Greying of Hairs/ Canities (Sheeb)


Greying of hairs or Canities (Sheeb) is a hair disorder characterized by premature greying of scalp hair, moustache, beard etc. It can severely affect the self-esteem of an individual. “Sheeb” is an Arabic word which literally means old person or hoariness (ageing). “Sheeb” is not grey colour hair at all nor pure white hair, but there are different shades of greying from dirty white to silvery white. In this condition the person appears to be old in young age as greying of hair is the most common sign of ageing while healthy hair is a sign of general well-being and youth.

Unani physicians defined “Sheeb” as Greying of hairs before the age of fifty years and considered it as disease. If greying of hairs start before the age of twenty, it is called as premature greying of Hair (PGH). Irrespective of age, Greying of hairs (Sheeb) has become a crucial problem in the present era. It can start from the age of fifteen due to deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals in the body, stressful environmental conditions, life style, faulty food habits, genetic factor etc.

To overcome the problem, many synthetic dyes are used by the community. But these dyes are having chief disadvantage of producing hypersensitivity and systemic toxicity in some individuals. 

Now days in the whole world there is trend to return towards the use of herbal products to adopt more natural way of life. Use of natural colorant can be beneficial to combat the side effects. Every individual has his own likings for colours and the nature manifest itself in a wide number of colours.

Herbal hair dyes, however, do not have disadvantages. Herbal hair dyes are generally less expensive than artificial colours, contain safer ingredients and if manufactured properly are as easy to use. The Unani system has enormous literature on dyes (Hair colouring agent). 

Unani Philosophy and Causes of premature greying of hairs (Sheeb)

According to Unani physicians under nourishment (Qillat-e- Taghzia) is a main factor and that’s why they recommend highly nutritious especially proteins rich diet for retention of hair pigment.

Unani scholars believe that, weakness of three faculties namely Nutritive Faculty ( Qoowwat-e- Ghazia), Power of Homogenization (Qoowwat-e- Mushabiha) and Faculty of Transformation (Qoowwat-e- Mugaiyyerah), leads to nutrients of diet unable to become part of body. As these faculties altogether convert nutrients to likeness of the cell and body.

Some Unani Physicians (Attiba) justify as the fact that two factors namely “Zo’f-e- Quwwat-e- Hazima” (Weakness in power of Digestion) with “Qillat-e- Hararat” (Lack of Heat) may cause haemo-concentration and as a result blood is unable to reach to small capillaries of scalp and hair. In the lack of proper nourishment hair gets grey.

Some Unani physicians also believe that excess of Phlegmatic fluids (Balghami Rutoobat), the temperament of scalp and hair get altered and nourishment is compromised.

According to some scholars, psychological stress (Infialaat-e- nafsaani) like stress, worry, grief, sorrow is potential cause of premature greying of hair (PGH).

Some scholars believe that excess intake of sour food items and general debility (Zo’fe Umoomi)

Rabban Tabri mentions in his book that hair of anterior portion of the head is affected first than posterior part just like the crops growing in less fertile soil which are weaker than the crops growing in fertile soil.

According to Jalinoos (Galen), Cause of premature greying of hairs (PGH) is a fungus. He said that anything living or non-living when gets effected by a fungus, it turns white. He also adds that Soo-e- mizaj-e- barid (cold temperament beyond normalcy) spoils the nourishment reaching the hairs and provides a soil for fungal infections.

Hypersensivity (Zood-e- Hassasiyat) to some agents is also mentioned by some Unani authors as causative factor of premature greying of hairs (PGH).

Beside these other causes are Congenital (khilqui), Vitiligo (bars), Alopecia areata (Daa-us- Sa’alab and Daa-ul- Hayya).

A part from above mentioned facts, causes of generalized greying of hair are Vitamin B12 deficiency, Megaloblastic anaemia, Nervous stress and strain and affections like migraine, Endocrinal disorders e.g., hyperthyroidism, hypopituitarism etc. Its other causes may be pernicious anaemia, auto immunity or use of certain chemicals.

