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Ever heard about the Marie Antoinette Syndrome? It refers to the hearsay about how French queen Marie Antoinette’s hair turned grey overnight from fear and distress when she learned about her execution. Well, there is a small twist to it. If not overnight, science finally backs the long held belief that stress can cause hair to grey faster.  

A study published in revealed that stress led to rapid graying of melanocyte cells, cells responsible for hair pigment.

How does hair grey?

Basically all hair is white. It gets the color from melanin, which forms before birth. The amount, distribution and quality of melanin in the central layer of shaft of the hair decides our hair color. Dark or eumelanin and light or phaeomelanin or dark are the only two pigments. They combine to give is a range of color to our hair.

Melanin is made up of specialized pigment cells called melanocytes. They position themselves at the openings on the skin’s surface through which hair grows (follicles). Each hair grows from a single follicle.

The hair fibers go through the three stages of growth, transition and stoppage of growth and then regeneration of the fibers. Throughout these stages, the melanocytes perform a fundamental function of injecting pigment or melanin into our hair keratin, a protein that constitute hair, skin and nails.  Stress can cause these melanocytes to deplete quickly, leading to white hair.  

With age comes a reduction of melanin. The hair turns gray and eventually white.

Also Read: 10 Ways To Stop Premature Graying Naturally

How does stress affect hair greying?

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for preparing our body for fight or flight situation when faced by a stressful or dangerous trigger.

“Under conditions of stress, the activation of these sympathetic nerves leads to burst release of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine), the study says. “This causes quiescent melanocyte stem cells to proliferate rapidly, and is followed by their differentiation, migration and permanent depletion from the niche.”

Are You Fighting Stress Well Enough?

Stress is the silent killer when it comes to conditions like hypertension, hair graying, diabetes or chronic inflammation. In the context of managing high blood pressure, it has become nearly indispensible to learn stress management. Stress causes release of glucagon, a hormone responsible for higher blood glucose levels.

1) Sudarshan Kriya

It is a powerful rhythmic breathing that employs specific rhythms of breath to eliminate stress, support the various organs and systems within the body, transform overpowering emotions, and restore peace of mind, thus supporting the whole mind-body system.

2) Panchakarma

 Make time out for yourself before you burn out and your grey turn all white! Gift yourself a Panchakarma treatment, the crown of all treatments in Ayurveda. It is a full body treatment that addresses the doshic imbalances, detoxifies and rejuvenates the system. It includes massages, herbal medicated oil therapies based on your body constitution, and detoxifying diet tailor made based on your detoxification needs.

3) Releasing stress toxins through use of herbal essential oils

Experts recommend the use of essential oils made from select herbs that has Pitta pacifying qualities, for regular use as a moisturizer, bath oil or for body massages. For example, Shankara’s Soothing Body Oil is one such offering. It is a soothing blend of essential oils that are known for their relaxing and de-stressing qualities. Made from essential oils of almond, grapeseed, sunflower, borage, evening primerose, lavender, sandalwood and chamomile, this nutrient rich body oil also helps address worries of the mind, over critical thinking, irritability and anger! An oil for hypertension is also an oil for a perfectly calm and relaxed mind!

4) Home remedies

·       Fruits like watermelon and apple can help control blood pressure. One cup of watermelon juice early morning on an empty stomach is a good way to say bye to stress and hypertension.

·       While going for your morning walk, have a slice of ginger with 4-5 basil leaves and tiny cubes of rock sugar and slowly suck in the juices of the combination.

·       The good old remedy of a glass of lukewarm lemon water with a spook of honey still holds!

·       Onion and garlic, potatoes (boiled), are also used for lowering blood pressure. Remember to boil the potato with its skin.

·       Coriander powder with honey goes a long way in treating hypertension.

·       Carrot and spinach juices are miracle workers for high blood pressure.

·       Have 15 neem leaves with water every morning to keep hypertension and hair graying at bay!

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