Another potential natural hair care alternative is nettle tea or extract. Here’s a closer look at its benefits and usage.
What is nettle?
Specifically, it is called urtica dioca, common or stinging nettle. It a flowering herb native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa and western North America but has since been introduced to other areas. Many species of this herb have hairs on its leaves and stems which contain histamine and other chemicals. This causes a stinging sensation when touched, hence the name. Nettle has a long history of use, including culinary and medicinal usage.
Despite its natural stinging hairs which appears to be an evolutionary response to herbivores, nettle has a high nutritional value.
Aside from hair care, it has been used to address symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, anemia, headaches, mood swings and bloating.
Bronze Age sites contain fiber made from the plant’s stems, signifying that it was once used to make cloth.
Ancient Greeks documented their traditional nettle use in treating coughs, tuberculosis, and arthritis and in stimulating hair growth. It is still used in medicine by Greeks today.
Countries in the northern hemisphere used it until the 17th century to make rope, paper, cloth and fishing line.
Native Americans used it to treat aches and pains by lashing the surrounding skin with nettle stalks.
Hair care benefits
As mentioned earlier, this herb has a very high nutritional value. Some of the nutrients it contains include:
- vitamin A
- vitamin B6
- vitamin K
Regarding hair care, this is what the herb can do:
- reduce inflammation in the scalp
- neutralize free radical damage in the scalp
- block dihydrotestosterone or DHT – a natural but powerful metabolite in the body which cause hair loss
How to make nettle tea
Nettle for hair care are available in several ways. There are commercially available as a supplement or as dried leaves in stores and online. It can also be consumed as a homemade tea or brewed into a homemade shampoo. Either the tea or the shampoo can be used for hair care.
As mentioned earlier, this plant is a common one. If there are are some growing nearby, one can harvest some for fresh use. However, be sure to wear gloves, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Touching any part of the plant will cause a mild, stinging sensation which can persist for many hours. For those with a history of allergic reaction, be sure to take extra precautions or ask someone else to do the picking instead.
Also, it is advisable to take just the leaves of this plant to allow it to re-grow and become a stable source.
For freshly-made tea, do the following:
- Soak the stinging nettle leaves in water; this removes the stinging chemicals, allowing them to be handled safely
- Chop the leaves as fine as desired
- Mix four teaspoons of leaves to a cup of boiling water
- Set aside for a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of one hour
- Consume cold or re-heat as desired
How to use for hair health and dandruff control
As a homemade shampoo, nettle can help address hair loss and dandruff as well as assist in hair re-growth.
- Chop the leaves as fine as desired
- Place the leaves in a resealable container or jar
- Submerge the chopped leaves in virgin oil
- Stir the mixture and ensure that all the leaves are completely submerged to prevent mold growth
- Seal container tightly
- Shake the container every day for three to six weeks and check for mold (any rancid smell will indicate mold)
- Pour mixture over a cheesecloth on top of a fine-mesh strainer over a new container
- Use mixture as shampoo (mixture has a shelf life of one year)
As with other herbal medicine, there have been many testimonies to its benefits. However, it is still considered part of alternative medicine as there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to its effectiveness, including hair regrowth. It is worth mentioning, though, that some studies have acknowledged its long usage in medicine.
While generally considered to be safe for use, instances of diarrhea or rashes may occur. Medical practitioners have also advised, as a precaution, for pregnant women and diabetics to avoid consuming this herb as a tea. For those who use this, they can potentially enjoy its hair care benefits.