The truth about black seed oil for grey hair

A quick Google search on the benefits of black seed oil will reveal a long list of articles with a lot of claims about what black seed oil can do for your hair. One such claim is its ability to help prevent or reverse grey hair. How true is this? In this article, you will find out the science-backed truth about black seed oil (aka, kalonji oil or black cumin oil) and its effect on grey hair. 

Properties of Black seed oil 

Black seed oil is extracted from the Nigella sativa flowery shrub native to eastern Europe and certain parts of Asia. The seeds obtained from the flower can be used to produce either fixed or essential Black seed oil. 

Black seed oil contains a high concentration of thymoquinone a potent antioxidant as well as proteins and saponins. These phytonutrients give kalonji oil the following benefits:

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits 

Black seed oil is mainly composed of thymoquinone a strong antioxidant and antihistaminic. For this reason, it has a very soothing effect on the scalp, especially the scalp prone to inflammatory conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis. Applying a few drops of this oil directly to your scalp can help soothe any irritations you may be experiencing.

Anti-fungal properties 

Studies also show proof of the antifungal activity of kalonji oil. This 2017 review on the cosmeceutical application of black seed oil showed that the thymoquinone present in it was effective against certain forms of fungal infections. 

Another review of the therapeutical effect of the Nigella sativa plant revealed that ethanol and water extracts from the seeds had a strong antifungal effect. As such, hair products containing any of these extracts will deliver said benefits.

Anti-bacterial properties

Thymoquinone found in black seed oil was also found to be effective against certain forms of bacteria such as Helicobacter Pylori. In a 2017 study, this bacteria was linked with alopecia. The study revealed that patients infected with helicobacter pylori, whether they already were suffering from alopecia or not had twice as much chance of developing alopecia. 

Although the study was not conclusive, due to its sample size, it seems to suggest a link between both conditions and serves as a hypothesis.

Improves scalp health and hair growth

Black seed oil is made of essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic, and stearic acid which give it emollient and moisturizing properties. Added to the previous benefits listed above, frequent use of this oil can serve to improve scalp health, stronger and fuller hair strands, and promote hair growth. Although not much scientific data proves black seed oil’s effect on hair growth, minor studies suggest it is possible.  

In 2014, a study revealed that a hair oil made up of black seeds, henna, coconut, and gooseberry, reduced hair loss in participants over the course of 90 days.  

Another study on the effectiveness of coconut oil mixed with herbs to promote hair growth revealed that a mixture of coconut oil and black seed oil was most effective at promoting hair growth, as opposed to simple coconut oil and a mix of coconut and kukui oil. 

Black seed oil for grey hair 

What then is the case for black seed’s effect on grey hair? The first thing to note is that to date, there exists no scientific proof that black seed oil has an effect on grey hair. However, centuries of anecdotal reviews on the traditional use of this oil have built up its reputation. So here is what we know:

Grey hair vs premature grey hair 

The older we get, the less melanin is produced in the hair resulting in grey hair. While this natural aging process cannot be reversed this is not the case for premature greying hair. 

Premature greying is caused by multiple factors such as the hair’s exposure to free radicals, UV exposure, harsh hair products and even certain medical conditions. If these causes are dealt with then premature greying can be stopped. Now that this distinction is made let’s look at the benefits of black seed oil for premature grey hair:

Benefits of Black seed oil for grey hair 

Antioxidant protection 

Thanks to its high antioxidant activity, black cumin oil can protect the hair from free radical damage. Oxidative stress on hair follicles can destroy melanocytes resulting in premature greying. Applying Black cumin oil to your hair will help protect your hair shafts.

Thickens and revives dull grey hair 

Gray hair usually appears dull and thin. This is due to the fact that gray hair strands have a thinner cuticle surrounding them thus, are more prone to aggressions from Uv exposure, water, chemicals and free radicals. 

Black seed oil is known to contain essential fatty acids that stimulate hair growth by moisturising hair, and improving scalp health and protecting hair shafts for thicker and brighter hair. 

Can black seed oil reverse grey hair?

To date, there is no remedy scientifically proven to reverse natural grey hair. Also, there are little to no scientific studies that analyze the action of black seed oil on grey hair whether premature (except for drug-induced graying, deficiencies and in a few cases stress related graying) or natural. Although anecdotal claims about the effect of kalonji oil on grey hair removal exist, these cannot be verified. 

Can black seed oil prevent grey hair?

While black seed oil cannot reverse grey hair, it can prevent premature greying in the following ways: 

  • By reducing and protecting the scalp and hair shafts from oxidative stress from free radicals, pollution, and UV exposure, black seed oil can prevent hair from premature graying. 
  • Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can help soothe the scalp and calm any inflammation present which may lead to premature greying. Studies show that there exists a link between the skin’s response to chronic stress and severe illness and hair greying. Inflammations due to severe illness or stress cause the destruction of melanin-producing skin cells and lead to gray hair. 

How to use black seed oil for grey hair

Here are a few ways to use black seed oil to take care of your grey hair: 

  • As an overnight hair treatment, you can simply massage black seed oil into your scalp and leave it overnight. Rinse off the next morning and repeat at most 3 times a week. 
  • To stimulate hair growth and prevent thinning of grey hair, try a black seed oil and fenugreek hair mask. Mix together 1½ tablespoons black seed oil, 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds, and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and apply to your scalp once a week. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes and rinse with a mild shampoo.

How to use black seed powder for grey hair

It is also possible to use black seed powder to take care of grey hair. Here’s how:

  • As a nourishing conditioner, mix 1 tablespoon of black seed powder and coconut oil and apply from your scalp to your roots. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes for the mixture to be absorbed into the hair follicles and rinse off with a mild shampoo. 

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