If you’ve ever searched for “Ayurvedic oil,” chances are that you’ve met with either one of two kinds of search results.
On the one hand, maybe you’ve seen a ton of articles extolling their virtues and pointing to them as one of the most popular Indian-inspired treatments on the Internet today.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve come across worrying articles pointing out that the term “Ayurvedic oil” is really an oversimplification while claiming that the whole practice is based on bad science.
So what are the facts, what’s fiction, and can any “Ayurvedic oils” actually help with your hair care routine?
In this article, we’ll discuss how to use Ayurvedic oil for hair growth, regrowth, thinning, hair loss, scalp care, and more.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Origin of Ayurvedic Oil
- 2 Does Ayurveda Oil Work? What Does the Science Say?
- 3 The Benefits of Ayurvedic Oil for Hair and Scalp Care
- 4 How to Use Ayurvedic Oil for Hair Growth
The Origin of Ayurvedic Oil
Some proponents of Ayurvedic oil treatments assert that they are derived from the ancient practices spelled out in early Hindu texts.
However, the practice really took off in the West in the 1970s and ‘80s, with people such as Babi Hari Dass supporting the treatments.
However, there’s been lots of scientific blowback against these practices.
Scientific holes in Ayurveda aside, the herbs used in Ayurvedic practices are still real, and that’s what we care about most when it comes to using Ayurvedic oil for hair care treatments.
The Ayurvedic herb is sometimes known in English as a “false daisy.”
It has the vernacular names “Guntagalagar aaku” in Telugu, “Kannunni” in Malayalam, “Bhangaro” in Gujarati, “Karisalankanni” in Tamil, and “Kesuriya” in Bengali.
This herb is a member of the sunflower family, and as this cluster of names would indicate, it is found all over the Indian subcontinent.
It is a creeping herb that can grow to a height of approximately 10 feet (or 3m), has flowers that measure 6 to 8mm in diameter, and has cylindrical greyish roots.
Does Ayurveda Oil Work? What Does the Science Say?
The first thing you need to know is that Ayurvedic oil is something of a misnomer. Ayurvedic treatments refer to traditional treatments given by Ayurveda people on the Indian subcontinent, but there is no single “Ayurvedic oil” or medicine.
Furthermore, Ayurvedic treatments are not seen as credible by the Indian medical establishment, with the Indian Medical Association opposing them as quackery.
The IMA has opposed a bill aimed at blurring the line between Ayurvedic and proper science and evidence-based medicine.
However, just because Ayurvedic medicine has been debunked doesn’t mean that some of the herbs and oil extracts used over the centuries don’t still have healing or hair care properties, which is what brings us back to bhringaraj.
Bhringaraj is one of the most commonly used in Ayurvedic treatments and is most likely what you’ll see marketed as “Ayurvedic oil.”
While the broader medical promises of Ayurvedic practitioners may fall flat, there is some scientific evidence to suggest that this herb may actually be able to help you with your hair care.
To get to the root of the oil’s value, we need to push away the more spiritual claims made by some in the Ayurveda pseudoscience community and focus on scientific studies.
This study published in 2011 in the Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science found bhringaraj to be an effective antibacterial agent.
Bhringaraj has also been found to contain vitamin D and E as well as calcium, magnesium, and iron. The herb is also often used as a massage agent, with all the soothing sleep-aiding benefits that come with it.
Given its hair care promises, however, it should come as no surprise that many of the studies concerning bhringaraj focus on its hair treatment abilities.
The 2008 study on mice also suggested that it may be more effective in stimulating hair growth than Rogaine.
While you shouldn’t base your hopes for hair growth entirely on studies conducted on mice, it is nevertheless a promising sign.
Furthermore, those antibacterial and antifungal properties can potentially help fight dandruff. Another study in 2008 noted bhringaraj’s ability as a cosmetic hair-darkening agent.
The Benefits of Ayurvedic Oil for Hair and Scalp Care
1. Fighting Dandruff
As mentioned above, bhringaraj has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, both of which can help ward off the kind of bacterial or fungal infections which give rise to certain forms of dandruff.
In addition, a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences found that, when combined with frog fruit, it was able to combat a kind of skin fungus known as Malassezia furfur.
Malassezia furfur is another potential cause of dandruff, giving you a one-two punch to protect against it. Of course, there are other causes of dandruff, notably dried-out scalps.
When your scalp becomes dry, it often becomes itchy, which in turn causes you to scratch it, dislodging already-loose hair follicles and skin and causing that embarrassing sensation of dandruff flakes fluttering down onto your shoulders.
