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Gray hair is caused by a decrease in the pigment melanin which gives hair its color. This melanin is normally produced by cells called melanocytes in the skin. This decrease is a natural side-effect of aging. For years, men and women alike have experimented with methods to restore their hair's natural color in order to appear more youthful. Recently a supplement named Melancor was released which claims to stimulate melanocytes naturally to produce more melanin and delay or reverse the appearance of gray hair. These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Bromelain is a plant-extracted protease enzyme, an enzyme which breaks down proteins, first isolated from pineapples in 1891. It is most commonly used as a meat tenderizer but has also been employed therapeutically since 1957 as an anti-inflammatory agent similar to aspirin or acetaminophen. It works to inhibit the recruitment of inflammatory cells to the site of an injury, infection, or reaction, thereby reducing swelling and pain. Similar to aspirin, it also appears to prevent platelet clumping. Be advised that Bromelain supplementation may increase heart rate and therefore should be used cautiously in people with heart conditions.
Biotin is the common name for the water-soluble vitamin B7. Biotin deficiency can cause hair loss, facial rashes, conjunctivitis, and neurological symptoms. However, intestinal bacteria typically produce more than enough biotin for the body's functions and its deficiency is very rare 1. It may be more common in alcoholics, people who have had portions of their intestine removed, and after ingesting very large amounts of raw egg whites.
PABA is one of the ingredients in the chemical processes which create folate, a substance which is essential to many bodily functions. However, humans lack the ability to create folate from PABA and therefore must consume their folate directly from vegetables or bacteria which are able to synthesize it. As such, PABA is itself considered nutritionally unimportant for humans. There are no recognized symptoms of PABA deficiency.
Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, is an essential nutrient required by all forms of life. It functions in many energy-generating processes within cells. Few studies have been performed on the effects of pantothenic acid deficiency, however, because it is readily available in many food sources and its deficiency is very rare. A study with mice published in the Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disorders in 2007 identified skin irritation and loss of hair color as possible effects of severe pantothenic acid deficiency. As a result, the cosmetics industry began adding the vitamin to many products. However, as of yet the products have showed no benefits in human trials.
Choline is another essential nutrient. A deficiency of choline may contribute to health problems such as liver disease, atherosclerosis and neurological disorders. Alcoholics, strict vegetarians and endurance athletes may be at a higher risk for choline deficiency and as such may benefit from supplementation. It is especially important for pregnant women as its deficiency may cause neural tube defects in the fetus. Choline has also been shown to be effective as a treatment for liver disorders, Alzheimer's dementia and bipolar disorder. It has not been shown to have any effect on hair or skin disorders.
- "Alternative Medicine Review"; Bromelain: A Literature Review and Discussion of its Therapeutic Applications; Gregory S. Kelly, N.D.; 1996
- "Merck Index," 11th Edition; Susan Budavari; 1989
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