Bamboo is a flowering perennial evergreen plant that belongs to the Poaceae family. It’s thought to have been originated from Central China, where people could have used it thousands of years ago.
There is significant anecdotal evidence that suggest this, but when it comes to the empirical kind, we are quite sure that bamboo has been used for hundreds of years in construction, health, medicine, and even for beauty purposes, including hair care.
Bamboo Extract for Your Hair
Bamboos are the fastest growing plants in the world, and this quality of theirs has everything to do with their main compound, silica, a naturally occurring composite chemical.
In addition to growing very quickly, it is also durable, and remains flexible even in its fully developed form, which it can reach in a couple of months.
The plant can contain as much as 70% silica, and this is crucial for various reasons. One of the most important one is its documented use in the beauty industry.
When used in shampoos, silica rejuvenates the scalp by removing the damaged skin cells and other compounds that could potentially hinder the quality and health of the skin, and therefore increases hair quality as well.
Our biggest organ (the skin) is directly linked to the health of the hair.
For every gram, the hair contains 90 micrograms of silica.
Only our bones contain more of the compound, and that is the main reason why the two most frequently mentioned qualities of silica link it to our bones, and hair.
There is no question that silica is a crucial component when it comes to the health of the hair, and there are various studies that found links between the two.
Not just that, but the efficiency of silica-based products is well-documented and supported by various studies, including a double-blind, placebo controlled one that helped prove bamboo extract’s positive effects against hair loss.
While the placebo group’s average hair density remained the same throughout the study the other group of subjects who received silica supplements showed tremendous improvements.
There were no reported adverse events during the study, which came to the conclusion that oral supplements containing bamboo extract (silica) can be an effective method for significant hair growth.
These supplements likely work through a variety of biological processes that involve the circulatory system and the skin, likely increasing the blood flow to the scalp itself.
Change in the number of vellus hairs. The use of a new oral supplement was associated with a significant increase in the number of terminal hairs after 90 and 180 days of treatment.
“Women with thinning hair were treated with the study medication, the mean number of terminal hairs in the target scalp area increased from 271.0 at baseline to 571 after three months of treatment and increased further to 609.6 after six months”
Silica-Based Products Can Help Your Hair
- Increase the volume of the hair
- Improve the density of the hair
- Make your hair stronger
- Improve the blood flow to the scalp
- Eliminating the damaged skin cells on the scalp
- Adding shine to the hair
The Power of Silica
The extract that makes these products work is derived from the edible parts of the plant, mainly the leaf and the stalk.
These components are rich in silica, a compound that plays an essential role in human biology. As a trace, ionic mineral, the body does not need a whole lot of it.
This means that any kind of deficiency involving this micronutrient is extremely rare.
On the other hand, the small amount that our bodies need plays a very crucial part in our physical development.
Those who think that silica and silicon implies the presence of the same compound are mostly right.
They are one and the same, with a slight difference; silica is basically the natural form of silicone that went through an oxidization process, or in other words, got exposed to oxygen.
The reason why it’s extremely hard to develop a silica deficiency is the fact that a healthy, balanced diet is more than enough to get an ample amount of the compound into our body.
There a wide variety of foods that include the compound, and they are really not exotic in their nature.
A compound this important is usually found in many different foods, though to varying degrees.
Main Dietary Sources:
- Cereal crops (millets)
When it comes to the nutritional profile of the edible products containing bamboo extract, the water content is usually high, and on average, these products contain 2.7 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of sugar.
The Role of Bamboo’s Main Compound
Bamboo extract – with special emphasis on its main compound, silica – helps regulate the hormonal balance in us.
Normally, the body wouldn’t necessarily need silica supplements, as any balanced diet should be sufficient enough to provide the necessary amounts. As so often is the case, the problem is the aging process.
As we grow older, our bodies become less and less efficient. When it comes to the compound silica, the older we are, the less of the substance is present in our tissues.
When that happens, supplements become a very importance alternative. Silica promotes, positively influences a lot of bodily processes, and once it depletes in our tissues, the body has to work that much harder to deliver the same results.
Bodily Processes Where Silica Plays an Important Role:
- Regulating other minerals
- Promote bone development and stopping bone deformation
- Alkalization that involves the stomach acid
- pH control
- It helps the immune system
Once the body’s natural silica levels decline, changing one’s diet or using supplementation are viable options. That’s not the only way we can take advantage of the compound.
