Topical rosemary oil for treatment of androgenetic alopecia

There are currently only two drugs with United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approval for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia; topical minoxidil (Rogaine®), and oral finasteride (Propecia®). Although these drugs have proven to be effective at reversing hair loss, they are associated with a variety of side effects (mentioned in previous blogs on finasteride and minoxidil) (1–3). Because of the risk of side effects with current medications, investigation of other therapies for androgenetic alopecia have been a popular area of interest.

A recent clinical trial was conducted comparing the efficacy of rosemary oil versus minoxidil 2% in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (4). Participants were males aged 18-49 years, with androgenetic alopecia. Participants applied one milliliter of solution (minoxidil 2% or rosemary oil lotion containing 3.7 mg 1,8-cineole per mL) to the frontoparietal and crown areas of the scalp twice daily for six months.

Results were measured at 3 months and 6 months after the onset of treatment. Results indicate a significant increase in hair count after 6 months in both the rosemary oil and minoxidil 2% treatment groups. Although the numerical increases in hair count were statistically significant, this may not relate back to clinical significance. Baseline hair counts for rosemary and minoxidil 2% were 122.8 and 138.4, respectively (size of area not indicated). After 6 months there was an increase of 6.8 hairs for the rosemary group, and 2.3 for the minoxidil 2% group. Keep in mind that even though there was only a small increase in hair count number, it was not a decrease. This study suggests that both rosemary oil and minoxidil 2% solution are effective at inhibiting/slowing hair loss.

Side effects were mild and included dry hair, greasy hair, dandruff, and scalp itching.

Always make sure to consult your hair loss specialist before trying a new treatment option, and make sure to discuss potential treatment outcomes and side effects.

Article by: Dr. C.D. Studholme PhD,  Mediprobe Research Inc.

  1. Kaufman KD, Olsen EA, Whiting D, Savin R, DeVillez R, Bergfeld W, et al. Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride Male Pattern Hair Loss Study Group. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998 Oct;39(4 Pt 1):578–89.
  2. Ali AK, Heran BS, Etminan M. Persistent Sexual Dysfunction and Suicidal Ideation in Young Men Treated with Low-Dose Finasteride: A Pharmacovigilance Study. Pharmacotherapy. 2015 Jul;35(7):687–95.
  3. Springer K, Brown M, Stulberg DL. Common hair loss disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jul 1;68(1):93–102.
  4. Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed. 2015 Feb;13(1):15–21.