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Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
If you’ve looked into natural treatments for hair loss, you may have seen recommendations for products that contain black seed oil.
Produced from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a flowering shrub that grows in Eastern Europe and Western Asia, black seed oil has a long history as both a spice and a key ingredient in several types of traditional folk medicine.
While a few small-scale studies have found that black seed oil may have benefits for promoting hair growth and preventing hair shedding, the scientific research that’s available right now isn’t very thorough or reliable.
Below, we’ve explained what black seed oil is and how it may help to treat hair loss. We’ve also looked at the other potential health benefits of black seed oil, including its possible benefits as a natural skin care ingredient.
Finally, we’ve looked at other science-based options for treating hair loss, from FDA-approved medications to over-the-counter products and more.
Black seed oil is an oil that’s produced from the seeds of Nigella sativa, a shrub that’s found in Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Like many other plant-based oils, black seed oil is commonly promoted as a natural treatment for various ailments. It’s available both as a bottled oil and in capsule form as a popular dietary supplement.
Black seed oil has a long history as an ingredient in traditional folk medicine. Black seeds were famously found inside the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. Numerous ancient medical texts also make mention of black seeds possessing curative properties.
The black seeds used to produce black seed oil are also referred to using a variety of different names. These include black cumin, black onion seed, black caraway, black kalonji, kalanji and nigella seeds.
Today, black seed oil is typically promoted for its potential health benefits. Proponents of black seed oil claim that it may help to prevent certain diseases, aid in weight loss, treat asthma and prevent or reverse certain forms of hair loss.
Black seed oil is often promoted as a natural treatment for hair loss and an alternative to drugs like minoxidil and finasteride.
If you search online for hair loss prevention shampoos, conditioners and other products, you’ll often be able to find black seed oil listed prominently as an active ingredient that’s included to prevent shedding and promote hair growth.
Research has established that black seed oil has several biological effects. For example, it’s a known antimicrobial substance (a substance that kills bacteria). It also has anti-inflammatory effects that may make it a useful treatment for certain skin disorders.
With this said, there isn’t very much high quality scientific research into the full effects of black seed oil on hair growth or hair loss prevention.
One study, which was published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, found that an oil made from a combination of black seeds, henna, coconut, Indian gooseberry and other ingredients reduced hair loss in men and women aged from 17 to forty.
While this study is interesting, black seed oil wasn’t the only active ingredient used in the hair tonic tested in the study. In fact, the oil that was tested used 10 times as much coconut oil as black seed oil, making it difficult to tell which ingredient was responsible for its results.
A different study published in the International Journal of Ethics in Engineering & Management Education in 2014 also looked at the effects of a tonic made from coconut oil and Nigella sativa (black seeds) on hair loss.
This study found that the combination coconut and black seed oil produced a mean hair growth of 2.6cm (about one inch) over the course of four weeks. In comparison, hairs that received no treatment only grew by 1.09cm (approximately 0.43 inches).
Like the research we mentioned earlier, this study looks interesting, but has some major issues that make it less than ideal as evidence that black seed oil stimulates hair growth.
First, like the other study, it doesn’t test black seed oil on its own. Instead, the test solution uses a combination of coconut oil and Nigella sativa, or black seeds.
Second, this study is extremely tiny. Unlike other hair loss studies, which often feature hundreds or thousands of participants, this study featured a total of just three participants.
It also makes no mention of the participants’ sex, age or whether they have any existing medical conditions that may affect their rate of hair growth.
Because of these issues, it’s tough to take this study’s findings seriously. While it’s interesting as a small-scale experiment, it’s by no means reliable proof that black seed oil is effective as a hair growth tonic or natural hair loss treatment.
Finally, a small study carried out in Italy looked at the effects of black seed oil as a treatment for telogen effluvium (TE) -- a form of hair loss that can develop due to severe stress, medications, illnesses, hormonal changes or injuries.
This study, which featured only 20 participants, found that a topical lotion containing black seed oil was more effective at stimulating hair growth than a non-therapeutic placebo.
