Today our topic of discussion is ‘greying of hairs’. For this, today we have our Ayurvedic expert, Dr. Parmeshwar Arora. Welcome to our show doctor.
Q. It is generally seen that these days people live under lot of stress. Would you say that stress or lifestyle is a factor behind greying of hairs?
Absolutely. Today’s lifestyle or as you said eating habits are responsible not only for greying of hairs but also for various other ailments. Somehow, we have adopted such a lifestyle which is spoiling our health in all aspects. So, yes like various other diseases, for greying of hairs too, we can blame our lifestyle and eating habits, to a certain extent.
Q. Except diet and lifestyle what are the other reasons behind greying of hairs, which we must know? Why does greying happen?
First of all, we need to understand that why does greying happen. See, the hair matrix i.e. the region of scalp from where hair grows, gets length, nourishment and colour etc., has a pigment(or chemical) called melanin. If, for any reason, the synthesis of melanin gets altered or decreased then it gives rise to greying of hairs. This melanin is the same pigment which gives colour to our skin, as well. Sometimes, due to decrease in melanin, you can have white patches on skin (termed as ‘vitiligo’ initially and later as ‘leucoderma’). Similarly, increased secretion of melanin in the skin results in hyperpigmentation (i.e. darkening of skin).
Q. If we consider genetic reasons, how are they responsible for greying of hairs?
If you notice that a particular person has grey hairs in a particular area of scalp, you would observe that even his children will have grey hairs in that particular region. So, yes we do consider the genetic history of patients when they consult us for early greying of hairs. We often ask them about hairs of their father and grandfather, uncles etc.. Family history is often seen as a reason behind greying of hairs and specially hairfall (or baldness). If we talk about baldness, you would see that if father is bald, the son will also face baldness of almost the same pattern. Thus, genetic history is often seen as an important factor behind greying of hairs and falling of hairs, too.
Q. Rather I would say there are several other problems where the genetic factors are found to be the main cause. According to modern science there could be physiological, pathological or genetic factors behind early greying of hairs. But according to Ayurveda, why does this problem occur?
In Ayurveda, hairfall is referred to as ‘khalitya’ and premature greying of hairs is termed as ‘Palitya’. Both khalitya and Palitya are considered as pure paitik (arising out of ‘pitta’) disorders. It means, when you continuously disturb ‘pitta’ (which refers to heat in your body), then it can grey your hairs. So, according to Ayurveda, if you consume pitta enhancing substances, your pitta aggravates and can grey your hairs. Thus, we consider ‘pitta dosh’ to be a reason behind premature greying of hairs.
Q. As you said, if we consume pitta enhancing substances, it may cause premature greying of hairs. This was about our diet but if we talk about lifestyle then how could lifestyle be responsible?
If I have to mention one term related to lifestyle which aggravates ‘pitta dosh’, I would say ‘aggression’. You would notice that these days almost everyone is leading an aggressive life. Almost everyone seems to have anger at the tip of his nose. We hear about so many incidences in which, you would agree that, there are no concrete reasons. The only problem is that somehow you are not able to control your anger. This is because, probably you are consuming food with ‘hot properties’ and taking lot of stress. We can say that our aggressive lifestyle directly influences and aggravates ‘pitta dosh’ in our body. We need to control our aggression and once again adopt a way of life which has meditation, yoga , visits to temples etc.. I would repeat that aggression and stress directly aggravate pitta and become cause of premature greying of our hairs.
Q. Exactly, do everything but keep your anger or aggression under control. It will certainly prevent the problem of early greying of hairs. Now, I would like to know about various treatments available in Ayurveda to control greying of hairs.
Before we start the treatment, we need to decide that whether the greying of hair in a particular case is because of physiological reasons, pathological reasons or genetic reasons. By physiological reason I mean, if somebody is aged 70 years or more and he/she has grey hairs. In this case, the person does not need and should not think about any medication. If there are pathological reasons, then as I always say the cause has to be resolved. If you think, you have nutritional deficiency then you need to improve your diet. You would need to take sufficient quantity of iron in your diet , increase your calcium intake and include vitamins and minerals too, in your diet so that you are prevented from early greying of your hairs. Also, ‘nazla’ (or influenza ) is the most important reason behind early greying of hairs. So, if you are suffering from nazala, I would suggest that you should get a treatment for nazla instead of grey hairs. In my opinion, we need to resolve the cause to get a permanent solution for grey hairs, so that we don’t have to use dyes, hair colours or hennas to hide our grey hairs. If the patient of nazla, gets his nazla cured then believe me, I have personally seen such patients whose problem of grey hairs has got automatically resolved. I would like to inform you one thing though, the hairs which have already become grey, can’t turn black .
Q. Most of the doctors say and even people believe that the hairs which have already turned grey can’t regain natural black colour. Is it true?
This is absolutely true. See, what I believe is, the hairs which have grown grey can’t become black but when the underlying matrix receives proper nourishment, its chemical composition becomes correct and synthesis of melanin restarts, then the further growing hairs begin to assume colour. Obviously, its understandable, if the synthesis of melanin restarts then why would hairs not be black. Definitely, black hairs would grow. You can relate it with hairfall……when the hairfall is being caused by poor nutrition and the nutrition is corrected i.e. the body is supplied with required amount of iron, calcium, vitamins, antioxidants etc., the hair fall stops. Your hairs once again become long, dense and healthy. See, if hair fall can stop why can’t greying of hairs.
We need to correct the chemical composition of the region where the hair originates. Similarly, when the nazla-zukam (cold and cough) which are responsible for compromised production of melanin, gets cured, the greying of hair stops automatically. But while in case of hair fall we can expect almost 50% response in the first month of treatment itself the case is different in greying of hairs. One needs to have a lot of patience as the response time could be as long as 8-9 months. During this we treat the patient for nazla–zukam (cold and cough) and simultaneously we also give those medicines which directly improves the production of melanin. In terms of Ayurveda, I would say we continuously try to suppress the level of pitta so that it reaches the normal levels. So, I would say that you have to start the treatment with lot of patience if you want black hairs to grow again. Trust me, I am proud to say that it happens and can happen to you as well provided you follow the treatment with patience and don’t leave it midway.
Now, If the genetic reasons have been found to be the responsible factor then as I had said in case of physiological reasons, you should better not think about treatment. I am saying so because generally it is seen that in case of genetic reasons, even after too much of effort, the results are minimal. If you have a patch which is running in your family through generations, then I would say the response is generally minimal.
But if the premature greying of hairs is because of pathological reasons, then in the form of medicines, we have a herb named bhringraj (Eclipta alba or false daisy) which is often called ‘keshranjan’ (means Charming hair) or ‘keshraj’ (means king of hairs). If you regularly consume our medicine called ‘keshranjan yog kul” as 1 gram per day, then chances become favourable. Also, as I always say, Indian gooseberry (i.e. ‘amla’) is a boon for hairs. The method of preparing rasayan churna from amla is quite easy. You would need to take powdered amla, add amla juice and triturate it for almost 21 days to get the rasayan churna. To this rasayan churna, add 250-500mg ‘Amrit loh’ and take 1 spoon (about 2.5 gram) of this mixture with 1 spoon of honey and ½ spoon molten desi ghee (a type of clarified butter). Here, I would like to tell you that you need to be very careful about the quantity of honey and desi ghee, because it can be harmful if taken in equal proportion. The ghee should be molten as even the half a spoon of unmelted ghee will be equal to 1 spoon, when melted. When you start taking this combination regularly, you will observe that black hairs will begin to grow.