What causes gray hair? Do we know how to prevent it, and are there any products that can prevent it?
Grey Hair – Causes
From what science knows about the process of graying, it is caused by a change in melanocytes which lose pigmentation gradually turning from their original color to gray or white.
The melanocytes that lose their pigmentation have very low levels of two chemicals, catalase and methionine sulfoxide reductase. The theory is that a free radical called “reactive oxygen species,” is responsible for the oxidative stress that damages the melanocytes and essentially robs them of their pigmentation.
Gray hair is caused by free radicals that attack the melanocytes in the hair shaft. The compound thought to be responsible for this is H2O2 otherwise known as “hydrogen peroxide.”
How to Prevent Gray Hair
Since we know what causes gray hair, (at least in theory) we have a clue as to how to prevent gray hair. Free radical production is caused by toxins in the body, stress, and poor diet. All of these produce oxidative stress (free radicals) and all can be counteracted with a few simple steps.
- Limit sugar and other refined carbohydrates
- Get plenty of antioxidants in your diet, in nutritional supplements, and by grounding
- Brief intense exercise, not long and drawn out like slow aerobics
- Reduce your stress with relaxation exercise, meditation, speed tracing, and psychoacoutsical products like relaxation tapes or cd’s.
It’s no wonder that people under a lot of stress tend to gray earlier than people who are calmer. There are exceptions, but stress will bring on graying due to the chemical changes that it produces in your body.
The causes are all of these assaults on your body chemistry that you have to neutralize. I am not aware of any “proven” remedies for gray hair, so until we know definitively how to reverse it, the emphasis should be on prevention.
I began graying at the sides in my late 30’s and it has not progressed any further at 61. I do keep sugar to a minimum, do not do long duration aerobics, take antioxidant supplements, and use Earthing/grounding as an anti-stress strategy. It has worked for me and so should definitely work for you.
Gray Hair Products
I will mention several gray hair products that I have encountered on the Internet. I can’t endorse them because I have no evidence that they work. You may want to try them and see.
Some hair care products like Grecian Formula contain lead. I would not advise their use for obvious reasons. Lead is a toxic heavy metal. I would not suggest using any product that contains it!
Here are some of these products:
- No More Gray – nutritional product claimed to supply nutrients needed by hair to maintain normal hair color – by Top of the World Distributors®
- Fo-Ti – Chinese herbal remedy said to be able to restore normal hair color
- APHG-1001 (with Pueraria lobata Extract) – a perennial vine, native to eastern Asia, which has antioxidant properties.
- Emu oil shampoo – said to contain omega 3 fatty acids needed by the hair
- Organic Unsulphered black strap molasses – allegedly contains nutrients helpful in preventing gray hair
- Laser treatment – said to positively affect catalase levels in the melanocytes
- PABA – para-amino-benzoic-acid – a nutrient thought to be lacking in graying hair
Gray hair is caused by same thing that causes aging all over the body, free radicals, stress, and lack of antioxidant protection. A good antiaging program will help prevent graying hair, and might even possibly reverse it!
Premature Graying as a Consequence of Compromised Antioxidant Activity in Hair Bulb Melanocytes and Their Precursors
Ying Shi, Long-Fei Luo, Xiao-Ming Liu, Qiong Zhou, Shi-Zheng Xu, and Tie-Chi Lei*
Andrzej T. Slominski, Editor
FASEB J. 2006 Jul;20(9):1567-9. Epub 2006 May 24.
Towards a “free radical theory of graying”: melanocyte apoptosis in the aging human hair follicle is an indicator of oxidative stress induced tissue damage.
Arck PC1, Overall R, Spatz K, Liezman C, Handjiski B, Klapp BF, Birch-Machin MA, Peters EM.