Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/17/2022
If you keep up on wellness trends, you’ve likely heard of ashwagandha. Not so in the loop? Ashwagandha is one of the adaptogenic herbs commonly used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional system of medicine. It is believed to have a variety of medicinal properties and health benefits.
Ashwagandha, which is also known as “Indian ginseng” or “Indian winter cherry,” is thought to help with inflammation, energy levels, stress and anxiety.
This herb has become so popular that you can now find it in oral supplement form, in cocoa, coffee, and other beverage mixes and more.
Another thing people say ashwagandha can help with is female hair loss. But can it really? Keep reading to find out whether ashwagandha can actually remedy hair loss.
Wondering if there really is such a thing as an ashwagandha hair loss remedy? Well, the answer isn’t quite so clear cut.
It would not be accurate to say that ashwagandha directly treats hair loss or improves hair health. However, it’s thought that ashwagandha can help with stress — and stress can cause hair loss.
Chronic stress has been linked to hair loss. Research has found that long-term stress can prevent new hair from growing and keep hair in the resting phase of the hair growth cycle. It’s thought that having a high cortisol level — which is the result of stress — can also impact the hair follicle. Generally, this type of hair loss is not thought to be permanent, but rather something that can be reversed if the chronic stress is addressed.
This brings us back to ashwagandha. Because ashwagandha is thought to help with stress, you could say that one of the benefits of ashwagandha is that it can help with stress-related hair loss.
There is some proof that ashwagandha does actually help with stress. A small study of 64 people found that taking a high concentration of ashwagandha root extract improved a person’s resistance to stress and improved their quality of life.
So, if stress is causing your hair loss and you are able to reduce stress levels by taking ashwagandha, you may be able to get back to healthy hair growth.
On the flip side, you may be wondering if ashwagandha can cause hair loss. It’s not an unreasonable question. There are a variety of medications that can cause things like brittle hair and hair loss.
For example, certain medications used to treat depression and anxiety may increase your risk of hair loss, as can blood thinners and certain medications used for high blood pressure, such as beta blockers.
When medication causes hair loss, it’s generally a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium, which entails excessive shedding that can lead to balding or thinning. This type of hair loss is temporary.
Again, rather than causing hair loss, some think you can use ashwagandha to stop hair loss.
Ashwagandha isn’t a direct treatment for hair loss, but it may have an effect on hormonal imbalances — specifically reducing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol — which in turn can help you become less stressed. Since stress can affect hair follicles and lead to hair loss, the benefits of ashwagandha may include helping with stress-induced hair issues.
As far as how much ashwagandha you should take, always follow the directions on the packaging of whatever you are taking. Generally, ashwagandha dosing is around 500mg twice a day.
Another thing to know? Taking ashwagandha supplements may come with some side effects. They include:
Before you start taking something new, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Even though there are known benefits of ashwagandha and it is considered to be a medicinal plant, it may not be safe for everyone. You’ll want to talk to a professional about whether it could negatively interact with other medications you’re taking or if you have any conditions that could be aggravated by taking this type of natural ingredient.
For example, people with thyroid issues and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are often advised not to take ashwagandha for hair regrowth or any other reason. It’s also wise to let a medical professional know anytime you take something new, so they can be on the lookout for potential allergic reactions.
While it’s possible that the benefits of ashwagandha include helping stress-induced hair loss, this ancient herb is not exactly a surefire solution.
The good news: There are plenty of other scientifically backed ways to treat premature hair thinning or hair loss. Here are some of the most common treatments that can help many different hair types and fight a wide range of hair-thinning conditions.
Topical minoxidil is an FDA-approved way to treat androgenetic alopecia, also known as genetic hair loss. Most people are more familiar with this medications’ brand name, Rogaine®. Topical minoxidil doesn’t require a prescription and is sold as a 2% solution or 5% foam.
When applied, minoxidil sends messages to your blood vessels telling them to open wider, so more nutrients and oxygen get to hair follicles. This can boost scalp health and encourage hair growth
If stress isn’t the culprit behind your hair loss, testosterone could be. A potential solution for this is spironolactone, which is a prescription acne medication.
Spironolactone reduces the effects of hormones called androgens — testosterone is a common one that causes hair loss. This can slow down hair shedding.
Brittle strands are prone to breakage, which can make you look like you're losing hair. So, adding moisture back into your hair can help prevent this from occurring.
Reaching for a hair loss-fighting conditioner after you use a shampoo formulated for hair loss can help with hydration. Then, you can boost moisture even more by applying a weekly hydrating hair mask.
Biotin is a B vitamin considered by many to be a supplement that can lead to healthy hair. That’s because biotin may encourage regrowth, as noted in a study that looked at supplements with biotin and other vitamins and minerals.
You can get biotin through a diet that incorporates foods like eggs, milk and bananas.
Another option is a biotin supplement. Hers has a biotin gummy with vitamin D, since being low in vitamin D may also cause hair shedding.
Whether you’re experiencing hair breakage or loss, it’s understandable that you’d want to get to the bottom of what’s causing it and find a solution to help your strands come back.
Ashwagandha may have some benefits for hair regrowth and helping with hair loss. This is because this medicinal herb helps with stress — which can cause hair loss. So, the thinking is that if you treat the stress, your hair will come back.
The best way to find a hair loss treatment that will work for you is to talk to a professional. Hers offers online consultations to make it quick and easy for you to get to the root of your hair issue.