There are a ton of products on the market designed to regrow hair.
But, these results don’t always last once you stop using them.
You might also be looking to transition to a more natural lifestyle. Traditional medications and products used for hair regrowth may not fit the bill as “clean and natural.”
In this article, I’ll teach you how to regrow your hair naturally and give in-depth explanations for each method.
If you want to learn about natural remedies for hair growth, keep reading!
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Quickly, make sure you take the free hair quiz later in this article.
Is It Possible to Regrow Hair?
The ability to regrow hair is dependent on the type of hair loss you have.
Generally, there are two groups of hair loss: scarring alopecia and non-scarring alopecia.
Scarring alopecia is the result of an infection that incites excessive inflammation of the scalp (1). As a result, the body compensates by repairing the tissue with excessive scar tissue. This leads to hair follicle damage that can be irreversible.
On the other hand, non-scarring alopecia (NSA) is usually reversible. Alopecia areata (AA), Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss), and Telogen Effluvium (TE; where many hair follicles transition from the growing anagen phase to the shedding telogen phase at once) are all examples of NSAs.
Of the three NSAs, AGA is the hardest to reverse. This is because, although it is an NSA, it is mediated by perifollicular fibrosis, or scarring around the hair follicle. This can present some issues when trying to reverse AGA hair loss, however, it is still very much possible.
- Scarring alopecias are generally irreversible.
- Non-scarring alopecias are almost always reversible.
- AGA is partially mediated by scarring around the follicle which can make it more difficult to reverse.
How to Regrow Your Hair Naturally: 12 Holistic Ways and Home Remedies
The good news about NSAs is that there is almost always an underlying cause that can be improved naturally.
Below, I’ve listed the 12 best ways that you can improve your hair health naturally.
1. Eat an Antioxidant-Rich Diet
Antioxidants are powerful nutrients. The main role of dietary antioxidants is to directly neutralize free radicals or support natural antioxidants systems that our body has in place.
Free radicals are compounds generated by our body’s energy production and pollutants in our environment.
Free radicals are dangerous because they oxidize cell components and stimulate inflammation. Eventually, cells can start to function abnormally or completely die off. Enough cell death may lead to tissue damage and full-blown organ dysfunction.
Hair follicles are certainly not removed from this process. The cells in and around the hair follicle are sensitive to free radicals.
This has led to a theory that some forms of hair loss (especially due to aging) are caused by free radical damage. Interestingly, AA and AGA patients seem to have higher blood measurements of oxidative stress (the cumulative free radical damage in the body) (2, 3).
This is because the Dermal Papilla Cells (DPCs), the cells responsible for stimulating hair growth, are sensitive to free radical damage (4). DPC proliferation, or cell division, is important for sustaining hair growth.
Balding DPCs proliferate slower than normal DPCs. This slowed division is also associated with higher measurements of oxidative stress.
Recent studies have shown that lipid peroxides, or fatty substances damaged by free radicals, have been shown to transition the hair follicle from anagen to early shedding. This tells us that free radical damage can truly put a hamper on hair growth and be a contributor to hair loss.
So, including tools that allow you to reduce this free radical damage may help regrow hair that has been lost to free radical damage. These can be found in antioxidant-rich foods like:
- Green tea, white tea, matcha tea, and rooibos tea
- Olive oil
- Wild-caught salmon and shellfish
- Leafy greens
- Bright orange fruits and vegetables
- Dark chocolate
A lot of antioxidant compounds are concentrated in the skins of fruits and vegetables. Additionally, some antioxidants can be denatured by heat, so light cooking or consuming these foods raw allows for the highest concentration of nutrients.
- Free radicals are dangerous compounds that can damage cells and eventually cause cell death. Enough cell death may lead to organ dysfunction.
- Hair follicle cells function in the same way.
- Measurements of oxidative stress are higher in AA and AGA patients.
- DPCs are sensitive to oxidative stress. Balding DPCs proliferate slower than normal DPCs and is associated with measurements of oxidative stress.
- Recent studies have shown that lipid peroxides cause hair follicles to transition from the growing anagen phase into the catagen shedding phase prematurely.
- Antioxidant-rich foods can neutralize free radicals that can damage DPCs and lead to stunted hair growth and hair loss.
2. Include Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Another predominant component of hair loss is inflammation.
