It is popular wisdom that stressful situations make us gray; A recent study was able to measure this link for the first time and verify that, in some cases, hair regains its color when a source of anxiety is eliminated.
Legend has it that in 1793, the night before she was beheaded, Queen Marie Antoinette’s hair lost its color and turned completely white.
Although the legend surrounding the final hours of the last Queen of France lacks historical evidence, the idea that Tension The reason for premature graying of hair is based on science.
But American researchers have come up with good news for young people who are struggling with the problem of white hair.
According to a new study from Columbia University in New York (USA), published in the scientific journal eLife: When the source of stress is removed, hair can return to its normal color.
“We’ve been trying to understand the effects of stress on gray hair for decades, and this is the first study to show a clear link between psychological stress and gray hair,” explains Martin Picard, a professor of behavioral medicine in the College of Physicians. and surgeon Vagelos, from Columbia University, and a co-author of the study.
The team of researchers was able, in part, to demonstrate the relationship between the two factors using a method that allows them to study each hair color in detail and quantify the loss of pigmentation.
effect of holidays
Researchers analyzed hair strands from different parts of the body of a group of 14 volunteers of different ages. Participants had to record their weekly stress levels in a diary.
Thus, they found that, in younger participants, when the tension disappeared, the hair regained its color.
One of the most surprising examples was of a man who regained the color of five of the hairs analyzed after spending two weeks on vacation.
Picard clarifies that the color change doesn’t happen when the hair follicle is outside the follicle, but when “it’s growing inside this sort of mini-organ that’s under the skin”.
According to the researcher, the loss of color is probably due to changes in mitochondria, the cell organelles that provide most of the energy for activating the cell’s biochemical reactions.
“Psychological stress affects energy processes in mitochondria, and when mitochondria don’t function well, hair loses pigment,” he explains.
Although in some cases the hair may temporarily regain its color, this does not happen in all cases, especially in people who have had gray hair for a long time.
“There is a kind of biological boundary and, when the hair is close to this limit, stress can affect the hair and cause it to turn white,” says the scientist.
“When the source of stress is removed, hair can regrow and regain its previous color. But when hair outgrows that threshold decades ago, it’s much less likely that it will return to another color. I’ll be back.”
This means that the stress reduction benefits may have no effect on hair color returning to its former state.
Picard says the research has led the way in examining whether other processes related to aging are affected by stress and how they can be reversed.