Here i’ve compiled a list of herbs that directly affect the scalp. Herbs are a great natural way of maintaining the health of the scalp and can help with certain scalp conditions. I’ve grouped them into different categories for easier referencing. If you haven’t already checked out the previous post ‘Herbs For The Hair’ find it HERE.
Dandruff – A common scalp condition that causes white flakes to appear in the scalp and hair. The white flakes are dead scalp skin. Dandruff is often the result of seborrhoea, an inflammation (dermatitis) of the scalp.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Contains pectin, carbolic acids, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, ethyl acetates and the perfect balance of 19 minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, iron, fluorine and silicon as well as acetic acid, propionic acid, lactic acid, enzymes and amino acids.
Good for – Regulating the water content in the cells and body, helps with regulating blood pressure, assists in preventing circulatory problems, helps with diminishing premature calcification of the arteries and assists in blood circulation. Also balances skin and scalps pH, helps treat dandruff and itchy scalp conditions, fights hair loss, fungal infections of the skin, soothes sunburn and insect bites and can help eliminate head lice.
Aloe Vera – Aloe barbadensis
Contains Amino Acids, Anthraquinones, Enzymes, Hormones (Auxins & Gibberellins), Lignin, Minerals, Salicylic Acid, Saponins, Sterols, Sugars and Vitamins.
Its properties are – Analgesic, cleansing, antifungal, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, Anti-viral, immune modulating, anti-oxidant and cell proliferant.
Good for speedy wound healing, soothing irritated skin and scalp conditions including dandruff, healing burns, rashes, insect bites, sores, viral and fungal infections and can help reduce psoriasis, rosacea, warts, eczema and wrinkles.
Bay Leaf – Laurus nobilis
Contains about 0.8 – 3% essential oils, mucilage, tannins and resins.
It’s properties are – Antibacterial, Analgesic, Antifungal, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Aperitif, Astringent, Diuretic, Insecticide, Stimulant and Tonic.
A good scalp tonic, stimulating growth and easing dandruff.
Birch Bark/Leaves – Betula pendula/alba
Contains about 3% tannic acid, saponins, bitters, glycosides and flavonoids, including hyperoside, quercitrin, myricetin galactoside, kaempferol, myricetin and quercetin glycosides in the leaves. About 15% betulin and betulenic acid, salicylate and methyl salicylate, empyreumatic oil, also known as Birch Tar which contains a high concentration of methyl salicylates as well as creosol and guailacol as well as terpenoilds and triterpenes including betulin, betulinic acid, a pentacyclic triterpene and ursolic acid. Essential oils, bitters, resins and betuls camphor also exist in the bark.
Its properties are – diuretic, detoxifying, cicatrizing, anti-rheumatic, astringent, antiulcer, choleretic, slightly hypertensive, anti-fever in the leaves. The bark is diuretic, digestive and anti-fever.
Good for treating affections of the skin and scalp such as dermatitis, eczemas, dandruff, and furunculous (A skin condition characterized by the development of recurring boils).
Contains calcium, potassium, iron, amino acids, polyphenols, glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, volatile oil, polyacetylenes, resin, mucilage, inulin, alkaloids and essential oil.
It’s properties are – Antibacterial, Antifungal, Anti-scorbutic, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Anti-allergy.
Good for eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin/scalp conditions as well as scalp conditions such as dandruff, and hair loss.
Cloves – Eugenia caryaphyllata
Contains volatile oil; eugenol (up to 85%), acetyl eugenol, methyl salicylate, pinene, vanillin, gums and tannins, rich in minerals and vitamins.
Its properties are – Mild topical anaesthetic, disinfectant, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, germicidal, antiviral, analgesic, warming and stimulating.
Good for mild pain relief (topical), infections, fungal infections, dandruff, provides a cooling sensation and relieves scalp irritation. The benefits of clove are just too numerous to state here!
Comfrey – Symphytum spp
Contains tannins, rosmarinic acid, allantoin, steroidal saponins, mucilage, inulin, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, Gum, Carotene, Glycosides, Sugars, Beta-sitosterol, Triterpenoids, Vitamin B-12, Protein and Zinc.
Its properties are – Anodyne, Astringent, Demulcent, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Haemostatic, Refrigerant and Vulnerary.
Good for rough, damaged skin, treating inflammation, stimulating wound healing, eczema and psoriasis. The high content of the phytochemical Allantoin which promotes skin cell regeneration, stimulates the growth of new cells and helps sensitive skin to become more resilient, counteracting dryness and cracking.
Fenugreek – Trigonella foenum-graecum
Contains mucillage, proteins and amino acids, flavonoids, saponins and steroidal saponins, coumarin, lipids, vitamins, minerals, galactomannan fibre and alkaloids, such as trigonelline.
Its properties are galactogogue (increases mothers milk), digestive aid, tonic, anti-anaemic, cardio tonic, depurative, febrifugal, expectorant, a neuromuscular stimulant, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperglycaemic, anti-spasmodic and an emmenagogue. Fenugreek is seen as one of the most important remedies for dandruff. Also good for soothing irritation, reducing inflammation and treating skin infections.
