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Growing hair with ginger?

Some condiments used in cooking also find a purpose in the field of cosmetic care. Ginger, known for its therapeutic benefits in Chinese medicine, is one of them. It is even said to be capable of accelerating hair growth. But what is the reality? Discover what the scientific literature has to say.

Summary
Published January 25, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Ginger to stimulate hair growth?

Ginger is a perennial plant with rhizomes originating from Asia. Versatile, it has been used for several thousand years in a wide range of fields: culinary, therapeutic, cosmetic... Today, the use of ginger is widespread around the world and this active ingredient is still highly popular, particularly in cosmetics where the interest in natural ingredients is growing. Ginger is attributed with numerous virtues, both for the skin and for the hair, including the ability to stimulate their growth. Myth or reality?

Regrettably, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that ginger promotes hair growth. On the contrary, some studies conducted in vitro and in vivo suggest that this ingredient actually has a suppressive effect on hair growth.

In a study conducted in 2013, the effect of gingerol, the main active component of ginger, was measured on hair growth and on human dermal papilla cells (DPCs) in vivo and in vitro. It was then observed that gingerol had inhibited the elongation of the hair shaft as well as the proliferation of cultured DPCs. Scientists hypothesised that gingerol possessed pro-apoptotic effects on DPCs by modulating the activity of the pro-apoptotic protein Bcl-2-associated X (Bax). Researchers also estimated that it was likely that gingerol could prolong the final phase of the hair cycle, the telogen phase, where the hair no longer grows but remains attached to the hair follicle.

A more recent study has also shown that gingerol has a suppressive effect on hair growth and delved further into the mechanisms at work. The study demonstrated that, in addition to having pro-apoptotic effects on DPCs, gingerol reduced the rate of hair regrowth, the number of hair follicles and their length by increasing the expression of matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 (MMP2 and MMP9), enzymes involved in the hair cycle. Furthermore, gingerol interacts with various growth factors that regulate the hair follicle cycle. Indeed, this molecule decreases the concentrations of EGF, KGF, VEGF and IGF-1 and increases the concentration of TGF-β, which consequently slows down hair growth.

Thus, contrary to popular belief, ginger does not stimulate hair growthrather, it has a suppressive effect on their growth.

Tip : even though ginger is not one of them, there are cosmetic ingredients that can stimulate hair growth. For longer and stronger hair, we recommend you turn to, for example, the caffeine, the nettle extract or even the red ginseng.

Sources

  • HU Z. & al. 6-Gingerol inhibits hair shaft growth in cultured human hair follicles and modulates hair growth in mice. PloS One (2013).

  • HONG W. & al. 6-Gingerol inhibits hair cycle via induction of MMP2 and MMP9 expression. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias (2017).

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