GREY HAIR / HAIR FALL PROBLEM
Hair greying can be termed as one of the first visible signs of aging. Aging can show itself no better than expressing by the hair turning grey. Apart from the aging factor, premature hair greying can slowly banish your youthfulness. In that aspect hair greying is definitely a cause to worry. Here are some useful tips to treat your grey hair
What causes grey hair?
Intervening grey strands in your beautiful tresses is due to the cessation of colour pigment (melanin) in hair follicle. Pigment cells that are present at the base of the hair follicle stop producing pigment, which leads to lose of original hair colour. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin, which is responsible for the colour of the body and hair. With aging, melanocytes lose their ability in producing pigments, which leads to greying.
Physical or mental stress, malnutrition and constant worrying are some of the causes for premature greying. Apart from all this, genetics play an important role in hair greying. If your parents or your grandparents were victims of premature hair greying there are ample chances for your hair to go grey prematurely.
Washing hair in hot water, drying hair using an electric dryer and an unclean scalp can also cause premature greying.
Did you know that hair is made of dead keratin or that hereditary hair loss is actually hair miniaturisation? This section may not provide direct answers for treating hair loss or grey hair but it might be a good starting point in your research. It is useful to understand the growth cycle of a hair, the types of hair loss and the true causes of grey hair and baldness, in order to avoid frustrations with some hair treatments. A good understanding of the biology of hair might help you diagnose yourself and determine whether you have any problem at all and better estimate your treatment options, enabling you to avoid common mistakes. One of the greatest weapons of cunning, snake oil marketers is exploiting the false myths and the lack of knowledge of their potential customers. One good example is shedding. Many people are frightened when they experience increased shedding. They do not realise that it is a regular seasonal occurrence and often no reason for concern.
Life Cycle of Hair
The life cycle of hair is divided into three phases. The actively growing (anagen) phase, the transitional (catagen) phase and the resting (telogen) phase. During the growth phase, which normally lasts from three to six years, hair will grow about 10mm a month. It is estimated that 85% of the hair on any head at any given time is in the growth phase. At the end of this period, blood supply to the hair bulb slows down and eventually stops. As a result, the hair ceases to grow and moves into the transitional phase, which lasts only about two weeks. Finally, hair enters the resting phase, where it basically just sits on the head for about three months. Then, it falls out, to be replaced by the next budding hair in the growth phase which begins to grow from the same hair follicle. These replacement hairs get finer and thinner due to the DHT impact (explained in "Causes of Hereditary Hair Loss") as a person ages. In most settings of baldness, the hair follicle finally shuts down and refuses to produce more hair to replace the ones that have fallen out. Miniaturised and non-pigmented hair is called vellus hair (peach fuzz), whereas normal healthy developed pigmented hair is called terminal hair.
Shedding does not actually mean losing hair. This is one of the most common misconceptions in the world of hair loss. Shedding is in fact just the transition of follicles from the growth phase to the resting phase. Hairs do not fall out and die. They in fact go to sleep, to return several months later. Hair follicles work in cycles as part of their normal processes. Even someone who is not losing his hair goes through the same cycles. The hair will grow for some time and it will rest for some time. In the case of someone not using any treatments but experiencing androgenetic alopecia, shedding is typical of the continuing cyclical process, combined with miniaturisation. This means each time hairs go dormant then come back, they come back weaker, thinner and less pigmented, ultimately resulting in the perception of more scalp skin showing. In view of all this, it is only natural that we lose 50 - 100 hairs daily. People living in temperate zones usually go through an increased shedding phase twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn. During such periods 100 - 150 hairs can be shed every day for a couple of weeks. The number of hairs on the head not affected by hair loss is between 90,000 and 140,000. Blondes have more hair than people with dark hair and red hair. Asians have less hair than Caucasians or Africans. The more hair you have on the head the more you shed. If you start a new treatment like minoxidil, you probably will shed. When minoxidil is applied to stimulate hair follicles, the follicles must regress, shed the old thin hair, rearrange themselves into bigger hair follicles and start making new thicker hair. This inevitably leads to a temporary shedding phase that might seem frightening but which is actually a good sign that the treatment is working.
