The Health Benefits of Bhringaraj Oil

This Ayurvedic hair remedy may treat chronic health conditions

Bhringaraj Oil
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Bhringaraj oil is a natural remedy often used to promote hair growth, luster, and strength. Commonly used in Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) to balance the doshas, bhringaraj oil contains the extracts of the false daisy (Eclipta alba) and an inactive carrier oil (such as sesame or coconut oil). Other ingredients may be added, including amla oil, brahmi oil, gotu kola, licorice root, and costus root (Saussurea lappa).

Eclipta alba grows in parts of India, China, Thailand, and Brazil. In addition to softening and strengthening hair, bhringaraj oil is believed to prevent premature graying and hair loss. Ayurvedic practitioners also endorse the oral consumption of bhringaraj oil to treat everything from heart and respiratory diseases to neurological and liver disorders.

There is more than one type of bhringaraj oil. Manufacturers will often make a variety of formulations with different ingredients based on recipes taken from such old-world texts as the Bhaishajya Ratnavali.

Health Benefits

According to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, bhringaraj oil is used to treat imbalances in pitta, one of three doshas (universal life forces) that govern all physical and mental processes. Since excess pitta is characterized by heat, the cooling properties bhringaraj oil can help normalize conditions caused by pitta imbalances, including:

Despite the plethora of health claims, there is little evidence to support the use of bhringaraj oil in treating any medical condition. Most of the evidence is limited to test-tube or animal studies evaluating the active ingredient, Eclipta alba.

Hair and Skin

Bhringaraj oil is said to alleviate inflammation when massaged into the scalp or skin. It can also increase the thickness and luster of hair as well as prevent graying and split ends.

Laboratory studies have shown that bhringaraj oil has antimicrobial properities that may help treat minor fungal or bacterial infections. When used as a massage oil, bhringaraj oil is thought to induce calm, relieve stress, and promote sleep.

Research into the benefits of bhringaraj oil is limited. Among the current body of evidence, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that the topical use of an Eclipta alba extract stimulated the growth of hair follicles in mice. Increasing concentrations conferred to better results.

A 2008 study in the Archives of Dermatological Research supported these findings and concluded that E. alba was more effective in promoting hair growth than Rogaine (minoxidil), a topical medication used to treat male pattern baldness.

Finally, a 2015 study in the International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences reported that E. alba, when used in combination with frog fruit (Lippia nodiflora), was able to neutralize a skin fungus called Malassezia furfur known to cause dandruff.

Other Uses

Bhiringaraj oil is less commonly used as an oral remedy. When used as such, practitioners of alternative practitioners will point to studies that suggest it can treat an almost encyclopedic array of unrelated health conditions. Most of these claims are poorly supported by research.

Among some of the positive findings, a 2012 study in Natural Product Research reported that mice with chemically-induced diabetes had significantly lower blood sugar levels when treated with an E. alba extract. In fact, a single dose delivered at 250 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) reduced blood sugar levels by an average of 17.8%.

According to a 2011 study in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, a multi-ingredient remedy containing E. alba was able to protect lab mice from liver damage after exposure to various toxic chemicals, including Tylenol (acetaminophen) and carbon tetrachloride. There are even suggestions that E. alba could protect against liver damage caused by excessive alcohol use.

On a different note, a 2014 study in the American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics suggested that E. alba combined with the herb ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) can significantly reduce oxidative stress on the brain that contributes to Alzheimer's disease.

The study, involving rats with chemically-induced Alzheimer's symptoms, reported less mitochondrial damage in brain cells and improved memory after treatment with E. alba and W. somnifera compared to rats left untreated.

Possible Side Effects

Little is known about the long-term safety of bhringaraj oil. This is especially true given the wide diversity of bhringaraj oil products. When applied topically, some formulations have been known to cause a tingling or burning sensation. This may be caused by the carrier oil (particularly heat-extracted vegetable oils) or any of the other ingredients in the finished product.

The active ingredient, Eclipta alba, has a diuretic effect and may cause increased urination if taken orally. Bhringaraj oil should be used with caution if taking diuretics ("water pills") such as Lasix (furosemide) as this can lead to excessive urination and a drop in blood pressure (hypotension).