Inflammation is an innate immune response designed to destroy invaders. It can be stimulated by oxidative stress, chronic infections, and more. It is characterized by the release of pro-inflammatory molecules.
This immune response can be seen in TE, AGA, and AA patients.
AGA patients have higher levels of the pro-inflammatory bacteria, P. acnes, in affected hair follicles (7). The elevated androgens in AGA patients cause excess sebum production which feeds the growth of this strain.
This stimulates inflammation in and around the hair follicle, leading to tissue damage and perifollicular fibrosis. The result is restricted hair follicle growth space and the cut off of nutrient-supplying blood flow. Hair subsequently thins or stops growing completely.
It’s clear that reducing inflammation in every NSA is important for preventing hair loss and may play a role in reversing it. This can be achieved through anti-inflammatory foods.
DHA and EPA, two omega-3 fatty acids, are highly anti-inflammatory (11). They work by incorporating into cell membranes and releasing anti-inflammatory molecules called resolvins and protectins. They also balance arachidonic acid levels, an omega-6 fatty acid that is the precursor to hair growth-inhibiting prostaglandin D2 (12).
Turmeric is also a highly anti-inflammatory herb, often referred to as the golden spice (13). The curcuminoids, the active constituents of turmeric, interact with various signaling systems of the body to effectively lower inflammation.
Vitamin A and vitamin D are also two important nutrients for keeping inflammation at bay (14). They work synergistically to promote immune system balance, ensuring that the immune system is active when needed to fight infection but not overactive if it doesn’t need to be.
The active form of vitamin A is retinoic acid. It can be converted from β-carotene, a carotenoid found in yellow and orange foods. However, the enzymes needed to convert β-carotene to retinoic acid are not always efficient for everyone. This means that you may need direct retinoic acid to achieve sufficient vitamin A levels needed to balance the immune system.
Retinoic acid is only found in animal foods like liver and grass-fed dairy products. This poses a challenge for vegans.
Like mentioned earlier, oxidative stress also contributes to inflammation. So, including antioxidant-rich foods as mentioned above will also have a two-fold benefit, reducing both oxidative stress and inflammation simultaneously.
- Inflammation plays a role in AA, TE, and AGA.
- AA is mediated by an immune shift to a more pro-inflammatory state. Preliminary studies suggest a similar notion for TE.
- Inflammation in AGA is attributed to increased levels
3. Get Some Sun (Or Supplement)
As mentioned before, vitamin D is essential for healthy immune balance and inflammation levels. However, it is also believed to play a direct role in hair loss.
There is a clear link between vitamin D deficiency and AA (15). Researchers attribute this to the immune modulating effects of vitamin D that prevent excessive inflammation.
The exact role of vitamin D in AGA is less established. We do know that vitamin D receptors found in the hair follicle are important for healthy hair cycling. We also know that vitamin D helps prevent excessive sebum production and may help control the inflammatory response to P. acnes (16).
Because AGA is mediated in part by sebum production and P. acnes, bolstering vitamin D levels could benefit AGA patients. But, this hasn’t been directly studied.
Vitamin D can be obtained through:
- Safe sun exposure
- Supplementation with vitamin D3
- Fatty fish and fortified dairy
Spending time in the sun should be done at your own risk and supplementation should always be discussed with your doctor first.
- Vitamin D is believed to play a role in hair loss.
- Vitamin D deficiency is clearly linked to AA. The immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D prevent excessive inflammation.
- It may also play a role in AGA by normalizing sebum production and controlling the inflammatory response to P. acnes.
- Vitamin D can be obtained through safe sun exposure, supplementation with vitamin D3, and consuming fatty fish and/or fortified dairy.
4. Use Pumpkin Seed Oil, Especially If You’re a Male
Pumpkin seed oil contains sterols that inhibit the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) (17). Because of DHT’s clear role in the development of AGA, reducing DHT levels can help reverse hair loss.
In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 24 weeks of pumpkin seed oil supplementation led to an average 40 percent increase in hair count. This was statistically significant compared to the placebo group who only had a 10 percent increase.
Although, it should be noted that DHT-inhibitors can be detrimental. DHT is essential for normal male function and deficiencies can result in sexual dysfunction, increased prostate cancer risk, and cardiovascular complications (18).
5. Take Care of Your Thyroid
Thyroid conditions are well-known for their role in hair loss (19).
