Marie Antoinette syndrome: is it possible to turn gray overnight from fear or stress?

Marie Antoinette syndrome: is it possible to turn gray overnight from fear or stress?

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Marie Antoinette syndrome has another medical name – canities subita. But it is still not clear this mysterious condition and whether it is true that a person can suddenly turn gray. Scientists argue whether this is possible, can the coloring pigment disappear in an instant, or is it quackery? There are many opinions. Some argue that hair cells are inanimate, they cannot respond to a person’s mental state. But recent experiments on mice confirm that it is still possible to turn gray with fear.

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An unfinished portrait of Marie Antoinette depicting the young queen after her hair has turned white

There are a lot of confirmations of this fact in history, and the most striking of them is the case of Marie Antoinette. Just imagine what it’s like to fall asleep as a brunette, and wake up as a blonde, or rather gray-haired. The family of the Queen and King Louis XVI were forced to flee from persecution by the revolutionaries. Thought it would turn out secretly, but rumors quickly spread around.

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The French royal family tried to flee Paris during the Revolution but were caught in Varennes in June 1791

The postmaster from the city of Varennes suspected that the king was in front of him. To verify this, he took out a banknote and compared the image on it with the face in front of him. It would be foolish to deny the similarity. The royal family was taken to Paris. However, Marie Antoinette turned gray overnight. At 35, she looked like a 70-year-old woman.

Besides that, there are other cases. For example, the hair of the humanist Thomas More also turned gray the night before his upcoming execution.

Mary, Queen of Scots also arrived at her execution in 1587 with a new hair color. It happened after her son agreed to the execution of his mother.

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Mary, Queen of Scots at a young age. Her hair turned gray the night before her execution at the age of 44

Also during the First World War, there was a case that was witnessed by doctors. In 1915, a French army soldier nearly hit a mine. Probably at that moment he felt an incredible fear. The next day in the hospital, tufts of gray hair were noticed.

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