Graying of hair is a natural process. With time, the body ages and the signs of ageing manifest themselves and graying is one of them. But sometimes the hair begins to gray prematurely and that causes despair and also presents a problem. The exact cause of graying is not really known. Doctors feel the cause may lie in hereditary factors or in our immune system. It is a pigment or colouring matter that gives the hair its colour.
For reasons not yet known, the pigment does not form and the particular hair remains white. The white hair mixes with the dark hair and gives the impression of grey hair. It is also thought that deficiency of vitamin B12, vitamins C and E as well as the shortage of the minerals zinc and copper in the body can affect hair colour. Many believe lifestyle habits like smoking may be responsible for onset of early graying.
However, recent research shows stress can be a cause of graying too. In other words, shock or trauma caused by the death of a close one or critical illness of somebody close can cause enough stress to lead to sudden graying. It is said Mughal emperor Shahjahan was so grieved by the death of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, that he led a totally secluded life for a few weeks. At the end of the period, when he appeared, his hair had become totally gray.
Scientists have found that when the body is under stress, a defence mechanism is awakened within the cells of the body which interferes with the production of melanin, the colouring matter responsible for the colour of the hair or skin. The result is that melanin does not reach the hair follicles and the hair remains white.
One can also prevent premature graying with home remedies. Amla is said to check graying. Have the juice of one amla in a glass of water daily. It is said to build up the immune system and prevent degeneration. The hair that has turned white cannot become dark again except by dyeing or colouring which is a common practice today. But repeated dyeing and colouring can cause hair damage and even lead to hair loss.
Those who use chemical dyes and colourants should take extra care of their hair, with regular hot oil therapy to counteract the damage. Twice a week, mix together one tablespoon pure coconut oil and one teaspoon castor oil and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head like a turban. Keep it on for five minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap three-four times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better.
Including curry leaves in the diet is said to strengthen hair roots and follicles as they are rich sources of beta-carotene and protein which helps control hair loss and encourage healthy hair growth. They also contain calcium, phosphorous, iron and folic acid and vitamins C, B, A and E. Or apply a paste of curry leaves on the hair as they contain antioxidants and prevent early degeneration. Wash it after 20-30 minutes. They help to moisturise the scalp and prevent dryness.
Include citrus fruits like oranges, lemon and grapefruit, tomato, sprouted grains and green leafy vegetables in your diet. Fruits should be a part of the daily diet as many of them are rich in vitamin C which strengthens the immune system.