Articles of Health: Preventing and Reversing Hair Loss

A History of Hair

An Egyptian papyrus scroll dating back over 3000 years prescribes an ointment for restoring lost hair consisting of equal parts of crocodile fat and hippopotamus dung. The Egyptian Pharaoh’s were never seen with out a wig and the sons of Pharaoh wore their hair in a distinctive bun on the right side of their head just behind the ear.

Remember the Biblical tale of Sampson who had the strength to destroy the Philistines as long as his hair remained. Delilah gave him the most famous haircut in history that left him a ’97 pound weakling.’ Hippocrates recognized a connection between sexual organs and baldness. His prescription for preventing hair loss was the application of cumin, pigeon droppings, horseradish, and nettles to the scalp.

The Roman rulers were called ‘Caesar’ which means ‘Head of Hair.’

King Louie XV made elaborate wigs fashionable to cover his baldness. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence covered their baldness with wigs. Today hair continues to be an important symbol of attitudes, culture, religion and sex appeal.

For a woman, it is her ‘Crowning Glory’!

For a man, as it was to Julius Caesar, it is his wreath of honor, his symbol of virile manhood!

The human skin (the largest organ) has more hair follicles per unit of surface area than any other primate. People with black hair have 100,000 follicles present in the scalp whereas blondes have 10% more and redheads 10% less. You lose 100 hairs a day.If hair is left uncut it will grow to 40 inches in length in the anagen phase or growing phase.

According to Dr. Young, ‘hair loss is not a hair problem but a location problem.’

What is Hair?

Hair is composed of a protein called Keratin. Human hair is classified into two groups: vellus and terminal hair. Hair has a nerve fiber going to the bulb. There is a separate, tiny muscle, called the erector pili, which connects the underside of the skin to the hair shaft. When you are frightened, cold or angry the muscle contracts and your hair stands on end. Each time the erector pili contracts, it puts pressure on the sebaceous gland, next to the hair shaft, which then secretes sebum to lubricate the hair. An overactive sebaceous gland causes oily skin and hair. Each hair, muscle and gland comprises a pilo-sebaceous unit.

The Long and Short of Hair Growth Rapunzel let her hair down from the tower to let the prince climb up. She had no idea that she was missing a growth factor that controls the length of hair.

In 1994, the University of California, San Francisco revealed that the presence of a growth factor contrary to its name limits the length that hair will grow. It is called, Fibroblast Growth Factor 5 and is a chemical messenger that controls the growth of hair. When missing this factor, the hair will not stop growing and will eventually fall out. Fibroblast Growth Factor 5 is the first chemical signal discovered for the hair cycle.

The Hair Growth Cycle First, a hair follicle develops. Deep inside it lays a bud of mesodermal tissue which causes the bud to divide and sprout a new hair. Eventually, as expected, it stops growing due to Fibroblast Growth Factor 5. The follicle becomes quiescent and the hair falls out ending the cycle only to begin again.

Hair consists of the highly insoluble substance of protein-like keratin, containing a fixed portion of the amino acids arginine, histidine, and lysine, but variable proportions of cystene. Hair is 15% keratin. Hair is a cylinder of impacted keratinized cells comprising three major structures: the outside layer called the cuticle, the next layer the cortex, and the central-most layer known as the medulla.

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via Articles of Health: Preventing and Reversing Hair Loss.

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