Healthy Honey
July 22, 2009 9:01 AM   Subscribe

When it was found in Ancient Egyptian tombs, it looked fresh - so somebody tasted it. Honey can last thousands of years without spoiling, a remarkable feat for a foodstuff. These antibacterial and antioxidant qualities of honey have been applied to food preservation for years, but the medical community is just beginning to look closely at how this can be used to assist in healing. In particular, Honey from Australia and New Zealand seems most successful in helping large wounds heal without infection. This is due to particular plants that the bees frequent, which provide greater antibacterial qualities to the honey. The FDA has even approved honey-infused bandages for use in healing. After the buzz of medicinal leeches and medical maggots, I'm glad there's a natural therapy that doesn't creep people out.
posted by AzraelBrown (91 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
After reading enough about bandaging wounds with honey in Civil War histories, my mom decided to try it after she cut off the tip of her finger in a mildly horrific Cutco knife accident. It worked really well, and now she swears by it, for both helping things heal and relieving pain. The only problem is how sticky and drippy it is--if you don't bandage it securely you will end up with a big mess.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2009


But a delicious mess. Go bees!
posted by spec80 at 9:15 AM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Honey from Australia and New Zealand seems most successful in helping large wounds heal without infection."

I sometimes eat homemade honey. Each batch tastes different depending on the kinds of flowers the bees are pollinating.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2009


After the buzz of medicinal leeches and medical maggots

I just know that in 5 or 10 years, I'm going to be in some horrific accident, or develop a heinous disease, and the doctors will be like "The only treatment we can try is one where we put spiders on your legs, and they blahblahblahmedicaljargon." At which point I'll say, "Well, thanks for the offer, but I think I'm gonna just go ahead and die instead."

But honey? That sounds like an awesome fix-it-yourself first aid solution. Except in case of injuries caused by bears.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:25 AM on July 22, 2009 [20 favorites]


Because applying partially digested insect puke to your wound is so much less disgusting than a leech... :)
posted by Vulpyne at 9:27 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad there's a natural therapy that doesn't creep people out.

Until bees find their way into your gaping, honey-filled wounds and find that the human body is a wonderfully warm place to nest. That, my friends, was the demise of the Egyptians and the Confederate South, not the Semitic Hyksos rising to power or when Lee surrendered to Grant.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on July 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


I make my own honey. I have jaw muscles of steel.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:29 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a jar of NZ honey, where the bees fed on Tea trees. It's got a very funky astringent taste, but it is still pleasant. Funny thing, a teaspoon is really good for heartburn. I'm not sure why.

I love honey. If I ever live back out in the country my seekrit plan is to get bees and feed them nothing but maple syrup and orange blossoms. I will then die a happy man.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:31 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


That, my friends, was the demise of the Egyptians and the Confederate South, not the Semitic Hyksos rising to power or when Lee surrendered to Grant.

On the other hand, the Ambrosoli-Apoidea Alliance is notable for ensuring humanity's continued well being throughout Western Europe. The other cultures only perished because they were too slow (or unwilling) to adapt.
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:41 AM on July 22, 2009


blood... and honey! :P
posted by kliuless at 9:45 AM on July 22, 2009


This is an awesome post. Thank you very much.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2009


Just remember, folks: healthy as it is for those with mature gastrointestinal tracts, honey should NOT be fed to babies.
posted by Iridic at 10:00 AM on July 22, 2009


And it's been shown to be effective for HSV too.
posted by gubenuj at 10:09 AM on July 22, 2009


Interesting post. Thanks.

My current favorite honeys for eating are Tasmanian Leatherwood honey and Tupelo honey from the Savannah Bee Company, as well as the creamed honey you get in New England.
posted by gudrun at 10:15 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because applying partially digested insect puke to your wound is so much less disgusting than a leech... :)

Gotta love the vocal vegans.


I have a jar of Manuka honey from NZ...that stuff actually stops my throat from hurting when I eat a teaspoon. Awesome for that fall/winter flu season.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:15 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that when people surreptitiously peek into my medicine cabinet, they wonder what the hell the bottle of honey is for.

