While there is no scientific evidence that any diet, herb, supplement, or product can stop grey hair, reduce it or reverse it, there are some underlying conditions that may result in premature gray and a Chinese herb that’s reputed to help.
Our hair color is produced by tiny hair pigment cells within our hair follicles called melanocytes. As we age, these melanocytes gradually stop making pigment. New hair then grows in without pigment, resulting in grey hair. Genetics determine whether or not you’ll have premature grey hair, when the melanocytes’ activity will wane and eventually stop producing pigment.
There are a few underlying conditions, such as thyroid disorders, b12 deficiency, the skin condition vitiligo, and early menopause that can cause premature grey hair. In addition, cigarette smoking has been linked to causing premature grey hair.
If you’re determined to figure out how to stop grey hair, there’s a Chinese herb you might add to your list of possibilities. Fo-ti is a plant native to China that is also found in Japan and Taiwan. In traditional Chinese medicine, the root of the plant is often boiled in a liquid–known as red fo-ti–made with black beans. White fo-ti is the unprocessed root.
Fo-ti is also called polygonum multiflorum and He shou wu, which means “black-haired Mr. He” in Chinese. The He shou wu name refers to a legend of an elder villager, Mr. He, who reputedly used fo-ti to restore his black hair, youthful appearance and vitality.
Fo-Ti is used as a tonic used to stop greying hair, premature aging, weakness, vaginal discharge, constipation, and erectile dysfunction. It is also believed to lower serum cholesterol, decrease hardening of the arteries, and improve immune function.
However, there have been no controlled studies on the effectiveness or safety of fo-ti use. In some rare cases, people using fo-ti have developed an allergic skin rash. Other side effects can include loose stools, and taking over 15 grams of the processed root can cause numbness in the arms and legs.