Alopecia (Hair Loss)
Alopecia or hair loss can have many forms and causes. It affects both sexes and all age groups. Alopecia does not refer to one specific hair loss disease - any form of hair loss is alopecia. Hair loss can be caused by a number of conditions. Some diagnoses have alopecia in their title, such as alopecia areata or androgenetic alopecia, but many do not, such as telogen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium is characterized by sudden, diffuse hair loss caused by an interruption in the normal hair growth cycle. This interruption is often caused by trauma, such as a car accident, severe stress or illness, chemotherapy, pregnancy, major surgery, etc. This trauma causes large numbers of hair follicles that are in the growth phase to suddenly enter the resting (telogen) phase. Some of the aforementioned causes of telogen effluvium are temporary and hair growth recovers after about three months. Although telogen effluvium is the second most common form of hair loss (androgenetic alopecia is the first), it is a poorly defined condition as very little research has been done to understand it.
Anagen effluvium is a diffuse hair loss like telogen effluvium but it develops much more quickly and individuals can lose all their hair. Anagen effluvium is a common side effect of cancer medications but few studies have examined its clinical characteristics. It is a type of hair loss that is characterized by hair breakage rather than hair loss. This hair loss is reversible once the cancer treatment course is stopped.
Alopecia areata is a condition that is characterized by patchy hair loss over the scalp. It is an autoimmune disease in which the person's immune system attacks its own body, in this case, its hair follicles. Two percent of the population will develop alopecia areata at some point in their lives. This type of alopecia is sometimes attributed to heredity but some other factors might be involved. Alopecia areata is an unpredictable disease. In some people, hair grows back but falls out again later. In others, hair grows back and remains. Each case is unique. Because it causes bald spots on the head, especially in the first stages, it is sometimes called spot baldness. In about one percent of cases, the condition can spread to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or to the entire epidermis (alopecia universalis).
Androgenetic alopecia (alopecia androgenetica) or hereditary baldness is the most common form of hair loss, affecting both men and women. As its name indicates it is coded in our genes. In men it is known as male pattern baldness. Having a bald father alone does not automatically imply that you will become bold too. But if your father and both of your grandfathers are/were bold then the chances of you suffering from male pattern baldness are very high. In some cultures it is believed that male pattern baldness is inherited from the mother’s side of the family but this theory has not been confirmed. Androgenetic alopecia in women is called female pattern baldness. The difference between the male and female form of baldness is in its location and pattern. The male form affects the top of the scalp and the frontal area whereas the female form is often a diffuse hair loss affecting the whole scalp. The extent and pattern of male pattern baldness is generally classified on the Hamilton-Norwood scale, as pictured above, whereas the Ludwig classification is used to define the extent of female pattern baldness. But baldness is not actually hair loss. Hair is not lost, but instead it becomes miniaturised and very fine, colourless and reverting to peach fuzz (vellus hair).
Causes of Premature Grey Hair
When hair grows, it is either pigmented or white. The greyish appearance of hair is only a kind of optical illusion, produced by the mixture of coloured hair with white hair. Premature greying is for the most part genetically determined. Additional causes for grey hair (or white hair) at an early age are excessive stress, constant tension, smoking and certain medical conditions such as thyroid disorder, vitiligo, chronic vitamin B deficiency and anaemia. However, greying is natural. Grey hair is typically a result of aging. Pigment in the hair shaft comes from special cells at the root of the hair called melanocytes. These cells are genetically programmed to make a certain amount of pigment (melanin) at specific ages. At some point in the aging process, these cells make less and less pigment until they cease producing pigment altogether. No matter whether you are a 20 year old, premature grey hair sufferer or 70 years old, the principal reason for your greying hair is the same. The lifespan of pigment-producing cells is determined by your genetics and it is completely individual. But do not despair; premature greying has nothing to do with your life expectancy. The average Caucasian person starts turning grey at the age of 34, whereas the average for Asians and Africans is 47 years. In general, it is considered premature if more than 50% of a person's hair is white by the age of 40.