It's for my face, of course.
posted by padraigin at 10:23 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


We've just started using MediHoney dressings on our floor for pressure wounds. I haven't any direct experience with them, but our wound care nurses are very impressed.

Medical leeches, though, are much cooler and less creepy than you might think. And in their own discomfiting way, sort of noble.

A couple of years ago, I took care of a teenager with an avulsed right ear after an auto accident. Post-op therapy included the application of leeches. (Which we'd never done at our facility. I was one year out of nursing school and faced with a terse order: "Leeches to R ear BID." After a half hour's worth of fidgeting uncomfortably and feeling dreadfully inadequate for not automatically knowing what to do, I rang the doctor:

"Well...can't you just, you know, get leeches? I don't know what to tell you.")

Oh dear.

Locating medical leeches turned out to be relatively simple, but the protocol for treatment? Not a clue to be had amongst any of our staff. One of our advanced practice nurses felt we'd be on steady ground if we could find one somehow. Some focused Googling unearthed a protocol from the UK, (blessedly) along with some instruction.

This is what I learned:

1. The leeches, once couriered from their birthplace, are kept in the hospital blood bank.
2. They're doled out in twos, providing about a half hour's worth of therapy.
3. The "seeking" end is the mouth.
4. Leeches produce a natural anaesthetic in their saliva that minimises pain during therapy.
5. If you apply them to an ear, they will curl up in the pinna like you'd curl up on the sofa with a good book and glass of wine.
6. When they are done feeding, they simply de-attach and fall off, fat and dazed.

At this point, some thought must be given to their disposal. Ordinarily - being a "blood product" (or at least, full of human blood) - a hazardous waste bin would suffice. But since they're living things...

...I found myself standing in a bathroom with an entirely unsuspecting leech in my gloved hands, a container full of isopropyl alcohol, and one intensely fascinated trauma surgeon:

Me: After they're done feeding, we're supposed to dunk them in the alcohol. But I just can't.
Surgeon: (snorting) Well, I can!

And with that he plunged the creature into the deadly bath. Two thin streams of blood shot several feet into the air as it expired. I ran from the bathroom with the surgeon's pronouncement lingering in my ears: "Aww, coooooool!"

In conclusion:

- The boy was fine and made a full recovery.
- Leeches are remarkable creatures.
- But trauma surgeons? They're a bit fucked in the head, if you ask me.
posted by arachnid at 10:42 AM on July 22, 2009 [308 favorites]


it's all good, of course, until the medical honey starts to attract the medical maggots and medical leeches...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:44 AM on July 22, 2009


"A small dose of buckwheat honey given before bedtime provided better relief of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a cough suppressant found in many over-the-counter cold medications."

My kids thank you, bees.
posted by jaimev at 10:45 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


No discussion of honey is complete without a mention of mellified man!
posted by usonian at 10:46 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of my mom's pet peeves as an ER nurse was people walking in with week-old gashes that had been stuffed full of honey, garlic, spanish moss, and usually some sort of pepper. Add an infection and apparently it's a real bear to tidy up.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:47 AM on July 22, 2009


Because applying partially digested insect puke to your wound is so much less disgusting than a leech...

Don't forget that the other component of honey is flower sperm.

Actually this is pretty interesting. Although I do have one friend who used honey to treat a wound on her leg and wound up with a nasty-looking (but fortunately easily treated with antibiotics) infection. But who knows what other stuff she put on there, so the honey may have had nothing to do with it.

Also, I don't use honey a lot (and only as food) but do keep a jar around for the occasional recipe that calls for it. It is good to know I can buy a nice big jar and if necessary pass it down to my daughter and she to her children, if need bee.
posted by TedW at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought you needed special medical grade honey to actually use on wounds, or is that just a Big Pharma conspiracy?

Yeah, that's what I heard on Marketplace:
Knipschild's worried people will just go the store and pour honey directly into their wounds.

Linda Knipschild: We had somebody the other day who actually did that because they heard quotes that honey was a great thing to use on their wounds and of course that didn't work.
Also is the crappy supermarket honey that's been heavily filtered and boiled to maintain shelf life (by preventing crystallization) as good as the natural "raw honey" sold by hoity toity independent bee keepers? Or that just a hippy conspiracy?

