Does stress cause grey hair?

A curious phenomenon that has intrigued us for generations is the transformation of hair color from vibrant hues to shades of grey. This transformation is often linked to the passage of time and the stressors that life brings. An interesting example is President Obama, whose hair notably became greyer during and after his presidential tenure. While it's tempting to attribute grey hair solely to stress, the relationship between grey hair and stress is more intricate than it appears. 

Your hair color is determined by pigment-producing cells which are called melanocytes. New melanocytes are made from stem cells that live in hair follicles at the base of your hair strand. As we age, these stem cells gradually disappear.  

What is Norepinephrine and how does it affect your hair? 

Norepinephrine, also called noradrenaline, is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. As a neurotransmitter, it’s a chemical messenger that helps transmit nerve signals across nerve endings to another nerve cell, muscle cell or gland cell. As a hormone, it’s released by your adrenal glands, which are hat-shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney. 

As a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine is made from dopamine. Norepinephrine is made from nerve cells in the brainstem area of your brain and in an area near your spinal cord. 

Norepinephrine is part of your sympathetic nervous system, which is part of your body’s emergency response system to danger — the “fight-or-flight” response. Medically, the response is known as the acute stress response, so Norepinephrine and stress are related.

As neurotransmitter Norepinephrine Increases alertness, and constricts blood vessels, which helps maintain blood pressure in times of stress. A study on mice has found that Norepinephrine can affect the melanocyte stem cells living there. By injecting noradrenaline under the skin of unstressed mice, the researchers were able to cause melanocyte stem cell loss and hair graying. 

Norepinephrine can affect the melanocyte stem cells and causes them to rapidly turn into pigment cells and move out of the hair follicles. Without stem cells left to create new pigment cells, your hair turns grey or white. To combat grey hair, you can use an anti- grey hair treatment. But you should also be aware that when stress causes your grey hair, that a solution does also requires reducing stress.  

Why does stress cause hair loss 

Stress can trigger a condition called telogen effluvium. This condition accelerates hair shedding, causing hair to fall out at about three times the normal rate. The hair eventually regrows, so balding isn't a concern. However, for those experiencing stress-related hair shedding in middle age, the new hair that emerges might be grey rather than its original color. 

Interestingly, a study conducted on mice in 2020 showed how stress could lead to fur turning grey. Whether this phenomenon extends to humans and how frequently it contributes to grey hair remains uncertain. 

Cause of Greying Hair and Health Indicators of Grey Hair 

Although most grey hair is a product of the natural aging process, its sudden appearance at a young age might indicate an underlying health condition. Some illnesses associated with premature grey hair include: 

  1. Vitamin B12 Deficiency 
  2. Thyroid Disease 
  3. Vitiligo: A condition causing the loss of melanocytes, the cells responsible for hair color. 
  4. Alopecia Areata: A disorder resulting in sudden hair loss, potentially leading to overnight greying as previously unnoticed grey hairs become prominent. 

While stress may play a role in the process, your family history holds more sway over when your hair turns grey. The genes you inherit largely dictate the timeline of your greying journey. Regardless of whether you occupy the Oval Office or have a less demanding job, stress's influence on the onset of grey hair is more subtle than commonly believed. Alopecia areata and a vitamin deficiency can cause hair loss. To combat hair loss, you can use the following treatments


In conclusion, there is a relationship between stress and grey hair. Stress is often not the sole cause, in fact we should look more to our hereditary for accurate predictions about when and if we'll go grey. To combat grey hair, you can use an anti grey hair treatment. 

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