How to turn grey hair black? Authoritative research: the effect of this kind of drug is surprising

▎WuXi Adapt Content Team Editor

As we age, graying of hair is often seen as a natural part of aging, and it is a gradual process.

But there are also many people who start to grow gray hair at a young age. Why does our hair turn white and how does the hair turn black after whitening? Let’s talk about white hair today.

Causes of graying hair

There are many reasons for graying hair. In addition to normal aging, genes, diseases, diet, stress, smoking, light, age and other factors may cause hair graying.

Furthermore, the average age at which gray hair begins to appear varies among people of different nationalities.

What should I do if my hair turns white? Recently, a case published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” gave us hope that gray hair will turn black.

These drugs work unexpectedly

This is a 51-year-old man with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

During treatment, he was treated with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) nilotinib.

Unexpectedly, after 18 months of treatment, he was delighted to find that his already gray hair gradually returned to its original black-brown color (as shown in the picture below).

▲This patient’s hair color before and after nilotinib treatment (Image source: Reference [1])

During treatment, the patient did not use other medications or hair color products.

The main mechanism of nilotinib in the treatment of CML is through inhibition of BCL-ABL protein kinase activity. Studies have found that treatment of melanoma cell lines with nilotinib can lead to an increase in melanin levels. The melanocytes in the hair follicle are the main cells that produce melanin, which makes the hair darker.

To find out, doctors put him through a series of tests. The examination found that the patient had no abnormal pigment distribution in other places, such as the skin and mucous membranes, except that the hair had changed back to the previous brown-black color.

Because the patient was doing well with nilotinib, doctors decided to keep him on the medication, and his hair still maintains its youthful color.

Later, another patient also told the doctor that the color of her hair had also changed after receiving nilotinib.

Image source: 123RF

Interestingly, nilotinib isn’t the only drug that turns gray hair black. A previously published review article systematically reviewed previous studies of gray hair regaining color after drug treatment.

The authors found that in 133 patients treated with a drug, their already gray hair returned to its original color. Patients receive a variety of treatments, the two most important being anti-inflammatory and melanogenesis-stimulating.

For example, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib, the tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib, and the EGFR inhibitor sorafenib Both have also been reported to have the ability to activate melanin production.

These cases don’t necessarily support the use of anti-cancer treatments to turn grey hair black, but they also offer hope. These rare cases may help scientists to discover potential targeted mechanisms and develop safer and more effective drugs for graying hair in the future.

Image source: 123RF

These factors are also important

While there are many reasons for graying hair, the following factors are also important:

Diet a balanced diet

Although it is difficult to solve the problem of gray hair by eating. However, the gray hair of some people is related to the lack of micronutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, copper, iron, etc. This part of the population may grow black hair due to dietary adjustment.

Don’t pull out gray hair

Because pulling hair may damage the hair follicles and scalp, cause folliculitis, and even induce hair loss, it is not worth the loss.

If you can’t stand it, it is recommended to cut off the white hair near the root of the hair.

Reduce stress

A study published in bioRxiv found that the graying of human hair is naturally reversible, and that this graying and reversal is synergistic with behavioral and psychological stress changes.

That said,life stress can be a big factor in graying and reversing hair, and reducing stress can help prevent graying.

Image source: 123RF


[1] Kockerols and Westerweel, (2022). Hair Repigmentation Induced by Nilotinib. NEJM, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMicm2119953

[2] Rosenberg, A., Rausser, S., Ren, J., Mosharov, E., Sturm, G., Ogden, R. T., … & Picard, M. (2020). Human hair graying is naturally reversible and linked to stress.bioRxiv.

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