Experimentation has given the world some marvelous discoveries but not all experiments turn out as planned. When it comes to hair loss, advances in science have brought hair loss treatments to a whole new level. There are several options available for people suffering from hair loss including treatment shampoos, vitamins and hair transplant procedures. However, people suffering from baldness in the past did not have it so easy.
Step back in time, about 3500 years ago, to a period when a pharaoh was unnerved by his balding head. Even then, balding was an issue that people were despondent about. So how did they treat baldness back then? According to an Egyptian medical text, a mixture of herbs and cow dung was the trending solution for baldness. Some people used porcupine hair that was boiled in water and applied it to the scalp for four days. A mixture of hippopotamus fat, snake, crocodile and a cat was a treatment used by the pharaoh to treat thinning hair. Nevertheless, these remedies were not very successful which is probably why both male and female royals were known to wear wigs and fake beards in ancient Egypt.
The Greeks were creative people and had some ideas of how to treat balding. Although Hippocrates had dramatic paintings of himself portraying his balding head, he was not pleased with his lack of hair. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, prescribed himself a mixture of beetroot, spices, horseradish, opium and pigeon droppings. However, when this was unsuccessful, Hippocrates relied on a dim observation. He believed that eunuchs never went bald so he suggested castration as a means to battle baldness.
Ever wonder why Julius Caesar started to wear a laurel wreath on his head? He also struggled with thinning hair and his baldness was seen as a disfigurement which his enemies liked to harp on. Caesar attempted to grow his hair long on the sides and comb the strands over the top but this was not an ideal solution. Eventually, Caesar took the advice of his wife and proceeded to use her crazy home remedy of applying a mixture of horse teeth, bear grease and ground up mice on his head. Unfortunately, this concoction did not work so he decided to cover his balding head with a wreath.
Hairpieces became the rage among French and English nobles in the 17th century after the royals, such as King Louis X111 of France, wore toupees to cover their balding scalps. Of course, these weren’t your run of the mill toupees. These massive white wigs unusually contained long and elaborate curls which were caked with white powder. This style was eventually adopted by wealthy American colonists as a status symbol up until the American Revolution.
In 1936, the Crosley Corporation invented a machine they called the Xervac which used suction to encourage hair growth. However, the Crosley Corporation was an American company which manufactured automobiles and radios and did not specialize in medicine. The Xervac was a helmet-encased vacuum pump which was marketed towards business people. It was advertised as being found in barber shops where men could sit back and read a newspaper while getting their hair follicles massaged. The machine could also be rented and used at home. Needless to say, the world did not benefit from this attempt to suck the follicles into production.
The UK has had some strange cures for baldness in the past and the present. King Henry V111 used to smear horse and dog urine on his bald head to promote hair growth. In more recent times, UK solons provided a bizarre treatment for thinning hair. Aberdeen Organic Bull Semen is a popular treatment used typically on women to restore healthy hair. Fortunately, bovine semen is odorless and colorless. While bull semen is believed to grant a person thick and beautiful hair, it is not actually proven to accomplish that task.
Beliefs and ideas are endless and although some may seem scientifically possible, there is usually no proof and little science behind them. Whether you are a Columbian farmer who believes that bovine saliva can cure balding or from India where regularly standing on your head is thought to restore hair growth, the battle against thinning hair happens all over the world.