Reversing Gray Hair? Part 2

A year and half ago I posted on the idea that the amino acid L-Tyrosine might be able to reverse or delay gray hair. L-Tyrosine is used to make melanin, which gives your hair its natural color.

What prompted the post was a guest article Jimmy Moore had about an upcoming podcast guest. After listening to the podcast, I sort of lost faith that the doctor knew what he was talking about. He came off as yet another carb phobic voice reciting the same old tired script.

In addition to L-Tyrosine, the other leading suspect in reversing or delaying gray hair was copper. Considering I was most likely copper deficient in 2008 and have been getting plenty of copper via both supplementation and beef liver, I started to suspect copper was the key.

Source Naturals L-Tyrosine 500mg, 100 Tablets (Pack of 3)
Source Naturals L-Tyrosine 500mg, 100 Tablets (Pack of 3) (Amazon USA)

Later in 2012, I learned from Dan Kalish that if you take L-Tyrosine daily it should be paired with 5-HTP. I covered this in detail in the post Safe Use of 5-HTP and L-Tyrosine. As good as L-Tyrosine made me feel, 5-HTP was a mixed bag. It started out OK, but my sleep got worse with it. I started to get concerned, so I stopped taking both supplements. That was early 2013.

This summer I noticed the gray hair returning. Like it looked in 2008. Now throughout the past year, I’ve had copper daily either in supplements or offal. I also take selenium daily. I was starting to suspect that copper wasn’t the key player. Maybe it was L-Tyrosine after all?

Yesterday I got this comment from Daniel, which confirmed my suspicion.

Tyrosine is the key element in reversing gray hair. An accidental finding in imatinib receivers proved this. Imatinib is an anticancer drug, working through tyrosine kinase inhibiting. They noticed that patients on this drug regained their hair color after 6-7 months. Some of these patients were over 60! So I think that increasing tyrosine itself may also have the similar effect. By the way, spinach is a good source of tyrosine for vegs and those who dislike animal-drived proteins.

Daniel goes on to say he is working professionally in hair health with reversing gray hair as one of his goals. He also recommends supplementing with selenium and zinc.

george-clooney-gray-hair

Photo by Josh Jensen

Now What?

I personally don’t care if and when my hair turns gray. Maybe consuming a nutrient dense diet can reverse gray hair or maybe it can delay or slow down the process? Beats me. Regardless of if you care about having gray hair, being well nourished is still a good goal.

From everything I’ve read, minerals like selenium, zinc and copper are probably about the safest supplements one can take. I am concerned that taking high doses of L-Tyrosine daily might not be a wise idea. See the safety post and watch the video for more details. If Dan Kalish is correct then messing with L-Tyrosine without 5-HTP in high doses or for extended period might cause problems.

I’d rather have gray hair than get the supplementation wrong. I already know I don’t like 5-HTP, so I’ll resume taking L-Tyrosine in small doses (500 mg) daily, but I’ll also take every other month off. Of course this post is not medical advice. I’m just a health hobbyist interesting in learning if one amino acid can reverse gray hair. If you have your own nutritional story about graying hair, please leave a comment.

UPDATE October 2015: From Danny Roddy’s Facebook page: Spontaneous re-pigmentation of scalp hairs in an older gentleman.

Thyroid hormone and bromocriptine (an anti-prolactin drug) are two other therapies known to produce re-pigmentation in scalp hair.

Published by

MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

36 thoughts on “Reversing Gray Hair? Part 2”

  1. Hi MAS,
    Love the N=1 experimentation you have blogged about. Also like that Prof. Art DeVany
    is a mentor of yours as well as mine. I attended his seminar in Las Vegas in May, 2008. Although
    I do not agree with everything Art teaches, I do believe that his knowledge is superior. Especially
    when it comes to exercise. Target fast twitch muscles–just as skin is an organ, I believe that all
    of your interconnected fast twitch muscle is a much needed cellular signaling organ.
    Thanks, Mark

  2. There is amino acid testing you can do, that way you know if you have decent levels. Low stomach acid may make tyrosine absorption difficult. If it isn’t absorbed in your digestive tract bacteria will proliferate that will break it down.

  3. Hi there. Is L-tyrosine animal derived? And in what ways did the combination intefere with your sleep? Feedback would be appreciated <3.

  4. I love your posts, very informative and interesting. Can You give us an update about your experiment. How is it going with the tyrosine?

