,

Onion Juice for Hair Growth: Is There Any Truth to This?

I know, it sounds crazy:

But, research suggests you might be able to use onion juice for hair growth.

Why is this?

The exact mechanism is still under speculation.

In this article, I’ll take what we do know about onion juice and see if we can make sense of the study results.

Ultimate Biotin Supplement

"Say goodbye to hair loss with this biotin and Vitamin A supplement"

Then, I’ll teach you how to make onion juice at home so you can try it for yourself if you like.

Keep reading!

Quickly, make sure you take the free hair quiz later in this article.

Onion Hair Growth Success Stories: A Novel Study

In one novel study, researchers set out to figure out whether or not onion juice was a viable treatment of alopecia areata (AA) (1).

AA is a form of hair loss characterized by an autoimmune assault on the hair follicle. This manifests as high levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in the hair follicle (2, 3).

There were 38 patients diagnosed with AA that participated in the study. Twenty-three patients (16 males and 7 females) were instructed to apply onion juice twice daily for 2 months.

Fifteen patients (8 males and 7 females) were instructed to do the same with tap water.

In the group that used onion juice, noticeable hair regrowth was observed after two weeks. At week 4, 17 (73.9 percent) patients experienced hair regrowth, followed by 20 of 23 (86.9 percent) at week 6.

Men experienced better results than women, with 93.7 percent of men experiencing hair growth as opposed to 46.6 percent of women.

These results are statistically significant when compared to the control group. Only 2 patients demonstrated hair regrowth with the application of tap water.

These results suggest onion juice may be effective for regrowing hair lost to AA.

However, no other studies have been performed that have confirmed these results.

Key Takeaways:

  • After 6 weeks of applying onion juice twice daily, 86.9 percent of AA patients experienced hair regrowth.
  • These results are statistically significant considering only 2/15 control subjects demonstrated hair growth.
  • No other studies have confirmed these findings yet, however.

How Does Onion Work for Hair Growth?

We don’t have all the answers when it comes to the onion and how it relates to hair growth.

But, we can make some connections based off of what we know about onion’s components.

Below, I’ll discuss the benefits of the nutrients found in onion and how it relates to hair growth.

Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid found in fruits, tea, and vegetables like the onion. There a few ways this health-promoting compound could benefit hair growth.

Firstly, quercetin is a 5α-reductase inhibitor (5α-R) (4). This is the enzyme that converts testosterone into a more powerful male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

High levels of DHT, signaling high 5α-R activity, is the most prevalent factor in a form of hair loss called Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss) (5). There are many factors involved, however, the main approved treatments for AGA are targeted at lowering DHT levels.

Onions on a white table
Onions contain many beneficial components, including quercetin, myricetin, and steroidal saponins.

By inhibiting 5α-R, quercetin naturally reduces the levels of DHT. This suggests that quercetin may be beneficial for AGA.

However, no studies have directly examined quercetin’s effect on AGA.

One thing research has looked into, though, is the effects of green tea on hair. We can make some connections based on these studies because green tea contains quercetin.

In a study on hair greasiness, a sign of excess androgens, a 2% green tea tonic reduced oil production (6). This suggests that green tea, which contains quercetin, may reduce 5α-R activity when applied topically.

However, green tea does contain other compounds with proposed 5α-R inhibitory activity. So, whether or not these results are solely attributed to quercetin is hard to say.

Another one of quercetin’s possible hair-boosting properties is its anti-inflammatory power (7).

Interestingly, inflammation is elevated in both AGA and AA scalps (2, 8). Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), specifically, is elevated in AGA scalps.

From this, we can guess that lowering PGD2 may benefit AGA. Quercetin may accomplish this in a few ways (8).

In cell culture studies, quercetin inhibits mast cell release of inflammatory molecules. Mast cells are groups of cells that are important for the function of the immune system (9). They’re responsible for the body’s reaction to allergens and foreign invaders.

