Onions have been used for their medicinal benefits for thousands of years. Recently onion along with onion peels or skins are being studied for hair health, specifically for hair loss. Let’s investigate some of the properties of onions and their skins that make them a great choice for hair loss.
Like most vegetables, onions contain many nutrients; however, today we will focus on the ones that impact hair health sulfur, antioxidants, and flavanoids. Let’s investigate how these nutrients impact hair health.
Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM is an organic compound found within our body that is broken down into sulfur for use in our skin, bone, hair, and nails. Our hair is comprised of a protein called keratin which is rich in sulfur and is required for proteins to maintain the shape, strength, and health of the hair. The bonds in our hair are bound together by disulfide bonds or “sulfur bridges” that help maintain the structure and strength of our hair.
Recent studies indicate that an increase in sulfur has positive effects on hair growth. Sulfur has been shown to lengthen the growing phase of the hair resulting in longer and stronger hair. The high sulfur content in onion is said to provide the hair with the nourishment it needs to grow. When added to the hair and scalp, onion juice can provide extra sulfur to support strong and thick hair, thus preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth.
The sulfur from onions may also help promote collagen production. Collagen, in turn, helps the production of healthy skin cells and hair growth. It’s also believed that onions may boost circulation. Applying onion juice to the hair and scalp could increase blood supply to hair follicles, which in turn improves hair growth.
Onions contain antioxidants, such as flavonoids. Particularly, red onions contain a higher percentage of antioxidants than both yellow and white onions. The antioxidants or flavonoids found in red onions are Quercetin and Anthocyanin. The anthocyanin is responsible for providing color to the onions and giving it stronger medicinal effects.
Antioxidants are believed to protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals contribute to the aging process by destroying hair follicles which leads to thinning and greying hair and eventually permanent hair loss. This idea was put to test in a small study conducted in 2002.
Participants with alopecia were chosen to test the efficacy of onion juice versus those who just used tap water. What were the results? The group who applied onion juice directly to their scalp experienced more hair growth than those who washed it with tap water. At the end of the 8-week study, 20 of the 23 participants who applied onion juice to their scalp had observable hair regrowth by week 6.
Onion Peels or Onion Skins
You would be surprised to know that the skin covering both onions and garlic are nutrient-dense and have several uses. The outer skins of onion and garlic provide an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, and numerous antioxidants. The skins of onions are also a rich source of flavonoids, particularly quercetin, a potent antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
Studies surrounding the use of the flavonoid quercetin show that it is can be used to prevent and treat alopecia areata in mice. In the aforementioned study, alopecia areata, onion juice topically applied to the scalp was found to lower the amount of DHT found on the scalp, reduce inflammation of the hair follicles and reverse the miniaturization of the hair follicles. Additionally, quercetin is under study as an agent for lowering LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, fighting allergies, reducing inflammation, enhancing muscle growth and function, treating depression, and some forms of cancer.
Onion juice is said to have other additional hair benefits such as:
inflamed, dry, or itchy scalp
dry or brittle hair
prematurely graying hair
Other ways to benefits from onion
Eat them, eating a diet of raw and saute onions can have amazing internal benefits. To receive some of the benefits from the onion skins or peels trying adding them to stews or soups and removing them for eating.
How I’m using Onions