Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb. essential oil slows hair-growth and lightens skin in axillae; a randomised, double blinded trial

Phytomedicine. 2017 Feb 15:25:29-38. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2016.12.007. Epub 2016 Dec 20.


Background: Androgenic hair-growth contributes to secondary gender characteristics but can be troublesome in women. Inhibiting axillary hair-growth via 5-α-reductases using the Thai medicinal plant, Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb. is an attractive treatment strategy.

Hypothesis/purpose: C. aeruginosa essential oil (CA-oil) formulated as a lotion is an efficacious and safe inhibitor of axillary hair growth.

Study design: This trial was a single center, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled 10 weeks, intervention in 60 women (18-23 years) and 2 weeks washout with axillary hair length was the primary end-point.

Methods: Bioactive-enriched essential oil of C. aeruginosa was formulated with a base lotion. All participants were pre-challenged with lotions by 4-h patch irritation tests to exclude skin reactions. Participants were randomly allocated to use either 1 or 5%w/w CA-oil lotion on one axilla and base-lotion (placebo) to the other for 10 weeks followed by placebo in both axillae for 2 weeks. Every week, the axillae were photographed to measure hair lengths, shaved, and roll-on applicators containing appropriate lotion replaced. Also, skin melanin by spectrophotometry and hair density were measured.

Results: From weeks 5-11 of trial, 1 and 5%w/w CA-oil retarded growth by 13 ± 1.5% and 16 ± 0.9% respectively, while placebo was ineffective. CA-oil had no influence on hair density. Both concentrations of CA-oil rapidly and equally effectively brightened skin within 3 weeks which persisted 2 weeks after treatment ceased while placebo darkened the skin. Adherence appeared good as judged by consistency of lotion consumption and between axillae. Participants were satisfied with the treatment and reported reduced hairiness, freedom from any discomforts, but product odour attracted some negative comment. No adverse reactions ascribed to CA-oil were detected or reported.

Conclusion: This study points to a safe and efficacious dual action on retarding hair-growth and skin lightening by CA-oil.

Keywords: 5 alpha-reductase; Anti-androgen; Axillary hair; Clinical study; Curcuma aeruginosa Roxb. essential oil; Hair growth.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Axilla*
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hair / drug effects*
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin Cream
  • Skin Lightening Preparations
  • Young Adult


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Skin Lightening Preparations