Oil from the tea tree is often used as a hair growth tonic. (Photo by J-Bot)
It's time to end one of the longest-running experiments ever seen on this blog. Yes, I'm talking about the hair growth battle between tea tree oil and Korean red ginseng. For those who haven't read how it all began, a recap before the results is in order.
Tea tree oil – is it anti-androgenic?
My hair growth experiment with tea tree oil began last summer, after having tried a tea tree oil toothpaste to treat mouth sores and to improve dental health. I'm still not sure it actually did anything; there was a period of sore-free chewing, but then again, I haven't had mouth sores in many months now, even though I'm using Colgate these days in my search for teeth-whitening toothpastes. I'm thinking it may be due to the 2,000 IU vitamin D3 I've been taking for several months.
Anyway, my interest in tea tree oil was aroused when I read a study that said tea tree oil may have an antiandrogenic effect. If true, it would make tea tree oil a potential treatment for hair loss. Of course, I had to try it on myself.
Adding a carrier oil and Korean red ginseng
At first, I mixed the tea tree oil with sesame seed oil and rubbed in on one side of my right leg. Then, after a month without any visible results, I changed the carrier oil to cocoa butter and added some Korean red ginseng (also known as Panax ginseng) into the mix. Korean red ginseng has actually been shown to have hair growth promoting activity.
After another month, I decided to split the experiment into two parts and apply the ginseng on one side of the leg and the tea tree oil on the other. This time, I got rid of the carrier oil and just applied the pure extract. Not mixing the ginseng and the tea tree oil seemed like a good idea, since their potential method of increasing hair growth was different – one is claimed to be antiandrogenic and the other a stimulant. Therefore, I expected hair growth to be reduced on the tea tree oil treated side and increased on the ginseng treated side.
Switching from tea tree oil to tea tree conditioner
That was almost ten months ago. For months, I applied the two compounds pretty meticulously on my leg. Granted, I missed a day here and another one there, but I did stick with the routine most of the time. At no time did I see any results. Some months ago, my tea tree oil ran out, and I began applying a tea tree oil hair conditioner instead. It absorbed very well, so I figured it could be a decent replacement. Still, no results.
In the past two months, I've been applying the tea tree oil and the ginseng on two of my toes as well. I've even tried the ginseng on one side of my face. And what happened? Yep, you guessed it – no results.
I have no doubt that tea tree oil can be useful as an antibacterial and an anti-inflammatory. However, for all the posts on various forums claiming it works for hair growth as well, I've yet to see even a shred of evidence that it does. My personal experience certainly suggests otherwise.
That said, it very likely won't do harm either, and in fact, I quite liked one tea tree conditioner I used for a week during a vacation. It made my scalp feel very clean. Unfortunately, I was unable to find another bottle to take back home with me. The one I currently have doesn't have the same effect (by the way, if you're buying a tea tree oil shampoo or conditioner, make sure tea tree oil (or the latin name Melaleuca) is mentioned fairly early on in the ingredient list; otherwise the concentration will probably be too low to have any effect).
So what is the conclusion? I cannot say for certain that neither tea tree oil or Panax ginseng are able to affect hair growth, but at least they did not do so in my case when applied on the leg. If others wish to try the same experiment, I wish them good luck, and hope they will report back with results.
For me, it's once again onto bigger and better things, because quite frankly, I'm tired of rubbing this stuff on my legs and toes!
For more information on hair growth, see these posts:
North African Plant Extract (Erica multiflora) Increases Hair Growth
Hyaluronic Acid for Skin & Hair – Experiment Conclusion
2% Nizoral Shampoo Increases Hair Growth More than 2% Minoxidil
Emu Oil and Hair Growth: A Critical Look at the Evidence