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April 22, 2019
Shikakai, or Acacia Concinna, is an herb native to Asia and is most common in the warm-climate plains of central and south India. One of the Ayurvedic herbs, Shikakai has been used for generations for many things including its many benefits for hair and skin.¹
Shikakai is the Hindi name for the plant, and it translates to "hair fruit" or "fruit for hair." There's a good reason for this, as it has been used as a shampoo by the women of India and other parts of Asia for centuries.²
In addition to its uses for hair, Shikakai has also been used historically for constipation, jaundice, bad breath, gum infections, psoriasis, eczema, hyperpigmentation, acne, scabies, cuts and bruises³, malaria fever⁴, and other stomach problems like stomach fluke disease⁵. It also boasts strong antibacterial properties as well. Researchers tested its antibacterial properties against common bacteria like Staphylococcus Aureus, etc., and the results showed that the herb worked well, especially with gram-negative bacteria and should be further studied and utilized for antibiotic-resistant pathogens.⁶
Shikakai is rich in vitamins C, A, D, E, and K,³ and also contains tannins, alkaloids, and flavonoids that work with its vitamins to have an antioxidant effect as well.⁷ These antioxidants aid in fighting the free radicals that contribute to baldness and hair thinning. Also present in Shikakai are saponins, which create a lather, making it ideal for use as a shampoo.¹
As mentioned above, Shikakai is rich in several essential vitamins, but what role do those vitamins play in hair and skin care?
It is becoming well-known that free-radicals cause oxidative stress to multiple parts of the body, and hair, the fastest growing tissue in the human body, is no different. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and is essential for your body to produce collagen which is a significant "ingredient" in hair and skin cell structure. Also, Vitamin C assists the body in absorbing iron. Iron is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body which is necessary for hair growth.⁸
Vitamin A is essential for all cell production, including hair and skin cells. It also works with skin glands to create sebum, a waxy-like substance that protects the hair and scalp from dehydration.⁹ Vitamin A deficiency can lead to several health problems, including hair loss¹⁰, but an overabundance of Vitamin A can also have the same effect.¹¹
Research has shown that Vitamin D can aid in the creation of new hair follicles, (also known as neogenesis) and those who suffer from alopecia have often been found to be Vitamin D deficient.¹²+
Like Vitamin C, Vitamin E plays a large antioxidant role in the body. Its oil is used for moisturizing both hair and skin, and studies have found that people with hair loss had increased growth after supplementing Vitamin E for eight months.¹³
Vitamin K is associated with blood coagulation, but it has other uses as well. It has been shown to aid in both the regeneration and the restoration of hair strands.¹⁴
One of the common retorts from commercial shampoo companies in regards to using all-natural products is related to the pH levels in hair, but does the pH level of our hair play a role in its health and growth?
Studies have found, it does. Shampoos that contain a lower (more alkaline) pH have been found to reduce the friction between hair fibers, thus reducing cuticle and strand damage. Lower pH levels decrease the negative static electricity in hair and result in hair with less frizz.¹⁵
The pH level of Shikakai is between 4.5 and 5.5, making it a more alkaline substance.¹⁶ This lower pH aids in reducing frizz and also does not strip the hair and scalp of its natural oils. Because of this, Shikakai also functions as a natural conditioner, gently detangling without the need for a separate product.
Shikakai has been used for centuries to aid with dandruff as well. Dandruff has many causes, from dry skin, irritated, oily skin, or even overgrowth of Malassezia (a yeast-like fungus present on most adults' scalps). As most believe that it is merely due to dry skin, some can be tempted to wash their hair less frequently, causing the oils in the hair to build up, making dandruff worse.¹⁷
Shikakai is an effective detergent, breaking down excess oils from the hair and washing them away without stripping the hair of its necessary oils. This, in combination with its antibacterial and antifungal properties, works to help rid the scalp of dandruff flakes.
There are many ways that you can add Shikakai to your beauty routine, including purchasing the fruits or powders to make pastes and rinses, but one of the easiest ways to use the product is by buying a shampoo that contains Shikakai. There are not many premium hair care products with Shikaki in them, which is why Ayur Luxe includes it in the entire Damage Control line of products..
Shikakai isn't a magical herb, and thus it is not a cure-all for all hair-related problems, but centuries of use has shown a multitude of benefits to users. Research on the effects of Shikakai to hair, skin, and other health-issues are consistently growing as the medical and scientific fields recognize the traction that herbal medicine is gaining.
¹Acacia concinna. (2019, March 15). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_concinna
²Q, S. (2014, June 09). Grow Your Hair Fast and Healthy Using Shikakai Fruit Powder. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://bellatory.com/hair/Shikakai-grow-your-hair-fast-and-healthy-using-Shikakai-fruit-powder
³Sylvia. (2017, May 19). Uses and benefits of Shikakai. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from
⁴Acacia Concinna Herb Uses, Benefits, Cures, Side Effects, Nutrients. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://herbpathy.com/uses-and-benefits-of-acacia-cocinna-cid1199
⁵Priya, P., & Veerakumari, L. (2017). Morphological and histological analysis of Cotylophoron cotylophorum treated with Acacia concinna. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29114486
⁶M.Vinaykumar et al., Antibacterial and Anthelmintic Activities of Aqueous Extract of Acacia Concinna Linn., Indo Am. J. P. Sci, 2016; 3(6).
⁷45 Benefits & Uses of Shikakai – Its Side Effects – How To Use It For Hair Growth. (2018, August 31). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://fitnesspell.com/shikakai/
⁸Trüeb, R. M. (2009). Oxidative stress in aging of hair. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929555/
⁹Everts, H. B. (2012, January). Endogenous retinoids in the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21914489
¹⁰Mejia, L. A., Hodges, R. E., & Rucker, R. B. (1979, July). Clinical signs of anemia in vitamin A-deficient rats. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/453058
¹¹Yamamoto, K., Sadahito, K., Yoshikawa, M., Nobuyuki, O., Mikami, O., Yamada, M., . . . Yasuyuki, N. (2003, March). Hyena disease (premature physeal closure) in calves due to an overdose of vitamins A, D3, E. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12678294
¹²Kim, D. H., Lee, J. W., Kim, I. S., Choi, S. Y., Lim, Y. Y., Kim, H. M., . . . Kim, M. N. (2012, August). Successful treatment of alopecia areata with topical calcipotriol. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3412244/
¹³Beoy, L. A., Woei, W. J., & Hay, Y. K. (2010, December). Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24575202
¹⁴Nilankeeta. (2016, August 10). Everything About Vitamin K2 And Its Connection With Hair Loss. Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.beautyglimpse.com/everything-about-vitamin-k2-and-its-connection-with-hair-loss/
¹⁵Gavazzoni Dias, M. F., De Almeida, A. M., Cecato, P. M., Adriano, A. R., & Pichler, J. (2014). The Shampoo pH can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality? Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158629/
¹⁶Shikakai & Honey Conditioning Hair Rinse. (2018, February 24). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.hairbuddha.net/shikakai-honey-conditioning-hair-rinse/
¹⁷Dandruff. (2016, July 14). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dandruff/symptoms-causes/syc-20353850
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June 07, 2019