I read that cayenne pepper aids in circulation and stimulating blood flow. I’ve heard of many people adding cayenne pepper to hair oils (esp. Ayurvedic oils) and massaging it into the scalp to stimulate hair growth. I wonder if there is any science to this?
The Left Brain answers:
Surprisingly, there is some science linking pepper oil to hair growth, but it doesn’t work quite in the way you described.
According to a study entitled “Administration of capsaicin and isoflavone promotes hair growth by increasing insulin-like growth factor-I production in mice and in humans with alopecia,” researchers have hypothesized that capsaicin, the active ingredient in red pepper oil, can activate the insulin-like growth factors that help control hair growth. They tested this hypothesis by treating balding mice and humans with a mixture of capsaicin and isoflavone. The results showed that after 5 months the treatment not only boosted the correct biochemical markers (e.g., IGF-I) but also actually increased hair growth.
Here’s the catch: on mice the pepper/isoflavone mixture was administered subcutaneously (injected under the skin as opposed to applied topically) and in humans it was given orally. So the best research to date shows no indication that pepper oil is good for your scalp when it’s just rubbed on your skin. Of course this is just a single study, but it does give me hope that this could really work if we could just identify a way to enhance the penetration of capsaicin (perhaps using some type of nanosome).
I've seen tons of anecdotal evidence floating around the interwebs. Check out these threads--
Would I do it?
When I arrive in St. Louis, my first stop on the way home from the airport is the Chinaman-- slang (and offensive I'm sure) for their greasy, delicious, world famous Chinese food. My order is always the same-- a half order of pork fried rice, an order of crab rangoon, a peach Vess, and extra sweet and sour sauce and red pepper packets.
I then race home and proceed to eat the rice straight from the box, adding sweet & sour sauce and cayenne pepper as I go. On occasion, I'll happen upon a very stubborn packet of pepper and hastily use my teeth to tear it open... and then instantly remember why I'm not supposed to do that. Lips...tongue... ON FIRE. The heat of a thousand suns that no amount of Vess soda can soothe.
All of that to say, there is no way in hell I'm putting that ish near my scalp.
Would you try a topical cayenne pepper treatment?