Causes of Hereditary Hair Loss
Myths: Many people believe that stress, bad circulation, wearing hats and long hair or masturbation cause hair loss. This is not true.
Reality: Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a biologically active metabolite of the male hormone testosterone that some suggest is the main cause of both female and male pattern baldness. DHT is formed primarily in the prostate gland, testes, hair follicles, and adrenal glands, where the male hormone testosterone interacts with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. DHT also plays a role in the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink and grow finer hair that is lighter in colour, shorter and less deeply rooted than before. Most often, the hair in the balding region will continue to grow at an increasingly slower rate until hair growth ceases completely. The exact mechanism by which DHT acts on hair follicles, causing growth to slow is not known. DHT only works on certain hair follicles that have the genetic predisposition to be shut off. Usually, these are on the front and top of our heads. In most people affected by hair loss, male hormone levels are the same as in normal people but because there are more receptors in the balding areas of the scalp they are affected as if their hormone levels were higher than normal. An interesting fact is that castrated males (eunuchs), who do not produce testosterone (and hence cannot make DHT) because they do not have testicles, do not suffer from male pattern baldness.
Contributing factors: Some observations from Asia suggest that diets rich in fat from red meat and sugar might speed up the balding process.
Herbal Hair Loss Remedies
Active Substances Used in Herbal Hair Loss Remedies
eleuthero root, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, green tea, pumpkin seed, pygeum africanum, saw palmetto, stinging nettle
SAW PALMETTO is an extract made from the fruits of a small palm tree called serenoa repens, which is endemic to the southeastern US. It is the primary active ingredient in almost every natural hair loss remedy, including Provillus, Procerin, Advecia, Avacor, Revivogen, Scalp Med and many others. Saw palmetto has long been used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols and it is often claimed to be able to block dihydrotestosterone (DHT). There are plenty of research papers claiming saw palmetto is beneficial in treating BPH but only one piece of research to prove that it can reduce the level of DHT in the prostate. However, the latest research contradicts this claim by showing that saw palmetto may not have any effect on the plasma concentration of DHT. In addition, one recent clinical study claims that saw palmetto does not shrink enlarged prostates either. Despite the fact that saw palmetto has been used to treat BPH for decades there is no conclusive proof that it is effective.
Saw palmetto has never been clinically tested as a hair loss treatment and its efficacy and mechanism of action are not known. In addition, it is suspected its side effects might be more severe than those of finasteride but they have been poorly documented to date. Given its many suspected side effects, saw palmetto should be used with caution (see also: Can Saw Palmetto Help Treat Hair Loss?).
STINGING NETTLE is a perennial plant and common weed native to Europe, Asia, North America and North Africa that now grows in temperate and subtropical climates throughout the whole world. It is among the most common herbs used in traditional folk medicine. Both the leaves and the root are used in various cures. The nettle root is often found in natural medicines to relieve the symptoms of BPH. It is therefore assumed it could prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT but no clinical studies have been conducted yet on the use of nettle in treating DHT-related hair loss. Although no one is certain whether it really helps against baldness, nettles are frequently used as one of the active ingredients in many commercial hair loss remedies (see also: Use of Stinging Nettle in Hair Loss Remedies).
PYGEUM AFRICANUM is a large evergreen tree found in central and southern Africa. The extracts from the pygeum bark contain several compounds thought to be helpful in prostate health and have been used for decades to treat prostate enlargement (BPH). Like saw palmetto and nettle root, pygeum is also believed to inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase which converts testosterone to follicle-harming DHT. Despite the lack of clinical evidence of any positive impact on male pattern baldness, pygeum can be found in a number of natural hair loss remedies (see also: Pygeum Africanum as a Natural Hair Loss Treatment).