Ginger – Zingiber officinale
Contains about 477 chemical constituents including ascorbic acid, caffeic acid, capsaicin, beta-sitosterol, beta-carotene, curcumin, lecithin, limonene, selenium and tryptophan, essential oils including ginerol (5-10%)minerals and vitamins.
Its properties are – Anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-viral, carminative, circulation-stimulating, detoxifying, diaphoretic, digestive, lymph-cleansing, mild laxative, perspiration-inducing and warming.
Good for Arthritis, fevers, headaches, and toothaches, lowers blood cholesterol and blood-pressure and aids in preventing internal blood clots. Coughs or bronchitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, improves the complexion, eases tendonitis, improves blood circulation, reduces inflammation and is stimulating. There is some evidence to suggest that it helps to combat skin, ovarian, colon and breast cancer. Great dandruff remedy.
Contains 5-7% silicic acid, nicotine, palustrine, palustridine, phytosterol, beta-sitosterol, malic acid, vitamin C, volatile oil, potassium salts as well as silica, sulfur, amino acids (valine, paraginic acid, lucine, serine & citruline), cysteine, flavone, glycosides and saponine.
Its properties are – antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, effects
Good for helping prevent baldness, seborrhea and dandruff, irritated skin conditions, pimples and eczema
Lavender – Lavendula angustifolia
Contains over 100 constituents, including linalool, perillyl alcohol, linalyl acetate, camphor, limonene, tannins, triterpenes, coumarins, cineole, and flavonoids.
Its properties are – Analgesic, Anticonvulsive, Antidepressant, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Decongestant, Deodorant, Detoxicant, Diuretic, Fungicide, Restorative and Sedative.
Good for soothing irritated skin and scalp conditions, eliminating dandruff, reducing hair loss and inflammation
Neem – Azadirachta indica
Contains diterpenoids and triterpenoids, gedunin and its derivatives, vilasinin type of compounds and C- secomeliacins such as nimbin, salanin and azadirachtin ), proteins (amino acids), carbohydrates (polysaccharides), sulphurous compounds, polyphenolics such as flavonoids and their glycosides, dihydrochalcone, coumarin and tannins, aliphatic compounds.
Its properties are – Anti-inflammatory; Anti-arthritic; Antipyretic; Hypoglycaemic; Anti-gastric ulcer; Spermicidal; Antifungal; Antibacterial; Diuretic; Antimalarial; Anti-tumour; Immunomodulatory.
Good for treating skin and scalp infections, fungal infections such as ringworm, psoriasis, eczema, dry and itchy skin conditions and acne.
Rosemary – Rosemarinus officianlis
Contains 0.5% to 2.5% of volatile oils, Flavonoids,Terpenoids, Phenols including caffeic, chlorogenic, labiatic, neochlorogenic, and rosmarinic acids and high amounts of salicylates.
Its properties are – analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiviral, aphrodisiac, disinfectant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, tonic and stimulating.
Good for increasing blood circulation to the scalp, treating dandruff and other irritated skin and scalp conditions as well as helping to prevent hair loss.
Sage – Salvia officianalis
Contains Bitter principles, Flavonoids, Tannins, Silica, Antibiotic polyacetylenes, Inulin, Hydroxycoumarins and Volatile oils.
Its properties are – Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antioxidant, Antiperspirant/Deodorants, Aromatic, Astringent, Depurative, Emmenagogue and Nervine
Good for treating skin and scalp infections including fungal infections, helps heal dermatitis, herpes, psoriasis as well as excessive perspiration amongst other things.
Tea Tree – Melaleuca alternifolia
The main constituent in tea tree’s essential oil and present in concentrations of 30% or more is terpinen-4-ol, with more than 100 other constituents identified. Other constituents include terpinene, terpinolene, pinene, cymene, and limonene.
Its properties are – antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, balsamic, bactericide, cicatrisant, expectorant, fungicide, insecticide, stimulant and sudorific.
Good for treating skin and scalp infections including bacterial, fungal and viral, helps clear abscesses, acne, burns, herpes, oily skin, athlete’s foot, cold sores, blemishes, diaper rash, warts, sunburn and infected wounds, while fighting dandruff on the scalp.
White Willow Bark – Salix babylonica
Contains apigenin, beta-carotene, catechin, lignin, rutin, salicin, salicylic acid, tannin, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, B-vitamins and vitamin C amongst other things.
Its properties are – bitter, astringent, cooling, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, pain relieving, anti-pyretic, exfoliating
Good for mild pain relief for headaches, joints and muscular pain, reducing fevers from bacterial and viral infections and other feverish illnesses, cleansing the scalp and skin, as a rinse for treating dandruff and for treating corns and growths. Also good as a mouthwash for sore gums, a compress and poultice for burns, insect bites and wounds and a foot soak for sweaty feet.
How To Use
Dandruff treatments should be used at least several times a week for maximum effect.