I'd just to plug my favorite independent honey, from the wilderness of Boonton, New Jersey: Gooserock Farm. Their blueberry honey is the best I've ever tasted.
posted by exhilaration at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anecdotal, I know, but I suffer from occasional heartburn (now that I'm old.) That super-expensive New Zealand "Manuka" honey that health-food places sell as a remedy for ulcers and such works to alleviate my symptoms just the same as over-the-counter remedies.

I really have no idea if either are working in any scientific manner (I often take the pill or a teaspoon of honey and then forget I had heartburn) but I cannot tell one from the other. I assume the a teaspoon of honey is the better "does no harm" option, though.

Too bad I think honey is awful tasting.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:13 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a bit fucked in the head, if you ask me.

[ Is there some kind of award, or punishment, for the first time you use this memefi...? ]
posted by twine42 at 11:15 AM on July 22, 2009


Bees are very, very cool, although I now imagine that the killer bees to first make it into England will be little migrant bees that come over to make cheap bandages and trigger a Daily Mail investigation into why they aren't swabbing their little beelike feet in alcohol before trampling all over a hive full of elastaplast.

Leeches are cool too and, even though they're cringeworthy, I think I'd happily let a nurse apply them to an injury.

Maggots can feck right off. If some evil medical bastard puts maggots on a wound of mine it'll get self cauterized by 6ft5 of freaking out fat man with some hand sanitizer, an oxygen line and a cigarette lighter...
posted by twine42 at 11:19 AM on July 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


This explains why, at any given time, honey may be the only edible thing in my home.
posted by adjockey at 11:21 AM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish they sold leeches over the counter.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:21 AM on July 22, 2009


small_ruminant : I wish they sold leeches over the counter.

In Minnesota's lake country, they sell them in vending machines at gas stations.
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


No videos found for “medical leech alcohol”

Boo, youtube...
posted by empath at 11:40 AM on July 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I sweeten my coffee with honey. If that counts, then I've had honey at least 5xweek for ten years or more. Can't say for certain that there are realistic long-term benefits but sometimes I swear my wings are more supple and shiny than when I was a larva.
posted by rahnefan at 12:05 PM on July 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


Oh yeah MAGGOTS MAGGOTS MAGGOTS!!! IN THE SKULL!!!
posted by rahnefan at 12:09 PM on July 22, 2009


Indiana had those machines too. I never thought to check them for leeches.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:21 PM on July 22, 2009


That's pretty sweet.
posted by Evilspork at 12:26 PM on July 22, 2009


Don't look at me like that.
posted by Evilspork at 12:27 PM on July 22, 2009


Many years ago I was a proofreader for a rinky-dink medical journal and came across an interesting case report about the use of leeches in aiding blood flow after facial reconstruction surgery. Leeches secrete hirudin, which prevents blood coagulation. That combined with the greedy sucking action of the leech encourages blood flow (and thus oxygenation) across areas of skin that have been damaged -- especially, say, the kind of skin flaps reconstructive surgeons use to rebuild the faces of accident victims. Fascinating stuff. The case report came with big color pictures of horribly maimed people with leeches stuck all over their faces.

We'd pull those pictures out after lunch to test the mettle of new journal employees. We had to stop after one new proofreader redecorated her office with a partially digested tuna sandwich.

I like the idea of the medical use of maggots, too. Because they only eat dead tissue, they can be sewn into the body where they eat and digest necrotic material before dying and being resorbed. Of course, the idea of having a pouch of squirming maggots sewn into my body is creepy, to say the least. But I'd rather they do that than lose a limb or an organ to gangrene.

