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How To Reverse Grey Hair, Study Finds

Researchers believe they have made an important discovery to help stop one of the signs of aging.

Sure, hair dye can infuse some color into gray hair. However, according to a recent study, there is a way to restore hair color to graying tresses that doesn't involve a trip to the hair salon—although it may not work for everyone. Read on to learn how to reverse grey hair, according to an exciting new study—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

Reducing Your Stress Can Turn Back the Grey Hair, Study Finds—Here's How to Do It

The study, published in eLife, found that stress-induced hair graying can be restored if the stress is eliminated, according to researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. The study's senior author Martin Picard, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral medicine (in psychiatry and neurology) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, explains that the study offers major insight into aging

"Understanding the mechanisms that allow 'old' gray hairs to return to their 'young' pigmented states could yield new clues about the malleability of human aging in general and how it is influenced by stress. Our data add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that human aging is not a linear, fixed biological process but may, at least in part, be halted or even temporarily reversed," Picard said in a press release.

"Just as the rings in a tree trunk hold information about past decades in the life of a tree, our hair contains information about our biological history. When hairs are still under the skin as follicles, they are subject to the influence of stress hormones and other things happening in our mind and body. Once hairs grow out of the scalp, they harden and permanently crystallize these exposures into a stable form."

RELATED: Everyday Habits That Age You Faster, According to Science

The Hairs Turned Dark Again During a Vacation

The study involved hairs from 14 volunteers, which were analyzed by researchers. The volunteers were also asked to keep a stress diary, rating each week's level of stress. Researchers noticed that some gray hairs regained their color, and tied the change to reduced stress, which they believe has to do with the mind-mitochondria connection. "There was one individual who went on vacation, and five hairs on that person's head reverted back to dark during the vacation, synchronized in time," Picard said.

There is no guarantee, however, that reducing stress will restore hair color—especially for those who have been gray for a long time. 

"Based on our mathematical modeling, we think hair needs to reach a threshold before it turns gray. In middle age, when the hair is near that threshold because of biological age and other factors, stress will push it over the threshold and it transitions to gray," Picard continued. "But we don't think that reducing stress in a 70-year-old who's been gray for years will darken their hair or increasing stress in a 10-year-old will be enough to tip their hair over the gray threshold." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah
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