But, chronic activation of mast cells is implicated in the progression of AA (10). It’s also associated with Telogen Effluvium (TE), a type of hair loss where multiple hair follicles move from the growing phase (anagen) to the resting phase of hair growth (telogen) (11). This change in hair cycling creates the impression of hair loss and thinning.

Mast cells also play a role in AGA, because they are responsible for PGD2 secretion.

By inhibiting mast cell secretion of inflammatory molecules, including PGD2, quercetin may benefit various forms of hair loss.

Further extending quercetin’s anti-inflammatory properties is its ability to inhibit the activation of a transcription factor called NF-κB. This is responsible for influencing DNA expression to favor inflammatory molecule production.

Through preventing the activation of NF-κB, quercetin lowers downstream inflammatory activity.

With all of these mechanisms combined, quercetin may possess attributes that benefit many forms of hair loss.

There is limited data directly looking at this.

One study we do have examined the effects of quercetin on the development of AA in mice (11). When exposed to excessive heat, mice treated with quercetin did not develop AA, whereas 24 percent of the control mice did.

Whether these results translate to humans warrants further research. How quercetin impacts other forms of hair loss directly also needs more investigation.

Quercetin also has the ability to effectively scavenge free radicals (12). These are harmful compounds that can damage cell structures through oxidation.

Dermal papilla cells (DPCs) are the cells the are responsible for signaling the growth of hair. When these cells are damaged by free radicals, they become dysfunctional and can’t properly stimulate hair growth (13).

This is confirmed by studies looking at patients with hair loss. In both AA and AGA, patients have elevated measurements of oxidative stress (14, 15).

Quercetin’s antioxidant potential can protect these DPCs from free radical damage, preventing hair loss associated with oxidative stress.

Key Takeaways:

  • Quercetin is a flavonoid found in onions that may hold benefits for hair loss.
  • Quercetin is a 5α-R inhibitor which may benefit AGA. However, this hasn’t been directly studied.
  • Quercetin inhibits mast cell secretion of pro-inflammatory molecules, lowering inflammation associated with various forms of hair loss.
  • Elevated levels of PGD2 is another factor observed in AGA. Quercetin’s inhibition of PGD2-secreting mast cells may be another way it could benefit AGA.
  • The data available that directly examines quercetin’s effects on hair loss, though, is limited. We have one study that shows quercetin prevents the development of AA in mice exposed to heat.
  • Whether these results translate to humans and if it directly impacts other forms of hair loss warrants further research.
  • Quercetin effectively scavenges free radicals which can damage DPCs, leading to hair loss. Indicators of free radical damage are elevated in AA and AGA patients.

Myricetin

Myricetin is another flavonoid found in onions.

Like quercetin, myricetin also inhibits 5α-R and neutralizes free radicals (4, 16).

How antioxidants fight free radicals
Antioxidants, which are present within onions, can combat free radicals.

This flavonoid also reduces the secretion of inflammatory molecules through inhibition of NF-κB activation and COX-2 enzymes (17). COX-2 is an enzyme that converts arachidonic acid into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

While some of these prostaglandins can be beneficial for hair growth, there are those like PGD2 which can be detrimental (8, 18).

Studies also show that COX-2 inhibitors, like myricetin, suppress the development of hair loss (19). This suggests that COX-2 overactivity might be a contributor to hair loss.

Through these actions, myricetin might impact hair growth and loss. However, there is no research looking at what the exact effect could be.

Key Takeaways:

  • Myricetin is a flavonoid with 5α-R-inhibitory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
  • It reduces inflammation by inhibiting NF-κB activation and COX-2 activity.
  • COX-2 might be implicated in hair loss. COX-2 inhibitors, like myricetin, suppress the development of hair loss.
  • However, there is no data available on myricetin for hair loss or growth.

Steroidal Saponins

Some of the other powerful constituents of onions and their relatives are their steroidal saponins.

These phytochemicals are used to create steroid drugs that lower inflammatory responses (20). The topical variants of these drugs are often used to treat AA (21).

