Menu
Menu
Find a Doctor
The Answer to Hair Loss - Getting Back to the Point

The Answer to Hair Loss - Getting Back to the Point

updated

Hair loss has been a hot topic since ancient times. Baldness even received press in the Bible. In Kings 2:23, the wrath of a follicly challenged man serves as a warning for anyone who might consider making sport of a bald pate. Elisha sics a couple of angry bears on a gang of youths who have the audacity to taunt him with "baldhead." This Bible lesson? Don't mess with bald guys!

The ever-resourceful ancient Egyptians may have been the first to come up with remedies for hair loss. Long before NBA games started looking like giant-thumb conventions, the Egyptians shaved their heads to be cool — as in lower-temperature "cool." Never ones to make too much sense, the ancient Egyptians also created wigs to protect their bald heads from the sun, and they initiated the arcane science of formulating hair loss medicines to combat follicular retreat. One remedy called for dog toes and the hoofs of an ass.

The ancient Romans apparently fiddled with cures for baldness as well. They rubbed on a variety of salves and ointments in mostly futile hopes of reversing progressive scalp defoliation. Gossip of the day held that Julius Caesar wore his laurel wreaths as much to cover bald spots as to enhance his image as commander in chief. (Et tu, loose locks?)

It wasn't until the Middle Ages that a truly effective cure for baldness was finally discovered. Unfortunately, the gain in hair was dependent on the loss of a couple of treasured items. Boys who had been castrated prior to puberty invariably grew luxurious carpets atop their heads as adults. Continued population growth throughout the Middle Ages indicates that eunuchism had little career appeal, though, and the streamlining method of hair recovery never gained much momentum.

In the 1700s, British ingenuity reached its zenith with the innovation of magnificent curly wigs, which soon became the fashion choice for both smooth-topped and hirsute men of the realm. After it became apparent that wearing a stifling pelt had its drawbacks – and wasn’t really all that great a fashion statement – most males went back to hats, and the wigs went the way of velvet plus-fours.

In the American West, nineteenth-century cowboys with shiny domes had no time for sissy wigs — a handful of axle grease and a creative comb-over were all they needed to disguise a missing mane. Though the connection has never been documented, this could be why so many cowpunchers of that era ended up with the handle "Slick."

As the twentieth century dawned, the invention and promotion of snake-oil hair-growth remedies became much more sophisticated. The advent of the electric age gave rise to Dr. Frankenstein–like scalp stimulators, and breakthroughs in supplement science produced an endless stream of pills, lotions, and tonics "guaranteed" to reforest scalps to their youthful abundance. Toupee spotting at mid-century became as much of a participatory spectator sport as breast implant spotting is today, and line-ups of glorious wigs for both men and women graced advertisements on the back pages of most B-list magazines.

The popularity of wigs, toupees, and frightening appliances faded in the late twentieth century, and real scientists took up the noble cause of finding a cure for hair loss. Pharmaceutical company executives soon let out a collective squeal of joy at the discovery of the hair-growing properties of Rogaine®. R&D shifted into high gear throughout the industry, and soon an entirely new selection of pills, lotions, and tonics appeared on the market.

Many of the new cures for hair loss work to an extent, but constant dosing is necessary to maintain results. The pharmaceutical juggernaut, following the lead of the tobacco industry, has found a way to handcuff users to products and keep the cash flowing. Auggh. What's a straight-shooting hair-losing person to do?

Go back to the past, naturally. While Western minds of all stripes have been going to a lot of double, double, toil and trouble in attempts to reanimate dead tresses, over in the other hemisphere the Chinese have been quietly using hair restoration solutions first developed in ancient times. Long, long ago in China, medical practitioners began using acupuncture and other natural techniques to treat just about everything under the sun, including hair loss. TCM, or traditional Chinese medicine, has hair-raising adherents all over Asia, and some westerners have begun to take notice.

Hair replacement TCM-style calls for dietary changes coupled with a full complement of acupuncture needle pokes. Because animal protein, sweets, and oils create excess "fire" that blows out of the top of the head and causes hairs to lose their grip, an intuitive American diet heavy on chili-cheese fries and Little Debbie® snack cakes gets the boot. Instead, hair restoration guidelines from the days of Confucius call for plenty of "Chinese herbs." Combine consumption of mysterious plant matter with hours of looking like a character out of Hellraiser, and hairs should begin popping up like anorexic prairie dogs.

So if you're struggling with twenty-first-century hair abandonment issues, the pharmaceutical giants are ready and waiting to grab you by the scalp. If you want to do things naturally, though, jump on the time machine. The answer to the mystery of how to re-sod bare skin topside might just lie at the very beginning of the journey.

Want More Information?

Contact a Doctor Near You.