While using nettle for hair loss prevention is not a guaranteed solution, some clinical studies have shown it to be somewhat effective. Nettle is a plant root extract that is added to hair products to stimulate hair growth and block excess DHT. The herb, also known as stinging nettle, is most effective at treating male and female pattern baldness. In addition to shampoos and conditioners, nettle supplements can be taken orally as a vitamin supplement.
Extensive scientific studies have not been conducted to prove the absolute effectiveness of nettle for hair loss. Limited trial research has revealed that the herb can inhibit the production of the hormone DHT, which is primarily responsible for excess hair loss. When nettle is combined with other herbs, such as saw palmetto, its effectiveness in inhibiting the production of DHT increases. Some well-known manufacturers that sell hair loss remedies and treatments in retail stores use nettle in their formulas.
There are two ways to reap the benefits of using nettle to treat hair loss. The first is by taking it as an oral supplement, which can be found in most health food specialty stores. It is often marketed as "nettle root" and the recommended dosage is at least 500 milligrams (mg) daily. Those suffering from female pattern baldness have also seen positive effects with the use of topical solutions.
Some use topical nettle for hair loss in the form of extract creams, solutions, shampoos, and conditioners. Besides blocking the production of excess androgens, topical applications are thought to stimulate the scalp, strengthen the hair shaft, and stimulate the root of the hair. Side effects of using topical nettle include scalp irritation, itching, and mild burning sensations. Prior to using topical nettle extract, it is recommended that individual users perform an allergy patch test or consult a medical professional.
Side effects of taking nettle orally include indigestion, gas, bloating, and difficulty urinating. Certain types of people should not take nettle supplements, including those with heart and kidney disorders. When absorbed by the bloodstream, nettle extract can cause the body to retain excess fluid.
Alopecia areata patients sometimes use nettle for hair loss, since preliminary research has shown this method to have some success in combating this autoimmune disorder. The disease causes the body to shed its own hair because it is essentially rejecting it as a threat to its own immune system. Many of these patients try nettle in the topical format in hopes that it will re-stimulate hair growth.