Principles of treatment

  • Elimination of Morbid Material (Istifragh-e- Mawaad-e- Faasida) from head and body. Ayarijaat and Muqawwiyat are useful for this purpose.
  • If Mizaj-e- Ratab is the cause then suitable mujaffifat (dessicants) are used to absorb the excessive secretions
  • Muqawwiyat-e- Aam (General body tonic) to nourish the body and hairs
  • Systematic cleansing (Tanqiya-e- Aam) with Honey water (Maa-ul- Asl)
  • Treatment of any other underlying cause

Preparations that prevent premature greying of hairs

  • For elimination of morbid phlegm (Tanquiya-e- Balgham), flour of Operculina turpethum Linn. (Aarad-e- Turbud) 8gm, roasted Ipomoea nil Linn. (Habb-ul- Neel Biryan) 4gm, rind of Terminalia chebula (Post-e- Halela Zard), Zinjiber officinale (Zanjabeel), 2 gm each, are taken and all the drugs are grounded, deep fried in Roghan-e- Badam (Almond oil), 14ml are mixed with crushed Almond kernels (Maghz-e- Badam) (32 pieces) and at the end white sugar (Nabat-e- safed) 50 gm is mixed to it. The drug dose is 4-6 gm daily.
  • Take 1 tablespoon of crushed pomegranate bark and 300 ml of coconut oil. Mix it. Boil the mixture for 15-20 minutes. Strain and filtere it. The filtered product can be used as massage over the scalp and wash your head after 20 minutes. It prevents from greying of hair (Sheeb).
  • Crush Sapindus mukorossi (Reetha) and soak it over night in water. Straine it and massage your scalp with the filtered mixtures. Wash your head. It is useful both for shining hair as well as preventing of greying of hair (PGH).
  • Aamla (Emblica officianalis), ustukhuddus Lavandula stoechas, zanjabeel (zinjiber officinale), halela siyah (Chebulic myrobalan), nankhwah (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) in equal quantities are taken, crushed and powdered and a dose of 9 gm is advised to take.
  • Terminalia chebula (Halela Kaabuli) 60 gm, iron rust (Khubsul hadeed) 12 gm are taken, crushed and powdered and made into majoon form with shahed (honey).
  • Zinjiber officinale (Zanjabeel) 3 gm, Rosa damascana Linn. (Gul-e- surkh), Cassia angustifolia Vahl. (Barge Sana Makki), Ipomoea turpethum R (Turbud), Rheum emodi Wall. (Rewand Khatai) 9 gm each, Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn (Asl-us- Soos) 6 gm, Ipomoea nil Linn. (Habb-ul- Neel) Are taken and sugar is added in equal weight. All the drugs are powdered and given 9 gm daily.
  • Eating daily four gm of alum (Phitkari) prevent the hair greying

Local treatment

Some applications are used to stimulate pigmentation. These preparations restore the natural colour of the hair and prevent the growth of gray hair.

