- While genes and age do play role, you can slow down and even stop the graying process with some natural hacks.
- Pigment cells called melanocytes give your hair its color. When you stop producing this melanin, hair begins to turn gray.
- Researchers recently discovered that going gray is a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in your hair particles, which bleaches your hair from the inside.
- Usually an enzyme called catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, but as you get older, catalase production starts to slow down.
- A 2016 study offered another intriguing possibility — that targeting the molecular pathways that govern hair pigment could restore hair color.
- What you can do to reverse gray hair now: try a pseudocatalase cream, load up on antioxidants, and take an anti-gray hair pill.
Like most people, you probably think that gray hair is a natural part of growing older, or that it’s simply genetic. While those factors do play a role, you can slow down — and possibly even reverse — the graying process with some natural hacks. So put down the bottle of hair dye and read on to find out how to get rid of gray hair naturally.
What causes gray hair?
“There are pigment cells called melanocytes in your hair follicles which give your hair its color, called melanin,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, author of “Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.” “When you stop producing this melanin, hair begins to turn gray.”
People typically start going gray after the age of 30 — from there, the likelihood of turning gray increases 10 to 20 percent every decade.
Sure, age and genes do play a hand in deciding when you start to go gray. But what is it exactly that causes your body to stop producing melanin? The question has stumped scientists for decades, but a handful of recent studies provide some answers.
Gray hair and catalase
In a 2009 study, researchers discovered that going gray is simply a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in your hair particles, which bleaches your hair from the inside. Yep, bottle blondes love hydrogen peroxide for its bleaching effect, but it’s also a chemical that your hair cells make naturally.
Here’s where things get interesting — usually, a hardworking enzyme called catalase breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. But as you get older, catalase production starts to slow down. The result? Hydrogen peroxide starts to accumulate in the body.
“Hydrogen peroxide plays a major role in essentially bleaching out the hair pigment centers,” says Ronald Peralta, cancer survivor and co-founder of hair supplement Nutrafol, in a recent Bulletproof Radio podcast episode. “Gray hair is nothing less than a reflection of a reduction of catalase enzyme, one of the more potent antioxidants.”
Catalase isn’t the only enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide. Glutathione peroxidase, the body’s master antioxidant produced by the liver, turns hydrogen peroxide into water. Because glutathione production lowers as you get older, it’s a good idea to supplement. To get more glutathione:
- Take glutathione supplements (500-1000mg on an empty stomach at bedtime)
- Add grass-fed whey protein to your diet. Research shows that taking 10 grams of whey twice a day increases glutathione levels in the body by 46 percent.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C, which raises glutathione in red blood cells.
- Exercise regularly. Working out boosts your body’s antioxidant levels, including glutathione
What you can try now to treat gray hair
A topical cream called PC-KUS, described as a “pseudocatalase”, works on people with vitiligo — when your skin loses its color in patches. Like gray hair, scientists believe that vitiligo is also caused by too much hydrogen peroxide in the body. 90% of patients with vitiligo on their face and hands saw complete improvement after applying pseudocatalase, combined with sun exposure, every day, when used for at least 4 months.
While promising, these studies were all done with the goal of treating vitiligo, and not gray hair. So far no studies have looked at pseudocatalase’s ability to restore natural hair color. Since both gray hair and vitiligo are caused by a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the body, researchers simply surmise that what works for vitiligo will work for gray hair.
Load up on antioxidants to treat gray hair
“Catalase is one of the more potent antioxidants,” says Peralta. “But as we get older, our antioxidant levels begin to drop.”
You can ramp up your catalase production by taking antioxidants like ashwagandha, curcumin, saw palmetto, and vitamin E, says Peralta.
In one study, ashwagandha — an ayurvedic herb — protected white blood cells in rats from free radical damage caused by hydrogen peroxide. In another study, 3 grams of ashwagandha powder a day for a year increased the amount of hair melanin in middle-aged men.
You can also eat more catalase-rich foods such as broccoli, kale, cucumbers, radishes, and celery.
Pop an anti-gray hair pill
SeroVital Hair Regeneres uses a combination of melanin and keratin (the protein that makes up your hair), along with antioxidants like cacao and turmeric, to repigment the hair and lessen hair loss. The company claims people start to see results after 60 days of taking two pills a day, coupled with a scalp massage using their serum.
All in all, you are bound to have some gray hair no matter what, but hey! that’s a sign of wisdom and knowledge in most parts of the world :) If you give any or all of these a try, reach out and tell us what happens!
Article reference: https://daveasprey.com/gray-hair-science-natural-solutions/