The curative powers of cured pork confirmed
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.