Fungal scalp infections aren’t particularly common, but they can lead to irreversible hair loss when they aren’t treated correctly. Needless to say, “fungal hair loss” isn’t an appealing idea to most people — but what can you do? As it turns out, the solution might be simpler than you’d think, and it involves cannabis shampoo.
Admittedly, cannabis probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you picture an antifungal treatment (if you picture anything at all). However, scientists have found that the plant contains a surprisingly diverse range of chemicals that can treat many types of skin fungus. They’re gentle enough to be used on the skin’s most sensitive areas, like the breasts, but they’re also potent enough to tackle athlete’s foot and other, hardier forms of foot fungus as well.
Here’s the best part: not only is cannabis bad for fungus, it’s also good for your hair. While research shows some of cannabis’ compounds are adept at preventing infections, other studies have found it can stimulate collagen, keratin, and the production of healthy oils that keep your hair looking sleek and strong.
Brands have been quick to pounce on this new research: from cannabis hair oil treatments to curl conditioning serums, the range of cannabis hair care products is quickly expanding. But when it comes to preventing permanent fungal hair loss, your best option may be the simplest one: a cannabis shampoo.
The reason cannabis shampoos are effective against fungal hair loss is because of their ability to re-establish a healthy ecosystem in your scalp by repelling invaders and stimulating the skin’s production of useful oils and chemicals. To understand how this works, it might be helpful to know how fungal scalp infections work.
While fungus can affect any part of the body, these particular infections occur when it develops on the skin underneath the hair and begins to spread. One of the most common varieties is known as ringworm which, contrary to popular opinion, has nothing to do with worms. Instead, it’s caused by a type of fungus called tinea capitis, which is similar to the one that causes athlete’s foot and fungal nail infections.
The first signs of ringworm look like small pimples, but soon scaly patches of dead skin start to appear around it, weakening the “roots” of the hair that grows from them. The dead skin begins to flake, leading many people to mistake it for cradle cap or dandruff. However, it’s more serious than that — left untreated, the hair of affected areas will begin to fall out, leaving the person with bald patches.
How can cannabis shampoo help prevent this? There are several ways, actually. One of cannabis’ weapons against fungus is its terpenes, a class of chemicals that give cannabis — and all other plants — its taste and smell. Terpenes have been known to have a diverse range of medicinal properties (the Japanese government encourages people to take baths in small forest pools in order to gain more exposure to helpful terpenes), but the best-studied antifungal agents in cannabis are a different type of chemical, called cannabinoids.
The best-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but the ones that have shown the most promise for fighting fungal hair loss are two of their obscure relatives: cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabigerol (CBG).
Both of them are non-psychoactive (meaning they won’t get you high), and they active the body’s natural defenses against fungus by triggering different responses in the endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors that controls many important body functions.
You typically won’t find CBC or CBG on their own — any cannabis shampoo that contains them will also contain many other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other ingredients — but that’s actually a good thing. Those “other ingredients” include fatty acids that help hair grow faster, stronger, and shinier.
Here’s another benefit of cannabis shampoos: since they work by stimulating the body’s own defenses, rather than introducing foreign substances, they won’t cause the harsh side effects associated with some medicated shampoos, making them perfect for people with easily irritated skin.
When choosing a cannabis shampoo, check the label to see if it’s been independently tested by a third-party laboratory — this isn’t necessarily a guarantee of quality, but in this largely unregulated industry, it’s the closest you’re likely to get. Another way to boost your chances of picking a winner is to look for products made with full spectrum cannabis oil, which contain the full range of cannabinoids found in the plant. The interplay of these compounds creates a synergistic effect that will help your cannabis shampoo prevent — and perhaps even reverse — fungal hair loss.