Shampoo containing plant extracts may promote hair growth – South Korean study

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Shampoo containing Inula helenium and Caesalpinia Sappan extracts may promote hair growth ©Getty Images
Shampoo containing Inula helenium and Caesalpinia Sappan extracts may promote hair growth ©Getty Images

Related tags Shampoo Hair growth hair loss

A shampoo containing Inula helenium (IH) and Caesalpinia Sappan (CS) extracts may promote hair growth in people with androgenetic alopecia.

Androgenetic alopecia is a common type of hair loss and current available treatments include FDA-approved drugs, like minoxidil and finasteride to promote hair growth. However, they come with adverse drug reactions, such as skin irritation, sexual dysfunction, and circulatory disorders.

Researchers from South Korea tested a scalp shampoo containing IH and CS extracts on people suffering from hair loss, and found it significantly increase total hair count, showing a promising remedy for preventing hair loss and promote hair growth.

The research was published in the journal, Cosmetics​.


A total of 50 healthy volunteers with moderate androgenic alopecia were enrolled, ranging from 18 to 54 years of age.

Subjects were tasked to use 3mL of the test or control product twice a day in the morning and evening, and told to massage into the scalp for 5 minutes with warm water before rinsing.

The test product is formulated with 0.3% IH extract and 0.1% of CS bark extract. The control product contained all ingredients in the same quantity as the test product, except the IH and CS bark extracts.

Participants were required to use the products for 24 weeks. Product usage and compliance were monitored by a diary maintained by each participant and weighing the returned products at each scheduled visit.

Researchers used a phototrichogram to measure hair density and total hair counts in patients receiving the scalp shampoo at baseline, and at 8, 16, and 24 weeks after use of the shampoo.


The study reported a significant increase in total hair count in the test group after 16 and 24 weeks of using the scalp shampoo (2.17 n/cm2​ ± 5.72, p ​< 0.05; and 4.30 n/cm2​ ± 6.37, p ​< 0.01, respectively) as compared to the control subjects.

IH is known to possess antifungal, anti-bacterial, anti-helminthic, and anti-proliferation activities, while CS is known to reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation.

IH and CS extracts have also been reported to possess hair growth-promoting constituents, such as costunolide and 3-deoxysappanchalcone, respectively.

Researchers think they are promising candidates for promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss.

Although the mechanisms of hair growth promotion by the formulated scalp shampoo has not yet been examined, a previous study reported that bioactive compounds such as costunolide and 3-deoxysappanchalcone, when applied separately, modulated various biochemical pathways, thereby leading to hair growth in vivo​.

While costunolide promotes hair growth in vivo, likely by activating intracellular signaling pathways associated with cell cycle regulation in hair follicular cells including the Wnt/β-catenin, Shh/Gli, and TGF-β/Smad signaling pathways, 3-deoxysappanchalcone promotes proliferation of dermal papillae and stimulates hair growth partly via activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and inhibition of STAT6-mediated quiescence of hair follicular cells​,” the paper wrote.

According to the results, researchers observed the increase in hair density and hair count were more profound at 24 weeks of application as compared to 16 weeks of use, “it may be conferred that the continuous application of the product maximises its effects​.”

They believe it is the first clinical trial to analyse the feasibility of shampoo containing IH and CS extract complex. “This study lays important groundwork for designing further studies with a larger sample size to validate the efficacy and ensure the safety of the product, and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of action​.”

It will also help evaluate the hair growth-promoting potential of alternative remedies, such as herbal products, for developing new therapies for hair loss.

Source: Cosmetics


“Hair Growth Promotion by Extracts of Inula Helenium and Caesalpinia Sappan Bark in Patients with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Pre-clinical Study Using Phototrichogram Analysis”

Authors: Hyoung Chul Choi, et al​.

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