What’s it like to be stuck in a small house for months. And the only view outside is a blanket of white ice.
A group of eight scientists had been staying on an Antarctic research station for over a year. The long darkness and harsh weather conditions took a toll on them.
They came back with their brains shrunk. Apparently, the scientists were doing little mental and physical activity. And that’s why their brain lost some volume, like an unused muscle.
The shrinking is not just a problem of brain or muscles. It’s also a problem of hair follicles. Our hair follicles shrink too if we don’t stimulate it enough or undergo too much stress or have an imbalance of hormones. When this happens – the follicles shrinking – hair chokes and get thin and eventually fall out. Now the solution will be to remove triggers in the first place. So do a head massage, stress less and lead a healthy lifestyle.
But, what to do with the already shrunk or miniaturised hair follicles? Well, you can take the help of bhringraj – the famous ayurvedic herb for hair. Bhringraj can increase the size as well as density of hair follicles and encourage strong and healthy hair growth. Plus, if you have early greying of hair, bhringraj will tackle that too.
That’s a big promise. Do you want to know how bhringraj does what it does for hair? Then hold on a bit, let’s first get to know bhringraj.
What is bhringraj?
Bhringraj or Eclipta alba belongs to the sunflower family. But its flowers are not at all big, they are actually quite tiny, the size of a shirt button. Also, bhringraj is no ornamental plant. It’s a short creeper that grows in the wild.
Bhringraj likes marshy wet areas, so you will usually site it by the river, canal, rice fields and ponds. It’s native to India subcontinent where it’s also known as Bhringa, bhangra, maka and kesharaj – meaning king of hair vitalizing herbs.
I remember when I was in high school, one of my friend’s mother would go by the canal and get fresh bhringraj plant. That she would crush and apply to her and her two beautiful daughter’s hair. And perhaps bhringraj did work its magic, as all of them had such thick, dark, gorgeous hair.
But how do we know for sure their gorgeous hair was due to bhringraj. It could be that they were just born lucky with great hair. Or maybe it’s both. Let’s dig deeper and find out…
The Ancient and Modern take on Bhringraj for Hair Growth
Ayurveda puts bhringraj on the top list of most effective herbs for hair. Just like the herb amla, bhringraj benefits hair by reducing pitta dosha (or high body heat). From an ayurvedic point of view, excess pitta is the most likely cause of thinning and greying.
But bhringraj is more than heat pacifier. It’s also extremely nourishing for hair, and it has hair growing properties. And this is not just coming from the ancient texts.
There is mounting evidence that bhringraj is indeed effective for hair growth.
The studies done over the last decades have found that bhringraj not only stimulates hair growth, but it’s more effective than the conventional treatment minoxidil (1, 2, 3). Plus without the side effects of redness, scaling and itching which minoxidil may cause.
Even though the studies are done on mice, the evidence is quite strong and promising.
How does Bhringraj promote growth?
The herb contains a variety of biological components including flavonoids, phytosterols, and coumestans. It’s thought that all of these components work synergistically – like a team – to increase the density and size of hair follicles (3). And as you know, the increase in the size of the hair follicles is considered as a sign of stronger roots and active growing hair (4).
Although, it’s unclear which type of hair loss bhringraj would help. But from the findings at hand, it’s most likely that the Indian herb can be useful in conditions due to shrinking of hair follicles and those would be telogen effluvium and male and female pattern baldness.
So if you have hair loss due to any of these or hair loss due to god-knows-what, give bhringraj a go as it only improves the health of hair follicles. Let’s find out how to use it….shall we?
How to Use Bhringraj to Boost Hair Growth
If you have access to fresh bhringraj plant, by all means, go ahead, use it. Make a paste of fresh leaves and apply on your hair. But I suppose that would be very few people.
Now the majority will need to get bhringraj powder, made from dried leaves. You can use bhringraj powder to make herbal hair oil. Follow the recipe of amla hair oil, either substitute bhringraj for amla or use both.
I prefer to use bhringraj in a hair mask. My hair responds better to the herb in a hair mask than the oil. And here are my 3 favourite Bhringraj hair masks recipes for you to boost hair growth and/or darken hair…
1.Volumising Bhringraj and Yogurt Hair Mask
This one is for fine, oily hair types. Bhringraj promotes hair growth and adding yogurt increases volume and thickness of hair strands.
You will need:
- 1 tablespoon bhringraj powder
- 5-6 tablespoons yogurt (full fat)
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seed powder (optional)
- 1 egg yolk (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
Place bhringraj powder and yogurt in a bowl and mix well and use. You can also add 1 egg yolk for extra volume and fenugreek seeds for its growth enhancing effects. If your hair is on dry side, add olive oil to restore moisture and softness.
2. Hair Boosting and Moisturising Bhringraj Mask
For those of you with dry, tangly hair, combine hair boosting bhringa with hair softening hibiscus. You can use the base as water, but for more luxurious feel, use coconut milk.
You will need:
Place bhringraj powder and hibiscus powder in a bowl. Next, add coconut milk and stir to form a paste.
Apply section by section all over your scalp and hair, and let it sit for 15-30 minutes to do its magic. Rinse it out with water. To shampoo or not to shampoo is your choice. See how your hair feels, you may be able to get away with an apple cider vinegar or reetha-shikakai hair rinse.
3. Bhringraj Hair Colouring Mask
If your concern is both hair loss and greying, then a fantastic way to use bhringraj is by combing it with henna. Henna colours hair red-brown and bhringraj enhances the colour. Also, it’s said that using bhringraj regularly will reverse greying and turn your hair to its original colour.
How to do it:
When you prepare henna, add one tablespoons of bhringraj powder to it. Allow the henna and bhringraj to marinate overnight. And in the morning henna your hair.
Let me tell you I am a big lover of henna. Just henna alone can make hair so much healthier and prettier, not to mention the stunning colour it imparts. But adding bhringraj ups the game and you can tell the difference in overall health and colour of hair. So, yes, use the two together for great results.
You may also like: How to Henna to Colour your Hair (Ditch the Hair Dye)
Buying Bhringraj Powder:
Bhringraj is not at all expensive to buy. Since it can go by many names, it’s good to know the botanical name which is eclipta alba or eclipta prostrata.
You can buy bhringraj powder online or you can also get it in an Indian grocery store.
Other uses of Bhringraj
Although bhringraj is famous for its hair benefits, the herb also has many other uses. The ayurvedic practitioner use bhringraj supplements to treat liver disorder, skin conditions, arthritis, poor sight, hearing and memory problems.
A word of caution, if you plan to take bhringraj, talk to your doctor before self-medicating even the natural herbs, especially if you are pregnant or have a medical condition.
If you are losing hair don’t stay put in the house as doing so can shrink more than hair follicles. And you don’t want that, right? So make use of follicle boosting bhringraj to get thick, luscious hair.
Let me know if you have any questions and how bhringraj works for you.
Stay Happy and Healthy
Until next time…