. Persons lacking in vitamin B6 lose their hair and those deficient in folic acid often become completely bald. But the hair grows normally after the liberal intake of these vitamins. Other important causes of loss of hair are stress such as wopy, anxiety, and sudden shock; general debility caused by severe or long standing illnesses like typhoid, syphilis, chronic cold, influenza, and anaemia; an unclean condition of the scalp which weakens the hair roots by blocking the pores with the collected dirt; and heredity.
Rubbing of Scalp: A vigorous rubbing of the scalp with fingers after washing the hair with cold water is one of the most effective among the several home remedies for the prevention and treatment of loss of hair. The scalp should be rubbed vigorously till it starts to tingle with the heat. It will activate the sebaceous glands and energise the circulation of blood in the affected area, taking the hair grow healthy.
Amla Oil: Amla oil, prepared by boiling the dry pieces of amla in coconut oil, is considered a valuable hair tonic for enriching growth. Lettuce: Lettuce is useful in preventing hair loss. A mixture of lettuce and spinach juice is believed to help the growth of hair if taken to the extent to half a litre a day.
Amaranth: Amaranth is another valuable remedy for loss of hair. Its fresh leaf juice should be applied to the hair. It will help the growth of the hair and keep it soft.
Alfalfa: The juice of alfalfa, in combination with equal quantities of carrot and lettuce juices, taken daily, also helps the growth of hair to a remarkable extent. The combination of these juices is rich in elements which are particularly useful for the growth of hair. While preparing alfalfa juice, the leaves of the plant may be used when they can be obtained fresh.
Margosa: The leaves of the margosa tree are also beneficial in the treatment of loss of hair. If the hair has been falling or has ceased to grow, it should be washed with the decoction of neeni leaves. This will stop the hair from falling and stabilise its blackness. It will also make the hair longer and kill lice and other infesting insects.
Mustard Oil and Henna Leaves: Mustard oil, boiled with henna leaves, is useful for healthy growth of hair. About 250 ml of mustard oil should be boiled in a tin basin. About sixty grams of henna leaves should be gradually put in this oil till they are burnt in the oil. The oil should then be filtered through a cloth and stored well in a bottle. Regular massage of the head with this oil will produce abundant hair.
Coconut Milk: The application of coconut milk all over the scalp and massaging it into the hair roots is also beneficial in the treatment of loss of hair. It nourishes the hair and promotes hair growth. Coconut milk is prepared by grinding the coconut shavings and squeezing them well.
Lime-Pepper Seeds: Certain home remedies have also been found beneficial in the treatment of patchy baldness. The most valuable of these remedies is the seeds of lime and black pepper, ground together to get a fine paste. This paste applied on the patches, has a mildly irritant action. This increases blood circulation to the affected area and stimulates hair growth. The paste should be applied twice a day, for a few weeks.
Liquorice: The paste of liquorice, made by grinding the pieces in milk with a pinch of saffron, is another valuable remedy for patchy baldness This paste should be applied over the bald patches at night before going to bed.
Onion: Onion has also been found beneficial in patchy baldness. The affected part should be rubbed with onions morning and evening till it is red. It should be rubbed with honey afterwards.
Pigeon Pea: A fine paste made from pigeon pea or red gram can also be applied regularly on bald patches for beneficial results.
Other Remedies: Daily application of refined coconut oil, mixed with lime water and lime juice, on the hair, prevents loss of hair and lengthens it. Application of the juice of green coriander leaves on the head is also considered beneficial.
Washing the hair with a paste of cooked black gram (urad dal) and fenugreek (methi) lengthens the hair. Regular use of castor oil as hair oil helps the luxuriant growth of the hair.
The healthy condition of the hair depends, to a very large extent, on the intake of sufficient amounts of essential nutrients in the daily diet. Persons with a tendency to lose hair should take a well-balanced and correct diet, made up of foods which, in combination, should supply all the essential nutrients. It has been found that a diet which contains liberal quantities of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits would provide adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients. Each food group should roughly form the bulk of one of the three principal meals. These foods should, however, be supplemented with certain special foods such as milk, vegetable oils, honey, wheat germ, yeast, and liver.
Proper cleaning of the hair, and rubbing of the scalp with a towel after a hairwash, are necessary.