Hair graying can occur due to stress and reverting to natural hair color is possible when the stress factor is removed, demonstrated new research.

Although hair graying is a universal hallmark of the aging process, its mechanisms haven't been completely understood. Moreover, its reversibility in human beings has also remained unclear.

“While psychological stress accelerates human biological aging and triggers hair graying in animals, no prior study has longitudinally examined the stress-to-hair graying connection in humans. Here we develop an approach to quantitatively profile natural graying events and their associated proteomic signatures along with individual human hairs, resulting in a quantifiable physical timescale of aging,” said the researchers in their paper published in bioRXiv.

Researchers at Columbia University and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has disproven the conventional wisdom that stress-related hair graying cannot be reversed. They have proved that stress-related grayed hair could revert to its natural color at the end of a stressful event.

The Study:

The research team was analyzing the role of melanin and other proteins in giving human hair its natural color. The study included 14 volunteers who allowed the researchers to pluck hair from their heads and some other body parts.

They collected 400 hair samples and analyzed them using a novel imaging technique that detected the levels of pigments present in different parts of the hair strands.

Key findings of the study:

  • Some of the hair was gray on the tips rather than the roots
  • Since hair grows from its roots, it suggested that the hair had turned gray at a particular point and later reverted to its original color
  • Given the fact that hair grows at a certain rate, it was possible to calculate how far back in time an individual’s hair began to turn gray and also when it had reverted to its natural color
  • One study participant who went for vacation had hair reverting to its original color
  • Stress can lead to graying hair and removing the stress factor lets it return to its natural color
  • However, this is applicable only to stress-related graying and possible if removing the stress-factor was done soon after the hair turned gray

“A computational simulation of life-long and stress-induced hair graying suggests a threshold-based mechanism for the rapid reversibility of graying. Together, these findings document the reversibility of hair graying in humans and provide a new model to examine the modifiability of human aging,” concluded the researchers in their paper.

stress-related graying can be reveresed geralt, Pixabay