It is a well-known fact that stressful situations make us gray; A recent study was able to measure this link for the first time and in some cases, was able to verify that the hair regains its color when a source of concern is removed.
Legend has it that in 1793, the night before his head was cut off, Queen Mary Antoinette’s hair lost its color and turned completely white.
Although there is no historical evidence for the story surrounding the final hours of the last Queen of France, that idea mental stress Premature hair whitening is based on science.
But U.S. researchers are bringing good news to young people suffering from gray hair.
According to a new study by Columbia University (USA) in New York, published in the scientific journal eLife: When the source of stress is removed, hair returns to its natural color.
“We have been trying for decades to understand the impact of stress on gray hair, which is the first study to show a clear link between psychological stress and gray hair,” explains Martin Picard, professor of behavioral medicine at the College of Physicians. And surgeons from Columbia University Vagolos and co-author of the study.
The team of researchers was able to study the color of each hair in detail and demonstrate the relationship between the two factors using a method to calculate pigment loss.
The effect of the holidays
The researchers examined hair strands from different parts of the body of a group of 14 volunteers of different ages. Participants were required to record their weekly stress levels in a diary.
Thus, among the younger participants, they found that when the stress disappeared, the hair regained its color.
The most notable example is the example of a man who regained the color of five hairs analyzed after spending two weeks on vacation.
Picard clarifies that color does not change when the hair is outside the scalp, but “when it grows into this type of mini-organ that is under the skin”.
According to the researcher, the loss of color can be caused by changes in the mitochondria, the cell organs that provide the most energy to activate the biochemical reactions of the cells.
“Psychological stress affects the energy processes in the mitochondria. When the mitochondria do not work properly, they lose hair pigment,” he explains.
Although in some cases the hair may temporarily restore its color, this does not happen in all cases, especially in individuals with long gray hair.
“There is a kind of biological threshold, when the hair is close to this threshold, stress affects the hair and turns it white,” says the scientist.
“When the source of stress is removed, the hair can come back and regain its previous color. But when the hair goes beyond that boundary decades ago, it is very unlikely that it will change to a different color,” he adds.
This means that the benefits of reducing stress do not work to reverse hair color.
Picard says research is helping to examine how other aging-related processes are affected by stress and how they can be reversed.