From Odd to Able: The Bizarre Hair Loss Treatments of the Past

male pattern baldness
Not all men – and women – would agree that thinning manes, receding hairlines and smooth crowns lend an air of dignity.

Fortunately, experimentation has given the world some amazing discoveries on treating the condition. Not all experiments, however, turned out as alright and as effective as today’s FUE hair transplants. Let us look at some of the peculiar ways people have tried to prevent hair loss over the centuries.

The Egyptian Cure: Animal Fats, Hair, and Hooves

According to an Egyptian medical text written 3,500 years ago, Ebers Papyrus, a concoction made from the fat of a hippopotamus, crocodile, snake, tomcat and ibex is the solution for baldness. Often used by the Pharaoh, the mixture is applied to the scalp for four days.

Egyptians also used boiled porcupine hair, as well as a mixture of herbs and cow dung to cure hair loss.

The remedies failed, which is probably why the Egyptian royals were known to wear wigs and fake beards.

The Hippocratic Cure: Droppings and Spices

Hippocrates, known as the father of Western medicine, suffered from male pattern baldness during the onset of his career. He used a topical “medicine” made of opium, horseradish, beetroot, spices – and pigeon droppings. It was not effective.

He then noticed that eunuchs, castrated men employed to guard women’s living areas in the past, were not thinning on top. He suggested a radical treatment – castration – which, a few years after, researchers at Duke University confirmed effective in preventing hair loss.

The Royal Cure: Animal Urine and Semen

In the past, Henry VIII used to apply horse and dog urine on his head to cure baldness. In the more recent times, UK Solons suggested a bizarre treatment – bull semen. Odourless and colourless, the fluid contains high amounts of protein that is said to promote the production of keratin. The molecules need to be broken down, however, as bull sperm molecules are too large to be absorbed by the scalp.

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From the looks of it, people who suffered from baldness did not have it so easy. Fortunately, the rise of modern treatments, such as FUE hair transplant, has brought hair loss treatment to a whole new level.