    Are there any companies or institutions doing any trials on this? There should be a few out there, but probably they wont cause the hair dye industry will go broke if they give us a cure for this 🙂

    I personally have had on and off gray hair since I was 15, I didnt pay attention to it until I was 19, I had a bunch of gray hairs, I joined a gym, and I decided to take some multivitamins just to have more energy. After a couple of months I noticed my hair went back to its original light brown color, no more gray. Back then I thought it was because of the excercise I was doing, which could be true. But now I think that most probably it was because of because of the vitamins I was taking.. Now in my early thirties, my diet has changed drastically (gotten worse) over the last couple of years, and gray hair is coming back. 🙂

    Again, great material, thanks!

    Waiting for your response,

    Alex

  5. @Alex – I sort of put this experiment on hold. Whenever I consume a fair amount of coffee, I don’t take L-Tyrosine. And in the past year, I’ve been exploring new coffee brewing methods for my coffee site INeedCoffee.

    This experiment to me is interesting, but I don’t think people will have a uniform response. It will be highly personalized. Wish I had a large sample.

    Maybe I could take L-Tyrosine and drink coffee? I hadn’t considered that til this moment, as I have always used Tyrosine when I cut back on caffeine.

    Please post a comment if you notice L-Tyrosine working for you. Or even if it doesn’t.

  6. Hi Michael, I ran across this post looking for help for my husband, who is a little bit distressed about his rapidly increasing gray hair. I guess you don’t have anything definitive to tell us, but I enjoy what you write. I know it’s hard to get anything definitive out of these self-experiments (being a self-experimenter myself), but let us know when you know more, okay?

    I tried to find a contact email, because I feel inspired to write you about the topic below, but all I could find was as a comment, even though I’m sure it’s inappropriate, so edit it away!

    Having browsed a bit on this blog, I thought you’d appreciate Katy Bowman and her book “Move Your DNA.” I’d love to read your review of it! I wondered if you know of her. She lives in Sequim, on the Olympic Peninsula. Here’s a link about her: http://www.restorativeexercise.com/about-katy/

    Thanks, Sarah Kotzamani

  7. I think, mixing L-Tyrosine with 5-HTP is a bad idea and you should only go for L-Tyrosine only. As the article posted on September 2013 and now today is November 2014, it’s almost 1.2 years. Now can you please tell me what’s the update on your daily dose?

  8. I have been taking L-tyrosine for about a month now and it also made it easier for me to cut back on caffeine. The first week I took it, I felt jittery and anxious, and after two weeks, I realized the dose (1,000 mg/day) was giving me headaches late in the day. It took a few weeks to find the optimal balance of L-tyrosine and caffeine. Now I take 1,000 mg every other day and drink half the coffee I did before. L-tyrosine was literally what rescued me from a deep depression that was at least in part due to nutritional deficiencies. I noticed its effects within 15 minutes of taking my first dose. I bet you will not need as much coffee if you begin taking L-tyrosine and caffeine together. Worth a try!

  9. This is interesting. There are many clients interested in all the beneficial aspects of tyrosine. Only, they want to get it from foods like cottage cheese, cream cheese, turkey, etc. rather than taking supplements.

    Not only can it supposedly help your hair go back to its natural color but also supposedly help with thyroid hormone and other things.

    I look forward to any updates others have on this.

    Kathy

  10. Hi. I am suffering from vitiligo. I was thinking of taking tyrosine and PABA supplements . Will that be having side effects. ?

  11. If you are a coffee drinker then all bets are off with your copper/zinc/ selenium/ tyrosine. I have read that coffee and caffeine basically leech any benefit you will get say from copper/zinc/ the B vitamins one takes for gray reversal. Drinking coffee and soda pop negates all of them, and that is my problem. I tend to be a soda addict and although I take just about every B vitamin known to reverse or retard the onset of gray I can’t totally kick my soda habit. My hair grows like crazy, but the gray keeps on coming. I am finally winning my battle with caffeine, but it has put me a few years behind in my war against the gray.

  12. @Robert Bruce – Well I’ve consumed a lot of coffee and gotten some reversal. So perhaps the reversal might be quicker if I give up the coffee? Yikes.

  13. So mas can premature genetic grey hair be cure or reversed or slows down when we ate foods that helps to produce more pigments to the hair??? I have same question as jack I still don’t understand can u like comment plz thx I’m genetic premature graying and I really want to slowdown or cure or reversed it hopefully there’s something that helps to slows down or cures or reversed the graying process…thx a lot means a lot to me

  14. I also always apply coconut oil on my hair daily so can it like slows down or reversed or cure gray hair? Coz I heard that it can help to reversed the grey hairs

  15. @James – Once again that is the question I am asking. I do not know. You can read this post and every comment and decide on how and if you want to run your own experimentation.

