Hair that turns gray prematurely can be both embarrassing and worrisome. Although it often has to do with heredity, graying hair is also sometimes linked to nutritional deficiencies. There is little scientific evidence pointing to what causes gray hair other than the aging process, but traditional cultures such as China and India have long used certain herbs to deal with imbalances that may cause early graying.
Do not take an herb before scheduling a consultation with your health-care provider.
Amla is an Indian herb that is recommended by some practitioners of Ayurveda to reverse the effects of graying hair. In "Herbal Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies," author Asa Hershoff notes that amla tonifies the blood and enhances cellular regeneration. Through these properties, she says that the herb is considered a preventative for hair that is turning gray.
Hershoff recommends taking 500 mg of alma three times a day, but consult a trained physician that has knowledge of herbs before ingesting this herb.
Another herb that may possibly help with reversing gray hair is ligustrum. This herb is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a part of herbal combinations to balance out properties in the body, such as treating vertigo, ringing in the ear and turning gray hair black. In the "Nutrition Almanac" by John D. Kirschmann, he recommends ligustrum as an herb that may help with the slowing of gray hair.
According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, there are no reported side effects to ligustrum, but always consult your doctor before adding an herb to your diet.
He Shou Wu
He shou wu is another Chinese herb that has been touted to help with returning color to gray hair. This herb, according to Lesley Tierra in her book, "Healing with the Herbs of Life," tonifies the blood and has antibacterial and anticholesterol properties. Tierra notes, "I have seen it restore gray hair to black, although it needs to be taken continuously for a long time for it to work."
The root is generally used in preparations, and 20 to 60 drops of a prepared tincture should be consumed one to four times a day, according to Tierra. Work with a health-care practitioner with a knowledge of herbs before adding he shou wu to your diet.
- "Herbal Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies"; Asa Hershoff; 2001
- "Nutrition Almanac"; John D. Kirschmann; 2006
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Ligustrum lucidum
- "Healing with the Herbs of Life"; Lesley Tierra; 2003
Christine Garvin is a certified nutrition educator and holds a Master of Arts in holistic health education. She is co-editor of Brave New Traveler and founder/editor of Living Holistically... with a sense of humor. When she is not out traveling the world, she is busy writing, doing yoga and performing hip-hop and bhangra.