The cu­ra­tive pow­ers of cured pork con­firmed

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Some­times those old folk reme­dies re­ally do work. That’s what Detroit Med­i­cal Cen­ter re­searchers found after Dr. Sonal Saraiya and her col­leagues learned that pack­ing strips of cured pork in the nose of a child who suf­fers from un­con­trol­lable, life-threat­en­ing nose­bleeds can stop the hem­or­rhag­ing. Their dis­cov­ery won them a 2014 Ig Nobel prize, the an­nual award for some­times inane yet of­ten sur­pris­ingly prac­ti­cal sci­en­tific dis­cov­er­ies.

This year’s win­ners were hon­ored this month at Har­vard Univer­sity by the An­nals of Im­prob­a­ble Re­search mag­a­zine. Another win­ner at the whim­si­cal cer­e­mony—which in­cluded a mini-opera about peo­ple who sub­sist by eat­ing only pills—was a team of re­searchers who won­dered if own­ing a cat was bad for your men­tal health.

Stick­ing pork prod­ucts up the pa­tient’s nose was a last re­sort after con­ven­tional treat­ments had failed, Saraiya said, and was used only for a very spe­cific con­di­tion known as Glanz­mann throm­bas­the­nia, a rare con­di­tion in which blood doesn’t prop­erly clot.

“We had to do some out-of-the-box think­ing,” she said. “So that’s where we put our heads to­gether and thought to the olden days and what they used to do.”

The 4-year-old child’s nos­trils were packed with cured pork twice, and ac­cord­ing to their study, “the nasal vaults suc­cess­fully stopped nasal hem­or­rhage promptly (and) ef­fec­tively.”

The method worked be­cause “there are some clot­ting fac­tors in the pork ... and the high level of salt will pull in a lot of fluid from the nose,” she said. Still, Saraiya doesn’t rec­om­mend it for a rou­tine nose­bleed, as it could cause in­fec­tion.

Sev­eral won for study­ing cat own­ers’ men­tal health. The bot­tom line? Own­ing a cat may be hazardous to your health.

Dr. David Hanauer, of the pe­di­atrics depart­ment at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan and co-au­thor of one of the stud­ies, says there’s no rea­son for cat own­ers to panic. “It may sim­ply be that peo­ple with de­pres­sion get cats be­cause they feel de­pressed,” he said. “I am in no way telling peo­ple to get rid of their cats.”

Gary Dry­foos demon­strates the cured pork method of treat­ing a life-threat­en­ing nose­bleed at the Ig Nobel awards cer­e­mony.

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