In this article I’m going to look at all the scientific and anecdotal evidence that canola oil can be used for hair growth, and stopping hair loss.
I’ll cover the medical study conducted in 2009 that showed some of the fatty acids contained in canola oil may be useful to help to inhibit 5-alpha reductase, and therefore DHT (the hormone largely responsible for patterned baldness.)
You’ll also learn about the scientific study from 2010 that showed how vitamin E (which is present in canola oil in very high amounts) helped to increase hair count in 28 volunteers who were suffering from hair loss by 34.5% over the placebo.
(Not bad results!)
Finally, I want to show you how to start using canola oil (if you decide to after reading this article) in the most effective way to help re-grow your own hair – thats at the end of the article where I’ll show you my specific recipes and uses.
What is Canola Oil?
Sometimes villainized and often misunderstood, canola oil is a popularly-used oil found in the kitchens of millions of households throughout the world.
The complex history behind canola oil’s cultivation, however, has led many people to believe that canola oil is not what it seems.
Even with numerous studies which cite canola oil’s various health benefits, many individuals are wary of the oil and its usage.
Why the hate?
Canola oil’s origins can be a bit confusing. This leads to misunderstanding and, for some individuals, fear.
Canola is actually the name for a cultivar of the rapeseed crop. Rapeseed, which is high in erucic acid, has been used for centuries in both cooking and as a source of fuel.
It was discovered, however, that the high levels of erucic acid found within rapeseed oil made its consumption toxic.
As a result of this discovery, Canadian scientists set to work and selectively bred rapeseed plants in order to produce a low-erucic acid crop. The result was canola oil, a non-toxic cultivar which is safe for human and animal consumption.
Aside from its use as a healthy fat, there are a few scientific studies which also hint at its effectiveness as a treatment for thinning hair, and more specifically, male-pattern baldness.
Oleic Acid and Alpha-linoleic Acid: Natural DHT Fighters
5-alpha-reductase is the enzyme responsible for the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
For individuals with androgenetic alopecia (AGA), DHT can cause hair thinning and loss. This is due, not to high levels of DHT, but instead to the sensitivity which those with AGA have inherited.
Over time, DHT-sensitive hair follicles will miniaturize. This occurs when the active phase of hair growth, the anagen phase, shortens. Eventually, the phase will become so short that hair will no longer protrude from the follicle.
So, what can be done?
A testosterone blocker would seem the likely option. After all, DHT is converted by 5-alpha reductase from testosterone.
This, however, would lead to a whole plethora of other problems, including hot flashes and sexual dysfunction. A better method, it seems, would be to inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase from doing its job.
That is, stop it from converting testosterone into DHT.
In the above-mentioned study, scientists were able to do just that with the help of several fatty acids, two of which were oleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
One way in which researchers tested this theory was to determine the effect that oleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid had on prostate cancer cells.
Why? In previous years, testosterone was thought to be the culprit which enabled cancer cells to rapidly increase in number within the prostate gland.
However, a 1986 scientific study shows that DHT, not testosterone, is the true enabler of cancer cell proliferation.
In conclusion, researchers found that both oleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid were useful in inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
What does this mean for those looking to use canola oil as a hair treatment?
Canola oil is high in oleic acid, with levels greater than 60%. Alpha-linoleic acid can also be found in canola oil, though to a lesser extent.
This means that, both fatty acids being inhibitors of DHT, canola oil can be an effective way to remove DHT buildup from your scalp and prevent DHT conversion from occurring.
Vitamin E and Hair Growth: A Human Study
Canola oil is an oil rich in two vital nutrients: Vitamins E and K.
More specifically, canola oil is rich in a particular type of Vitamin E known as α-tocotrienol.
In 2010, researchers in Malaysia recruited the help of 38 male and female volunteers.
Ranging in age from 18-60, these individuals suffered from some degree of hair loss or another. The goal of this study? To determine what effect, if any, tocotrienols have on hair growth.
The volunteers were split into two groups. The first group, consisting of 21 volunteers, would receive tocotrienol supplementation.
The supplement consisted of 30.8% α-tocotrienol, 56.4% γ-tocotrienol and 12.8% δ-tocotrienol, and also included 23 IU of α-tocopherol. The supplement was taken twice daily for 32 weeks in the form of a gel capsule.
The second group of volunteers, 17 altogether, were given a placebo capsule. This capsule was 100% soya bean oil, and they were instructed to take this capsule similarly to the tocotrienol supplement group.
The researchers chose two parameters to study the effectiveness of the tocotrienol supplementation. Prior to the start of the study, as well as at 4 months and 8 months, the two parameters (hair count and hair weight) were measured.