Eclipta alba may promote blood clotting and undermine the effects of anticoagulants ("blood thinners") like Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel). People with bleeding disorders should use bhringaraj oil with extreme caution or not at all.

You should also stop using bhringaraj oil, either topically or orally, two weeks before scheduled surgery to reduce the risk o excessive bleeding.

The safety of bhringaraj oil in children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers has not been established. For safety sake, it is best to avoid using bhringaraj oil in any of these groups.

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Available for purchase online, bhringaraj oil can also be found in some natural foods stores and shop specializing in Ayurvedic remedies. Bhringaraj oil is typically sold in bottles and less commonly as oral capsules.

Never take a bhringaraj oil intended for hair application by mouth as it may contain ingredients that are toxic. One such example is neem oil, a carrier oil which has been known to cause brain inflammation and Reye's-like syndrome in kids.

The fact that other ingredients may be added to bhringaraj oil means that you have to pay extra close attention to the product label. Start by ensuring that the carrier oil is a cold-pressed virgin oil as it tends to be less acidic and gentler on the skin and scalp.

Another way to ensure quality and safety is to buy products certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Doing so reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

As a general rule, avoid Ayurvedic products imported from overseas. As much as you may want the "real deal," a 2015 study in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health reported that no less than 40% of a community of Ayurvedic practitioners had high levels of mercury and lead in their blood following a cluster of heavy metal poisoning cases in 2011.

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of bhringaraj oil, whether it is used topically or orally. As a rule of thumb, never exceed the dosage on the product label.

Bhringaraj oil can be stored at room temperature, but avoid excessive heat or sun exposure as this can oxidize the oils and lead to premature rancidity. When stored a cool, dry room, bhringaraj oil may have a shelf life of up to two years.

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  2. Balasubramanian AK. Comparative Study on Hepatoprotective activity of Phyllanthus amarus and Eclipta prostrata against alcohol-induced in albino rats. Int J Envir Sci. 2011;2(1):373-91. doi:10.6088/ijes.00202010037

  3. Mishra A, Nikhil D. Neem oil poisoning: Case report of an adult with toxic encephalopathy. Indian J Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep-Oct;17(5):321-2. doi:10.4103/0972-5229.120330

Additional Reading
  • Bhaskar M, Chintamaneni M. Withania somnifera and Eclipta alba ameliorate oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease. Am J Phytomed Clin Therap. 2014;2:140-52.

  • Breeher L, Mikulski MA, Czeczok T, et al.  A cluster of lead poisoning among consumers of Ayurvedic medicine. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2015;21(4):303-7. doi:10.1179/2049396715Y.0000000009

  • Datta K, Singh AT, Mukherjee A, et al. Eclipta Alba Extract With Potential for Hair Growth Promoting Activity. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jul 30;124(3):450-6. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.05.023

  • Devaraj VC, Krishna BG, Viswanatha GL, et al. Hepatoprotective activity of Hepax-A polyherbal formulation. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011 Apr;1(2):142-46. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(11)60013-0

  • Jaiswal N, Bhatia V, Srivastava SP, et al. Antidiabetic effect of Eclipta alba associated with the inhibition of α-glucosidase and aldose reductase. Nat Product Res. 2012;26(24):2363–2367. doi:10.1080/14786419.2012.662648

  • Regupathi T, Krishnan C. Antidandruff activity of Eclipta alba (l.) Hassk. and Lippia nodiflora linn. Int J Res Pharm Sci. 2015 Jun;6(2):185-8.

  • Roy RK, Thakur M, Dixit VK. Hair Growth Promoting the Activity of Eclipta Alba in Male Albino Rats. Arch Dermatol Res. 2008 Aug;300(7):357-64. doi:10.1007/s00403-008-0860-3

  • Thorat RM, Jadhav VM, Kadam VJ. Development and evaluation of polyherbal formulations for hair growth-promoting activity. Int J Pharm Tech Res. 2009;1(4):1251-4.