By Mamta Singh October 2010 The sight of the first grey hair is enough to send most people into panic mode. Learn its reasons, and surefire methods to prevent further greying Fashion journalist Meher Castelino wears her grey crop gracefully Most men and women in their late 20s start to show their first grey hairs. Here is a look at why our crowning glory begins to fade to grey, and what we can do to meet and accept the occurrence of grey strands. What causes greying of hair? Hair could turn grey due to biological, chemical, genetic, nutrition-oriented or environmental reasons. An outline of causes is summarised in the box below. Get the reason for your greying from a qualified health practitioner. Sometimes, the reasons are obvious enough for you to pinpoint yourself – such as prolonged illness or extended hot and dry climate – but most of the time you may need to run simple medical checks like a blood test, to determine underlying and not-so-obvious causes such as haemoglobin or Vitamin B12 deficiency, and tests to evaluate your thyroid function. It is imperative to know the cause, as your approach to tackle hair greying will be determined accordingly. Look at what you can do to delay the salt and pepper hair. Biological cause Chemical cause Genetic cause Nutritional cause Environmental cause Low melanin production in hair bulb Usage of certain hair sprays Races – Caucasian, African, Asian Deficiency of Vitamin B12 in the diet Pollutants in air Anaemia, dandruff, constipation Exposure to chemicals in certain workplaces Heredity Excessive caffeine intake Extended sunny, hot, dry climate Thyroid condition Frequent change of shampoos and hair products Early menopause Alcohol and tobacco abuse Using electric dryers too often Prolonged illness Chemicals in junk food, oily, spicy and sour foods Mental and emotional stress Protein deficiency in food Therapies • Ayurveda: Ayurveda suggests that persons with a dominant ‘pitta’ constitution grey more easily and sooner in life. This is because their body make-up characterises internal overheating. A popular cure for grey hair in ayurveda is as follows: Take 10 small pieces of driedamla and put it in 250 ml of coconut oil. Bring to a boil and then reduce flame, leaving it to simmer. Stir occasionally until the dried pieces of amla become soggy and dissipate in the oil. Let the oil cool to room temperature. Strain and bottle the dark oil and use to prevent hair greying. A medicinal approach is also suggested, and works complementary to the application approach outlined above: Take 50 grams of ginger, wash well, peel the skin and grate the root. Drop the grated ginger in a 250-gram jar of honey and store. Take one teaspoon of the mixture everyday in the morning before breakfast. • Nutrition therapy: This approach addresses the excesses in your diet and reduces them, fills in the inadequacies, brings about equilibrium in the diet, and promotes the inclusion of hair-healthy foods. See box below for details. • Aromatherapy massage: Head massage works at three levels – relaxing the taut scalp muscles, removing scalp toxins and giving it the much-needed blood circulation. Done the right way using the correct essential oils, it benefits specific medical conditions. If you are trying out an invigorating head massage to improve circulation at home, here is how you can do it effectively: Mix two teaspoons of lemon oil, two teaspoons of either cypress, juniper or rosemary oil, and two teaspoons of either ginger or rose oil. Dilute this mixture in two ounces of sesame or sunflower oil. Apply this preparation for the massage. Work your head using the tips or pads of your fingers. Start from the front of the head, using small circular and light movements of your fingertips moving to the back of the head. Repeat five times. Next, apply slight pressure using the circular motion of the fingertips from the bridge of the nose to the nape of the neck. Repeat five times. Now follow the route from the inner corner of both your eyes, to over your eyes, to the crown of your head – using slight pressure and circular motions. Repeat thrice. Reduce Include Increase Oily foods Vitamin B12 foods – clams, oysters, fish, cheese (all varieties), eggs Beta-carotene foods – broccoli, tomato, carrot, spinach, sweet potato Spicy foods Folate containing foods – all beans (lima, fava, pinto, french, broad, kidney, garbanzo), lentils, animal offals Riboflavin/Vitamin B2, cheese, leafy green vegetables, liver, kidneys, legumes, tomatoes, yeast, mushrooms, and almonds Excessive intake of sour foods Iron foods – egg yolk, spinach, turkey, beans, chicken, lentils, soybean Tocopherols having Vitamin E – almond, peanut, olive oil, walnut, oat, coconut Junk food Copper containing foods Curry leaves, ginger Excessive intake of tea and coffee Iodine containing foods – yoghurt, strawberry, eggs, cheese, cow’s milk Proteins – fish, white meats, egg, lentils, pulses, milk, cheese, tofu Alcohol and tobacco abuse Foods rich in selenium – mushroom, tuna, mustard, egg, garlic, barley, rye Spirulina Now follow the route from outer corner of the eye, crossing over your temples, looping over your ears and curving up and back to the crown of your head – all this using slight pressure and circular motions. Repeat thrice. • Reflexology: The underfoot may be massaged using the thumb walk and the hooking techniques alternatively, at the place where there is a link between the base of two toes. These are the reflexes of the head and neck lymphatic. You may also massage the kidney and liver reflexes using the slide and press technique. The kidney reflex is located near the middle but more towards the inner arch of the foot. The liver reflex is located at the middle at the base of the foot. Foot reflexology massage may take up to 10 minutes per foot. Besides this, rubbing the nails against one another improves the blood circulation in the scalp, reducing grey hair. • Herbal treatments: Regular applications of herbal preparations are effective in slowing down the greying process. Here are some popular recipes that may help: • Amaranth preparation – Take a bunch of green amaranth leaves and wash well. Boil in two cups of water and reduce to half a cup. Cool and apply on scalp, leaving it for an hour. Wash with a gentle shampoo. • Henna-Hibiscus – 100 grams henna leavesTwo flowers of hibiscus20 grams neem leaves½ a cube of camphorBoil the above ingredients in 250 ml of coconut oil.Bring to room temperature, strain the mixture, cool and store the oil in a glass bottle.Apply this oil for an hour twice a week, before shampooing. • Henna-Ginger – Two tbsps henna powderOne tsp fenugreek powderOne tsp coffee powderOne tsp ginger and holy basil pasteOne eggApply the paste, leave for two to three hours, and shampoo as usual. Others The downward dog pose in yoga is said to improve generic hair health. Traditional Chinese medicine is believed to be beneficial.
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