Onion extracts for alopecia Areata: Small study suggested benefit

Small study suggested benefit


When it comes to treating hair loss, I’m all for anything that works. It doesn’t matter if it’s Eastern or Western medicine, Northern or Southern. It doesn’t matter if it’s allopathic, osteopathic, naturopathic or functional medicine. If it works, it works.

In the same light, I’m against using things that don’t work. I’m against using treatments with no evidence or treatments that prey on the vulnerability of patients. I’m against treatments that waste the time, money of patients and exhaust their emotions.

Onions are on the list of treatments that work in alopecia areata. That’s not to say they are at the top of the list. But the onion made it on the list.

A 2002 study compared the benefits of onion extract in 23 patients with alopecia areata and compared it to 15 patients who used placebo (tap water). Participants applied it twice daily for 2 months. At the end of 2 months, 86.9 % of participants had regrowth compared to just 13% (2 of 15) using tap water.

Onion juice is a consideration for patients looking for simple treatments for alopecia areata. This study of course is small and has not been repeated. How best to prepare the onion extract, which onions are best to use, how often and what exact dosing schedule remain to be determined. Other similar vegetables such as garlic may also benefit.

We don’t use this treatment all that often as other treatments seem more effective for most patients. Mixing with lemon juice can cut onion odour and generally my patients apply in a mixture of essential oils such as rosemary, thyme, lavendar, cedarwood, peppermint in jojoba carrier.

Handout on Onion Juice for Hair Loss


Sharquie KE, et al. Onion juice (Allium cepa L.), a new topical treatment for alopecia areata.
Clinical Trial J Dermatol. 2002.

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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