Your Diabolical Follicles: Treating Male Pattern Baldness
Find out what goose droppings, beer, and mustard oil have in common, and how they affect your hair.
Are you one of the 70% of men who is suffering from male pattern baldness (MPB)? Do you want to stop it and even, possibly, reverse it? Boil a cup of mustard oil with four tablespoons of henna leaves, let it cool, then massage it daily onto the balding areas. Better yet, create a paste from honey, beer, and boiled wheat, and have it applied gently (to your scalp, of course) by the hands of a virgin. Or you could rub goose droppings onto your dome, the way the Vikings did. Other types of animal excrement could work as well: Cow feces and pig urine are both good topical solutions. And if the business end of a cow doesn't provide relief, turn her around and have her lick a combination of molasses and oats off your head. There's a baldness clinic in South America that swears it will return your hair to its teenage luster.
Sound crazy? Not to everyone. A full head of hair is associated with strength, virility, youth, and power. Though men aren't encouraged to openly discuss their emotional reaction to hair loss, it's there. Frustration, depression, loss of self-esteem, social withdrawal, even suicide. It's not just about looks, although that's certainly a part of it; it's about a loss of control, the passage of time, mortality. "When men lose their hair, it can be devastating," says Spencer Kobren, founder and president of the American Hair Loss Association and founder of thebaldtruth.com. "Most guys would do just about anything to keep from going bald. We'd rather regrow our hair than lose body fat. If you told a balding guy he could keep his hair if he were to run five miles a day and eat a specific diet, he'd absolutely do it. An overweight guy? Maybe. Hair is different."
Kobren should know. He started losing his hair in his early 20s, and he panicked. He reasoned that women would rather date a man with all his hair. (He might have been correct. During an online dating experiment conducted in the U.K., two photographs with identical descriptions of the same man were used--except one had been digitally altered to show him with thinning hair, while the other showed a full head--the thick-haired profiled received nearly five times as many responses from women). So he hung upside down with gravity boots after taking niacin capsules to create a flushing sensation; rubbed cayenne pepper on his scalp to stimulate hair growth; and wrapped his head in scalding-hot towels to draw out the oily matter called sebum from the sebaceous glands, because he'd heard the theory that oil buildup beneath the scalp's surface can damage hair follicles.
None of it worked, of course. "There are as many desperate home remedies as there are receding hairlines," Kobren says. "If any of them really worked, it would be prime-time, head-line news. You really think some guy in his basement in Wisconsin has the cure to hair loss? You want to believe it, but come on." Of the seemingly infinite treatment options to slow or reverse baldness, there are only three that are widely accepted as valid. But before you learn how to keep your hair, you need to understand why you're losing it.