Natural Solutions to Gray Hair
Gray can be fabulous — of this I have no doubt; just look at the ravishing octogenarian supermodel Carmen dell’Orefice and her silvery mane.
Unfortunately, the path to such perfect white locks is strewn — literally — with unsightly, wiry grays that sometimes pop up unbecomingly on the top of your head. But you’ll be relieved to learn that there are natural ways to counter those ever multiplying gray hairs.
I recently discovered the science behind why we go gray while reading Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin and a More Beautiful Body in 28 Days by celebrity dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu. Throughout our lives, our bodies produce hydrogen peroxide that builds up in our hair follicles, which if left unchecked bleaches hair and prevents melanin from producing pigment. Youthful bodies synthesize abundant catalase, an antioxidant that breaks hydrogen peroxide down into water and oxygen. As we age, catalase production declines, causing gray hair to appear.
One way Wu says to to raise catalase levels is to eat catalase-boosting foods such as almonds. Premature gray hair can also be triggered by nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of B vitamins, B12 in particular, can cause early graying as will insufficient vitamin A and the minerals zinc and iodine. Avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea and excessive alcohol consumption, which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients. It’s a good idea to supplement your diet with vitamins A, B6, B12, C, E and F. Good sources include fresh liver, cod liver oil and brewer’s yeast. Also be sure to eat plenty of dark leafy green vegetables, fruits and seafood (the latter for iodine).
Don’t worry, I do have some ancient Chinese secrets to divulge as well. Any Chinese grandmother worth her salt knows about he shou wu, a herb famed for its ability to regenerate aging hair and even restore color to graying strands. Of course, I recommend that you consult a doctor, preferably one knowledgeable in traditional Chinese medicine before dosing yourself with herbal remedies.
Another venerable tradition — Ayurvedic medicine from India — prescribes the application of Indian gooseberry (amla) to improve hair health and pigmentation. I use a blend of coconut oil, amla and henna extract to massage my hair and scalp, with excellent results; there’s nary a grizzled bit to be seen in my dark locks. Amla is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which stimulate hair growth and strengthen the hair follicles.
If you have a splendid head of gray hair that you’d like to enhance, try a hair masque made from a well-beaten egg yolk with a few drops of lavender or rosemary oil; this will condition and brighten gray hair.