Monday, 3 May 2010
Just before I continue, I must mention that whenever herbal extracts come into play, most of them are not fully researched. Hibiscus for example is reported to grow hair but is also now being researched as a very effective contraceptive (Contraception, pp 227-230, 2005). Therefore, before going on a herbal journey, please do your own thorough research for medical reasons.
Hibiscus flowers and leaves were dried and powdered and then extracted into solvent (petroleum based). Water extracts of hibiscus have been reported previously too, it is the preference of the scientist to use a solvent.
Hibiscus was found to promote hair growth in terms of longer hair length and maintenance of the hair growing phase - anagen (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, pp 235-239, 2003).
1. The study was performed on rats so whether a similar effect happens in humans, who knows?
2. The leaf extract was found to be more effective than the flower extract.
3. Plain water stimulated hair growth too. The massaging effect was theorised to stimulate the follicle. However the hair treated with water alone was on average 2.5mm shorter than with the hibiscus leaf extract and according to the authors appeared sparse
This study was lacking key hard data. It would have been quite simple to convert their observations into numbers, for example counting the number of hairs per square inch to justify the 'sparse' comment. Also they could have looked at the thickness of the hair. Simple stuff in my book to make the study more valid.
I am not certain about their massage theory I need to research it!
So are you interested or experimenting with teas or herbal rinses. If so which ones?
**Edit to Add: I did not find any research specifying the chemical composition of this particular hibiscus. I therefore cannot say what specifically would cause the observations of hair growth. A similar flower hibiscus tiliaceus L. is known to contain steroids (perhaps an explanation for the contraceptive effect) as well as a host of carbon based compounds (some responsible for scent or structure but none specifically said to affect hair). (Sep. Sci, pp 86-90, 2002)****.