Brits of 17th Century Used Chicken Dung to Prevent Them Going Bald!

by VR Sreeraman on Aug 30 2007 4:28 PM

Keeping themselves fit and fine certainly wasn’t easy for British men in the 17th century, considering that they were advised to apply chicken dung to keep from going bald, and apply cat dung to remove hair from unwanted places.

The measures are stated in ‘The Path-Way To Health’, a sort of 17th century version of Men's Health magazine, which is also one of the earliest medical journals written in English.

In it, the author Peter Levens has given various methods that will help men from going bald, stop bad breath, body odour and flatulence, as well as remove unwanted hair from their body, reveals the Daily Mail.

Levens, in the journal, advices men with a receding hairline men to "Take the ashes of Culver-dung in Lye, and wash the head therewith. Also Walnut leaves beaten with Beares suet, restoreth the haire that is plucked away. Also, the leaves and middle rinde of an Oak sodden in water, and the head washed therewith, is very good for this purpose."

‘Culver-dung’ in Levens’ days is translated as chicken dung today, while "Lye" is a strong alkaline solution of potassium salts made from ashes and used in making soap.

To remove hair from unwanted places he advices them to "Take the shels of two Egges, beat them small, and stil them with a good fire, and with that water annoynt the place; or else take hard Cats dung, dry it and beat it to powder, and temper it with strong Vineger, then wash the place with the same, where you would have no haire to grow."

Another cure, according to him, is to "Take the bloud of a Snaile without a shel, and it hindereth greatly the growing up of haire. Also take Labdanum (a sticky brown resin obtained from certain shrubs), the gum of a Ivie tree, Emmets Eggs, Arsenick and Vineger; and binde it to the place where you wil have no haire to grow."

Levens gives various ways to cure bad breath, one of which involves washing the mouth out with water and vinegar, followed by a concoction of aniseed, mint and cloves "sodden in wine".

To stop body odour caused by smelly armpits, the author advised men in his times to "First, pluck away the haires of the arme holes, and wash them with white Wine and rosewater that cassialigna has been sodden in, and use it three or four times."

The cure for flatulence or the "wind in the belly" was to drink a mixture of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and aniseeds in wine three times a day.

The book, which bears the name John Willcock, who owned the rare copy in 1721 and made notes in its margins, is to be auctioned at Bonhams in Oxford in October.

It is expected to fetch a mere 400 pounds.

Book specialist Luke Batterham said: "It is a fascinating volume - on the cusp of being an enlightened work and a quack book. It is a genuine attempt at a medicinal guide, accumulating worthwhile remedies from established sources with old wives' tales."