Hair loss has plagued both men and women for countless ages, and the attempts to cure it can be dated back to the very dawn of recorded civilization. While most of these early attempts have met with failure, some have provided the basis for hair restoration treatments that are used today. At the Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research we investigate hair loss in all of its forms in order to better understand exactly what causes it as well as how it can best be treated. Here is a look at some of the hair loss remedies that have been tried throughout the ages.
The Ebers Papyrus, a medical text that dates back to 1550 B.C., suggests several potential cures for hair loss, including a mixture of fats from a hippopotamus, crocodile, tomcat, snake and ibex; porcupine hair boiled in water and applied to the scalp for four days; or the leg of a female greyhound sauteed in oil with the hoof of a donkey. Apparently these remedies were less than effective, however, since the royalty of ancient Egypt is also known to have commonly worn wigs and fake beards. More than a thousand years later, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed a topical concoction of opium, horseradish, pigeon droppings, beetroot and spices for his own hair loss. He also famously noted that eunuchs never seemed to suffer from thinning hair and theorized that castration might prevent hair loss. Since the most common form of hair loss, known as genetic pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia, does result from an inherited sensitivity to the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, this particular remedy, while obviously drastic, may not be quite as ridiculous as it sounds.
More recently, many have attempted to solve the hair loss problem with technology. In the 1920’s, the Allied Merke Institute manufactured the Thermocap device, which used heat and blue light to stimulate dormant hair bulbs. Although simply heating the scalp failed to produce any real results, recent research has found that specific frequencies of red light actually can increase the energy production around the hair follicles, waking cells from dormancy into an active growth phase. Red Light Therapy with the new LaserCap® device is used today to maintain the hair on the head and prevent further thinning. Many patients even see some regrowth of hair as well. Finally, in 1939, a Japanese dermatologist pioneered a procedure for grafting hair from one part of the scalp (or from other parts of the body) onto bald spots. Two decades later, the New York doctor Norman Orentreich popularized hair transplants, which implanted small tufts of growing hair in regular rows to create an effect reminiscent of doll’s hair. This same technique was improved and refined over the years, eventually becoming the basis for modern surgical hair transplantation procedures which use much smaller individual follicular units, dissected under microscopes, to achieve significantly more natural looking results.
While these historical hair loss remedies have long since been disproven by scientific research, they have served as a basis for many of the most exciting developments in modern hair restoration treatments. If you have any other questions about hair loss or any of the hair restoration treatments we offer, please contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation. Be sure to also visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.