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Premature Hair Greying: Causes and Natural Reversal Remedies

Plucked it out, tried new hairstyles to hide it, and didn't step out of the house without dyeing your hair? That's a situation every individual in their 20s and early 30s would relate to when dealing with premature hair greying.

According to an ancient belief, premature hair greying is an early attainment of wisdom. Throughout history, grey or white hair in young adults has often been associated with wisdom and experience due to its prevalence in older individuals.

Truth be told, whether it is a cultural belief or a playful notion, there is no scientific validation that grey hair is a sign of maturity beyond their years. Additionally, no amount of hair plucking or application of chemically infused hair dyes will provide a sustainable and healthy solution to stop premature hair greying.

So, how can you effectively address premature hair greying? Instead of living in fear or resorting to potentially harmful hair products, let's delve into the topic of white hair, learn some prevention tips, and explore natural ways to reverse it.

 

What is Premature Hair Greying?

Greying hair is an inevitable and natural part of the ageing process. The skin has a pigment called melanin that provides colour to the skin, eyes, and hair. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes. When these cells produce less melanin, hair starts to turn grey or white.

For many, grey hair is a natural part of ageing, usually starting in their 40s or 50s. However, when the hair begins to lose its natural pigment at an earlier than usual age, typically 20s or 30s, it is called premature hair greying.

What Causes Premature Hair Greying?

  1. Genetics: Family history plays a significant role. If your parents or grandparents experienced early hair greying, you are more likely to experience it as well.
  2. Nutritional Deficiencies: A lack of essential nutrients, such as vitamins B12 and D, iron, copper, and zinc, can affect melanin production and lead to premature hair greying.
  3. Oxidative Stress: An accumulation of oxidative stress in the body can damage melanocytes. Environmental factors like pollution, UV radiation, and unhealthy lifestyle choices can trigger this stress.
  4. Medical Conditions: Certain health issues, including autoimmune diseases like vitiligo, thyroid disorders, and anaemia, can contribute to premature greying. For instance, your thyroid gland influences your hair colour by causing hormonal imbalance and reducing melanin production in the body.
  5. Stress: Chronic stress invites additional health problems like anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, gut issues and more. Stress is believed to impact melanin production and accelerate ageing, including hair greying.
  6. Smoking: Apart from increasing multi-faceted health conditions like lung cancer, smoking also causes premature hair greying. The toxins and chemicals in a cigarette constrict the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the hair follicles and eventually causing hair loss. The smoke reduces melanin and causes hair to age earlier than expected.
  7. Chemical Exposure: Frequent use of chemical hair treatments and dyes can damage hair follicles and affect melanin production.
  8. Diet: An imbalanced diet and lifestyle are indirectly responsible for premature hair greying. Consumption of processed food, excessive sugar and salt, and soft drinks can lead to obesity or other health conditions which can cause hair ageing.

Natural Remedies for Reversing Premature Hair Greying

Here are some suggestions:

1. Address Vitamin Deficiencies: Ensuring an adequate level of specific vitamins and minerals that aid in maintaining the hair pigment is essential. These nutrients include:

  • Vitamin B12: B12 is important for DNA synthesis and red blood cell production. A deficiency can cause pernicious anaemia, which impacts hair colour. Vitamin B12 can be found in beef, pork, salmon, tuna, milk, cheese, eggs, and fortified cereals.
  • Copper: Copper is a vital mineral responsible for melanin production. To maintain optimal copper levels, you can include Shellfish (oysters, crab), nuts (cashews, almonds), seeds (sunflower, sesame), organ meats (liver), whole grains (quinoa, oats), and beans in your diet.
  • Iron: An iron deficiency can lead to hair loss and greying. Iron is essential for haemoglobin production, which carries oxygen to the cells and hair follicles. Dietary sources of iron are red meat, poultry, lentils, spinach, beans, iron-fortified cereals, and tofu.
2. Topical Applications: Some certified products can be applied to the scalp to help with hair greying and boost overall scalp health.
  • Catalase Enzyme: Catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Hydrogen peroxide accumulation in hair follicles bleaches hair from the inside. You can use catalase enzyme supplements or shampoos.
  • Melatonin: Melatonin has antioxidant properties and can protect hair follicles from oxidative stress, potentially aiding pigment production. You can use hair care solutions that are formulated with melatonin.
  • Pseudocatalase Cream: PC-KUS (pseudocatalase), when applied to the scalp, can break down hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles and gradually restore the hair colour.

3. Supplementation: L-tyrosine is a building block for melanin, the pigment responsible for hair colour. It can be taken as a dietary supplement under medical supervision.

4. Lifestyle Modifications: A healthy lifestyle can support hair health and pigment production: 

  • Quit Smoking: Smoking increases oxidative stress, which can accelerate hair greying. You can seek support to quit smoking through medical programs or counselling.
  • Manage Stress: Managing stress can have a positive impact on hair health and can reduce premature greying. Ensure you meditate, practice yoga and get adequate sleep.

Reversing greying hair, predominantly when driven by natural ageing, remains unachievable with current medical advancements.

However, following the above strategies might slow the hair ageing process or alter the appearance of grey hair. 

 

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Spearmint leaf (Mentha Spicata), Stinging nettle leaf (Urtica Dioica), Lemon grass
(Cymbopogon citratus), Ginger root (Zingiber officinale), Peppermint (Mentha Piperita),
Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia), Ashoka (Saraca Asoca), Lodhra (Symplocos),
Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), Daruharidra
(Berberis Aristata)

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Grant P. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010;24(2):186–8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2900.