Dandruff is a scalp condition that involves dead, flaking skin cells (yellowish) and sometimes itchiness. In some cases, it can be found on other parts of the body such as the eyebrows, ears, or in skin creases.
In some people, dandruff is simply caused by dry skin or a build-up of shampoo or other hair care products. If this is the case, a simple change to herbal hair products may solve the problem. More serious dandruff, known medically as seborrheic dermatitis, is caused by too much oil being produced. Other causes include stress, hormonal imbalances, or acne. Dandruff is also connected with overgrowth of yeast, although yeast is not usually considered the cause of dandruff.
Extremely severe cases of dandruff should be treated by a doctor, especially if there is redness and severe skin irritation that could indicate a skin infection. Most dandruff, however, can be treated at home. There are several herbal remedies that work within 6 to 8 weeks of regular use to clear up dandruff.
Burdock contains essential fatty acids that are good for the skin and can help with dryness. To treat dandruff, 1 teaspoon of the oil can be used after shampooing and drying. It should be applied to the scalp lightly, no more than 1 teaspoon at a time. An alternative to external application is to eat a serving (at least 1 dry ounce) of goboshi cereal every day.
Tea Tree Oil
If the cause of dandruff is a fungal infection, tea tree oil is an effective treatment. It contains antifungal properties that are useful against dandruff. It also has a drying effect which is effective against the over-production of oil that is behind most cases of dandruff. It is used as a rinse after shampooing. The method is to mix 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with one quart of water and has to be applied after shampooing. As a word of caution: tea tree oil should not be ingested, and people who are allergic to thyme or celery should not use it.
Copaiba is effective against both inflammation and flaking. Its extract comes in the form of a shampoo, which can be used every day according to the directions on the label. It is also available as an oil extract. A couple of drops of copaiba oil can be added to a normal antidandruff shampoo to boost its effectiveness.
Peppermint actually contains several of the ingredients used in commercial antidandruff products. Selenium, menthol, and zinc, which are found in peppermint, all have proven properties that help control flaking.
Another herb that contains the same ingredients as over-the-counter dandruff shampoos is licorice. Salicylic acid, which works to remove dead skin cells, is found in both licorice and many commercial dandruff products. Calendula is another good source of salicylic acid.
A rinse made from fresh nettles and cider vinegar is another effective treatment for dandruff. One method is to steep the nettles in vinegar for 7 to 14 days, strain out the nettles and store in a bottle for later use. A quick preparation method is to pour vinegar in a pan, and simmer the fresh nettles for 30 minutes. Only 2 tablespoons is required to rub on the scalp twice a week to work as a preventative for dandruff. A tonic or tincture of fresh nettles can also be equally effective.