As we age, many of us develop grey hairs. For most, grey hair represents our loss of youth. While this is not necessarily the case, individuals often resort to undergoing treatments to "turn back time" and regain their youthful hair color.
New research published in June of 2021 shed light on our misunderstanding of why our hair greys and ways that we can reverse it!
According the the study performed at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and published in the eLife journal, as we hit middle age, hair approaches a "tipping point" where we can influence the hair to turn grey or remain its youthful color.
The researchers concluded that being in a state of stress is enough to push your hairs past their "tipping point" to become grey. The most interesting part of all: GREY HAIR IS REVERSIBLE.
As concluded in the study, hairs that have recently turned grey and past their tipping point may potentially undergo "re-pigmentation" and regain their color if individuals actively manage their stress levels.
Below are three effective methods for managing stress:
1) Supplement appropriately
One of the most popular supplements used to manage stress is Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Eastern medicine for over 3,000 to build resiliency and restore balance.
Studies show that supplementing with ashwagandha can drastically reduce elevated levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released by our adrenal glands in times of stress. Chronically elevated cortisol can be linked to elevated blood sugar, increase risk for heart disease, and compromised gut function.
Research published in 2008 found that ashwagandha supplementation was able to reduce cortisol by 30% in test participants!
Shop our collection of stress support supplements!
2) Gratitude Journaling
A common scene in film is a teenage child journaling at night to destress and vent about their current life struggles. For many of us, we see journaling as a pastime that society has moved on from in favor of watching Netflix or scrolling thru social media.
This shift, however, has not come without consequences. Research published in 2018 in the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience journal found that journaling about past failures/struggles builds a resilience and improves future response to stress. The researchers theorized that journaling on a regular basis may reduce the risk of negative health consequences associated with chronic stress.
While journaling may seem childish or intimidating, there are a variety of different guided-journaling books available that are great for beginners. My wife and I journal together most nights, responding to guided prompts in the journal and sharing our responses with each other.
Find the style of journaling that is right for you and include love ones in on your journaling if you feel comfortable doing so.
3) Breathing technique
One of the most overlooked factors that plays a major role in our health status is the technique with which we breath. While breathing technique is not something that is often thought about, new research shows that the way we breathe can influence anxiety levels, memory, focus, and blood pressure. The paper, published in 2017 in the Frontiers in Psychology journal aimed to examine the effect that diaphragmic breathing has on cortisol levels.
As opposed to breathing thru our mouths, diaphragmic breathing involves a conscious effort to breathe deeply thru our nose into our belly. Those of us who naturally breathe thru our nose still take much shallower breathes than we should, contributing to increased likelihood of elevated blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and compromised gut function.
Researchers in the study concluded that diaphragmic breathing effectively reduces the cortisol response, thus improving both physical and mental health.
If you are unfamiliar with diaphragmic breathing, try laying flat on your back and taking deep, conscious breaths while looking down on your stomach, watching it rise and fall with each breath. If you notice your shoulders or chest rising instead of your stomach, your breaths are likely too shallow.
Stress is a silent killer. Actively taking steps to manage stress levels will drastically reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and a variety of other illnesses. Use the techniques to discussed in this article as tools in your stress-reduction toolbox to maintain youthful hair and potentially prevent hair turning gray prematurely.
Joe Condora is a nutrition and health coach at Valley Integrative Pharmacy and host of the top-rated health and wellness podcast The Primal Example Podcast.