Why does hair turn grey?

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When the cells present at the base of the hair root stop producing melanin (the pigment producing colour), the hair shafts turn grey.

Melanin is made up of specialised pigment cells called melanocytes. These are located at the openings on the skin’s surface (follicles) through which hair grows.


As the hair is being formed, melanocytes inject pigment (melanin) into cells containing keratin. Keratin is the protein that makes up our hair, skin and nails. Throughout the years, the melanocytes continue injecting pigment into keratin, giving the hair a colourful hue (black, brown, blond, red, etc). But with age comes a reduction in the amount of melanin, and the hair turns grey.

People can get grey hair at any age. Some people go grey at a young age — as early as when they are in high school or college — whereas others may be in their 30s or 40s before they see that first grey strand. Our genes determine how early we get grey hair. This means that most of us will start getting grey hair around the same age that our parents or grandparents first did.

Grey hair is more noticeable in people with darker hair because it stands out, but people with naturally lighter hair are just as likely to go grey. From the time a person notices a few grey strands, it may take more than 10 years for all of that person’s hair to turn grey.

Researchers are yet to come up with a definitive reason as to why hair follicles stop producing melanin. Some suggest that we may, someday, be able to arrest or reverse the greying process. But till that happens, those with grey hair must comfort themselves with the thought that grey streaks or salt-and-pepper hair makes one look “distinguished”!

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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News on Health & Science

Soaking in the sun

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Elena Conis gives an account of the rise and fall of sunlight therapy:

Sun-tanned skin may be in vogue now, but for thousands of years it was a thing to be avoided. The wealthy in many northern countries went to great lengths to keep their complexions fair, tanned skin being a sign of poverty.


In the late 1700s, a French doctor noticed that his patients’ leg sores healed faster when exposed to the sun. Not much came of this finding until a Danish doctor saw something similar a century later. Niels Finsen noted that his sluggishness was cured with a little dose of sunlight. Later, he showed that solar radiation could help treat smallpox, lupus and tuberculosis.

But heliotherapy (helios in Greek means sun) didn’t become popular until a Swiss doctor, Auguste Rollier, began championing it in the early 1900s. Rollier opened solaria — buildings designed to optimise solar exposure — throughout Switzerland. Soon the buildings were mimicked across Europe.

When patients, most of whom had tuberculosis, arrived at his solaria, they first had to adjust to the altitude (his clinics were in the mountains) and then to the cool air. Once acclimated, they were slowly exposed to the sun. Patients were rolled onto sun-drenched, open-air balconies, wearing loincloths and covered with white sheets from head to toe. Just their feet peeked out for five minutes on the first day. On day two, the sheets were pulled a little higher, and the patients were left in the sun a little more. By day five, only the patients’ heads were covered, their bodies left to soak up the sun for more than an hour. After a few weeks, the patients were very tan — and hopefully healthier.

Soon doctors across Europe were touting heliotherapy as a treatment for tuberculosis and lupus, cuts and scrapes, burns, arthritis, rheumatism and nerve damage. The German military even opened sun-hospitals for its soldiers during World War I.

Researchers showed that sunlight could kill many disease-causing bacteria and UV light could cure rickets, a bone disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.

But by World War II, the sun craze had gradually tempered. Newly discovered antibiotics proved to be more powerful against germs. And doctors also observed that too much sun did more harm than good.

That observation, however, wasn’t new. Sir Henry Gauvain of Britain seemed to foresee it way back in 1922. Sunlight, he wrote, is “like a good champagne. It invigorates and stimulates; indulged in to excess, it intoxicates and poisons.”

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

Ailmemts & Remedies

Graying of Hair

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Have you ever watched someone try to cover up gray hair by dyeing it? Or maybe you wonder why your granddad has a full head of silver hair when in old pictures it used to be dark brown? Getting gray, silver, or white hair is a natural part of growing older, and here’s why.


Each hair on our heads is made up of two parts:
a shaft :- the colored part we see growing out of our heads
a root : – the bottom part, which keeps the hair anchored under the scalp .


The root of every strand of hair is surrounded by a tube of tissue under the skin that is called the hair follicle (say: fah-lih-kul). Each hair follicle contains a certain number of pigment cells. These pigment cells continuously produce a chemical called melanin (say: meh-luh-nin) that gives the growing shaft of hair its color of brown, blonde, red, and anything in between.

Melanin is the same stuff that makes our skin’s color fair or darker. It also helps determine whether a person will burn or tan in the sun. The dark or light color of someone’s hair depends on how much melanin each hair contains.

As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in a hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent color – like gray, silver, or white – as it grows. As people continue to get older, fewer pigment cells will be around to produce melanin. Eventually, the hair will look completely gray.

People can get gray hair at any age. Some people go gray at a young age – as early as when they are in high school or college – whereas others may be in their 30s or 40s before they see that first gray hair. How early we get gray hair is determined by our genes. This means that most of us will start having gray hairs around the same age that our parents or grandparents first did.

Gray hair is more noticeable in people with darker hair because it stands out, but people with naturally lighter hair are just as likely to go gray. From the time a person notices a few gray hairs, it may take more than 10 years for all of that person’s hair to turn gray.

The other big reason for graying hair is the environment. A recent study
indicates that smokers are 4 times more likely to become prematurely gray (or
bald). The mechanism is not clear but may have to do with vessel constriction
caused from the chemical (such as nicotine) absorption . In youngters, vitamin
B-12 deficiency, thyroid imbalance, anemia or viruses can cause gray hair to
appear as well. There is a phenomenon of “going gray” due to a shock or
fright but is not well documented and is hard to explain physiologically.

According to Ayurveda excessive passion, anger and phychic strain results in graying of hair .Persons suffering from chronic cold and sinusitis and those who use warm water for washing there hair are more likely to be victims of this condition.

Ayurvedic Treatments:

Bhringraja and amalaki are popularly used for the treatment of this condition .Medicated oil prepared by boiling these two drugs, viz ,Mahabhringraj taila is used extremely for massaging the head, The powder of these two drugs is also used internally in a dose of one teaspoonful three times daily with milk. The oil prepared from the seeds of the Neem tree is used for inhalation twice a day for about a month. along with this ,the patient should be advised to take only milk as his diet.

Healing Options

Ayurvedic Suppliments: 1. Mahabhringaraj oil 2.Bhringarajsava 3.Amalaki Rasayan Lauha Rasayan

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Diet : These therapies will be effective only when the patient observes diet restrictions. As far as possible, he should take only milk and sugar. Salt should be avoided. Sour things like yogurt are not useful. Pungent, hot and spicy food should be avoided.

Lifestyle: The patient should not remain awake for along time at night and should be kept free from worry, anxiety and passion. If suffering from cold and sinusitis, prompt and careful treatment should be given. Hot water should never be used for washing the hair. Cold water should always be used for bathing.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

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