Another solution is using cosmetic products that can result in improved hair and skin health, which is a good way of supporting our bodies’ natural needs.
Other Roles of Silica
Many people argue that there is no life without this compound, and indeed, silica could very well be the most important trace mineral within the human body.
It plays a crucial role in various internal processes, including the body’s ability to absorb minerals, which is in direct correlation with aging.
The average amount of silica contained within the human body is 7 grams.
While this may seem a miniscule amount, its quantity exceeds most of the other compounds’ that can be found within the human body, including iron. (Iron deficiency can cause hair loss)
Bamboo vs. Horsetail
Equisetum (also known as horsetail or snake grass) is the only existing species of the Equisetaceae, a group of vascular plants that reproduce not with the help of seeds, but spores.
Since it is the only remaining genus of his family, it is also called the “living fossil”.
Quite possibly the best attribute of this plant is its silica content, which – depending on the plant itself – is roughly around 5 to 8% on average.
While that’s still impressive compared to other plants, it has nothing on bamboo.
While, just like bamboo, it has silica, there is a huge difference between the two plants. While the horsetails only contain the above mentioned percentage of the compound, bamboo is at 70%.
This means that theoretically, a single capsule with bamboo extract could contain more active substance than 5-6 horsetails capsules.
In addition to these two products, there are two other forms of silica on the market; colloidal silica and orthosilic acid.
Based on the contents, we can safely say that bamboo based products are usually superior to the alternatives, providing several health benefits that go beyond the realms of cosmetics.
Other Potential Benefits Include
- Helping the body during its mineralization process
- Potentially treating or improving conditions like arthritis and cartilage problems
- Promote the healing process of broken bones
- Improving the elasticity of the lungs
Bamboo Extract Applications
Bamboo extract can be used in various forms including dietary and external solutions. The list includes vitamins, dietary supplements, shampoos, conditioners and many other products.
When used as a dietary supplement, the compound is absorbed through the intestines before it ends up in the blood.
The body then delivers it to anywhere where it could be potentially helpful, including the hair-bulbs.
When used externally, the products – shampoo, conditioner, gels – are absorbed through the skin, including the scalp, which is crucial for the health of the hair.
How Much Should Be Taken
As a food additive, silica is allowed to be added to foods up to 2%, whereas that number is even higher in Europe, where it’s currently at 5%.
As far as its supplementary and cosmetic applications go, there is no known regulation and this doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that it is a naturally occurring compound that can be found in many foods.
Silica-based products are considered safe for being used as supplementation or as an external, cosmetic application, as long as recommendations are followed.
How Long Does It Take to Work?
The double-blind placebo study, in which they used oral supplements, took 90 days to complete.
Some products promise results within a shorter time frame; usually 1 to 2 months.
There is evidence that suggests that oral supplements tend to work better in the long run, but the efficiency of external products is supported by science too.
By the standards of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), products containing bamboo extract aren’t considered to be dangerous.
There is no known hazardous quality that could endanger the health of the eyes, lungs (inhalation) or skin.
In case of eye contact, simply use water, and if necessary, seek medical attention. The products should not be used by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless their doctor gives them the green light.
Products – be they supplementary or cosmetic – that use bamboo extract and silica as their main ingredients aren’t known to cause major side effects or have severe allergenic qualities.
Silica-based supplementary pills, shampoos and lotions are all recognized by the FDA as safe products.
Nevertheless, some side effects – especially when taking oral supplements – could occur.
- Lowered blood sugar levels (can be particularly dangerous in people with diabetes)
- Vitamin deficiency if the supplement was made from horsetail (silica products are usually made either from bamboo extract or horsetail).
- Skin rush, but being allergic to bamboo or bamboo extract is relatively rare, it’s usually another ingredient that causes the problem.
- Problem with the digestion including diarrhea, a rare occurrence.
- Can be dangerous if combined with alcohol.
Silica’s importance in various bodily processes is well established.
The main compound found in bamboo is required for collagen formation, the very thing that holds our bodies together.
Aging is partly due to the fact that our bodies’ collagen levels deplete with time.
This process is in direct correlation with lowered silica levels.
Using quality bamboo extract products one can strengthen their connective tissues (ligament and muscles), bones, and vastly improve their hair, both in volume and density.