    Eating a diet rich in minerals such as copper and zinc along with L-Tyrosine supplementation MAY slow down or reverse gray hair in SOME not all people. Have no clue about topical of coconut oil. I doubt it will do anything.

  16. Hai its me again So tyosine is a product that helps to reverse greys so we have to buy to get it…well im 13 no money lol how to buy…? Even mybe my parents dont allow…or mybe im to young to use all of this product stuff…

  17. Is there other way that helps reverse grey easier way not buying stuff online like home remedies…stuff like that…thx alot

  18. O ya forgot to tell I everday ate rice and chicken daily people say that they help to reverse greys or cures or slows down becouse its a meat and why my hair still go grey?…

  19. Well I only eat chicken and rice nothing else…and plane water…and somtimes drink soya bean milk which have copper in it and my hair still go grey…

  20. Are you stressed out Jack? Malnutrition and stress are some reasons for going gray. I never heard a kid go gray at your age.

  21. I dont really ate fruits everyday…I also not stress coz everday I play soccer at school now ik y my hair go grey coz I dont really take enough food that helps to produce more pigments…mybe I have to eat like fruits daily…do u think it will help?

  22. O ya now ik y my hair go grey almost all of my hair is the roots is grey and the tip is black like its just popped I always srs eat alot of oiled food like chicken my mother always fry it…now my mother buy like microwave and it helps to just cook now it dont used the oil to cook now I been eating food like non oiled food and its like 3 weeks and srs for the first time my hair is like at the roots is black and the tip is grey its like going to reversed its colour and into black back im genetic greying so theres mybe some ppl can reversed but not all im so happy now I guss I have to eat food that have less oiled YAY NOW I FINALLY FIND A WAY TO GET RID OF GREYING but now also I been eating alot of fruits daily at school

  23. I found out 15 months ago that I have the DH form of celiac after 27 years of on-and-off symptoms. I have been off gluten since and because celiac is linked to type 1 diabetes (which I don’t have but my brother has been for 53 years since age 16) I have cut way back on non-vegetable carbohydrates. Both of my brothers, 5 yrs older and younger, have grey hair. I noticed about 17 years ago at 48 that I was getting a few grey hairs, but I love grey hair so I didn care. I had started eating high-Lignan flax oil at that time after using flax seed when it was first in the Health-food “scene” and was surprised to hear that it is linked to reversal of grey hair (after noticing after all those years that I wasn’t getting any greyer!)

  24. Those interested in finding an alternative way to slow down and/or even stop the process turning original hair color into grey should go to the root of the problem, I suppose… The reason hair follicles begin to grow grey instead of the natural color is due to the increase of a hormone conversion. Testosterone decreases and dht increases as we age or suffer from hormonal imbalance. By blocking dht to activate estrogen and t receptors the consumption of pumpkin seeds help, according to medical research.

  25. Hi all.

    The only thing that works for my grey and thin hair is eating raw vegetables. Within a couple of weeks it’s darker and a bit thicker looking.

    The easiest way to do this is juicing or blending (green smoothies). Particularly effective are the dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale.

    It’s not a cure, it’s something to keep doing for the rest of your life. However, think of it this way… the skin and hair are outward signs of how the body is doing inside and the body can heal itself very quickly… if we just get out of the way and let it do its thing.

    The second thing about this is inflammation. I bet you most disease is caused by it. The vegan diet will quell that inflammation. It also means no animals have to suffer and die just so you can have something to eat.

    Thirdly, ever seen an obese vegan? Me neither.

    Ed.

  26. @Ed – I have seen some links that say wheatgrass helps reverse gray hair, which would line up with your idea.

  27. @MAS. I should have mentioned wheatgrass. I’ve bought the powdered stuff and that does really work.

  28. Eating a ton of seaweed (kelp) can also reverse graying.
    It helps to stop the reduce the cause e.g stress, alcohol consumption, e.t.c.

  29. I have trying to reverse gray hair with he shou wu but hasnt been successful. What do I do? I have started eating 5 gm spirulina every day and waiting for results. I am hypothyroid and wondering if copper colloidal would help to reverse gray. Whatis the best form of copper through food or veg? Please help i am under acute stress since white hair has come from the front of forehead i m just 37.

  30. Thanks for the reply. In addition to copper rich food what else should i do to reverse gray. Should i use copper colloidal or capsules and which one do you recommend?

  31. @All – Closing Comments.

    Too many people are asking for medical advice on how to reverse their gray hair, when this post and several comments clearly stated I don’t know. There is even a question mark in the title. I honestly do not know. I’m not withholding any information.

    If I learn something new, I will create a Part 3 post.

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