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Natural Home Remedies For Grey Hair

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction:

Hairstyle, colour, and length of hair play an essential role in people’s self-perception and physical appearance. Hair greying is one of the initial and most noticeable signs of human ageing. Hair greying, also known as canities, is a process of chronological ageing that affects people regardless of their gender or race. The term premature greying is used only when greying occurs before the age of 20 years in whites, before 30 years in Africans, and before 25 years in Asians.

Premature hair greying (PHG) or canities has a considerable detrimental impact on the affected individual’s appearance, and self-esteem, considering the important function of hair in day-to-day social life. It is often thought of as a sign of old age and loss of health.[1],[2]

home remedies for grey hair

Did You Know?

  • The prevalence of hair greying is higher in males (51%) compared to females (45.9%). source: NCBI
  • In localized greying, the frontal area of the scalp is the most common location (55.5%). source: NCBI
  • Smoking and obesity are not considered risk factors for premature greying of hair. source: NCBI
  • Premature greying of hair is more prevalent in Caucasians before the age of 20 and Africans before the age of 30. source: NCBI
  • Premature greying of hair can be associated with deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D3, and iron. source: NCBI

What Causes Grey Hair?

Melanocytes are cells within each hair follicle that produce two basic pigments called pheomelanin or eumelanin, according to your DNA. Eumelanin is mostly present in brown and black hair, whereas pheomelanin is found in red and blond hair. The pigments produced in scalp hair degrade more slowly than the melanin that colours the skin. This allows the hair to maintain its colour as it grows for an average of 3.5 years.3

Grey hair develops as the number of melanocytes decreases. But the time when those cells begin to decrease varies from person to person. Here are some causes for hair greying:

Frequently, patients in their late 30s and 40s express concerns regarding premature greying. In such circumstances, counselling is necessary to educate them that greying is a distinctive aspect of ageing, and we must embrace it. In such instances, available safe colouring options can be considered since reversing natural hair colour may not be feasible.

Dr. Arpit Verma MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)

1. Genes

Specific genes related to greying of hair have been found. One study identified the gene responsible for controlling, producing and storing melanin. It was found that those with PHG had a family history of PHG and had a genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases like asthma or eczema.3

2. Obesity

Individuals who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop grey hair.3

3. Smoking

It was found in a study that smokers were at more risk of developing premature hair greying than nonsmokers. Although the mechanism behind this could not be found, it was suggested that smoking could increase oxidative stress that can damage melanin-producing cells.3

4. Stress

Stress can speed up the greying process. Stresses that are responsible for a fight-or-flight response might deplete the reserve of stem cells present in hair follicles that can be transformed into pigment cells when new hairs form.3

5. Vitamins

It was observed in a study that a deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to PHG, which can be reversed when the vitamin is supplemented. Dairy products and meat are common natural sources of vitamin B12. This explains why a vegetarian diet could be a reason for developing PHG. It also might be difficult for older persons to absorb vitamin B12 through digestion.3

6. Diseases

According to a study, it was found that diseases like vitiligo and alopecia areata can lead to premature greying. Vitiligo develops when cells that produce melanin stop functioning or die, causing loss of skin colour in patches over the body that commonly grow over time. In a few cases, it also leads to loss of hair colour. In alopecia areata, there can be a sudden loss of colour of hair, which might lead to more noticeable grey hair.[1]

Asking a dermatologist or trichology expert for assistance is the optimal approach to managing premature greying of hair, as identifying and tackling the root cause is crucial. Home remedies may not be universally successful in treating every case of greying.

Dr. Arpit Verma MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)

Also Read: Hot Oil Treatment for Hair: A Comprehensive Guide Based on Experts’ Advice

Other conditions that cause hair greying are:

  • Neurofibromatosis- This is a condition where tumours develop along nerves, and there is abnormal development of the skin and bones.
  • Tuberous Sclerosis- This is a rare condition that can lead to benign (does not spread to other body parts) tumours in many organs like the brain, kidneys, eyes, skin, and lungs.
  • Thyroid Disease[2]

Symptoms of Grey Hair:

The average age of onset of premature hair greying ranges from 2-22 years, and the earliest age of onset is 2 years.

  • Hair that is not pigmented grows faster than hair that is coloured.
  • Grey hair is courser, thicker, and more prone to being worn due to long exposure to harsh weather compared to normal hair.5

Suggested Home Remedies for Grey Hair:

Certain remedies are known to stimulate pigmentation of hair. These preparations help restore the natural hair colour and prevent hair greying. Some remedies for dealing with grey hair are:[1]

1. Black Sesame Seeds:

Sesame seeds, especially the black sesame, are known to blacken the hair. Hence, they can be applied to white hair.6 Eating some black sesame seeds twice a week may help to slow down or even reverse the hair greying process.

2. Amla:

Amla enriches hair pigmentation. Dried fruit of amla and coconut oil can be boiled together till it gets charred and used to prevent hair greying.7 You can massage your hair with this  amla oil  and drink amla juice regularly to avoid premature greying of hair.

3. Curry Leaves:

Using curry leaves is extremely beneficial in preventing greying of hair.8 Curry leaves crushed into a paste when mixed with yoghurt can be applied on hair twice a week to get the benefits.

4. Ashwagandha:

It improves blood circulation and prevents premature hair greying.9 Ashwagandha root powder along with Brahmi powder may be formed into a paste and used as a mask. This mask can be massaged on the scalp and washed later for benefits. Consuming ashwagandha tea also helps to reduce greying of hair.

