Back before we had a really good grip on what goes on in the human body some remedies were a little off the wall at best by today’s standards, and could be downright harmful at their worst.
However, some of those cures were actually effective, regardless of how crazy they seem compared to Western medicine. Here, we’ll go over a few remedies from the past that sound nuts but actually work quite well. Some of them are even finding a new place in modern medicine.
These creepy, slimy little blood suckers make most people absolutely squirm. Whether it’s the idea that they manage to latch on without you even noticing while you’re in the water, their slug-like appearance, or their parasitic tendencies, most people avoid leeches at all cost.
We know that they have a place in our ecosystems despite their gross-out factor, but it turns out they may have a place in the operating room as well. Physicians of the past used leeches to “pull out bad blood”, and they weren’t really that far off base.Today, leeches are used in surgeries to reattach small body parts like fingers and toes. The slippery little creatures remove blood that pools in small vessels and causes these types of surgeries to fail; their bite also transmits a remarkably effective anticoagulant and has antiseptic properties. This keeps blood flowing so that reattached tissues can stay healthy. Their abilities haven’t been effectively recreated by modern techniques.
Seen today by many as an illicit drug, due to prohibition of the plant in much of the developed world, marijuana likely seems like an outrageous addition to modern medicine. However, medicinal marijuana is now legal in many states, and recreational use of this ‘drug’ is legal in a few states.
It was used in old-time treatments for several conditions, including breathing issues and “fits”. Today, this drug is being made into modern medical treatments for several different conditions. The FDA is in the process of approving a marijuana-based drug for epilepsy.
Sugar, both plain white sugar and in the form of honey, has wound-healing capabilities that drug companies have worked to synthesize. It has been used for literally thousands of years for these purposes, to great effect.
Most often when this technique is used, wounds are dressed with sugar or honey. Sometimes, deep wounds or puncture wounds are even packed with sugar and then bandaged over, with the sweet substance left to do its work. Wounds are washed out several times a day with clean water and rebandaged. Sometimes, sugar is mixed with an iodine solution to help aid in disinfection of wounds.
The sugar draws moisture out of the wounds, possibly turning to a syrupy consistency. It has an antibacterial and antiseptic affect that helps wounds get and stay clean. Sugar also helps healthy tissue form, and doctors note healthier, pinker granulated tissue when sugar is used to dress wounds. It’s simple to wash away the sugar residue during dressing changes since it dissolves easily in water.
There are people out there who use duct tape for absolutely everything, so it’s probably no shock to those people that it actually has some effective uses in medicine too. Duct tape can be used to essentially cut off oxygen to warts, killing the virus that causes them and curing the wart. You simply cover the wart in duct tape and leave it for a few days. The wart should slough off and, ideally, the infection is eradicated so a new one doesn’t grow.
Saltwater Catfish Slime
The slime found on the skin of Arius bilineatis, a type of saltwater catfish found in the waters around the Arabian peninsula, has been proven to be an effective way to stop bleeding in cuts. It displays powerful coagulant properties., and has also been shown to improve and speed up healing.
In studying the slime, scientists found over 60 proteins that are beneficial to healing wounds. The substances help activate the body’s natural healing actions, leading to cuts that heal several days faster than they would if they were left to heal on their own.
Another cure with real ick factor, maggots were once commonly used in medicine to clean dangerous wounds, and their use in a medicinal setting has made a come-back in recent years. You’ll now find maggots at work in modern hospital settings, cleaning wounds where antibiotics have failed and helping healthy tissue thrive so that the wound can heal.
Maggots debride wounds – removing desiccated and infected tissue, without affecting the healthy tissue around it. They’re often used in particularly tough to reach wounds, since the fly larvae do less damage to the tissue surrounding the wound than surgery would, and often with more comprehensive results.Treatment with maggots consists of hundreds of live maggots being introduced into an open wound. A bandage is placed over the wound to keep the larval flies inside, and they’re left there for a couple days. The maggots are then removed, and the treatment may be repeated later on to continue removing dead and infectious tissue.
This is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. Doctors took fecal matter from a healthy person and fed it to a sick one to treat infection. Today an updated, less gross, version of this method is used to treat the pervasive infection known as C-Diff, or Clostridium difficile.
The stool from a healthy person is placed directly into the colon of the infected person in order to restore balance to the microbiome of the gut, crowding out bad bugs with good ones. It works remarkably well, sometimes curing C-Diff infections within days.
There are plenty of natural cures out there that aren’t used in modern medicine, usually because treatments can’t be made uniform due to the less-than-precise nature of plants and animal compounds that could have a real place in medicine. It’s important that we remember that many modern drugs have their origins in the synthesis of natural cures from days gone by.
However, more and more of these cures are being studied objectively each year. As time goes on, medical science will ideally find a way to make these treatments more precise so that they fit into the scientific, exact model of American medicine. From them we may be able to have less expensive, less harmful, and more effective medicines.
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