“The cure is worse than the disease,” it has been said. Certainly some things (leeches and blood-letting) that were once used to treat disease seem not only outlandish but, well, gross.
In their quest to find cures for illnesses from gastrointestinal distress to cancer, scientists have turned to all manner of substances, from animals and humans.
1. Parasitic Worms
Once inside a host, many parasitic worms secrete glycan, a sugar-based anti-inflammatory molecule that could be the basis for treating metabolic disorders associated with obesity. Based on this research, scientists even suggest that the ”relationship between humans and worms is more symbiotic than parasitic,” meaning that small worm infections might actually have benefits — though they do not recommend seeking out parasitic worms and diseases as a form of treatment!
2. Coffee Grounds
The brown sludge left over from brewing coffee is not only good for compost; it has been found to be a rich source of antioxidants. It has possible uses for dietary supplements, especially if you make your coffee using a filter, plunger and espresso-type method.
3. Salad Ingredients
Traces of carrots, parsley and radishes, as well as pine resin, have been detected in six tablets in a small tin box found in an ancient Roman ship that went down around 140 to 130 B.C.E. off the coast of Tuscany. Vegetables have been the source for some modern-day medicaments. A substance in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables shows promise for treating leukemia.
4. Snake Venom
How can a medicine made from deadly snake venom be a cure?
By extracting a compound called eristostatin from the venom of the Asian sand viper, scientists have found a substance to help people fight malignant melanoma, by encouraging the immune system to attack the cancer cells. Another compound, hannalgelsin, is made from king cobra venom and, according to a scientist at Singapore’s National University, can be used as a pain-relieving agent that is “20 and 200 times more effective than morphine.” In addition, it can be taken orally, instead of being injected.
5. Mares’s Urine
The estrogen cream premarin is made from urine collected from mares and often in terrible conditions: The mares are stabled and restrained with urine-collection bags attached to them that restrict their movement and can lead to infection. Animal welfare activists have long expressed concerns about the abuse and mistreatment of mares to manufacturer premarin.
6. Urine From Nuns In Menopause
The fertility drugs menopur and pergonal (used to stimulate ovulation) are — it sounds improbable – derived from the urine of menopausal nuns.
As for how someone got the idea to study the bodily fluids of menopausal nuns? In the 1960s, a nephew of Pope Pius suggested the idea to a physician who invented the drugs on the basis that (back then, when there were more nuns) convents were the “perfect place” to find a number of women in menopause.
7. Rooster Combs
A substance derived from rooster combs could be the reason you can walk again: Hyaluronan acid, which is derived from rooster combs, has been used as a treatment for arthritis, via injections into the knees.
8. Gila Monster Saliva
The natural substance exendin-4 is derived from the saliva of the Gila monster lizard and is used to treat type 2 diabetes. It has also been found to reduce cravings for chocolate and other foods, leading scientists to consider it as a treatment for obesity, compulsive overeating and other eating disorders.
9. Zombie Caterpillar Fungus
What’s really bad for caterpillars could be good for us: A fungus that turns caterpillars into caterpillars zombies has potential as an anti-inflammatory treatment.
10. Synthetic Stool
Scientists have created a synthetic stool with the appropriate name of RePOOPulate. It’s described as a “super-probiotic” that can be used to treat gastrointestinal infections caused by the toxin-producing bacteria Clostridium difficile. Currently, injections of human fecal matter are used but RePOOPulate is “safer, more stable and adaptable” and has a significantly lower yuck factor.
Perhaps it might be better to say, if it does not kill you, it might possibly cure you?
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