Hibiscus - A flower to grow hair?

I am very fascinated by people who use herbal rinses or teas on their hair. While looking at ayurvedic research, I spotted the hibiscus rosa sinensis flower touted as a hair growing extract.

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.

The research
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.

The Result
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).

Discussion points
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

General comment
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)****.


  1. i havent tried any but lately there has been a lot of talk about caffeine to stimulate hair growth..they say black tea is the best since it has the highest amounts and that it stops shedding and makes your hair very strong..have you heard of this jc? they let the tea sit over night then instead of a cold rinse they rinse with the tea. if this is true then i would rather try this vs the henna since it would be much easier.

  2. I've heard that hibiscus calms "kinks." In fact, Fekkai introduced "Silky Straight Ironless Shampoo" with hibiscus extract because its supposed to control "kinks". So, hibiscus can also be used as a 'silkener' for lack of a better word?

    Would you like the link to the article?

  3. Yes Sky, another blogger Milan told me about caffeine and I researched it. You can find the post here

    Hi Addy, thanks for not including the link in your original comment. Feel free to comment again and include the link. I will then access it without publishing the comment. Thanks again!

  4. The link does not work for me, it says page does not exist..

  5. Here it is again - I think I made an error on the html - Caffeine post

  6. I think there is a bit of truth to using just water on the hair everyday. I may look into this Hibiscus because I used plain water *maybe some rosemary and other stimulating oils from carol's daughter hair elixir* sprayed JJ's hair each day and after a month it looks thinner, just more sparse at her scalp. (eh?!) I mean I only noticed it once I came overseas so it maybe that it happened here but I see I can't just spray water alone on her hair. (even with coconut oil already in there) Growth seen yes I think so, but thickness was lost. *sigh* I need to grab castor oil and see if that thickens now LOL

  7. Interesting observation Jaded. If the hibiscus works for you, do let us know!

  8. I use herbal rinses as a final rinse as well as in my spray bottle mixed with aloe and conditioner.
    I have used horsetail and peppermint so far but I would like to also try nettle and burdock tea.
    I alternate between the horestail and peppermint tea from week to week right now.
    I am using these teas not so much for hair growth but more for it's individul effects on the hair strands. EX: horsetail contain a high content of silica for hair strength and sheen; peppermint tea for circulation and I believe it has disinfectant properties as well (you probably already know this, sorry)
    I have heard of hibiscus tea being mixed in henna. But I have never tried it.

  9. I actually haven't researched peppermint yet. Another reader also asked about it, it is on my to do list :)

  10. I used to make hair teas all the time
    my favorites mixes were hibiscus and lavender
    and rosemary/sage/horsetail/lavender

    then I got lazy and stopped..lol
    In Senegal, we make a juice with hibiscus tea called bissap...loove it!

  11. Amina - I think I could try drinking hibiscus tea especially if I could buy it ready in a bag! I had a jasmine and peppermint tea from Algeria, it was very nice!

    Addy thanks I got the link!

  12. I know this is an old post, but i thought i'd leave a comment anyway.
    When i was young, what many people did for hair care was massage coconut oil to the hair AND scalp, leave it in for an hour or so, wash off the oil using gram(chick pea) flour mixed in water, then apply a paste of hibiscus leaves in water to the hair and finally wash it off. Sometimes we warmed the coconut nut. Some people add fenugreek soaked in water over night and ground to a paste to the gram flour, to make it slippery, i think. gram flour is very drying and can be hard to completely wash off. the final hibiscus paste makes the hair silky and soft, whereas gram flour alone can leave it quite rough. I dont know about the long term benefits of any of this, but overall, it did leave my hair clean and silky the few times i tried it. I'm from south India, and here we only had to buy the gram flour and fenugreek. On the whole it was a very messy process, but we had a lot of fun doing it.
    There are a few product available, labelled as dried hibiscus leaves and flowers, but one of them caused my hair to fall out, and didn't have any of the effects of actual leaf paste. so please be careful when buying these kinds of products. Unless it is from a reputed manufacturer, you never know if your herbal products actually have herbs in them.

  13. I'm interested in marshmallow and blur malva tea rinses for hair. They are supposed to have natural "slip" due to their mucilaginous properties.

    Right, now I use peppermint tea in my ACV mix along with honey and tea tree oil. It's nice for my scalp.

  14. I have been you using hibiscus as a shampoo for five months now and you can see the comparison in my hair from five months ago to now, i did a second bc in may, 2011 cut my hair to about 1 inch in the front and 1 and a half inches in the back and now my hair is 7 inches in the front and 8 inches in the back in ten months and i have not done a major trim and my hair all i cut is one strand knots and my hair is still long i can testify hibiscus really does work

    1. Does hibiscus help to increase the hair density also?

  15. Hi Jc

    Hru..I have a question...does hair grow long with the natural paste that is done by grinding the leaves of hibiscus??I have heard lot from my friends that hair is strengthened by using the oil made of boiling the coconut oil with hibiscus dry flowers??please do reply and suggest...thx...take care...

  16. I use a hair mist with neem, hibiscus, brahmi, and fenugreek powders. I place the powders in a tea bag inside a mini crockpot and let it seep overnight. When it cools I place it in a mist bottle and store in the fridge for about a week.

  17. I've been using hibiscus oil for years, and my hair grows very quickly, although I don't know whether that is because of genetics or the oil sicne I've never used any other.
    My mother makes it by taking a kilo of coconut oil and adding 40 dried red hibiscus flowers to it. Let it sit in the sun for at least a week before using it.
    We usually make a new batch every summer since the sun is very hot and warms the oil well.
    Definitely worth a try :)

  18. My mom usually put hibiscus leaf paste (grind the leaf to make a slime from it ) and apply on my head during high fever.Just grind the fresh leaf and add some water.It work for me.This remedies had been use for a long time ago.
    The leaf works like a "heat sink" dissipating the heat. :)

    Sorry for my bad English.


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