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By By Christophe Checchia (Assisi, Italy)

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Extra info for Bad Medicine: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Distance Healing to Vitamin O (Wiley bad science series)

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At first it will most likely have some ridiculous side effect, like impotence or raised blood pressure. Then, after a few more years, the kinks in the drug will be worked out and then all we’ll have to worry about are kinks in our hair. Researchers know what causes hair to stop growing, and pharmaceutical companies are pouring millions of dollars into drug development because they know the antibaldness pill will be as big as Viagra. Of the thousands upon thousands of baldness cures to hit the market, only two have been approved.

Cells in the follicle produce the protein keratin, the main ingredient in hair. Follicle cells called melanocytes make melanin, the same pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin colors the keratin. Folks who are flush with melanin have dark hair; those with little melanin have blond hair. As we age, melanocytes stop producing melanin. Without this pigment, the hair becomes white or grayish, which, by the way, is often an optical illusion produced by white hair mixing with darker hairs. This is a gradual process.

Some supplements contain a “proprietary blend” of ingredients, protected by trade law. Consumers and physicians alike cannot know the percentages of the ingredients. They are not tested or approved by the FDA because they are “natural”—as natural, perhaps, as orange juice or poison ivy. Nature goes both ways. Many liver supplements contain niacin, which may be hepatotoxic, or damaging to the liver, in high doses. Many supplements also contain vitamin B12, which is often found in excess amounts in patients with liver disease.

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Bad Medicine: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Distance Healing to Vitamin O (Wiley bad science series) by By Christophe Checchia (Assisi, Italy)

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