However, it’s worth noting that this study group consisted entirely of women, not men with male pattern baldness.
In short, while some very small studies have shown positive findings, we don’t yet know whether or not black seed oil treats hair loss or promotes hair growth in men.
In addition to being investigated as a natural treatment for hair loss, black seed oil is also being researched as a potential natural treatment for other ailments and medical conditions. Currently, research shows that black seed is associated with several potential health benefits:
May repair liver damage. Research has found that black seed has a hepato-protective effect, meaning it may help to protect the liver from harmful substances and repair some forms of damage.
May improve blood sugar and lipids. Black seed oil may have benefits for blood sugar and blood lipid levels -- factors that play a role in the development of diabetes and heart disease.
May help to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Human studies have found that thymoquinone, a terpene found in black seeds, could be a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
May help to treat asthma and other conditions. Some research suggests that black seed oil’s relaxant effects may help to treat asthma, hypertension and certain digestive and urinary or genital disorders.
May promote weight loss. One placebo-controlled trial involving diabetic women found that black seed oil produced a small reduction in weight and body mass over a 12 week period.
It’s important to note that research into black seed oil’s potential health benefits is still in its early stages, with few large-scale, reliable studies available. A lot of the research into black seed oil’s effects involves animal studies or small human studies with a limited number of participants.
Because of this, it’s important not to think of black seed oil as a replacement for FDA-approved, science-based medications.
If you’ve noticed the early signs of male pattern baldness and want to stop your hair loss from getting worse, you’ll get the best results by sticking to proven, science-based treatments.
Currently, the most effective treatment options for male pattern baldness are medications such as finasteride and minoxidil. These medications target hair loss from different angles to slow or stop your hair loss and, in some cases, promote hair regrowth in areas with thinning.
Finasteride a prescription hair loss medication. It works by stopping your body from producing a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is the primary hormone responsible for male pattern baldness. If you are genetically prone to male pattern baldness, DHT can bind to receptors in your scalp and gradually cause your hair follicles to stop producing new hairs.
This process usually happens in a pattern, resulting in the classic M-shaped receding hairline or balding crown that’s common with male hair loss.
By reducing your DHT levels, finasteride can slow down or stop hair loss. Many men also notice an increase in hair growth in areas affected by thinning, such as the crown or hairline. It usually takes three to four months for results from finasteride to become visible.
Finasteride is a prescription medication, meaning you’ll need to talk to a healthcare provider to purchase and take it. We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a physician who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
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Minoxidil is a topical hair loss medication. It comes as a liquid solution or foam and needs to be applied directly to the areas of your scalp that are affected by hair loss.
Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t reduce DHT levels. Instead, it stimulates blood flow to your scalp and causes your hair follicles to go from a resting state into the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle.
Your hair follicles need time to respond to minoxidil and start growing, meaning it usually takes about six months before you’ll be able to see an improvement in your hair.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication. We offer minoxidil online, either on its own or with finasteride and other science-based products for treating and preventing hair loss in our Hair Power Pack.
In addition to finasteride and minoxidil, several other products and procedures are available to treat hair loss. These include:
Hair loss prevention shampoo. Shampoos that contain ketoconazole or saw palmetto may help to block DHT in your scalp and reduce hair loss. Our Thick Fix Shampoo uses saw palmetto to reduce buildup and promote thick, healthy hair.
Hair restoration surgery. If you have severe hair loss, surgical procedures such as hair transplant surgery can restore hair and add volume to your hairline, crown or other areas with noticeable thinning.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Right now, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to confidently say that black seed oil improves hair growth or prevents hair loss from male pattern baldness.
Although a few studies have found that black seed oil may have hair-related benefits, none are very comprehensive. Many use combinations of black seed oil and other ingredients, making it difficult to know which ingredients are effective and which aren’t.
If you’re losing your hair and want to take action, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider about science-based treatment options such as finasteride and minoxidil.
You can also learn more about proven, science-based treatments for hair loss in our complete guide to male pattern baldness.