Not surprisingly, thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which levels are affected by thyroid disorders, are important for hair growth (20). Physiological levels of T3 and T4 have been shown to decrease hair follicle cell death, allowing them to proliferate and manifest as hair growth. Additionally, T4 prolongs the anagen growing phase of the hair cycle, preventing hair from falling out prematurely.
Although the exact cause of each individual thyroid dysfunction varies, removing gluten from the diet may be beneficial especially in the case of autoimmune thyroid issues. In one study of 34 women with autoimmune Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a gluten-free diet reduced their body’s antibodies against their thyroid (20). This may help to prevent the destruction of thyroid tissue, leading to proper thyroid function.
A fine balance between iodine and selenium is also essential for thyroid function (21).
Iodine is found in abundance in marine vegetables like seaweed as well as seafood, dairy, and eggs. Selenium is concentrated in brazil nuts, eggs, and seafood.
- Thyroid dysfunction and hair loss are closely linked.
- Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are important for hair growth because they prolong the anagen phase and prevent hair follicle cell death.
- A gluten-free diet may specifically benefit the autoimmune thyroid disorder Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
- A balance between selenium and iodine are essential for thyroid function.
6. Get Insulin Resistance Under Control
Insulin resistance is a condition where cells become resistant to the action of insulin. This condition is involved in diabetes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), cardiovascular disease, and more.
Interestingly, it’s also closely linked to AGA in men (22). However, the exact link is unclear.
In women, insulin resistance can have a direct influence on testosterone and the 5α-reductase (5α-R) enzyme that turns testosterone into DHT (23, 24). It works by causing androgens to accumulate in ovarian cells, stimulating 5α-R activity, and increasing the number of enzymes present.
This is important because DHT directly influences the increased sebum production, P. acnes proliferation, and inflammation that leads to AGA.
Although the exact cause of insulin resistance is highly debated, researchers believe it is deeply connected to inflammation (25). Because of this, the anti-inflammatory foods mentioned may be helpful.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar is known to help balance insulin responses to meals (26). This may prove to be a helpful tool.
By re-establishing insulin sensitivity, you may be able to prevent downstream testosterone/DHT excess associated with AGA. Additionally, it can help remove some of the factors causing hair loss, allowing you to regrow hair.
- Insulin resistance is closely linked to AGA in men, although the exact link isn’t clear.
- In women, insulin can stimulate androgen accumulation in the ovaries, stimulate 5α-R activity, and 5α-R expression, leading to high DHT levels.
- DHT directly influences the increased sebum production, P. acnes proliferation, and inflammation that leads to AGA.
- The exact cause of insulin resistance is highly debated but may be attributed in part to inflammation.
- L-carnitine, apple cider vinegar, and myoinositol may promote insulin sensitivty.
- Re-establishing insulin sensitivity may prevent hair loss and remove the factors causing it to allow you to regrow your hair.
7. Bolster Your Zinc Levels
Zinc is a trace mineral important for protein synthesis (29). It is believed to be a critical player in the maintenance of the hair follicle.
Research suggests zinc is responsible for preventing the hair from shedding as well as accelerating hair follicle recovery. Because of this, studies have looked at the possibility of zinc deficiency as a cause of hair loss. Various studies have found that hair loss patients have lower zinc levels than healthy controls.
Zinc also influences healthy inflammation levels (30). Zinc-dependent proteins inside cells have been shown to downregulate IL-1β and TNF-α. As I talked about earlier, IL-1β is known to be a potent inhibitor of hair growth. TNF-α is an important signaling molecule that activates a transcription factor called NF-κB.
NF-κB, when activated, makes its way to the nucleus of cells and upregulates the production of genes responsible for creating inflammatory signaling molecules. This makes it an important component in stimulating inflammation. So, by preventing its activation via TNF-α, zinc may help reduce inflammation.
Zinc also acts as an antioxidant, reducing oxidative stress that can stimulate inflammation.
Additionally, zinc deficiency is associated with higher levels of IFN-γ, another inflammatory molecule known to cause hair loss.
- Zinc is a trace mineral involved in protein synthesis. It is believed to be a critical player in the maintenance of the hair follicle.
- Zinc may be responsible for preventing hair shedding and accelerating hair follicle recovery.
- Hair loss patient have lower zinc concentrations than healthy controls.
- Zinc influences inflammation by downregulating IL-1β and TNF-α. Through downregulating TNF-α, it also inhibits NF-κB.