This is why so many hair care products strive to protect against that by keeping scalps well moisturized.
At the same time, however, you need to be careful not to make your scalp too oily or moist, which is why it’s so important to ensure that you maintain a balance of natural oils in and atop your scalp.
While its abilities as a skin-soothing agent are nowhere as scientifically vetted as its antibacterial status, some have found luck with it.
So if you have had success combating bacteria-related dandruff with Ayurvedic oil before, you might want to give bhringaraj a try as well.
2. Strengthening Hair
Some users have reported that bhringaraj oil can strengthen hair follicles. On the one hand, this claim is far more anecdotal than some of the others.
On the other hand, if you have already had luck with this herb in other capacities, it may be worth seeing if you’ll get lucky again in this regard.
3. Combating Hair Greying
This is one of those claims made by users of bhringaraj, which requires a bit more explanation. It isn’t quite accurate to say that this herb can “stop” hair greying.
This is due in large part to the fact that hair graying is largely a genetic process. There isn’t an herbal hair care treatment of any kind that can help with that.
What this herb can do, however, as mentioned above, is add some color back into your hair. It works to bring out the natural color in your hair, giving it some added color and volume.
You may not be able to reverse greying, but this herb can help you bring out what color you already have and make it that much more vibrant again.
4. Combating Hair Loss
This is by far one of the most attractive claims for many interested in this hair care product.
The older you get, the more likely hair loss becomes, and you want to do whatever you can to try and fight it and hang on to your luscious locks as long as possible.
If you are looking for a way to combat hair loss, you may want to consider this herb, as it has received good reviews from users regarding its ability to do so.
However, this is again more evidence-based on anecdotes rather than properly peer-reviewed science.
5. Stimulating Hair Growth
Nice as it is to stymie hair loss, you also want to make sure that you are able to regrow your hair as well whenever possible.
Once again, we are confronted with the anecdotal nature of bhringaraj oil. Those who use it claim that it does the job.
Those who believe in bhringaraj oil for hair growth do so largely on the back of vasodilatation, which can help get blood to the roots of your hair. The benefits here should be clear.
The better the circulation around the roots of your hair, the more likely they are to grow and flourish. Also, bhringaraj can promote hair growth by stretching out the anagen phase in the hair growth process.
Studies such as one in 2018 published in the Archives of Dermatological Research have found it effective in this regard, once more stating that it performed favorably when compared to Rogaine.
6. Increasing Aesthetic Appeal
For as important as it is to make sure that your hair is healthy from a medical standpoint, you also want to think about the aesthetic side of things.
A certain sense of pride comes from knowing that you have a healthy, shiny, lusciously soft head of hair, and finding products that bring out and enhance your hair’s beauty can improve your confidence.
Bhringaraj has become a favorite of those who approach the hair care industry in this manner, adding some extra shine and luster to hair.
How to Use Ayurvedic Oil for Hair Growth
Part of the reason why it is so important to note the anti-scientific nature of Ayurvedic oils is that they aren’t necessarily harmless.
While you should be fine using it in your hair, you can become sick if you misuse it. Some have reported feeling sick when they take the herb orally.
Instead, you’ll want to apply it topically. It is always a good idea to do a test case with different skin care products and apply them to a small part of your skin to ensure that you don’t have an allergic reaction, and that’s the case here.
Apply it and wait for 30 minutes to see if you experience any negative reactions such as itchy, swelling, redness, etc. Do not use bhringaraj if you suffer from blood clotting issues or are on blood thinners.
It is best to massage this oil directly into your scalp. Rub it in and let it sink in and sit for around an hour. Rinse it out afterward, preferably by showering. If your hair feels oily, try shampooing twice.
You may also want to consider making a hair mask involving bhringaraj by mixing it with oil, water, or even yogurt. Apply it, allow it to sit and dry for at least 30 minutes, and then rinse it out.
If you are going to use it to try and bring out some of your hair’s former color, mix a teaspoon of this oil extract with two tablespoons of coconut oil and brew it over low heat.
Massage this into your scalp, rinse it out again after an hour, and repeat this two to three times per week.
Ayurvedic oils certainly have their red flags, as mentioned several times within this article.
However, what is key about the processes outlined in this article is that they steer clear of the more fantastic claims of those in the Ayurveda community and instead focus on actual science being done on the hair care side.
You should never buy a hair care product or any other medical substance expecting supernatural miracles, and you should always demand evidence for claims.