Premature Graying of Hair

Graying of hair is generally considered a sign of old age. At times, graying starts even at a young age. Modern lifestyle with poor eating habits and erratic lifestyle have caused young people to go gray. Stress is one of the top contributors to the premature graying of hair.

Nutritional deficiencies are among the causes of greying hair. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you eat healthy to prevents grays and promote hair growth. Hair also starts to go gray due to a drop in the production of the dark pigment – melanin in the hair roots.

Certain health problems can also lead to the greying of hair. For example, disorders like thyroid issues and anemia can cause hair to become prematurely gray. Those who suffer from ailments of the stomach like malabsorption are also prone to greys. Diseases affecting the small intestine like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, tapeworms and other gut-related problems can be linked to greying of hair.

Gray Hair

Ayurveda and Graying Hair

In Ayurveda, this condition is called palitya or akala palitya (premature graying of hair).
According to Ayurveda, greying hair is a pure Pitta disorder that occurs due to the vitiation of Pitta dosha (biohumor related to Fire and Water). This is why people of the Pitta constitution tend to start graying earlier than others. Excessive Pitta in the sebaceous glands which reside at the hair roots, called folliculitis can also result in hair loss and graying prematurely.

Pitta-provoking habits such as excessive passion, anger and physical strain results in graying of hair. One must also avoid Pitta-genic beverages like alcohol, tea and coffee. Intake of spicy, oily, salty and sour, fermented foods along with meat can aggravate Pitta.

But apart from being a primarily Pitta problem, the sage Vagbhata classified palitya according to the doshic dominancy.

Vata dosha: Hairs develop split ends; brittle, dry and rough in texture; color appears shimmery and transparent like water

Pitta dosha: Scalp shows signs of burning; hairs have a yellowish tinge
Kapha dosha: Hairs are thick, long and exceptionally white in color

Symptoms of Graying Hair

The regions just above the ears and at the temples are the first to show signs of grays. This graying may start to spread to the sides and the top of the scalp. In men, the facial hair like the beard and mustache begin graying sooner while the hairs on the chest and pubic area follow later. If you’d like to identify whether you are graying earlier than usual, take note of the following graying hair symptoms.

  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Hair discoloration before the age of 35
  • Dry, brittle hair
  • Frequent headaches (if the graying is caused by sinusitis or nutritional deficiencies)Symptoms of Pitta
  • aggravation like acidity, nausea, excessive sweating and intolerance to heat may also be seen.

Causes of Graying Hair

While most of the causes of graying hair are mentioned above, here is the complete set of reasons you could be going the salt-n-pepper way.

  • Chronic cold or sinusitis
  • Washing the hair with warm water
  • Faulty diet
  • Mental stress, worry, shock, grief
  • Nutritional deficiencies like B vitamins, iron, copper and iodine
  • Hereditary reasons
  • Keeping the scalp unclean
  • Excessive use of hair dyes and electrical accessories like dryers and straighteners
  • Improper protein synthesis
  • Thyroid or pituitary gland problem
  • Smoking
  • Oxidative stress from pollutants and toxins
  • Hormonal changes that occur at perimenopause
  • Extreme exposure to the sun
  • Improper sleep cycles
  • Undergoing medical treatments that increase the Fire element in the body (taking drugs for serious ailments that are very heating in nature)