Well, by the end of the 32-week study, the effectiveness of the tocotrienol supplementation was certainly clear.
From the beginning of the study to the end, volunteers in the tocotrienol supplement group, on average, saw an increase in hair count over the placebo group by 34.5%.
Hair count results in the tocotrienol supplementation group and the placebo group, taken at baseline, 4 months, and 8 months.
Unfortunately, there was no significant difference of measured hair weight between volunteers in the tocotrienol supplementation group and those in the placebo group.
Of course, aside from results, researchers are also looking to answer the question: Why?
While further studies would be helpful, preliminary findings seem to point to the potent antioxidant activity of tocotrienols.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an abundance of free radicals within the body.
Free radicals are responsible for the breaking down of various vital molecules, leading to cell damage and signs of premature aging.
Lipid peroxidation is the mechanism which is linked to oxidative stress, because as lipids break down, free radicals are able to “steal” molecules from the lipids.
Researchers believe that the antioxidant properties of tocotrienol inhibit the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). This slows the breakdown of lipids and protects the lipid molecules from scavenging free radicals.
How to Add Canola Oil to Your Hair Care Routine
When it comes to canola oil and its benefits, there are two main ways you can go about enjoying them.
First, you can apply canola oil directly to the scalp. This no-fuss method is great for individuals looking for a quick and easy hair growth solution.
Second, you can substitute canola oil into your diet.
Apply Canola Oil Directly to Your Scalp
The fatty acids found within canola oil can soothe and repair damaged and dry skin. This can lessen inflammation and general scalp irritation, and can help to stimulate hair growth.
All you’ll need is canola oil and a small bit of time.
First, apply the canola oil to your palm. Rub the oil between your hands, and then massage it onto your scalp. Be sure to distribute the oil evenly across the scalp, adding more oil if necessary.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, pour directly on to your hairline and massage in (help from a friend can be useful.)
To increase the benefits, massage in a circular motion for 5 minutes. This will improve blood circulation and increase the chances of oil absorption.
You can leave the oil on overnight, or rinse with lukewarm water after 30 minutes.
Add Canola Oil to Your Diet
As the study on α-tocotrienol and its positive results for those looking to regrow their hair has shown, the addition of canola oil to your diet can be an excellent way to aid in the stimulation of hair growth.
One of the great things about canola oil is its versatility in the kitchen.
You can easily substitute canola oil for other oils or fats in your cooking, and its mild taste is perfect in already-flavorful dishes.
Speaking of flavorful dishes, check out the recipe below, which was slightly modified from the one provided on All Recipes.
Garlic Chicken Liver Dinner
- 1 pound chicken livers – rinsed, trimmed, and patted dry
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
Begin by heating your skillet over medium heat, only adding the chicken livers in once the skillet is heated and ready to go.
Cook the chicken livers in the skillet, stirring occasionally, until the livers are cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the canola oil, lemon juice, and salt to the chicken livers, and stir together until thoroughly mixed.
Remove skillet from heat, and sprinkle the minced garlic cloves over the top.
Alternative: If you’d like for the dish to have a more garlic-rich flavor, heat the minced garlic in the skillet with a tablespoon of canola oil prior to cooking the chicken livers.
Remove the garlic and set aside once it begins to brown, and then rinse the oil and wipe the skillet dry prior to adding in the chicken livers.
The chicken livers in this dish are a rich source of iron, excellent for individuals suffering from iron deficiency and hair loss related to it. To boost the iron levels in your meal, consider preparing it in a cast iron skillet.
Further, garlic is a source of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and garlic has been shown to be an effective treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), a condition which has been linked to male-pattern baldness.
Are There Side Effects Associated with Canola Oil Use?
As a monounsaturated fat, canola oil is widely beneficial and a recommended source of fat. As an essential part of your diet, calories from fat should make up about 35% of your daily caloric intake.
Allergies to canola oil are rare, though if signs of an allergic reaction occur, stop supplementation immediately.
All in all, canola oil is a safe supplement for healthy individuals. If you have any questions or concerns surrounding fat intake, consult with your primary care physician.
Personally, I don’t use canola oil on my own hair.
There are more beneficial oils available.
However, if canola oil was the only choice available to me then I would use it topically (massaged into my scalp.)
But I don’t see strong enough evidence that taken as a supplement its worth it.
Instead I would recommend you try a supplement like pumpkin seed oil which has been proven medically to stimulate significant hair growth in humans.
I add pumpkin seed oil to my morning smoothie every single day because of this.