Aristotle used goat urine and Hippocrates recommended pigeon droppings. For what?

As a treatment for baldness. Men have never found baldness an appealing trait, in spite of stories that bald men are sexier. (Stories usually spread by bald men.) Virtually anything that can be done to a bald pate has been tried to stimulate hair growth. The ancient Egyptians were fond of rancid crocodile or hippo fat. If it smelled bad, surely it must do some good. It didn’t. Cleopatra experimented with a goo made of ground horse teeth and deer marrow to spur Julius Caesar’s dormant hair follicles into action. When this didn’t work she traded him in for Mark Antony. During the Victorian era cold tea was brushed on the scalp, followed by citrus juice. In farming areas chickens were persuaded to leave deposits on a bald head and cows to lick it. Electric combs, suction caps and paint thinner have been tried. At a secluded farmhouse in Pennsylvania, Marcella Ferens rakes a glass instrument filled with a purple gas across the head to “sterilize the scalp.” Then the subject holds a wire attached to some electrical machine while the operator holds a second wire as she massages the bald area with a secret formula. This forces the formula into the scalp. Some infomercials push shampoos with special emulsifiers to clean follicles as if baldness were due to plugged follicles. Others use jumbled language to promote spray paint to cover bald spots. The truth is that only Rogaine (minoxidil) rubbed on the scalp or Propecia (finasteride) taken orally have shown any effect in growing hair. Even with these the results are not impressive. The Bald Headed Men of America, headquartered appropriately in Morehead, North Carolina, was started when the founder was refused a job because he was bald. They take a different tack. If you want to waste your hormones growing hair….go ahead” Actually this is a wrong statement because it is high levels of dihydrotestosterone that can cause baldness. They are on firmer footing with their slogan. No rugs or drugs.

Joe Schwarcz

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