Black seed oil is said to help all kinds of conditions, from hair loss and headaches to asthma and allergies. But many touted cure-all natural remedies aren’t actually as effective as we’re led to believe.
So what’s the truth about black seed oil for hair? In this article, you’ll learn:
- What black seed oil is
- The science behind black seed oil for hair
- How to use black seed oil for hair growth and scalp conditions.
What is black seed oil?
Black seed oil is pressed from nigella seeds. These common seeds are also known as black cumin seeds, black caraway seeds, or kalonji, and they’re often used to flavour food like curries, chutneys, and soups.
The main active ingredient of black seed oil is thymoquinone . Thymoquinone is a chemical compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, leading to black seed oil’s reputation as a highly effective natural remedy.
What does black seed oil do for hair?
While many natural remedies for hair aren’t backed up by the science, black seed oil has actually been proven to help with hair loss and certain scalp conditions. Here are some of the black seed oil benefits for hair.
Black seed oil stimulates hair growth and reduces hair loss
Black seed oil has been shown to reduce hair loss and promote hair growth [2-4]. One study found that a herbal hair solution containing this oil could reduce hair fall completely within 3 months with daily use.
This Bangladeshi study formulated a herbal hair oil made up of six ingredients :
- Black seed oil
- Coconut oil
- Amla oil
- Henna oil
- Bermuda grass oil
- Fenugreek oil.
180 volunteers (90 male and 90 female) were split into three groups to test a) the herbal hair oil, b) coconut oil only, and c) a control group.
Hair fall in the herbal hair oil group decreased to 0% within 90 days. After 30 days, hair loss had reduced to 72%. It was reduced further to 59% after 60 days.
Another study found a significant improvement in 70% of telogen effluvium patients. Telogen effluvium is a type of temporary hair loss triggered by extreme stress or trauma. Scientific analysis showed this treatment improved both hair density and thickness, as well as reducing inflammation .
Further evidence also suggests that black seed oil can stimulate hair regrowth in thinning areas of the scalp .
Reduce inflammation and fights oxidative stress
Black seed oil has established anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties [5-6]. Follicle inflammation is a key symptom of autoimmune hair loss conditions like alopecia areata. So by reducing inflammation, you may be able to minimise your alopecia symptoms.
Oxidative stress has also been linked with alopecia areata . It can cause cellular damage which ultimately leads to hair loss. Antioxidants like those in black seed oil and vitamin E can neutralise the free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
Improve psoriasis symptoms
Scalp psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes excess skin to grow on your scalp and neck. This manifests as red and purple patches on the skin, as well as scales that can flake off.
Black seed oil has been shown to treat psoriasis as effectively as tazarotene (0.1%) gel . So it may be preferable for people seeking a natural remedy to treat their psoriasis.
An animal study involving psoriasis in mice found that black seed oil could effectively reduce the skin thickening effect of psoriasis in the mouse’s tail .
The oil produced a well-defined granular layer in the epidermis (the surface layer of skin). The granular layer is often absent in psoriasis lesions, so this may be the mechanism through which black seed oil improves psoriasis symptoms.
While animal study results can’t always be extrapolated to humans, the researchers concluded that black seed oil has “antipsoriatic activity”. They agree that topical application could be useful for managing psoriasis.
Regulate the hair growth cycle
Black seed oil can also regulate the hair growth cycle, stopping your hair from entering the telogen or catagen phases prematurely .
Black seed oil can inhibit activation of hormone-like compounds and proteins that are linked with hair loss, such as prostaglandin D2. This helps maintain healthy hair growth.
While black seed oil can be ingested, it’s usually recommended to apply it to the skin instead. This helps you avoid systemic side effects (though you may still experience skin irritation).
Here’s how you can apply black seed oil for scalp hair growth:
- Mix together equal parts of black seed oil and coconut or almond oil in a bowl.
- About an hour before you shower, apply the oil mixture to your scalp.
- Leave it to soak in for 30-45 minutes.
- Wash your hair using your regular products.
Dermatitis is a known side effect of black seed oil. If you experience any irritation on the first or subsequent uses, it’s best to stop using it.
How to make black seed oil for hair growth
Black seed oil is a popular remedy, so it’s readily available in supplement shops and online pharmacies.
Seed oil extraction uses mechanical and chemical processes that most people can’t do at home. So if you want the real thing, you’re best off buying pre-bottled black seed oil.
But in a pinch, you can try the following method:
- Grind half a cup of nigella seeds into a powder. Tip into a sterilised bottle or jug.
- Add a cup of almond, argan or coconut oil. Mix until the oil starts to darken.3
- Stopper and leave for 2 weeks in a warm place.
- Strain the seeds. Mix the oil again and bottle it.
You can apply this mixture directly to the scalp without mixing it with other oils.
Using black seed oil for baldness
To use black seed oil for baldness, dilute it with equal parts coconut oil or almond oil, then apply a small amount of black seed oil to your balding or thinning areas.
Black seed oil is noted for its low toxicity, so side effects are rare . But contact dermatitis has been seen following topical use, so if you do get any adverse effects (such as a rash or excessive itchiness) you’re advised to stop using black seed oil.
Using black seed oil for facial hair
There’s currently no evidence that black seed oil can stimulate beard hair growth specifically. But the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of black seed oil may benefit your beard as well as your scalp hair.
If you often get ingrown hairs when you shave, black seed oils may reduce inflammation and minimise the risk of infection.
How to use black seed oil for grey hair
Anecdotal evidence suggests black seed oil can help conceal grey or white hair. But there’s currently no scientific evidence to confirm this.
This oil is generally safe to apply topically, so trying black seed oil for grey hair is relatively low risk. But don’t necessarily expect to see significant results with this natural remedy.
Do other natural oils work for hair growth?
There’s some evidence that certain other natural oils — including pumpkin seed oil and rosemary oil — can boost hair growth [9-10].
But not all oils and supplements are useful for promoting hair growth. The natural remedies industry is largely unregulated, so there may be unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of certain natural hair growth products.
Do other supplements work for hair growth?
In our vitamins for hair growth research study, we found that vitamin supplements actually have very little impact on hair growth unless you have a vitamin deficiency.
As a hair loss clinic, we see many patients who have tried natural remedies before seeking other formulas to help with hair growth.
We recommend reading these articles to learn more about female hair loss and proven hair loss treatments:
- Thymoquinone: A Promising Natural Compound with Potential Benefits for COVID-19 Prevention and Cure
- Formulation and Finding Out the Efficacy of the Herbal Hair Oil Over Simple Coconut Oil (Purified) – A Formulation and Clinical Study in Bangladesh
- Nigella sativa seed, a novel beauty care ingredient: A review
- Evaluation of a Therapeutic Alternative for Telogen Effluvium: A Pilot Study
- Development and Evaluation of Herbal Hair Serum: A traditional way to Improve Hair Quality
- Pharmacological and toxicological properties of Nigella sativa
- Oxidative stress in alopecia areata: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Antipsoriatic activity and cytotoxicity of ethanolic extract of Nigella sativa seeds
- Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial
- Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
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