  • A paste made of curd and sandalwood powder when applied to the scalp helps to cure any kind of fungal infection of the scalp. This paste should be kept applied on hair for 20 minutes.
  • Application of Asal-e- Baladur (Marking nut honey/ Semecarpus anacardium), Roghan-e- nakhood (Gram oil) in equal quantity.
  • Application of joshanda mazoo (decoction of Quercus infectoria) on head.
  • Application of Mazoo Sokhta (Quercus infectoria), Tamba sokhta lead 40 gm, Malah indrani salt 2 gm. When dried apply this with cotton for 2 hours. Then wash the hairs.
  • Application of Paste of kibreet (sulphur) in Sharabe Kuhna (Old Alcohol) also act as black dye.
  • Boil barg-e- Kaner in donkey milk till the volume reduced to one third of the original. And use it.
  • Boil Cypressus sempervirens leaves (Barg-e- Saroo), Cypressus sempervirens fruit (Samar-e- Saroo), Emlica officinalis water (Aab-e- Aamla) in equal quantities in vinegar. Then boil with sesame oil (Roghan-e- Kunjad). Massage with this oil on hairs and paste of remained matter (sufal) on hairs.
  • Boil silver rust (Chandi ka Burada) in vinegar (sirka) so that it got dissolved and half of the quantity remains. Apply it on hairs.
  • Boil Citrullas colocynthus (Shahm-e- Hanzal), Sesamum indicum (Shooneez) in Roghan (oil) and apply it to get black hairs.
  • Burry Fresh barley (Jau) 2 parts, Sheeb 1 part in glass bottle. Apply it to black hairs.
  • Crush a tablespoonful of pomegranate bark and mix it with 250 ml of coconut oil and boil for 15 minutes. Massage the scalp with this oil about half an hour before bath and then wash off. This oil will prevent premature greying of the hair.
  • Dip Malva sylvestris (Barg-e- Khubbazi) in water and keep it in sunlight. Repeat the process of adding leaves again and again for 4 times. Then mix leaves of Lawsonia inermis Linn. (Barg-e- Hina) with Linum usitatissimum (Alsi).
  • Dip iron rust (Khubsul hadeed) in vinegar (Sirka Angoori) upto the level of four fingers. Put on fire till volume reduced to half and wait for two weeks and add Chebulic myrobalan (Halela siyah mashooq) and vinegar (sirka) and boil it. Make the consistency like that of Vaseline. Apply for one week by adding Roghan (oil) to it.
  • For baldness, message with oils in which Taj qalmi (Cinnamomum cassia bark), Izkhar, ood kham (raw agar wood) and long (Piper longum) and balchhad are boiled.
  • In Al Qanoon Fil Tibb Galen claims that if the urine of dog is obtained and putrefied for five or six days, then it is used. It will blacken the hair and even preserves its blackness.
  • Local application of oil prepared from fresh outer covering of walnut (Post-e- Jooz), Cinnamomum tamala (Sazaj hindi/ Tezpaat), Azfar ul teeb, Beetle nut (Hab ul baan), Prunus dulcis Mill (Badam Sherein) and Quercus infectoria (Mazoo) in Myrtle oil (Roghan-e- Aas)and Betel oil (Roghane Baan).
  • Local application of paste of murdaar sang (Monoxidum Plumbi), choona bujha (calx), multani mitti (fullers clay) in water and cover head with leaves of Arand (Ricinus communis) before and after washing the hair with warm water.
  • Massage with roghane laadan (laadan oil), roghan gul (rose oil) or any available oil.
  • Mazoo (Quercus infectoria) 8 gm, sange rasikh 4 gm, naushadar (Ammonium chloride) 2gm, shib-e- yamani (Alum) 1gm are taken. Mazoo (Quercus infectoria) is roasted and mixed with other ingredients powder and put in iron vessel. Hair washing is advised with aabe aamla (Emblica officianalis) and then this paste is applied on hair roots and washed after some time. Finally Roghane Aamla is applied after drying of hairs. Repeated applications may stimulate the hair pigmentation.
  • Mix a tablespoon of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri leaves) paste to a tablespoon of lemon juice and apply this to the scalp for half an hour before bath. This mixture provides good strength to the hair roots and also prevents premature greying.
  • Letharge (Murdar Sang), Unslaked lime (Choona), Pure clay (Mitti Khalis), Eucalyptus Globulus (Safeda), Tin calx (Qalai) are taken in equal quantity and mixed in water to form a uniform paste. This paste is applied over affected area for around 3 hours. Finally hairs are washed with Trigonella Foenum-graecum (lua’ab-e- hulba).
  • Burnt copper (Nohas sokhta), Tragacanth gum (Gum Kateera) 17.5 gm each, black salt (Namak-e- Indrani) 7 gm, Alum (Shibbe Yamani) 3.5 gm are taken and triturated like surma (Kohal). All ingredients are powdered and mixed in water to form a uniform paste and kept for 4 hours. This is a natural black dye.
  • Black dye (Oily khizab): Magnifera indica leaves (Barg-e- Aam) 250 gm, Quercus infectoria (Maazu), Iron dust (Buraada-e- faulad ) 35 gm each, Pomigranate (Anar tursh) 250 gm, sesame oil (til oil) 750 gm. Ingredients are powdered and mixed in oil and buried in dung cake for 40 days. Then the oil is applied to black the grey hairs.
  • Onion juice helps reverse greying (Sheeb). Regular application can help darken your hair from the roots.
  • Paste of Lawsonia inermis Linn. (Hina) in Syzygium aromatcum water (Aab-e- Qaranfal) make the hair black.
  • Paste of Cocos nucifera (Nariyal) with its root act as black dye for hairs.
  • Roast Chebulic myrobalan (Halela siyah) 60 gm, Zingeber officinalis (Zanjabeel), Trachyspermum ammi (Nankhwah) 40 gm in ghee and take with batasha.
  • Roast the barley (Jau) and apply the powder in hairs.
  • Sage leaves are one of the most effective herbal remedies for gray hair. Sage is known for its ability to reverse greying while darkening hair.
  • Shiqaiq un numan, flowers or leaves of baqla (Vicia faba)are admixed with roghane kunjad (sesame oil) and applied over hair in the form of paste (Majoosi, 2010).
  • Soak Halela siyah (Chebulic myrobalan), Khubsul Hadeed (iron rust), Aamla (Emlica officinalis) in Sirka angoori (grapes vinegar) for a month. Drain and boil in roghan until it thickens.
  • Sumbul-ut- Teeb (Nardostachys jatamansi DC) is boiled in alcohol and then grounded to make a thin paste. Repeated applications may stimulate the hair pigmentation.
  • The Ribbed gourd is another vegetable that is known for its ability to restore the pigment cells in your hair follicles.
  • Trigonella foenum graecum Linn. (Tukhm-e- Hulba) curb premature greying.
  • Indigofera tinctoria (Wasma), Indigofera tinctoria leaves (Barg-e- Neel) each 50 gm, Lawsonia inermis Linn. (Hina Khushk) 8gm mixed in decanted water of Emblica officianalis (Aamla) and allow to ferment. Add Citrus limon Linn. (Satt leemoon), Tamarindus indica (Satt imli) to it and allow to remain it in sun for 2 hrs. The paste is advised to dye the hairs. Leaves of Ficus carica (Barg-e- Bed Injeer) or Betel leaves (Barg-e- Paan) is advised to tie and cover the hairs for 4 hrs to retain moisture and humidity to take more and more results of the dye.

