How gray hair grows and what to about it

Hello ladies and gentle men, I welcome you once again to Healthost, I will be sharing with you in this post how gray hair grows, all you need to understand about it, and what you should do about it. But before diving into the detailed process, you need to understand why humans grow gray hairs.

Why humans grow gray hairs

It is very important for us to understand that everyone’s hair is white in reality, but gets its color from a pigment known as melanin which resides in the middle layer of the hair shaft, the cortex. Melanin begins to form in our follicles prior to birth. While the hair forms, melanocytes spread melanin into cells that contain keratin, the protein that our hair, skin and nails are made of.

Even after birth, melanocytes continually pump these cells full of melanin, giving keratin proteins color. In the end, hair color depends on the amount, type and circulation of melanin in the cortex. On the other hand, gray hair is the result of pigment reduction while white hair simply has no pigment at all. Why this pigment reduction comes about remains a mystery but many scientists and holistic practitioners continue to study underlying causes.

Facts about the human hairs:

• Human hair grows each on its own individual cycle. If all our hair were on the same cycle, we would molt!
• Hair has the highest rate of cell division (mitosis). Average hair grows 0.3 mm a day and 1 cm per month.
• The average human scalp has 100,000 -150,000 hairs.
• Hair is so strong that each hair can withstand the strain of 100 grams (3.5 ounces). An average head of hair could hold 10-15 tons if only the scalp was strong enough!

Dr. Desmond Tobin, a professor of cell biology at the University of Bradford in England, discovered that each human hair follicle has a “melanogentic clock” that ticks throughout our lives. As the ticking wears on, melanocyte movement declines thus, slowly decreasing the amount of melanin infused in hair. The rate at which this occurs varies from person to person although, it’s been said that, chances of turning gray increase by 10 – 20% each decade… for everyone.

In the February 2005 to be precise, there was another related theory by some Harvard scientists claiming that absolute failure of melanocytes may cause graying hair. They stated that when melanocytes cease function and fail to uphold their duties, it may also end the same signals that manufacture hair color in the body.

The most recent scientific breakthrough revolves around the enzyme catalase. This enzyme is found in all living organisms. Catalase helps organisms turn hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. Yes, the same hydrogen peroxide found in hair shafts.

Going by the recent CBS News report, human hair eventually begins to “bleach itself from the inside out.” This begins when catalase levels decrease and hydrogen peroxide, which naturally occurs in our hair, cannot be broken down properly. Hydrogen peroxide then begins to build up, making hair turn gray.

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Prof. Karin Schallreuter, yet another professional from England’s University of Bradley (a clinical and experimental dermatology professor to be exact), stated in the report that finding out ways to stop this break down could be the key to preventing gray hair in humans. Score!

No matter what idea any one scientist, doctor, or professor may believe, most can agree on some comment internal and external factors that, without a doubt, have a hand in enabling graying to begin (see side bar for factors).

Factors that contribute to going gray hairs are both internal and external as shown below:

• Genetic defects
• Hormones
• Body distribution
• Age


• Climate
• Pollutants
• Toxins
• Chemical exposure

Treat These Conditions To Stop The Growth of Grey Hairs:

1. Thyroid disorders

Conditions such as Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s disease, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism have been linked with premature gray hair.

2. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia

It can be due to a diet low in vitamin B12, which is found mainly in meat, eggs, and milk. It can also occur if the stomach can’t absorb vitamin B12, due to surgery involving the stomach or small intestine (such as gastric bypass surgery), diseases that affect the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, fish tapeworms, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or a lack of protein called intrinsic factor due to an autoimmune reaction or a genetic defect.

3. Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition in which your skin loses melanocytes, resulting in very light patches of skin and possibly premature gray hair.

4. Early menopause

It have been confirmed that some women will find their hair going grey more fervently during the Menopause. There are lifestyle changes you can adopt to help prevent this from happening – namely, no smoking and a balanced diet containing lots of iron, vitamin D and the B vitamins.

5. Smoking

Cigarette smoking has been linked to growing or developing grey hairs prematurely.

It is worthy to note that our hair, gray or not, reflects the strength of our kidneys and the quality of our blood. By treating these conditions, you may be able to reverse gray hair – at least for a little while.

However, both sides – scientific and holistic — do agree that genetics play the biggest and major role in this arena. Thus, if you are genetically predisposed to gray hair, there is very little you can do to stop it, aside from covering your grays.

On a final note:

As you can see, taking care of your hair is not as easy as one may think, you have to wash and rinse, and repeat. Filling your head with all manner of chemicals, literally, isn’t the answer either. If you want to avoid going prematurely gray, there is much more to it than that.

Healthost suggests avoiding too much meat, dairy and salt and eating foods, such as seaweed, that strengthen the blood and kidneys (see sidebar), there are many vegan foods that also help. And as many parents can attest, stress seems to be an obvious factor when it comes to gray hair; a problem that a vegan diet filled with B9 vitamin, such as grains, nuts, and leafy veggies, can help reduce.

Other herbal remedies like the famous He Shou Wu herb, also called Polygonum multiflorum or Fo-Ti are equally great aids in the race against grays. The name of this particular product – He Shou Wu — hails from the Chinese language and means black-haired Mr. He.” Its legend talks of an elderly villager called Mr. He who took the herb regularly. The herb restored Mr. He’s black hair, youthful appearance, and vitality. To us, Mr. He sounds like mystery; but a viable option, nonetheless.

Still, it can be just as dangerous to stock up on herbal supplements, vitamins, and other natural remedies as it is to ingest chemical ones. Be sure to check in with your health practitioner – holistic or otherwise – if you plan to use one of these methods.

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