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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Hair Loss » Article

Baldness Folklore

By stephanie mcintyre

In history, many strange and often stinky concoctions and methods have been put forth as cures for baldness. And there have been just as many myths surrounding the causes of hair loss. But from the beginning of human history 'til the 1980's, nothing proposed as a cure for baldness worked. Ever.

For instance: men who are bald or balding are more prone to wearing hats so they can cover their (perceived) deficiency, so the idea that hats caused baldness has persisted for some time. There is no truth to this of course; hats were used to hide bald heads.

Among other hair loss myths are:

. Massages or cleansing the scalp's pores would restore hair growth. Hair loss is caused by the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which causes the hair follicles to shrink and gradually stop producing hair. Scalp massages and pore cleanings do nothing to reverse this process.

. Long hair will strain roots causing hair loss. Long hair does not contribute to baldness; baldness is a genetic condition.

. Baldness is inherited from one's mother's side of the family. In truth, you can inherit baldness from either parent. A man with a bald father has a greater chance of losing his hair than a man with no baldness on either side of his family.

. Shampooing hair will speed up the balding process. Not true. Hairs found after shampooing are those that you would have lost anyhow. They were ready to come out.

. An active intellect or mental illness can cause baldness. Because of the close proximity between the brain and hair, it was believed that too much brain activity or too many psychological problems could contribute to hair loss. Needless to say there is no validity to this theory and plenty of examples to refute it.

One proposed baldness cure suggested that shaving your head would increase the number of healthy hairs on the head, so that a fuller head of thick, healthy hair would grow back. Of course there is no truth to this, and those who tried it would be disappointed by the results (except for those who would see new hair where none was present).

According to one popular baldness cure, standing on your head would correct hair loss.
This was based on the blood-flow theory. The idea was that standing on your head would increase the blood flow to hair follicles and thus wake up those that were no longer active. Evidence has shown however that standing on ones head, no matter how long one does it, has no effect on hair loss.

The famed psychic Edgar Cayce recommended pure crude oil be massaged into the scalp two or three times a month, followed by a grain alcohol rinse, and finally, a Vaseline massage. This process, he said, would ensure the user of a full lustrous head of hair.

In ancient Egypt, the rancid fat of various animals were used as topical applications for baldness. The smellier the better since the idea was that the more powerful the odor, the more effective the cure. It would seem to many of us today that being bald is preferable to smelling like the inside of a hippo.

In keeping with the smelliness idea, other cures have included various animal droppings and urine, sulfur and tar, and a host of bad smelling herbal concoctions.

Thankfully we have reached the point where we have somewhat effective treatments for hair loss: and we appear to be on the cusp of even more effective ones like hair cloning. Even so, there will always likely be those willing to sell snake oil to those who don't require much convincing to buy it.
About the Author
stephanie mcintyre and wendell bryant are internet developers. Their sites are

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