If a worldwide pandemic leads to anything, it is millions more grey hairs. Behind the scenes, though, some exciting scientific developments are emerging from this chaotic year - and reversing grey hair by supplementing with NMN may just be one of them.
The mystery of exactly why hair turns grey has puzzled scientists for centuries. Whilst it may not take a detective to link grey hair to ageing and stress, the cellular processes causing those changes are trickier to pinpoint. Rather than stress being a direct cause, the side effects of stress might be, according to Harvard associate professor of medicine Robert H. Shmerling, MD. In a 2017 Harvard Health post Robert explains, “While being under stress can’t turn your hair gray, stress can trigger a common condition called telogen effluvium, which causes hair to shed about three times faster than normal.”
Whilst telogen effluvium allows hair to grow back, those with their twenties well in their rear-view mirror might find the returning hair is a lighter shade of pale.
“If you’re middle-aged and your hair is falling out and regenerating more quickly because of stress, it’s possible that the hair that grows in will be gray instead of its original color”, adds Shmerling. A team delving deeper into the effects of stress on greying hair identified acute stress as a definite cause “through the fast depletion of melanocyte stem cells” – or at least confirmed it is for our rodent cousins, as per their findings reported in Nature in January 2020. Indirectly or not, stress certainly appears to be a key trigger.
Ok, so we can’t rewind the stress of a pandemic and we might not be able to rewind hair regrowth but, whatever the cause, can we rewind the colour?
Experts now believe we can, according to a recent study considered to be the “first generalizable and quantitative account of the natural reversibility of hair graying in humans.” The study, shared in bioRxiv in May 2020, analysed human hair and made several intriguing discoveries. One of the most telling was a pattern of change in specific proteins linked to greying hairs, consistent across different ages, sexes and ethnicities. The results suggest “contrary to mice where this process is irreversible, our data demonstrates that human hair graying is, at least under some circumstances, reversible.”
The findings pointing to the possible reversal of hallmarks of ageing are intriguing to say the least. Two of the cellular changes that appear as we age are a decline in mitochondrial function, that results in decreased energy levels and the decrease in levels of NAD+, a key regulator of metabolism and a molecule that is as essential for all of our tissues. The good news? We can boost our NAD+ levels!
World-famous longevity expert Dr. David Sinclair’s preferred NAD+ booster is NMN. The revered Harvard P.hD. professor takes NMN alongside resveratrol and metformin every morning. In his bestselling book Lifespan Sinclair discusses how increasing our NAD+ levels could lead to reversible ageing – and no tell tail sign of ageing is as apparent as a head of grey hair. Consistent with David’s beliefs, the scientists who found human grey hair could be reversed also acknowledged their findings could be far-reaching for anti-ageing across the board; “Along with these findings, our data strongly support the notion that human aging is not a linear and irreversible biological process and may, at least in part, be halted or even reversed.”
Further studies detailing the effect NMN supplementation could have on human grey hair are still in the pipeline. However, the profound impact taking NMN could have on reversing many signs of ageing appears to be ever more apparent with each analysis of the supplement’s vital impact on cellular activity. It may not be long before NMN is heralded as the number one remedy for reversing the grey hairs a worldwide lockdown might just make unavoidable.
- Why does hair turn gray? Robert H. Shmerling, MD https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hair-turn-gray-2017091812226
- Zhang, B., Ma, S., Rachmin, I. et al.Hyperactivation of sympathetic nerves drives depletion of melanocyte stem cells. Nature 577, 676–681 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-1935-3
- Human Hair Graying is Naturally Reversible and Linked to Stress
Ayelet Rosenberg, Shannon Rausser, Junting Ren, Eugene Mosharov, Gabriel Sturm, R Todd Ogden, Purvi Patel, Rajesh Kumar Soni, Clay Lacefield, Ralf Paus, Martin Picard
bioRxiv 2020.05.18.101964; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.18.101964