Greetings and welcome to Part One of a seven-part series, “Herbal Treatments for the Hair”. This is an edited excerpt from my book, The Wild & Weedy Apothecary. I hope you will come back for the rest of the series.
With winter approaching, and indoor enviroments becoming warmer and drier than earlier in the year, you will find that herbal hair concoctions can add luster to your locks, resulting in a shiny, healthy head of hair, your true crowning glow-ry. Welcome to the world of wild and weedy plants traditionally used on the hair and scalp. These plants grow readily in my vicinity, specifically northern Idaho. These plants can be found in many other places as well, and although other regions and cultures may use different plants, I like to forage locally if at all possible. Except for dyes and colorants, which will be included later in the series, I have categorized these herbs and listed them below.
Herbal hair treatments include those for dandruff, olde-timey growth stimulants, tonics, dyes and colorants, and homemade shampoo using liquid castile soap. Some herbs fall into more than one category, such as the sage plants shown in the photo (courtesy of my spring greenhouse). There are also plants such as soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) and yucca (Yucca spp.) that contain saponins (soapy colloidal compounds) and actually make a sudsy lather in water, and these were used for external cleansing for centuries by the native people of North America.
All the treatments discussed are for both men and women. If you are using herbal shampoos or hair rinses for children, dilute them to half-strength. Although these herbal hair treatments are made with family-friendly herbs, they are made stronger than usual, so do not drink.
Categories of use:
birch leaf or twig
horsetail (also known as scouring rush)
apple cider vinegar
red clover blossom
clove (very small amount)
hemlock tree bark
Part Two of the series will discuss preparing and using “Herbal Hair Tea” and the “Messy but Fun” alternative method, the herbal hair pack. Oh yeah, it’s messy, but it is fun!