Stress just keeps finding ways for us to not like it very much. Don't get me wrong. Stress can be great in small and short doses. It helps keep us alert and ready to perform. However, we humans under prolonged periods of stress tend not to do very well. Too much stress can lead to weight gain, bad sleep, poor heart health, decreased immune system, and even mental disorders.
Now we can add grey hair to that list. A research team at Harvard university have identified stress as a major factor for our hair going grey early. The study suggests that stress causes our nervous system to produce a hormone that destroys the stem cells we need for the color pigmentation in our hair. These are the same nerves that prepare our bodies in a "fight-or-flight" response.
When we feel stress, our nerves produce a a hormone called noradrenaline, or norepinephrine. Noradrenaline reaches into our hair follicles and causes a massive amount of our stems cells to convert into melanocytes. Melanocytes are required for our hair pigmentation, its color. Sounds good though, right? Don't we need melanocytes to make our hair color? Yes, but we don't need so many of them to convert all at once. And, here's the result: once stems cells convert into melanocytes and get used, they're gone. Each hair follicle has a limited amount of stem cells it can convert. Of course, this doesn't happen overnight. It takes a bit of time, as we all know, but now we also know that Stress can speed this process up.
The bigger picture is that stress can also lead to accelerated aging. That's still all being studied and researched but the idea isn't too far fetched. We know stress can impact us in a variety of ways, such as bad sleep or weight gain. All of which can lead to more serious health problems.
Regardless, we hope you all stay healthy and enjoy life out there. Life's too short to stress on it all anyways! =)
Here's some more reading if you're interest: