Science Explains The Link Between Stress And Gray Hair

Gray hair is often related to: stress, genetics, chemical hair dyes and hair products, thyroid disorder, vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune disease, smoking.

Our hair color is determined by cells called melanocytes, since they produce the pigment melanin. There are melanocyte stem cells living inside the hair follicle, which create new melanocytes. But, as we get older, these cells start to disappear, thus the new hair has less pigment and looks gray.

Harvard University in Massachusetts conducted a study which has shown that stress can also provoke gray hair. Mice exposed to stress were used for this study.

They were under mild, short-term pain and psychological stress. Scientists noticed a decrease in melanocyte stem cells and an increase in gray hair from all of the used methods. Wanting to know why the stress provoked gray hair in mice, they looked at the neurotransmitter noradrenaline that increased with corticosterone -- the stress hormone.

They discovered that this chemical -- norepinephrine was responsible for the graying. The mice were then injected with noradrenaline, which resulted with decrease in melanocyte cells and an increase in gray hair.

It was shown that when the sympathetic nervous system gets activated, it plays an important role in stress-induced graying. Every hair follicle has these nerves, so when noradrenaline gets released during stress, it depletes the hair of color.

Normally, the melanocyte stem cells are inactive until there is a new hair, but the cell is activated by noradrenaline.

“After just a few days, all of the pigment-regenerating stem cells were lost. Once they’re gone, you can’t regenerate pigments anymore. The damage is permanent.” -- a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard, Ya-Chieh Hsu, Ph.D. said.

Some natural remedies people use to slow down graying are: curry leaves, bhringaraj, Indian gooseberry, black tea, copper and ridge gourd.

You can prevent this premature graying by:

1. Eating food high in fatty acids, like walnuts and oily fish like salmon. Make sure you include fruit and vegetables.

2. Avoiding long periods in the sun. You can still spend half an hour on direct sunshine, in order to absorb vitamin D.

3. Drinking a lot of water, to hydrate all of your cells.

4.  Quitting smoking

5.  Making sure you have some time to relax; you can do yoga, go on a walk, do some gardening, listen to music etc.

6. Surrounding yourself with positive people. Those people are good for you and your overall health, since they impact your mind, and your way of thinking. They will make you focus on gratitude, self-love, kindness and peace.

Stress can cause more problems than just gray hair, like heart attacks, headaches, insomnia, chest pain, nervousness and shaking, strokes, low energy, impaired mental health, and so on.

We can’t avoid stress, it’s inevitable; however, we can choose how to react to it. It’s important for us to stay calm, eat well, exercise, get some sunshine, get enough sleep and drink plenty of water.



Leave a Reply