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Gray hair

Hair graying, also known as achromotrichia, is the most obvious sign of aging in humans. Change in hair color occurs when melanin ceases to be produced in the hair root and new hairs grow in without pigment. The stem cells at the base of hair follicles produce melanocytes, the cells that produce and store pigment in hair and skin. The death of the melanocyte stem cells causes the onset of graying.1

For most researchers at least, the mechanisms which ultimately drive the process are largely unknown,2 However, there is reason to believe that the decline in melanin production by melanocyte stem cells may be due to an inflammatory process driven by the Th1 pathogens.

One important factor in understanding why hair turns gray may prove to be activity to the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR), a receptor which is responsible for mounting an immune response to pathogenic bacteria. One of the many genes the Receptor transcribes is for hair follicles.

VDR expression in the epidermal component of the hair follicle, the keratinocyte, is critical for maintenance of the hair cycle.

Kristi Skorija, et al. 3

Evidence of infectious cause

  • Comorbidities with other inflammatory conditions – According to observational studies, patients suffering from known inflammatory diseases are somewhat more likely to get gray hair and vise-versa. This suggests some kind of shared pathology.
    • Heart attack (myocardial infarction) – After statistical adjustment for possible confounders, one research team found a correlation between graying of the hair, facial wrinkling, and frontoparietal baldness and crown-top baldness and myocardial infarction in men.4 The relative risk was greater for men with completely gray hair as compared to men with moderately gray hair. Men who had completely gray hair had approximately double the risk of heart attack as compared to men with no gray hair. A similar although weaker and not statistically significant trend was seen in women.
    • Vitilligo – Patients with vitiligo frequently have premature gray hair.5 Vitilligo, a common autoimmune condition in which patients lose skin pigment, is often treated with immunosuppressive measures such as phototherapy.6

Patients experiences

Some gray-haired patients have reported that their hair color has become less gray after being on the Marshall Protocol.

For the past 25 years my mark of distinction has been my silver hair and beard. I liked to think that, as for the mature “silver-back” gorillas, it put me at the top of the status tree. Now I face being an 80 year-old with the “mousey” hair of my youth. I started Benicar on 2/2/07. A few weeks later, I felt my hair didn't look shiny clean after a wash. Then my son-in-law said, “Your whiskers are going black”. Sure enough, close inspection showed the unfashionable dark roots. Eleven weeks into the MP, I showed my doctor a 3cm hair with a 1cm white tip and a 2cm dark base. I was able to reassure him that all was explicable under the rationale of the MP.

Jigsaw, a physician, MarshallProtocol.com

I have very little gray hair and the new hair that is growing in is black rather than gray.

Sue Andorn, Bacteriality interview

I began to get gray hair when I was 21 years old. Then when I was 30 years old I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease…. I am a 54 year old male and currently in Phase Two of the MP at the maximum antibiotic dosage. During Phase Two, my gray hair has slowly replaced by dark hair on my head, eyebrows and chest.

Ken C., MarshallProtocol.com

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References

1 , 2 Nishimura EK, Granter SR, Fisher DE Mechanisms of hair graying: incomplete melanocyte stem cell maintenance in the niche. Science. 2005;307:720-4.
3 Skorija K, Cox M, Sisk JM, Dowd DR, MacDonald PN, Thompson CC, Demay MB Ligand-independent actions of the vitamin D receptor maintain hair follicle homeostasis. Mol Endocrinol. 2005;19:855-62.
4 Schnohr P, Lange P, Nyboe J, Appleyard M, Jensen G Gray hair, baldness, and wrinkles in relation to myocardial infarction: the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Am Heart J. 1995;130:1003-10.
5 Agrawal K, Agrawal A Vitiligo: surgical repigmentation of leukotrichia. Dermatol Surg. 1995;21:711-5.
6 Awad SS, Abdel-Raof H, Hosam El-Din W, El-Domyati M Epithelial grafting for vitiligo requires ultraviolet A phototherapy to increase success rate. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007;6:119-24.
Last modified: 01.02.2012
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