I was recently thinking about my dad. He is in his sixties and unlike many men of his age, he still has plenty of hair. He can’t thank genetics as my grandfather was bald by the age of 50!
His diet is far from perfect although he always has a home cooked meal (thanks mum!) and stays away from alcohol. He has a sweet tooth, however, and enjoys a piece of cake with his coffee more often than he should 😉
“So what is it?” I kept asking myself.
I came to conclusion: it must be his devotion to nettle and birch shampoo.
As long as I can remember, my dad has been using a pure nettle and birch shampoo (which always came in a glass bottle). He uses a very old and natural brand which has been on a market for ages (and hasn’t changed at all)!
So – what is so special about nettle and birch that keeps my dad’s hair healthy and strong?
Stinging Nettle (Latin Urtica Dioica) is a popular weed that grows in many back gardens of Northern Europe, Asia, and America.
The word “nettle” probably came from the old English word netel = to irritate and refers to the stinging benefits of the leaves. Yes – becoming stung and achy is good for you, and it was common knowledge in ancient times.
The first document describing “irritating” properties of nettles refers back to the Roman era. The Roman soldiers used to rub the leaves on their bodies to induce irritation and local inflammation for the healing purposes (as this would stimulate the blood flow and help deliver nutrients, heat, and oxygen). Romans valued the nettles so much that they brought their own plants to the British Isles to treat pain in the limbs in a cold and wet climate (typical British weather).
Nettles are extremely rich in nutrients!
– good source of vitamin A, B, C, D and K
– a high amount of iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, silica, phosphorus, sodium, sulfur, and iodine
– a substantial amount of proteins and omega 3
– excellent source of chlorophyll (the richest in the plant kingdom!) and tannins
These nutrients make nettles a great aid for the hair loss and other hair and scalp problems.
1. Nettle has anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation of the scalp is responsible for chronic hair loss.
A study showed that chronic inflammation damages hair follicles. Nettle extract can reduce the levels of the main inflammatory agent called NF-kB and therefore reduce inflammation and promote healthy hair!
2. Nettle contains a lot of antioxidants
You might have heard about damaging and aging properties of free radicals. Cutting the long story short–free radicals are the molecules that are produced during various processes in the body. Your body can cope with them as long as you have a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, free radical production is also triggered by environmental toxins, cosmetics, chemicals or even stress. This causes damage to DNA of cell follicles.
Nettle components such as polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamin A and C are natural antioxidants that have the ability to neutralize free radicals.
3. Nettles can have a potential to block DHT
DHT–dihydrotestosterone is a metabolite of main male hormone: testosterone. High levels of DHT have been linked to both male and female baldness.
Some research confirms that nettle extract (roots and leaves) has a potential to inhibit 5-alpha-reductase–the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT and therefore blocks its production.
DHT performs its function by binding to the receptor sites which can be found throughout the body but mainly on the prostate and in the scalp. Nettle extract competes with DHT and binds to receptors so DHT is not longer aggravating the prostate or inhibiting the hair growth.
Guys! Nettle not only helps to keep your fuzz but it is also quite helpful in preventing the benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Here are some suggestions for nettle products tested by my clients:
You can pick nettles yourself and use them in the kitchen! Here is more information on how to do it.
My dad’s second secret ingredient – birch!
Birch (Latin Betula Pubescens). Widespread in Europe, USA and Canada, birch was once a sacred tree of German and Slavonic people, associated with fertility and love.
Birch sap and oil have been used for hair care in traditional Slavonic medicine. Today they are quite popular in Latvia, Poland and Estonia.
Birch water, which is made from birch tree sap – is packed with vitamins and minerals such as manganese, calcium, zinc, sodium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.
Birch oil, on the other hand, contains a lot of salicylates (e.g. methyl and ethyl salicylate) which are strong anti-inflammatory agents (cousins of the drug aspirin that you buy in the pharmacy).
Birch essential oil improves blood circulation and has antibacterial and antifungal properties. According to Professor Atta-ur-Rahman, botulinal (one of the active ingredient in Betula) should be added to hair products as a natural antiseptic agent to fight dandruff and give the hair a healthy shine.
Possibly it is just my dad’s luck to have such a strong and healthy hair… 😉
But…I strongly recommend you try nettle and birch products as a nice add-on to your regular hair care routine. I am sure you will not regret it!
Have you tried birch and nettle for hair loss?
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