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Baldness cures used to give herbal medicine a bad name, until herbalists started finding simple, inexpensive treatments that actually work.
Turmeric for hair regrowth is one of those treatments that works, at least for people who lost their hair as a result of B-vitamin deficiency (after some condition that interferes with normal eating or after treatment with the chemotherapy drug methotrexate) or as a result of alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition. Actually, practitioners of Ayurvedic and Unani medicine have know about treating hair with turmeric for hundreds of years, but the Western world didn't pay attention until a doctor managed to grow hair with herbs at a clinic in Scotland.
In the 1990's, doctors at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary recruited people with alopecia to test "aromatherapy" for hair restoration. Actually, although the scientific paper described the treatment as aromatherapy, most aromatherapists would not. The doctors gave half of the patients in the study a lotion made from essential oils of thyme, lavender, rosemary, and sandalwood mixed in jojoba and grapeseed oils as a carrier. Applying the mixture to the scalp restored hair "noticeably" in about half of the people who used it.
Since that time, others have experimented with essential oil of turmeric as a treatment for alopecia areata. In the two cases I have witnessed personally, one man got "peach fuzz," and the other grew full locks of hair that he could comb. The way any essential oils may work on bare scalp to regrow hair is by tricking the immune system into believe hair follicles have been destroyed, so it allows hair to regrow.
This technique sometimes works on bare skin. It definitely will not help thinning hair, and I am not aware of any men (or women) who have lost hair to male pattern baldness (which also occurs in some women who have polycystic ovarian disease) getting hair back after using turmeric. Still, it's worth a try if you have alopecia that caused sudden hair loss. It may take about a year to get good results, but the treatment has no side effects and is very inexpensive.
On skin that already has hair, turmeric has a very different effect. In much of Asia, turmeric-based powders are used by women who want to remove unwanted hairs.
The turmeric that works best for hair removal is a powder called Kasturi. There is also a product called Kum-Kum, that is frequently adulterated with benzotriazol, tert-butyl hydroquinone, para-phenylenediamine, and parabens. The problem with these chemical additives is that they can either lighten the skin, if used in low doses, or leave permanent dark, discoloration of the skin, if used in high doses. If you use Kum-Kum on your skin and it burns, the hair may fall out, but you may have a "beauty mark" in its place.
Kasturi is used with better results. It tingles, but it doesn't burn. (If it does burn, rinse it off immediately and return the product for your money back.) Usually after three or four applications, following package instructions, the unwanted hair simply falls out and does not return for a year or so. In a few women the removal will be permanent, but this is more likely to be due to hormonal changes than the unusual efficacy of the herb.
Whether you are using turmeric or any other skin care product, it's important to remember that the darker your skin, the more susceptible it is to permanent darkening due to inflammation. Dark skin is dark because the pigment cells make a lot of melanin. The skin uses melanin to fight inflammation. If your skin becomes inflamed, it will make lots of melanin pigment to stop the inflammation. That's why it is important to avoid any burning sensation when your use a hair removal product, especially if you have deep gold or brown skin tones.
Turmeric is also used in one other hair care application. Some Hindu women become devotees of the "devi" Yellama. This mystical being is said to be attracted to turmeric, and smearing the hair with turmeric is believe by the followers of Yellama to give them psychic powers.
I don't know whether turmeric can make women psychic or not. I have never met a devotee of the devi Yellama. However, using turmeric as a pomade can cause permanent hair loss, especially where the hair is parted. For hair removal or hair restoration, use only drops of turmeric, not bowls of turmeric.