A Closer Look at Thyme
Several essential oils have received attention with regard to a potential role in hair growth. These include rosemary, thyme, lavender and cedarwood oil among others.
To date there has been little independent and published studies of the essential oil thyme. It is frequently combined with other essential oils in a mixture and the mixture is then studied together. Treatment with such a mixture is frequently referred to as “aromatherapy.” To date there are few well conducted studies of aromatherapy or essential oils in treating hair loss. However, a particularly well conducted one is a study from 1998 by Dr Hay and colleagues.
The study involved a randomized controlled study of 84 patients with the autoimmune condition alopecia areara. 43 received treatment with aromatherapy consisting of rosemary, thyme, lavendar and cedarwood oil in a carrier oil and 41 received the placebo (carrier oil alone). Interestingly, nineteen (44%) of 43 patients in the active “aromatherapy” group showed improvement in their alopecia areata compared with 6 (15%) of 41 patients in the control group.
To date, this remains one of the best studies looking at the role of essential oils in treating alopecia areata. Whether one particular component played the key role or whether all the essential oils together had a benefit is not known.
Essential oils are relatively safe although may be irritating for some. Surprisingly, the study has not been repeated in the published medical literature since it was introduced to the world 20 years ago. More studies of the role of essential oils in hair loss is needed.
Hay IC et al. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata.
Randomized controlled trial. Arch Dermatol. 1998.
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