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Does gray hair signal a problem with immune health?

Posted Jan 20 2011 5:42pm

Thank God I’m not going gray–or getting old. But all my friends are. Actually I do have the gray creeping in.  But my lighter colored hair keeps it hidden a little better. But if I try growing a little facial hair, that  comes in silver!  So no goatee for me.  I just went to a college reunion party last weekend, and the gray was flowing along with the red wine and finger sandwiches.

It got me to thinking: does immune health–or immune balance–have anything to do with turning gray? I was especially curious from the standpoint of stress. Many people assume stress is linked with gray hair. We know prolonged stress can negatively impact immune function .  Could an out-of-balance immune function contribute to gray?

I think the short answer is “No.”  From what I’ve read, it’s a pigmenting thing linked with aging. Hair does not “turn gray” per se, but falls out naturally and, over time, is replaced by hair without the melanin content of the previous hair. And that melanin is more genetically determined than anything else. Some autoimmune conditions may contribute to more accelerated hair loss/replacement cycles, but that’s not really connected with everyday immune balance.

So as the gray takes root, embrace it and roll with it.

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