Herbs have been used in the traditional folk medicine of many cultures for thousands of years to treat premature aging conditions such as premature graying hair. Admittedly, traditional medicines have not always been effective in treating grey hair and to this day no herbal or medicinal cure for age-related and genetically-determined grey hair conditions exists. Nonetheless, herbal remedies have experienced a tremendous revival in popularity recently and now account for well over 50% of all hair care products sold. Their attractiveness stems mainly from the general belief that they are free from negative side effects and can stimulate natural healing processes in the body and thus reverse medical conditions naturally.
By far the most popular herbal remedy for reversing grey hair today is Fo-Ti root. It can be found as a principal active ingredient in almost any natural grey hair product. Fo-Ti (polygonum multiflorum), is a climbing plant native to China and now widely grown also in Japan and Taiwan. In traditional Chinese medicine it has been used for thousands of years as a popular youth tonic because of its assumed ability to counteract the body’s aging processes. In China it is well known under the name He shou wu, which stands for “black haired Mr. He”. The legend has it that an old villager, Mr. He, who lived in the 9th century A.D. took Fo-Ti and restored his black hair, youthful appearance and vitality and fathered children at the ripe age of 60. He lived to 130, maintaining his black hair. In addition to influencing the aging processes, Fo-Ti is credited with many other health-giving properties highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine. Among other things, it is also believed to extend hair growth cycles and thus it can be frequently found in many commercial hair loss products. As is so often the case with herbal cures, Fo-Ti has never been clinically studied as a potential grey hair treatment. There is no scientific or recent empirical evidence that it can help reverse greying hair.
PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and folic acid are two vitamins from the group of B vitamins credited with the ability to reverse greying hair. Their presence in the body is essential to maintaining one’s original hair colour and it is conceivable that a shortage of any of these two vitamins might lead to hair turning grey. Their extra intake can be beneficial in grey hair conditions caused by vitamin B deficiency but will not restore your original hair colour in conditions caused by hereditary factors or old age. Nevertheless, these two vitamins are used in almost any commercial grey hair remedy you can buy.
There are many other herbal ingredients such as ginkgo biloba, eleuthero root, Asian ginseng, gotu kola, green tea, rosemary, chamomile, horsetail, etc. that you can find in natural grey hair products, having mostly auxiliary functions, such as promoting a healthy scalp environment or providing additional nutrients to your hair follicles. Some other herbs, such as sage, can be used to add colour to your hair, working as a natural hair colorant while also giving your hair more shine, which gives the impression of there being less grey hair. One traditional method of reversing greying hair, which may sound anecdotal, is rubbing your fingernails against each other to help circulation (as nerve endings are located under the finger nails), thereby reducing the amount of grey hair.
It can be concluded that no scientific proof exists that any exercise or herb, vitamin, mineral or nutrient contained in the natural remedies can reverse premature or age-related greying of hair. If you decide to try any commercial herbal remedy for grey hair, keep in mind that besides there being no guarantee of its effectiveness, no daily dosage has been established and side effects might occur, despite the general belief that herbal remedies are safe and free from them.