14 of History’s Craziest Baldness Cures

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When your hairline starts to retreat, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep your head from turning into a volleyball. If Rogaine fails you, there are always these quack remedies from the past.  

1. Ancient Egypt

According to The Ebers Papyrus (a medical script from c. 1550 BCE), mix the fat of a hippo with some crocodile, tomcat, snake, and ibex fat. If that fails, boil porcupine hair and apply it to your scalp for four days. 

2. Ancient Greece

Hippocrates swore by a mixture of opium, horseradish, pigeon droppings, beetroot, and spices. If that’s not your cup of tea, stick to Aristotle’s method—goat urine.

3. Ancient Rome

When Julius Caesar’s dome started to thin, Cleopatra suggested he cook up a lotion of ground up mice, horse teeth, and bear grease. Another Roman recipe: 1) take the genitals of a donkey, 2) burn them into ash, 3) mix the ash with your urine, and 4) apply liberally!

4. Vikings

Viking Legend suggests smearing your dome with a dollop of goose poop.

5. Celtic Druids

Catch a raven, burn it, and mix the ashes in sheep suet. (Centuries later, the Irish and Brits started scrubbing their scalps with onions instead—obvious progress.)  

6. Eighth Century China

According to the Encyclopedia of Hair (which we assume is the authority on these sorts of things), the Chinese blended safflower oil, rosemary, and herbs with mashed animal testes.

7. India

It’s simple, guys: Do a headstand.

8. Native Americans

Some tribes believed a poultice of chicken dung or cow manure would do the trick.

9. King Henry VIII

Although Native Americans swore by animal dung, the big man across the pond thought otherwise. He slathered his dome with dog and horse urine.

10. Scientific American

What can’t music do? Here’s an excerpt from an 1896 Scientific American:  

While stringed instruments prevent and check the falling out of the hair, brass instruments have the most injurious effects upon it. The piano and the violin, especially the piano, have an undoubted preserving influence ... on the contrary, the brass instruments have results that are deplorable.

11. Ninteenth Century French Psychologists

Just wish the baldness away! Èmile Couè believed positive thinking—called autosuggestion—could fix almost anything. He wrote:

On our heads are small depressions called follicles, depressions from which the hair grows. When they lose their elasticity, their hair falls out. When autosuggestion begins to work, these follicles begin to close up and to secrete normally, and soon the hair grows.

12. Swiss Farmers

In 1988, the Sun tabloid publicized a baldness cure discovered by Swiss farmer Gerhardt Flit. The cure? Bat milk. It cost $3500 per ounce.

13. Colombian Farmers

On the flip side of the world, a Colombian farmer touts his own cure—bovine saliva. It’s literally a cowlick.  

14. Eunuchs

Castration! Unlike the rest of these, this one actually works. (It doesn’t cure baldness, per se, but studies show it will prevent shedding if you’re under 25.)

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December 5, 2013 - 11:00am
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