Herbal Scalp Rinse
You can use one or a combination of herbs for your rinse, e.g Sage, Birch, Comfrey, Burdock Root, White Willow Bark and/or Horsetail.
Make an infusion (just like making tea). Combine the herbs and use 1-2 teaspoons of the herb mix per cup (250ml) of distilled (or at least filtered) water. Pour freshly boiled water over the herbs, cover and allow to infuse until the water becomes cool. Strain through muslin or cheesecloth. Pour over your hair and scalp as a final rinse after shampooing/cleansing, massaging it into your scalp. Do not rinse out.
Tougher, more fibrous herbs such as the stalks, roots and bark will need to made into a tea by making a decoction. Use about 30-60 grams of herb (single or a combination) to 750ml distilled water. Use a non metallic pot with a tight lid. Add herbs and water to pot and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for between 15 and 40 minutes depending on how tough the herbs are. Do not uncover. Allow to cool before straining. Proceed to use as a final rinse.
Fenugreek should be made into a paste by soaking two tablespoons of the seeds overnight. In the morning drain the seeds and grind them into a paste as smooth as possible. Apply the paste all over the scalp, cover and leave for 30 minutes. Proceed to wash hair. It’s recommended to use this treatment at least twice a week for the first two weeks and then once a week for another two weeks. You could also use the water that you soak the seeds in as an after-shower hair tonic (final rinse or daily scalp spritz).
Neem powder can be made into a paste by mixing a few tablespoons of the powder with water or oil until a thick paste consistency is formed. Apply the paste all over the scalp, cover and leave for about 30 minutes. Proceed to wash hair.
Herbal Oil Treatments
Using the essential oils of the herbs mentioned above. Select one or a mix of essential oils such as Sage, Clove, Rosemary, Ginger and Tea Tree.
Choose a carrier oil. Coconut oil is good for scalp treatments, Jojoba oil is great too. Neem oil can be used in small amounts with your carrier oil. Measure out your carrier oil into a bottle. Add your essential oil(s) to the carrier oil. Close the bottle and shake well. Add no more than 20 drops of essential oils for every 60mls carrier oil used. Use closer to the maximum recommendation for a pre-wash treatment and about half or so for a leave-on oil treatment.
You can also infuse your carrier oil with the dried herbs to create your own Herb Infused Oils.
There are two ways of making infused oils. One is fairly fast and the other is a slow process. The usual ratio is 1:2, 1 part herb to 2 parts oil. 50g herbs to 100g/ml oil for example. You can make it stronger if you like by doing 1:1 equal amounts of herb to oil. Just make sure the oil is enough to cover the herbs.
Warm Method – Put your herbs and oil into a heat proof dish and put in a warm oven for 3-4 hours until the oil has changed in colour. Allow to cool, strain through muslin or cheesecloth into jars and label.
Cold Method – Put your herbs into a sterile jar. Pour the oil over the herbs and cover. Label and date the jar. Leave to infuse in a dark place for 4-6 weeks (give it the occasional shake) or until the oil has changed colour. Strain into another jar through muslin or cheesecloth.
You can make double or triple strength infused oils by straining the oil and adding more herbs and repeating the process.
Use your herbal oils at least 3 times a week for maximum effect.
Ginger Juice Pre-wash Treatment
Juice enough fresh ginger root to get 1 tablespoon of juice. Mix ginger juice with 1 teaspoon of Sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Apply to the scalp directly and leave on until dry or fully absorbed into the scalp. Shampoo out. Depending on your needs you may need to double or even triple this recipe.
Apple Cider Vinegar Dandruff Rinse
Mix 2 parts ACV to 1 part warm water. Pour mixture over your hair & scalp after washing. Leave on for at least 30 minutes. Rinse. You can also leave this mixture on but it will smell a bit until it dries completely. For serious cases a stronger rinse can be used by mixing 1 part ACV to 1 part water. You can also add in a few drops of essential oils such as those mentioned above or create an infusion as suggested above and use the infusion in place of the water for a stronger dandruff treatment.
Aloe Vera Gel/Juice
Apply the gel/juice to the scalp and cover with a plastic cap as a pre-shampoo treatment about 1/2 to 1 hour before washing or even overnight. The juice can also be used as a daily leave-on scalp spritz.
Join me next time where i’ll be listing herbs for itchy/irritated scalp conditions.
Nice post and blog. I love to use fenugreek it is the business:)
Thank you Nadia! I have been searching the internet for just this type of information. You did a great job and covered so much material in such a nice concise manner. Thanks again. Janet
Thank you, great post with so many choices. My son has it pretty bad, his doctor wrote prescription without even properly looking at his scalp. I do not like chemicals anyway, so I much rather try out these. Black walnut (tincture or infusion)is also great.
Hi, dry scalp can cause dry hair which can lead to breakage and thnninig. If you feel you have dry scalp, there are things you can do. Massaging your scalp with jojoba oil is wonderful for stimulating hair growth and moisturizing your scalp. Please see my video on this for more info. Also, using a shampoo for dry hair can help as can avoiding shampooing too often. I do recommend a natural boar bristle brush as they help to distribute your scalp oils.