- Zinc acts as an antioxidant, reducing oxidative stress that can stimulate inflammation.
- Zinc deficiency is associated with higher levels of IFN-γ known to cause hair loss.
8. Eat Adequate Protein
The hair shaft is made up primarily of a sulfur-based protein called keratin (31).
Dietary amino acids are the building blocks for proteins all around the body. When not enough protein is consumed, the body may conserve the amino acids for extremely important functions like DNA synthesis and enzyme expression.
Various amino acids are believed to play a role in hair growth (32). For example, L-Lysine influences zinc and iron uptake, two minerals essential for hair growth.
As a sulfur-based amino acid, L-Cysteine is also believed to contribute to hair growth. However, there is very little research on the effects of L-Cysteine consumption and how it influences hair.
Nonetheless, eating too little protein is known to cause hair thinning and loss. This is most likely because the amino acid precursors are not readily available.
- The hair is made up of a protein called keratin. When there isn’t enough protein in the diet, the body might conserve amino acids for extremely important functions like DNA synthesis and enzyme expression.
- Various amino acids are believed to play a role in hair growth. L-Lysine influences zinc and iron uptake, two minerals essential for hair growth.
- L-Cysteine, a sulfur-based amino acid, is also believed to contribute to hair growth because keratin is a sulfur-based protein.
- Eating too little protein is known to cause hair thinning and loss.
9. Up Your B-Vitamins
Although the relationship between B-vitamin deficiencies and hair loss is unclear, B-vitamins are often used to promote hair growth.
This is because B-vitamins are essential for protein synthesis and mitochondrial energy production. Animal studies show us that mitochondrial dysfunction may result in hair loss, especially hair loss associated with aging (33).
When mitochondria don’t function properly, they stimulate inflammation by activating NF-κB. B-vitamins, however, protect mitochondria from damage as well as promoting their optimal function (34).
B-vitamins can be obtained through both plant-based and animal-based foods. Bananas, leafy greens, and whole grains (preferably sprouted) are all great plant sources of the vitamin B complex. B-vitamins are highly concentrated in eggs, liver, and animal muscle meats.
The only caveat is that most plant foods don’t contain B12. Chlorella is the only plant that contains methylcobalamin, the active form of B12. Other than that, B12 can only be found in animal foods or be synthesized by the good bacteria in our guts.
- The exact relationship between B-vitamins and hair loss is unclear. B-vitamins are often used to promote hair growth.
- B-vitamins are essential for protein synthesis and mitochondrial energy production.
- Mitochondrial dysfunction may result in hiar loss.
- Dysfunctional mitochondria also stimulate inflammation by activating NF-κB. B-vitamins protect mitochondria from damage and promote their optimal function.
- B-vitamins can be found in both plant and animal foods.
- Chlorella is the only plant food that contains B12. Other than that, it must be obtained through animal foods or synthesized by healthy bacteria in the gut.
10. Iron: Always Supplement with Vitamin C
Iron deficiency is believed to contribute to hair loss, especially female pattern hair loss (35).
Iron is usually easily conserved in the body except through blood loss. Because of this, women are more at risk for iron deficiency than men.
Restoring iron levels is relatively simple. Eating foods rich in iron can provide enough to reverse a deficiency.
One way to boost iron absorption is by eating vitamin C-rich foods along with foods high in iron. This is especially true for plant-based iron sources because they contain a form of iron called non-heme iron. This form is not readily absorbed in the absence of vitamin C.
However, vitamin C doesn’t just boost iron absorption. It also protects from iron-induced oxidative stress that can contribute to inflammation and hair loss (36). So, to protect your body from excessive oxidative stress, always increase your vitamin C consumption along with iron.
- Iron deficiency is believed to contribute to hair loss, especially female pattern hair loss.
- Iron can be lost through blood loss, so women are more at risk for iron deficiency than men.
- Eating foods rich in iron can provide enough to reverse a deficiency.
- Iron absorption, especially iron from plant foods, can be enhanced by vitamin C.
- Vitamin C also protects against the oxidative stress that can be caused by iron.
- To protect your body from excessive oxidative stress, always increase your vitamin C consumption along with iron.
Stress is inextricably linked to hair loss (37).
Cortisol, the master stress hormone, is believed to deplete the skin, like on the scalp, of proteoglycans. These are glycated protein structures that have key functions in hair growth.