5. Bhringraj:

It prevents and deals with premature hair greying. Leaves of Bhringraj may be soaked in any oil overnight, and this oil may be applied to hair.9,10

6. Hibiscus Flower:

Hibiscus contains vitamin C and A and iron. Paste of its flower along with any oil when applied to hair helps in managing grey hair by blackening the hair.9,10

When to Seek Medical Help?

Early greying of hair can be treated by obtaining a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

  • To diagnose canities or PHG, you should consult a dermatologist (skin and hair specialist doctor). According to the severity of your condition and other factors like lifestyle and diet, your dermatologist can suggest an appropriate treatment plan. If necessary, they may refer you to a specialised expert, such as an endocrinologist (a specialist who treats problems or diseases related to the body’s hormones) to address your condition.
  • If there are other symptoms along with grey hair, or if the symptoms are not improving, you must visit a dermatologist.11

Also Read: What Causes White Hair at Early Age? Understanding the Root Causes and Effective Management Options

Conclusion:

Premature greying of hair can have a negative impact on young people’s self-esteem, particularly on those with darker hair types, due to the easy sight of grey hair. Therefore, long-lasting and efficient management of grey hair is essential. Today, there are several home remedies like oak galls, barley, onion juice, etc., that are known to be effective in dealing with grey hair.

Even with the proper understanding of the causes of grey hair, the exact reason for its premature onset is not well studied. Hence, satisfactory management for its reversal remains indescribable as of today.5

Also Read: Home Remedies For Hair Thinning

Frequently Asked Questions:

What gives hair its natural colour?

The pigment called melanin that gives colour to the skin and eyes also is responsible for determining the hair’s colour. Hair colour is determined by the quality and combination of melanin.12

How does hair turn grey?

Grey hair is melanin-depleted hair, whereas white hair is completely devoid of it. This is partly due to a decrease in the number of stem cells that mature into melanin-producing cells. The cells may become worn out, damaged, or lose the support systems that are responsible for keeping them functioning. Genes play a role in melanin production since they help regulate it. There are multiple causes for developing PHG, such as a poor diet, genes, vitamin deficiencies, obesity, smoking, stress and some diseases.12

What are the types of hair dyes?

 Natural and synthetic hair dyes or colours are available. Indian gooseberry, false daisy, and henna are popular natural colours that are usually safe to use but necessitate frequent touch-ups due to weak colourants. There are two types of synthetic hair dyes- oxidative (use an oxidising agent like hydrogen peroxide to produce hair colour) and nonoxidative (do not contain an oxidising agent)5

What are the vitamins indicated in the treatment of grey hair?

Vitamin B12, biotin, folic acid, and vitamin E can be taken orally for the management of grey hair.5

What are the other compounds that can be taken orally for the treatment of grey hair?

Compounds like calcium pantothenate, green tea extract, phytoestrogens, and para-aminobenzoic acid can be taken orally to manage grey hair.5

Also Read: Effective Home Remedies For Frizzy Hair

References:

  1. Deepika Pandhi, Deepshika Khanna; premature graying of hair. Indian Journal of dermatology, venereology, and leprosy. 2013 79(5):641-653. Available from: https://ijdvl.com/premature-graying-of-hair/
  2. James D.B O’Sullivan, Carina Nicu, Martin Picard, Jeremy Cheret, Barbara Bedogni, Desmond J. Tobin, Ralf Paus; The biology of human hair graying. Wileuy online library. 96(1):107-128 Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/brv.12648
  3. American association of retired persons. Why does hair turn grey as you age? [Internet] Available from: https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2021/causes-gray-hair.html
  4. Harvard health publishing school. Why does hair turn grey? [Internet] Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hair-turn-gray-2017091812226
  5. Rashmi Singh, Bhuskan Madke, Shashank Bansod, Nidhi Radav; Premature graying of hair: A concise review. Cosmoderma. 2021 1(65). Available from: https://cosmoderma.org/premature-graying-of-hair-a-concise-review/
  6. Pathak N, Rai AK, Kumari R, Bhat KV. Value addition in sesame: A perspective on bioactive components for enhancing utility and profitability. Pharmacognosy reviews. 2014 Jul;8(16):147. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127822/
  7. Dasaroju S, Gottumukkala KM. Current trends in the research of Emblica officinalis (Amla): A pharmacological perspective. Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res. 2014;24(2):150-9. Available from: https://www.indigohealthclinic.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/25.pdf
  8. TOMA M, LUCHIAN V, HOZA D. Avantguard of Romanian research: Murraya koenigii L.-an amazing flower and medicinal plant. Scientific Papers-Series B, Horticulture. 2020;64(1):717-28. Available from: http://horticulturejournal.usamv.ro/pdf/2020/issue_1/Art104.pdf
  9. Sharma, L, Agarwal G, Kumar A. Medicinal plants for skin and hair care. 2003; 2(1):62-68. Available from: http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/25921/1/IJTK%202%281%29%2062-68.pdf
  10. Mitaliya KD, Bhatt DC, Patel NK, Dodia SK. Herbal remedies used for hair disorders by tribals and rural folk in Gujarat. 2003; 2(4):389-392. Available from: http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/25973/1/IJTK%202%284%29%20389-392.pdf
  11. National health portal of India. Greying of hairs/canities (sheeb) [Internet]. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/greying-of-hairs-canities-sheeb_mtl
  12. Cleveland Clinic. Why hair turns grey. [Internet] Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-hair-turns-gray/

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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