GINKGO BILOBA is a large tree, originally from East Asia, that can be now found in many parks in the temperate zones around the world. The extract is thought to improve blood circulation to the brain and skin and is frequently used as a memory and concentration enhancer. No clinical studies on its efficacy in treating hair loss have been conducted yet. Nonetheless, ginkgo is used as an active ingredient in some commercial hair loss remedies. Given its many suspected side effects, ginkgo should be used with caution.
ELEUTHERO ROOT, also called Siberian ginseng, is a distant relative of Asian ginseng. It is a popular folk medicine in Russia and China. Eleuthero is a herbal antioxidant and it is believed to be anti-inflammatory and to be able to increase endurance, improve memory, boost the immune system and help protect cells from damage due to environmental conditions. Eleuthero is often used as one of the substances in natural hair loss cures, although there is no clinical proof of its positive effect on human hair.
GOTU KOLA is a perennial plant native to Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. It has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in India, China and Indonesia. It used to be a popular youth tonic and was believed to improve mental clarity. Because of its ability to heal wounds, combat inflammation and treat various skin conditions, it can be found in many natural topical products for treating hair loss.
GREEN TEA is made from the dried leaves of the tea plant. Black tea is made from dried tea plant leaves that have been through a fermentation process. Green tea has been credited with providing a wide variety of health benefits, many of which have not been validated by scientific evidence (e.g. its potential for treating male pattern baldness). It is tasty, it might be healthy, too, but it should not be expected to grow new hair (see also: Is Drinking Green Tea Good for Slowing Hair Loss?).
PUMPKIN SEED OIL is pressed from pumpkin seeds and is rich in iron, zinc and essential fatty acids. It has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for prostate problems as it has been shown to improve the symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate due to BPH. Therefore, pumpkin seed oil is believed to be a natural DHT blocker. However, no clinical study exists regarding its potency to block DHT or its effectiveness in treating baldness.
Treating Hair Loss and Premature Grey Hair
Hereditary hair loss and premature greying are some of the most common genetic conditions, as more than two billion people on earth will be affected by them at some point in their lives. Hereditary baldness, in men also known as male pattern baldness, is not exclusively a male concern. An estimated 25% of women suffer from female pattern baldness but, since their hair loss is diffuse, it is not as easily recognisable as the male form.
Because genetics play a decisive role in both of these conditions, no completely satisfactory solution exists yet. Despite that, billions of dollars are spent annually on diverse anti-grey hair and hair-regrowth products, with 90% of them being scams. To separate the grain from the chaff is a time-consuming job. This guide exists to save you time by offering useful info and tips for your research into the potency of available hair treatments.
Get rid of dandruff
• Avoid oily and junk food since they are among the main reasons for dandruff.
• Applying fermented curd on your scalp and hair for an hour is another popular remedy.
• Dandruff is more common in dry hair---get into the habit of oiling your hair as often as you can.
• Make mixture of olive oil and ginger root and apply it on your scalp. This reduces dandruff and also keeps the hair healthy.
• Avoid colouring or streaking your hair if you suffer from a dandruff problem—it will only worsen your problem.
• Take a bit of sandalwood oil and thrice the amount of lemon juice to make a paste. Keep this mixture on your scalp for some time and then wash off.
• Curtail drinking caffeine as well as eating sweet things like chocolates, pastries and sugar.
• Rinsing your scalp with lemon juice works wonders in getting rid of dandruff.
• If you have found that dandruff shampoos have not helped eliminate your problem, then you may want to consider using vinegar. Mix half a mug of warm water with half of vinegar and pour it over your scalp and rinse out thoroughly.
• Make a paste of two egg whites mixed with lime juice and apply it on your scalp. This also gives you relief from an itchy scalp.
• Make a mixture of almond oil and olive oil and apply it on your scalp Wash it off after about five minutes.