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Natural Dandruff Solutions

April 30, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

There isn’t much information available in the scientific literature about how to address dandruff in a holistic manner. Up to this point, researchers have mostly looked for natural alternatives to conventional treatments that are currently available. This means they’re primarily seeking out topical solutions that are applied directly to the scalp. What scientists haven’t spent much time on is considering whether or not diet, environmental factors and supplements may also have a role to play. This leaves a huge gap for health care consumers who are interested in approaching this dry, flaking skin disorder in a comprehensive manner.

One of the few placebo-controlled studies pertaining to supplements for dandruff was published over ten years ago in the journal Alternative Medicine Review. In it, a liquid homeopathic remedy containing Nickel sulfate 3X, Potassium bromide 1X, Sodium Bromide 2X and Sodium chloride 6X was administered to patients living with chronic dandruff and/or seborrheic dermatitis (SD) – an inflammatory skin condition that occurs in various regions of the body. The results of the 10 week intervention determined that the homeopathic solution conferred significant symptomatic improvements. The limitations of the study were that it was sponsored by the manufacturer of the supplement (Loma Lux Psoriasis) and had no follow-up research conducted to corroborate the initially promising results.

On the other hand, there have been numerous trials conducted on natural, topical agents in patients with dandruff and SD. The most promising alternative to conventional medications is tea tree oil (TTO). Several years ago, a shampoo containing 5% TTO was shown to reduce dandruff severity by 41%. Other research indicates that tea tree oil may also benefit those living with psoriasis. Aloe, borage seed oil, crude honey and Solanum chrysotrichum round out the list of natural ingredients successfully used in relation to dandruff and SD in peer-reviewed, human studies. In addition, select essential oils and herbal infusions derived from bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) and yerba mate have demonstrated activity against specific microorganisms that are associated with dandruff. Whether or not these plant-derived extracts will one day become viable anti-dandruff ingredients in humans has yet been determined.

The role of diet and environment in dandruff is admittedly controversial. There are a lot of anecdotal reports suggesting a link, but there’s very little support found in medical journals. Nevertheless, I personally recommend several strategies to most of my clients with chronic dandruff and SD. For starters, I suggest installing a chlorine filter in the shower. The use of an all-natural, therapeutic shampoo containing ingredients such as those listed above also tops my list. In terms of diet, I believe that a low-starch/sugar diet that’s rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics is a great starting point. Some clients find that avoiding or limiting dairy products and gluten is a useful adjunct to the core, whole food-based dietary plan as well. In terms of supplements, borage or evening primrose oil, fish oil, a high potency multivitamin-mineral and extra Vitamin D may be useful. Moderate sun exposure and testing Vitamin D levels to ensure adequacy is likewise indicated. Finally, daily exercise and stress management ought to be incorporated into any truly holistic approach to dandruff and SD. This may sound like a reach, but any activity that lowers systemic inflammation could very well improve a broad spectrum of symptoms including dry and irritated skin.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Effective Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis Using a Low Dose … (link)

Study 2 - Treatment of Dandruff with 5% Tea Tree Oil Shampoo … (link)

Study 3 - Tea Tree Oil as a Novel Antipsoriasis Weapon (link)

Study 4 - A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of an Aloe Vera (link)

Study 5 - Therapeutic and Prophylactic Effects of Crude Honey on Chronic (link)

Study 6 – Clinical and Mycological Evaluation of Therapeutic Effectiveness of (link)

Study 7 - Malassezia Furfur in Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis (link)

Study 8 - Study of Monarda Fistulosa Essential Oil as a Prospective (link)

Study 9 – Antifungal Activity of the Aqueous Extract of Ilex Paraguariensis (link)

Study 10 - Infantile Flexural Seborrhoeic Dermatitis. Neither Biotin Nor Essential (link)

Tea Tree Oil May Also Benefit Other Skin Conditions

Source: Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2007 Jan-Feb;73(1):22-5. (link)

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2 Comments & Updates to “Natural Dandruff Solutions”

  1. JP Says:

    As luck would have it, this news item was published the very day that I posted this column:

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-04-non-toxic-dandruff-shampoo.html

    Be well!

    JP

  2. JP Says:

    Updated 04/24/17:

    Note: Not dandruff-specific.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajd.12626/full

    Australas J Dermatol. 2017 Mar 7.

    The efficacy of Australian essential oils for the treatment of head lice infestation in children: A randomised controlled trial.

    BACKGROUND: The increase in resistance of head lice to neurotoxic pediculicides and public concern over their safety has led to an increase in alternative treatments, many of which are poorly researched or even untested.

    METHODS: A multicentre, randomised, assessor-blind, parallel-group trial (Trial 1) was conducted to compare the safety and efficacy of a head lice treatment containing Australian eucalyptus oil and Leptospermum petersonii (EO/LP solution; applied thrice with 7-day intervals between applications) with a neurotoxic treatment containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide (P/PB mousse; applied twice with a 7-day interval) in children. A single-blind, open trial (Trial 2) was conducted to assess the efficacy of EO/LP solution following a single application. In addition, skin irritancy and sensitisation tests using EO/LP solution were performed in adults and children. In vitro tests were performed to further assess the ovicidal and pediculicidal efficacy of EO/LP solution.

    RESULTS: EO/LP solution was found to be more than twice as effective in curing head lice infestation as P/PB mousse in per-protocol participants (Trial 1; 83% vs 36%, P < 0.0001), and was also found to be 100% pediculicidal following a single application (Trial 2). Adverse events were limited to transient itching, burning or stinging. Further skin testing with the EO/LP solution reported no irritation or sensitisation in adults, or irritation in children. In vitro exposure of lice and eggs to the EO/LP solution resulted in 100% mortality.

    CONCLUSION: The efficacy, safety and relative ease of use of the EO/LP solution make it a viable alternative in treating head lice.

    Be well!

    JP

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