Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a widely available plant that grows in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It’s a member of the mint family, known for its sharp hair-covered leaves that contain chemicals such as histamine and formic acid that can cause stinging, itching, and redness. However, despite its prickly, stinging nature, stinging nettle produces a wonderfully medicinal extract with several vitamins and minerals that can be used as a supplement to enhance overall wellness and stimulate thick, shiny hair.
How can nettle help promote new hair growth?
For thousands of years, nettle has been used for its health benefits and to promote luscious, glistening hair. It supports overall hair health and growth. Here’s how:
Nettle is rich in vitamins and minerals
Nettle offers a generous amount of essential vitamins and minerals that can benefit hair health, including Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, along with minerals such as folate, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and manganese. This cocktail of essential nutrients contributes directly to healthy, glowing skin and hair. Nettle also contains silica, making hair and nails stronger and promoting hair growth by boosting blood flow.
Nettle can protect hair against damage
Due to its abundant antioxidants, flavonoids, and vitamin C content, nettle leaf is a safe and natural solution to reducing hair loss and adding luster to your locks by helping protect against and neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can cause damage to the body’s cells and cause illness, disease and expedite signs of aging such as thinning hair. Free radical production can be triggered by environmental toxins, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and cosmetics.
Nettle can enhance blood circulation
Nettle also has the ability to strengthen and relax the blood vessels, aiding in circulation and increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients received by the scalp. As a result, hair can grow stronger and longer.
Nettle can inhibit the formation of DHT
Studies show that nettle extract (leaves and roots) has the ability to block dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone produced by testosterone that, when overproduced, can cause significant hair thinning and hair loss. Reducing the production of the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme (the enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into DHT), nettle can prevent DHT from becoming unbalanced. When too much DHT is in the body, the hair growth cycle is shortened, and hair follicles may shrink.
Nettle can reduce inflammation
Inflammation can wreak havoc on the body, and the scalp's inflammation is hugely responsible for chronic hair loss as it damages hair follicles, causing hair fall and thinning. Stinging nettle leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation of the scalp and promote healthy hair growth.
Nettle can treat dandruff
When left untreated, dandruff may be a culprit in hair loss. When massaged onto the scalp and left on as an overnight treatment, nettle leaf extract can be an effective treatment for dandruff and an itchy scalp. Harsh rubbing and itching can cause damage to the skin surrounding the hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
How to use nettle for hair health?
There are various ways you can incorporate stinging nettle into your daily hair care routine.
- You can take nettle as a supplement. Many health stores and holistic apothecaries will sell nettle leaf supplements. They may come in capsule, tablet, or powder form. It’s suggested to take between 500mg - 1000mg of stinging nettle daily for maximum benefits.
- You can drink nettle tea. By infusing dried nettle leaves into boiling water, you can drink it as a nutrient-packed tea. Combine 4 cups of hot water with 4 - 6 teaspoons of freshly chopped nettle. Let it steep for 20 minutes, and then pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. This can be enjoyed hot or cold!
- You can infuse nettle into an oil. This is one of the most effective methods of utilizing nettle as oil can penetrate the scalp's pores to nourish and repair damaged follicles. It can be added to shampoos, conditioners or used as an overnight scalp treatment. Some hair products aimed to reduce hair loss may already contain stinging nettle extract, so be sure to check the ingredient list.
- You can use nettle as a hair rinse. To make a hair rinse, prepare the tea as noted above, wait for it to cool, and add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. To apply, pour a few ounces of the chilled mixture over wet hair before you shampoo. Massage it into the scalp for 60 seconds and comb through with a wide-toothed comb. Repeat once a week for shiny, strong hair.