Different cultures around the world have different practices when it comes to self care. One example is the practice of using turmeric for treating various medical ailments. Along with being used as a staple spice in various cuisines native to Asia, turmeric is believed to have healing properties for various concerns, including hair loss. But does turmeric kill hair follicles? Read on to find out.
What is turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant belonging to the ginger family and is found growing in regions of Southeast Asia. Turmeric is believed to have healing properties for various concerns and is used in ayurvedic medicine as well as other traditional asian medical treatments concerning skin, respiratory conditions, allergies, and more.
The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin - it is precisely this ingredient that is believed to give turmeric its healing properties. But before we talk about whether turmeric kills hair follicles or not, let’s take a quick refresher of hair follicle anatomy.
What are hair follicles?
Hair follicles are pocket-like organs present underneath the skin that influence hair growth. Hair follicles are made up of several different tissues such as the hair bulb, the hair root and the hair shaft. Each hair follicle contains dermal papilla cells, which are found at the base of the hair follicle and are implicated in hair growth.
How does hair grow?
Hair growth occurs in three phases; the anagen phase, the catagen phase, and the telogen phase. Here’s what happens at each phase:
- Anagen. During the anagen phase, the rate of hair growth is at its highest. The dermal papilla cells proliferate, giving rise to new hair strands that get pushed above the surface of the scalp or skin through pores.
- Catagen. During this phase, the rate of hair growth slows down before coming to a complete stop as the dermal papilla cells slow down.
- Telogen. During the telogen phase, the hair follicle is in a state of rest and the hair strand rests in its position until it is pushed out or “sheds”. The end of this phase also marks the beginning of the anagen phase for that hair follicle, allowing a new hair strand to grow out.
So, does turmeric kill hair follicles?
Long story short, turmeric does not kill hair follicles. There is no scientific evidence supporting the claim of turmeric’s ability to kill hair follicles. However, if turmeric doesn't kill hair follicles, can it help them to improve hair loss?
Although turmeric and its antioxidative properties, through curcumin, aids cells against external stressors, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that turmeric induces dermal papilla cell proliferation. However, there have been some studies supporting curcumin’s ability in decreasing the levels of testosterone and blocking DHT production - the hormone responsible for hair follicle shrinkage. It is also important to note that these studies based their investigations on the production of DHT in human prostate cells, as opposed to levels of DHT in the scalp.
If turmeric can't help hair follicles, then what can?
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