The presence of these compounds in onion juice may explain why it demonstrated to be so effective in AA patients.

But, if there’s already an effective drug on the market, why not just use that? Why try to find an alternative?

Unfortunately, topical steroids can have serious side effects. In clinical trials, some patients experience painful folliculitis, ulceration, infections, dermatitis, hyper- and hypopigmentation, and more (22).

Steroids can also have a high relapse rate.

These less powerful steroidal saponins may be a beneficial alternative to topical steroids if proven effective. But, we need more research on how these saponins impact hair loss via their steroidal action.

Key Takeaways:

  • One constituent of onion are their steroidal saponins.
  • These are used to create steroid drugs, which are used to treat AA topically.
  • The presence of these compounds in onion juice may explain why it demonstrated to be so effective in AA patients.
  • Steroidal saponins in onion juice, if proven effective, may prove to be a promising alternative to steroid drugs. However, we need more research.

Onion Juice for Hair Regrowth: Male Pattern Baldness?

We know that onion juice has proven to be effective in a small group of AA patients.

But, what does this mean for AGA sufferers?

Unfortunately, although there are similarities in AA and AGA, we can’t necessarily extrapolate the results of this study to the treatment of AGA.

Although, the composition of onions makes them a promising candidate. More research is needed.

Key Takeaway: The difference in the development of AA and AGA make it difficult to extrapolate the results of the small onion juice and AA study to AGA patients. However, the composition of onions makes them a promising candidate.

How to Make Onion Juice for Hair At Home

Making onion juice at home to use topically is simple and straightforward.

Here are two ways you can prepare onion juice using different methods.

Method 1: Using a Juicer

For this method, you’ll need a slow masticating juicer, an onion (preferably organic), and an applicator bottle.

  1. Peel and cut your onion to fit your juicer.
  2. Turn on your juicer and begin to feed the onion in.
  3. After obtaining the juice from the onion, add the juice to the applicator bottle.
  4. Comb your hair prior to applying to save yourself time and effort.
  5. On combed hair, apply the onion juice to your scalp section-by-section.
  6. Allow the onion juice to sit for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
  7. Cleanse hair with shampoo and conditioner as usual.

For the best results, use twice daily as in the study noted.

Method 2: Using a Blender

If you don’t have a slow masticating juicer, don’t worry! You can always use a blender.

You’ll also need a nut milk bag, an onion (again, preferably organic), a funnel, and an applicator bottle.

  1. Peel and cut the onion into quarters or eighths depending on the strength of your blender.
  2. Place the onion in the blender.
  3. Add a tablespoon or two of water to assist in the blending.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. Over a large bowl or measuring cup, strain the pulverized onion using the nut milk bag. The bag will help separate the juice from the fibrous pulp.
  6. Squeeze the nut milk bag to ensure you’ve obtained all the onion juice.
  7. Using a funnel, pour the onion juice into the applicator bottle.
  8. Comb your hair prior to applying to save yourself time and effort.
  9. On combed hair, apply the onion juice to your scalp section-by-section.
  10. Allow the onion juice to sit for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing.
  11. Cleanse hair with shampoo and conditioner as usual.

Like mentioned before, use this topical onion juice twice daily.

Onion Juice for Hair Growth: Does It Really Work?

Some rumored treatments on the Internet are truly a crock, however, there is some truth to the onion juice remedy.

Although we only have one study demonstrating its benefits for AA, the results of this small study are promising. More research is warranted to confirm the findings of this study.

The flavonoids and steroidal saponins found in onion might also prove to be useful for other forms of hair loss. However, we have very little data on how these compounds affect hair loss directly. In some cases, there is none.

So, while some studies show promise for this natural remedy, there is really only a basis for its use in AA.

What do you think about onion juice for hair growth? Leave a comment below.

About Sophia
Previous

Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair Growth

White Buildup on Scalp: Everything You Need to Know

Next