Single Unani Drugs Recommended

  • Aas                                                     Myrtus communis
  • Parsiyaoshan                                      Adiantum capillus
  • Akhrot                                                  Juglans regia
  • Amla                                                    Phyllanthus emblica
  • Baalchhar/ Sambul-ut- Teeb                Valeriana jatamansi 
  • Berg-e- Saru                                        Casuarina equisetifolia
  • Bhangra                                               Eclipta alba
  • Safflower Oil                                        Carthamus tinctorius
  • Chai/ Black tea                                    Melaleuca alternifolia
  • Chaliya                                                Areca catechu
  • Chameli                                               Anthemisnobilis/ matricaria chamomillae
  • Clary Sage                                           Salvia sclarea
  • Coffee                                                  Coffea arabica Linn.
  • Gurhal/ China rose                               Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Linn.
  • Henna                                                   Lawsonia inermis 
  • Kalonji/ Black Cumin                            Nigella sativa
  • Kuth                                                     Saussurea lappa C.B.
  • Ladan                                                  Cistus kereticusrisaina
  • Aam/ Kairi                                            Magnifera indica
  • Mazu                                                    Quercus infectoria
  • Mirch siyah/ Black pepper                   Piper nigrum
  • Zaitoon                                                Olea europaea
  • Post Balela                                          Terminalia bellirica
  • Post Halela zard                                  Terminalia chebula
  • Post Sumaq                                         Rhus coriaria
  • Anaar tursh/ Gulnaar Farsi                  Punica granatum
  • Gul-e-Surkh/ Ward                               Rosa damascene
  • Sanobar ki Daadhi                               Pinus longifolia Roxb.
  • Sarson/ Mustard                                   Brassica spp. /Brassicaceae
  • Senduria or Annato                              Bixa orellana /Bixaceae
  • Tabasheer                                            Bambusa arundinacea
  • Til                                                        Sesamum indicum
  • Wasma                                                Indigofera tinctoria Linn.

Compound Unani Drugs

  • Itriphal Ustokhuddus
  • Itriphal Sagheer
  • Itriphal Kabeer
  • Murabba Halela
  • Majoon-e- Baladur
  • Murabba Amla
  • Jawarish Jaalinoos
  • Sharbat-e- Faulad
  • Qurs-e- Khubsul Hadeed
  • Roghan-e- Zaitoon
  • Roghan-e- Aas
  • Roghan-e- Baan
  • Roghan-e- Aamla Sada
  • Roghan-e- Baiza-e- Murgh
  • Roghan-e- Zaraareeh
  • Roghan-e- Sarashf

Tips for Healthy and Shiny Hairs

  • Regular supplementation with vitamin B-12 and iron are recommended.
  • Frequent shaving of scalp and application of suitable oil is recommended.
  • Take high protein diet especially of animal sources diet.
  • Avoid Milk and milk products. They may cause excessive production of phlegm.
  • Avoid fat rich special diets like Assayed (Bread made with ghee), Sareed (Bread soaked in both), Halwa (Poridge), Hareerah (Dish made with wheat and meat) etc.
  • Avoid excessive coitus (Kasrat-e- Jima’a).
  • Avoid consumption of chilled water and drinks.
  • Sour foods, Venesection (Fasd) should be avoided


Unani drugs should be taken under the advice of the qualified Unani physician. The patients are required to follow strict Unani regimen for optimum results. Avoid self medication and visit nearest Unani centre for advice and treatment.


  • PUBLISHED DATE : Apr 19, 2020
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : Dr. Mahtab Alam Khan
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Apr 19, 2020


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