Home Remedy for Dandruff

Save Your Scalp From Flaking,
Itching & Hair Loss

When you need a home remedy for dandruff, you’ll get the best results when you use topical remedies AND deal with the nutritional deficiencies that encourage those annoying flakes and an itchy scalp.

Start self-healing your dandruff by working on your microbial population and get those flakes off your shoulders. © Karen Alison

What causes dandruff?

The cause of dandruff was once believed to be a fungus called Malassezia, but a French study in 2013 found that dandruff is caused by an imbalance of both fungus and bacteria on the scalp.

We all have fungus and bacteria on our heads – it’s a fact of life. But when you have dandruff, certain strains (Staphylococcus and Malassezia) get a little too enthusiastic.

What’s really interesting about this is that it means you can start self-healing your dandruff by working on your microbial population which, frankly, runs a lot of what goes on with your health.

And, by the way, if you have dandruff, do you also have some digestive issues? Just askin’ because the microbes in your gut will make an enormous difference to your skin (good or bad)… even when it’s on your head…

Up until now, most typical drug treatments, dandruff shampoos and natural cures for dandruff have been anti-fungal. But you’ll want to tackle both the bacteria and the fungus on your head. Fortunately, a good home remedy for dandruff is often both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.

Conditions related to dandruff (or with dandruff as a symptom) are:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis – dandruff is often defined as a mild form of SD
  • Atopic eczema
  • Psoriasis

Home remedy for dandruff...
Put this on your head

1) Honey! The unexpected home remedy for dandruff

Okay, seriously, would you have guessed that putting honey on your head was a highly effective home remedy for dandruff?

Honey is a highly effective home remedy for dandruff © Karen Alison

Well, guess what? Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant.

Here’s what happened when patients in this study rubbed slightly diluted raw honey (90% honey with warm water) into their scalps and left it on for 3 hours…

  • Scaling and itching was relieved within a week
  • Skin lesions vanished in two weeks
  • The honey also slowed or stopped hair loss!

The participants had dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (so they had scaling, itching and lesions on both head and body.) After four weeks, they switched from daily treatment to once a week, and continued to have excellent results.

Honey is non-toxic and does not cause the skin irritation that sometimes occurs with conventional dandruff preparations.

2) Cultured Foods, Kombucha and Probiotics –
the dandruff remedy that starts in your gut

What? Probiotics are a home remedy for dandruff? I know that in conventional Western medicine, what you put in your stomach supposedly has nothing to do with the skin on your head but, guess what? It totally does!

If the microbes in your gut are a mess, it’s going to show up in your skin somewhere – as dandruff, dry, flaky skin, breakouts, eczema, psoriasis, or other conditions. This is not rocket science, people.

Before I knew about how crucial gut flora is to health, I had dandruff (ick! Who wants to admit that?)

It went away when I fixed my flora with…

  • Probiotics
  • Anti-fungals like olive leaf extract, cat’s claw bark, grapefruit seed extract, caprylic acid (from coconut), and aged garlic. These are very important if you have an overgrowth of Candida, which can worsen dandruff.
  • Cultured foods like sauerkraut and other vegetables - fermented in brine NOT vinegar which kills the good bacteria.
  • Kombucha tea – a “fermented” tea that contains several strains of immune system-supporting bacteria.


  • I went gluten-free. The Paleo diet was an enormous help with that. By the way, if you’re losing hair, lose the gluten. Cereal grains are heavily implicated in hair loss.

Fix your flora with probiotic foods like sauerkraut made with brine not vinegar. © Karen AlisonProbiotic purple cabbage sauerkraut

If you’re eating junk food or processed food, you’re not giving your skin any nutrients and… much worse!... you’re actually feeding the fungus and bacteria that cause problems.

Cultured foods and kombucha are available ready-made, or you can make your own.

I love Donna Schwenk’s great books about cultured foods. She has the kind of delicious recipes I would never have thought of myself. A yummy way to calm down dandruff and other skin issues.

3) Yogurt scalp mask –
the balancing home remedy for dandruff

And while you’re eating all those great cultured foods, put some probiotic yogurt on your head to rebalance the fungus and bacteria on your scalp.

Mix a half-cup of plain yogurt with a beaten egg and the juice of a quarter lemon. Apply to your scalp. After 30 minutes, wash it off.

To make this even more effective, add some…

4) Essential Oils –
the aromatic home remedy for dandruff

Try one or more of these antifungal essential oils for dandruff…

  • Atlas Cedarwood
  • Lemon-Scented Eucalyptus
  • Niaouli 
  • Yarrow

For Seborrhoea, use…

  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Bergamot* (caution, photo-toxic, use the furocoumarin- free version)

To treat dandruff, you can add essential oils to your natural, sodium laurel sulphate-free shampoo.

Here’s a tip from skincare expert, Wendy Gardner, for a more intensive dandruff treatment...

  • Add a few drops of your chosen oil or oils to two tablespoons of virgin organic coconut oil.
  • Massage the mixture into your scalp before bed and leave in overnight.
  • Cover your pillow with an old towel to protect it. 
  • In the morning, wash off with natural shampoo  (and be sure to add some essential oils to your shampoo)

Optional – for added antibacterial effects, follow shampoo by rinsing scalp with fresh-squeezed lemon juice diluted in enough warm water to make a rinse.

5) Neem – the Ayurvedic home remedy
for dandruff

While all parts of the Asian neem tree have healing properties, the leaf seems to work best as a home remedy for dandruff. Neem has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin problems and many other health conditions.

Neem is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and has many more properties, but that’s enough to deal with your scalp.

There are a couple of ways to use neem leaves for dandruff.

  • One is to soak about half a cup of leaves (a couple of handfuls) in 5 cups of hot water, as if making tea. Let the mixture stand for 8 hours, strain, and use as a final rinse after shampooing. Store it in a glass bottle in the fridge.
  • You can also make the soaked leaves into a paste and apply it directly to your scalp. Leave on for 30 minutes, then rinse.

Neem seed extract (neem oil) is an effective treatment for head lice.

6) Tea Tree Oil –
the standard natural remedy for dandruff

Tea Tree or Melaleuca Alternifola is well-documented as a home remedy for dandruff.

Clinical studies show that a 5% solution of Tea Tree Oil in shampoo was “effective in the treatment of mild to moderate dandruff.”

Like honey, Tea Tree is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Tea tree oil should be in a glass bottle because…

  • Tea tree oil absorbs into plastic
  • If the oil isn’t properly stored or is old, the by-products when it degrades (oxidizes) can cause an allergic reaction. Plastic bottles tend to outgas (leak molecules) and absorb molecules. Glass does not.

So, if you’re going to use tea tree shampoo, you’ll likely get better results if you use a good quality natural shampoo with no irritants, and add a few drops of your own tea tree/melaleuca oil when you’re washing your hair.

Or massage some tea tree into your scalp before washing your hair.

First, add a few drops to a carrier oil such as almond oil or coconut oil, because melaleuca is quite strong! (Don’t use olive oil as a carrier oil.*) Then let the mixture sit on your scalp for 30 minutes before shampooing.

If you like the scent of tea tree, you can reverse the process: wash your hair, then massage the diluted oil into your scalp and leave it all day to work its magic.

* Why not use olive oil as a carrier oil?

Olive oil is fabulous for cooking and eating, but it is NOT good as part of a home remedy for dandruff because it can damage your skin barrier and worsen atopic dermatitis.

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