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The biology behind : GOING GREY
It happens to all of us, you look in the mirror and …
Oh NO ! There is ANOTHER grey hair.
What/who do you blame ?
Odds are, the first thing that comes to mind……….. is STRESS.
Stress causes grey hairs
It’s the intuitive answer.
Now a team of researches, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts has pieced together, why, when little Jenny, does something DANGEROUS and STUPID, Mom, acquires a couple more grey hairs.
So let’s take a look at what’s happening in the hair follicles…..
Anagen inside hair follicles
Now for the most part, hair follicles are pretty quiet places, except during anagen.
Anagen, is an exciting time, inside the hair follicle, it is when new hairs are formed and it requires, two distinct populations of stem cells.
The first are the actually responsible for making the new hair. They are the hair follicle stem cells and they live, in the basement of the hair follicle, in the area, referred to as THE BULDGE.
The start of anagen
They initiate anagen, by actively dividing, to create the tiny whisp, that elongates, to become a beautiful new hair.
They use, prevailing body chemistry conditions, to decide if, and when, anagen should happen.
But, once angen had started, they are largely impervious to stressful events.
Melanocytes join the party
The other guys, known as the melanocyte stem cells, live, in the penthouse, of the hair follicle. They keep a watchful eye, on the activities of the cells in the basement. If and when anagen starts, they feel, motivated, to join the party.
So, they divide in two…………….
One cell stays in the penthouse.
The other, goes down stairs, to join in the festivities.
As they descend down the stairs, they mature, to become melanocytes.
As melanocytes, they’re COLOURFUL characters – and when they arrive in the basement, they immediately start colouring, the baby hair cells, giving them, their ruddy complexion.
Now once a melanocyte has painted up a storm.
There is NO going back.
No worries. This is why they divide : one stays in the penthouse, and one goes down, to the party.
Back in the penthouse
Life is pretty relaxed………..
The hair seasons change –anagen, becomes telogen (the rest phase) and then, telogen, becomes catogen (the degeneration phase).
And then, one morning, it’s anagen again.
The melanocyte stem cells divide, one leaves to celebrate, the other, stays behind.
Now, living in a penthouse, is fabulous, but it does have a few, drawbacks – the biggest one, when you’re high up on an edge, high winds, can be rather disruptive.
And every now and again, a puff of norepinephrine is released from the peripheral nerves, that surround the hair follicles. Carried on the wind, is the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.
He is a mover and shaker.
His motto, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
As he blows through the penthouse, he shakes up all the melanocyte stem cells, as they take their post anagen siesta.
The wake up shake up
Brings fear and panic, to these rather laid back cells. Those on the inside, hunker down, those on the outside, often get swept up, in the wind.
Depending on the prevailing currents, some float up, some fall down.
The end result……….. the penthouse is seriously depopulated.
A ghost town
If high winds are the norm and they are, in someone, who faces regular bouts of ACUTE STRESS…..
The depopulation, leads to desertion.
And the desertion, means, when anagen happens, there are no melanocytes, sent to the ceremony. The hairs still grow, but they lack the vibrant colours, of the early years.
The stress, which blows up the kind of storm, that causes melanocyte stems cells, to be blown out of their hair follicles, happens to us all.
It’s our FIGHT-AND-FRIGHT response.
It depends on our sympathetic nervous system.
It’s meant to be fleeting i.e. come on fast and move off fast. Those short blasts, while potentially damaging, are not as problematic, as when the acute stress, lasts for extended periods of time.
For Maria Antoinette
Her acute stress, probably lasted for several hours – so it was enough, to turn her hair grey, overnight.
This is unlikely to happen to you….
However, both modern living and bad body chemistry, can leave your system, dominated by the sympathetic nervous system, this is not going to turn your head grey, overnight, but could leave your grey – BEFORE YOUR TIME, so to speak.
So, do what you can, to keep those stress levels down.
For yourself and YOUR FAMILY.
You don’t want Mom to say, the reason she has grey hair, is because of your antics.
Most of us are a little tuned into hair chit chat …… bad hair days, need I say more ? For men who go bald early in life, the hair message warns..
Even if you’re soldiering through the stress, your body is still experiencing it. The three months before a heart attack strikes, are STRESS FULL..
Everyone knows, blondes may have tons of fun and now they officially come in three different variations…. white , black and bottled.