Natural Solutions for Gray Hair

gray hair
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A number of natural remedies are said to reverse or stop graying hair, a problem commonly associated with the aging process. Although there's no scientific support for the claims that these remedies can fight gray hair, it's possible that certain lifestyle practices may affect changes in your hair coloring.

Why Does Your Hair Turn Gray?

For help in making sense of the remedies used to reverse or stop gray hair, it's important to understand why hair turns gray in the first place.

Each of our hair follicles contains pigment cells known as melanocytes. Melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin, which is a chemical that gives hair its color.

As we get older, activity in melanocytes slows down until the cells stop making pigment. Once melanin is no longer produced, new hairs grow in without pigment and are gray, white, or silver in color.

Natural Remedies for Gray Hair

The following remedies are often said to reverse or stop the graying of hair:

Despite claims for their effectiveness, there's no scientific evidence showing that these remedies can keep you from going gray or return gray hair to its original color.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), prematurely gray hair signals an underlying health issue. Practitioners of TCM suggest that hair reflects the quality of blood and the strength of the kidneys.

A variety of natural substances are used to strengthen the blood and kidneys in TCM. These substances include:

Avoiding excessive consumption of meat, dairy, and salt is also said to benefit the blood and kidneys.

In addition, an herb called Fo-Ti is sometimes used by TCM practitioners to restore hair's natural color.

Here is more information about the potential benefits and possible health risks associated with use of Fo-Ti.

Ayurvedic Medicine

In ayurveda (a form of alternative medicine that originated in India), premature graying is believed to be linked to imbalances in the pitta or vata dosha

Ayurvedic practitioners use several remedies to treat gray hair, including bhringaraj oil and amla oil.

Are Health Conditions Linked With Gray Hair?

In most cases, the onset of gray hair is determined by genetics. However, certain conditions may cause hair to turn gray more quickly than normal. These conditions include thyroid disorders (such as Grave's disease, Hashimoto's disease, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism), vitiligo, and early menopause.

1) Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia

A condition known as vitamin B12 deficiency anemia is also linked to the premature graying of hair. In some cases, this condition results from diets lacking in vitamin B12 (a nutrient found mainly in meat, eggs, and milk).

Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia can also occur when the stomach is unable to absorb vitamin B12.

This inability may be due to issues such as surgery involving the stomach or small intestine (including gastric bypass surgery) or diseases affecting the small intestine (including Crohn's disease and celiac disease).

2) Smoking

Some research indicates that smoking cigarettes may be associated with premature graying of hair.

Several studies have shown that alternative therapies such as acupuncture and hypnosis may be helpful to people who are attempting to quit smoking.

Related: Natural anti-smoking aids

3) Obesity

In a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2015, scientists observed that obese people may face an increased risk of early onset of gray hair. You can learn about natural approaches to obesity prevention and alternative strategies for weight maintenance here.

4) Oxidative Stress

Emerging research suggests that oxidative stress may play a role in the premature graying of hair. It's thought that oxidative stress may contribute to the graying of hair by promoting the breakdown of melanocytes.

Following a diet high in antioxidants may help protect against the damaging effects of oxidative stress. While there's no evidence that it can reverse or stop the graying of hair, boosting your intake of antioxidant-rich foods may be beneficial to your overall health.


Shin H, Ryu HH, Yoon J, Jo S, Jang S, Choi M, Kwon O, Jo SJ. “Association of premature hair graying with family history, smoking, and obesity: a cross-sectional study.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 Feb;72(2):321-7.

Trüeb RM1. “Oxidative stress in ageing of hair.” Int J Trichology. 2009 Jan;1(1):6-14.

Trüeb RM1. “Pharmacologic interventions in aging hair.” Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(2):121-9.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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