Hair color is determined by the pigment melanin, which is produced by some specialized cells, known as melanocytes. Melanocytes are present in our hair follicles, and they basically produce two types of melanin - eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is the pigment which give hair a dark brown or black color, while pheomelanin is responsible for imparting yellow or red-brown color to the hair follicles. When the production of melanin stops or reduces, it causes hair graying.
Generally, the production of melanin slows down gradually over a period of time, and then ultimately stops altogether. This is the natural process of aging. The age at which a person will experience hair graying is determined mainly by heredity. So, a person can experience premature graying, if his/her one or both the parents have experienced the same.
Apart from heredity, factors like excessive stress and anxiety, a deficiency of vitamin B12 and minerals like iron and iodine, chronic illnesses, smoking, pernicious anemia, vitiligo, thyroid problems, and the excessive consumption of coffee, alcohol, tea, and fried, oily, or spicy foods can play a significant role in causing premature graying of hair.
To prevent premature hair graying, first of all we have to identify and address the underlying causes. However, certain home remedies can help slow down the process of hair graying. Some such natural remedies are:
- Amla or Indian gooseberry can nourish your hair, and improve pigmentation to prevent premature graying. Gooseberries should be cut into small pieces, and then dried completely, after which they should be boiled in coconut oil. The amla oil produced thus can be used to massage the scalp and hair.
- You can also make a thick paste of amla or Indian gooseberry, and apply it on your scalp. This can also help prevent premature hair graying.
- Like amla, curry leaves are another effective natural remedy for premature graying. You can include them in your diet, or boil the leaves in coconut oil for massaging the scalp.
- Mix coconut oil with lemon juice, and use it to massage your scalp and hair daily. Leave the mixture for about 15 to 20 minutes, before rinsing it off.
- Henna powder is an excellent hair conditioner, which can help prevent premature graying, besides giving your hair a beautiful red tinge. Mix henna powder with fenugreek seed powder and yogurt, and apply it on your hair. Leave it on your scalp for about 2 to 3 hours before rinsing it off with water.
- Mix henna powder with castor oil and a small amount of lemon juice to make a paste. Apply this paste on your scalp and let it sit for about an hour, before rinsing it off with clean water.
- Ribbed gourd is another popular home remedy that can restore pigment to the hair follicles. First, cut the gourd into pieces and let them dry in the sun. Soak the dried pieces in coconut oil for about 3 to 4 days, and then boil them till the residue turns black. Use this oil and the residue to massage your scalp.
- Use ritha and shikakai for shampooing your hair. Soak both in water for the whole night, and then boil them the next day. Use this water to wash your hair.
In addition to these natural remedies, give importance to your diet. Include more fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables in your diet. Also include foods rich in proteins, vitamin A, B12, zinc, iodine, iron, copper, and omega- 3 essential fatty acids in your diet. As premature hair graying can be an indicator of certain health conditions, consider to consult a physician to find out the root causes of this problem. At the same time, avoid smoking and the excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine, and manage the level of stress and anxiety with the appropriate stress relief techniques.