Does Stress Cause Gray Hair?

There are many stories about premature graying under stress, but is there a direct link? Does stress cause gray hair? Experts disagree but there are many ways stress can contribute to it.

Tyler Cymet a scientist from Sinai Hospital (Baltimore) has studied the connection between gray hair and stress. Cymet agrees with other experts that the old myth of going gray overnight is indeed a myth, but he parts company with experts who believe gray hair is determined strictly by our genes.

What causes Gray Hair?

Woman with Natural Gray HairThe cells that produce hair pigment (melanin) die with age, causing our hair to turn gray or white. Gray hair still has some melanin, while white hair has no pigment at all. Cymet believes that long-term stress may hasten this normal aging process. Stress makes hair shed more quickly than normal, causing pigment cells to wear out more rapidly than they would otherwise.

Cymet even thinks that the stress of modern living is making most people go grayer sooner than might have a generation ago. He estimates that people now go gray five years earlier than people did in 1970.

Why does Stress Cause Gray Hair?

There are many theories about how stress and gray hair are related. Some suggest that chronic free radical damage contributes. Stress hormones can cause inflammation and this increases free radicals, unstable molecules that damage cells. It could be that free radicals decrease the melanin production.

Eastern healing systems have a somewhat different perspective on stress-related gray hair, than the traditional Western medical approach. In Chinese traditional medicine premature gray hair is considered related to an imbalance in the kidneys and the blood. One of the main concepts of Chinese traditional medicine is the concept of qi-energy that flows through your entire body. Stagnation of qi can lead to kidney and blood problems.

While Chinese traditional medicine offers no medicine to reverse gray hair, it is thought that strengthening the blood and kidneys may stop premature graying. Black strap molasses, black sesame seeds, nettles, Hijiki seaweed, wheat grass, and chlorophyll are given to strengthen to the blood and kidneys.

If you are considering increasing your seaweeds as one of your gray hair solutions, exercise caution. Seaweed contains high amounts of iodine; iodine is necessary for thyroid health, but too much can lead to thyroid problems (one symptom of which is premature graying). Sometimes it’s hard to win!

Ayurvedic medicine, practiced for five millennium in India, also sees premature graying as an imbalance. Various Ayurvedic herbal remedies are recommended for this imbalance as well.

If your hair is already turning gray from stress, what do you do? Stress-related gray hair solutions has some tips for you.

About Julia Rymut

Julia Rymut helps women find peace in their busy lives. She uses massage, essential oils, organization and a sense of humor to show that stress is a state of mind that can be changed. She lives in Seattle, WA loves talking about history, traveling to exotic places, working out, and walking in the woods.