At TRUU by Nature, we love using fresh and dried herbs in our haircare formulations! If you read through our ingredients lists, you’re likely to find one, two, or more of the below-mentioned herbs in our shampoo bars, “no poo” hair cleansers, and powder-to-foam cleansers. Ayurveda practices have recently grown in popularity, and we have embraced them to make some excellent natural haircare products.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medical system that offers a plethora of natural healing remedies for illness prevention, restoration, and healing of both body and mind. According to Ayurveda practices, everything in the universe is made up of the five important elements: Earth, water, air, fire, and ether or space, plus the three 'doshas', or substances that are believed to be in every person’s body: Vata, pitta, and kapha. Generally, we are each said to have dominant doshas as well as guiding elements, which are said to determine the health of our bodies when in complete balance.
Thanks to Ayurveda and its teachings, we are able to embrace all practises and offer this knowledge. Let’s explore some of the most commonly preferred Ayurveda herbs used for balance, healthy scalps and beautiful locks:
1. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
High in alkaloids, Vitamins C and B, and minerals, brahmi is especially high in Asiatic triterpenes which influence collagen synthesis and wound healing. Brahmi’s alkaloids can bind to hair proteins producing stronger hair during the anagen phase, thus making it especially favoured for hair strength.
2. Bhringraj (Eclipta prostrata)
Also known as “false daisy”, [studies] show that bhringraj oil can be effective at fighting bacteria and fungus on the scalp, as well as slowing the hair’s greying process. Bhringraj is high in Vitamins E and D, minerals (magnesium, iron and calcium), and various chemical compounds such as alkaloids, poyacetylenes and flavonoids. Its leaves are commonly extracted into pure sesame oil alongside [Amla] to create a hair serum for lustrous shine.
3. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Also known as Methi, Fenugreek has long been used in Ayurveda practices as a scalp anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and hair strengthener due to its rich sources of iron, protein, vitamins A, C, K and folic acid.
4. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng, is an evergreen shrub that is a rich source of flavonoids, essential fatty acids, and tyrosine, an amino acid said to stimulate the production of melanin in the hair. In addition, [studies report] that ashwagandha can stimulate the natural production of DHEA (Dehuydroepianrosterone, the highest circulating steroid present in the human body), one of the body’s ultimate antioxidant. The roots are most often used as are the leaves, in a sesame seed oil extraction, and its benefits most often have been compared to Chinese/Korean ginseng (Panax Ginseng) and Siberian ginseng.
5. Amla (Phyllanthus emblica officinalis)
A traditional Indian herb, the Amla fruit is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C, amino acids and minerals, and contains several constituents like tannins (emblicanin A and B, gallic acid, ellagic acid), alkaloids and phenols. The fruit can be dried, ground, and then used directly on the scalp and hair length for detoxifying the scalp and strengthening hair. It is also macerated using various carrier oils, or a pure form of oil is sometimes extracted from its fruit – but that is more difficult to source.
6. Shikakai (Senegalia rugata)
Commonly known in India as ‘Shikakai’, this shrub is renowned as a raw material used in shampoos because of its ability to naturally cleanse the hair and scalp, while gently exfoliating and smoothing the hair. Shikakai is high in vitamin C and D, as well as A, E and K. Its fruit is usually ground up into a powder and combined with water to form a paste, which is rubbed onto the scalp and hair for shiny, soft, manageable results. Shikakai is one of TRUU by Nature’s favourite Ayurveda herbs and the reason why we include it in our shampoo bars!
7. Reetha/Aritha/Gaertn/Arishtak/Soapnuts (Sapindus mokorossi)
Also known as “Soapnuts” in India, Reetha is extensively used as a natural hair cleanser and often combined with other Ayurveda herbs such as Shikaka and Amla. It has natural insecticidal properties and therefore it’s often used on irritated scalps, lice, dandruff, and for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. Reetha also has natural saponins that act as foaming agents in hair.
8. Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Often used to treat hair loss, Neem is often used as a scalp antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory herb in Ayurvedic treatments. It’s said Neem is excellent for use in strengthening hair follicles, encouraging them to grow healthy hair. Often called the “cure to all hair problems”, studies show that Neem contains more than 140 beneficial compounds beneficial to hair and body, particularly high in fatty acids, limonoids, vitamin E, triglycerides, and calcium.
9. Brahmi (Bacopa monniera)
Most often used in thin, limp and weak hair, brahmi strengthens hair from the root, brahmi is also often combined with other herbs like Amla, Bhringraj and Shikakai for a complete “no poo” cleanser and follicle strengthener. Brahmi also calms the scalp for issues such as dandruff and itchiness, as it is considered a “cooling herb”.
10. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)
As its INCI name implies, Shatavari is a member of the asparagus family, and is an adaptogenic herb – considered to help the body adapt to stress and exert a normalizing effect on bodily processes, much like ginseng. Shatavari strengthens the hair follicles, which in turn help hair growth, prevent hair greying and maintaining natural colour.
There are numerous herbs used in Ayurveda hair care practices, and the list could go on and on. Some of these additional herbs also deserve mention, such as Tulsi, Amalaki, Shatavari, Guduchi, Jatamansi, Panikoorka, Kalmegh, Musambaram, and Manjistha. The ones mentioned above are the most commonly used and easiest to source, and often used in combinations of three or more for an easy and complete cleanse plus conditioning all rolled into one!
Which have you tried, and which ones do you think should be added to this list of favourites? Please comment below!
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