Can Stress Cause White Hair?

My mother told us the story about my grandfather in Australia whose hair turned totally white in a matter of months after being hospitalized for Typhoid fever, an enteric bacterial infection due to a type of Salmonella. Typhoid fever causes abdominal pain, fever, headache, confusion, diarrhea, weakness and a rash consisting of red spots. Without treatment this could last for months. In those days there were no antibiotics and who knows how the hospital was treating him.

But evidently, they weren’t doing a very good job because my grandfather, the postmaster of a small town in Australia called Eaglehawk, was dying. So my grandmother rescued him from the hospital and removed him against medical advice and took him to a homeopathic hospital (they actually had homeopathic hospitals in those days) where he was cured and released. His entire head of hair had turned white, having started this misadventure with a full head of brown hair.

Well, according to an article in the Wellness Section of the New York Times on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, researchers have discovered the reason for the hair whitening change and it is related to stress hormones. In mice, stressful events damage the stem cells that are responsible for producing pigment in hair. The stem cells differentiate into melanocytes, cells that produce the melanin pigment but with a high amount of stress, the stem cells differentiate faster, depleting their number and causing the hair to turn white from lack of pigment. Dr. Hsu, a stem cell biologist at Harvard University who led the study published in Nature, indicated that acute stress depleted the entire melanocyte stem cell population in mice in just five days. The researchers also found that, in petri dishes, noradrenaline prompted human melanocyte stem cells to proliferate, suggesting that the same acceleration of hair graying occurs in people, too.

The hair turns naturally white during aging due to this process happening gradually but stress makes the whole process happen faster. The study found that the sympathetic nervous system, which creates the fight or flight responses, it plays a big role in the graying process.
So hair greying is a visible indication that you are running low on stem cells and it makes sense that if it is happening in the hair, it may be happening in other areas of the body also, creating accelerated aging. Practicing stress reduction techniques such as walking in nature, yoga, and meditation may extend your life as well as improve your hair color.

Stress Really Does Make Hair Go Gray Faster.

Supplements for hair and stress

For hair heath, I highly recommend certain supplements for my patients. My number one go to product for hair is H-S-N Complex TM Skin and Joint Support Powder. This formula contains specific nutrients, proteins, and other substances to build, maintain, and repair connective tissue.

If you would like additional information or help with your nutritional needs, feel free to CONTACT ME.

Sources:

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/22/science/gray-hair-stress.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-1935-3

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