For example, the proteoglycan decorin may benefit AGA by blocking TGF-β1, a growth factor that stimulates the production of scar tissue (38). Because perifollicular fibrosis contributes to AGA, decorin may prevent AGA from occurring when it is present at normal levels in the scalp.
Decorin is also upregulated during the anagen phase of the hair cycle, suggesting it plays a direct role in hair growth, too.
Versican, another proteoglycan, is responsible for maintaining the DPCs’ ability to signal hair growth.
Because of their important functions, elevated cortisol may cause hair loss through depletion of these proteoglycans. Even so, lowering stress can have a myriad of benefits for general health.
Deep breathing promotes healthy heart rate variability (HRV) which is important for the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system (39).
When the sympathetic nervous system is activated (like through psychological stress), it signals the secretion of stress hormones like cortisol. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system, which is activated by deep breathing, normalizes these secretions and promotes relaxation.
Adaptogens like ashwagandha can also be a good tool to reduce stress. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, ashwagandha improved resistance to stress and self-assessed quality of life (40).
Healthy sleep is also important for keeping stress levels at bay. Sleep disturbances and deprivation are known to contribute to dysfunctional stress responses (41).
- Stress is linked to hair loss.
- Cortisol, the master stress hormone, depletes the scalp of proteoglycans.
- The proteoglycans like decorin and versican are essential for hair growth. Decorin may be beneficial for AGA while versican is essential for maintaining the anagen phase of hair growth.
- Deep breathing, adaptogens like ashwagandha, and healthy sleep all help maintain healthy stress levels.
12. Take Care of Your Scalp
The scalp acts like an incubator for the hair follicle (42). Research suggests that the condition of the scalp is directly related to the condition of the hair and may even influence hair loss.
Bacterial imbalances on the scalp can also contribute to oxidative stress in the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Malassezia spp. yeast, for example, release fatty acids that can disrupt the skin barrier and allow free radical damage by environmental pollutants. We also know that P. acnes can be pro-inflammatory.
To protect the scalp, it’s important to promote a healthy skin microbiome. This means using non-stripping, sulfate-free, pH-balanced hair care products. This ensures that bacteria isn’t stripped from the skin and promotes a healthy microbial balance.
pH-balanced, sulfate-free products also maintain the protective skin barrier that maintains the integrity of the skin. Without the skin barrier, dead skin cells can build up on the surface of the skin and reduce oxygen flow through the hair follicles. A disrupted skin barrier also allows for pollutant and microbial invasion that can damage the skin and hair.
You can help repair the protective barrier on the scalp by incorporating oil masking into your hair care routine. Linoleic acid is a huge component of the skin and its protective barrier (43). Using linoleic acid-rich oils topically is known to help nourish the skin and repair the skin barrier.
Some oils high in linoleic acid are hemp seed oil, sunflower seed oil, argan oil, and sesame oil. Coconut oil is also beneficial for the scalp because it contains an antimicrobial fatty acid called lauric acid. This may help balance the scalp’s microbiome by reducing P. acnes and Malassezia spp. overgrowth.
Utilizing these tools can help prevent hair loss associated with scalp conditions. It can also remove some of the contributors to hair loss, potentially allowing you to reverse your hair loss.
- The scalp is an incubator for the hair follicle. Its condition directly impacts hair quality and hair loss.
- Bacterial imbalances on the scalp, like Malassezia spp. or P. acnes overgrowth, can contribute to oxidative stress in the hair follicle.
- Using pH-balanced, non-stripping, and sulfate-free hair care products maintains the microbial balance of the skin and maintains the integrity of the scalp’s protective barrier.
- You can repair the skin barrier using linoleic acid-rich oils like hemp seed oil, sunflower seed oil, argan oil, and sesame oil.
- Coconut oil contains lauric acid which may balance the scalp’s microbiome by reducing P. acnes and Malassezia spp. overgrowth.
Natural Hair Regrowth: A Holistic Approach
So, can you really regrow your hair naturally?
While hair loss is different for everyone, living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates tools to combat hair loss may help reverse hair loss. Using hair care products that promote a healthy scalp is also beneficial.
Reversing hair loss is certainly not a quick fix and can be a painstaking process. However, patience and determination most definitely pays off in the long run.
What tools have you used to reverse your hair loss? Leave a comment below.