And honey is awesome. I'm convinced local honey is good for allergies. Helps mine. I don't care if it is just the placebo effect, it's a DELICIOUS placebo effect. See, this wasn't a total derail.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:03 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fantastic Behind the Headlines website, run by the UK's National Health Service, has the low down on the use of honey for burns, and maggots on ulcers. In a nutshell, honey is better than some conventional dressings for some burns, but useless on ulcers. Maggots debride ulcers well, but do not promote healing.
posted by SciencePunk at 1:12 PM on July 22, 2009


What is in honey (about 96 percent sugar and water) that is supposed to help wounds heal? Because if there's a certain compound in that remaining three or four percent that does the job, I'd rather that they isolate and purify that compound so that I know exactly what dose I'm getting, just as I prefer to buy and take an aspirin rather than find and store and chew willow bark when I have a headache. And if there isn't anything particular in honey that does the job, if it's just the honey itself (and that sugar and water plus a little mystery stuff hidden in the goo) that does what they claim it does, well... have proper tests been done to compare the effectiveness of honey to that of stuff that smells and tastes and feels enough like honey to fool patients but that isn't actually honey? I know that sounds like an obvious step to take, but people really do sell homeopathic water, too, and people pay good money for it.
posted by pracowity at 1:41 PM on July 22, 2009


"But trauma surgeons? They're a bit fucked in the head, if you ask me."

Yeah, buddy of mine would always try to talk about how my beefsteak looked like someone's liver he just worked on. I'd pull out the western beans "Smed, did you know tumors in the gallbladder and colon look like hard little beans filled with puss and bile...just about the color of that steak sauce? Yeah, the pathophysiology includes ulcerative colitis and polyps which on the intestinal wall you'd swear looks like that jalapeno ketch...is something wrong?"
He used to use honey on burns tho. Worked wonders.

I drink honey (and O.J. and malt, etc.) before I work out. Plenty of evidence it helps sustain your blood sugar levels. And we give honey to our kids (over 2) instead of cough syrup.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:45 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


[ Is there some kind of award, or punishment, for the first time you use this memefi...? ]

You feel like a maggot, then a leech, then you're dipped in alcohol, hopefully honey liqueur with a caterpillar at the bottom.

posted by lysdexic at 1:47 PM on July 22, 2009


"What is in honey (about 96 percent sugar and water) that is supposed to help wounds heal?"

Propolis, in part. And the sugars in it absorb water so microorganisms that grow in moist environments like wounds can't get a foothold. On top of that there are enzymes (at least in raw honey) that if they combine with whatever water isn't absorbed produces hydrogen peroxide.
It's great stuff and part of the strength of it is the complexity of the compound so refining it would be more work than necessary for not a lot of gain. I suppose the only downside in using it raw is that it might attract bees.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:51 PM on July 22, 2009


(btw: I only know this because I would drink those gawd-awful carbohydrate sports gels etc. and did some research and found* that honey has a lower glycemic index and so you don't get as fatigued as fast as you would with "sports-ass" or whatever that contained dextrose and maltodextrin and so forth)
*(Or rather, someone hit me upside the head and said "Whtr'u an idjjit? Drink honey!")
posted by Smedleyman at 1:55 PM on July 22, 2009


Oh good, this is what I'll use when the zombie apocalypse comes and there aren't any more antibiotics.

kidding? maybe, maybe not
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:42 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wandering around doing yard-work earlier this year, I was confronted with a giant fat bumblebee. I watched it slowly buzz around, clumsily crashing into everything, and I realized that I had lost quite a lot of time and I had a big stupid grin on my face.

I'm hoping one day to own a large enough bit of land that I could keep honey bees. There is something about them, and their fuzzier kin, that just makes me happy to stare at them.

Plus, I'd get honey, and that'd be pretty slick.
posted by quin at 2:44 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gotta love the vocal vegans.
For the record, I made no sort of moral assessment about it either way. I find it interesting the mental compartments people put things in.
posted by Vulpyne at 2:48 PM on July 22, 2009


I suppose the only downside in using it raw is that it might attract bees.

THIS IS A FEATURE NOT A BUG (NO PUN INTENDED)

THE BEES ARE MY MASTER
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:50 PM on July 22, 2009


OH GOD THEY ARE STINGING ME GET THEM OFF OW OW OW
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:51 PM on July 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Ancient Egyptians might have built great temples and burial places, but, if they hadn't invented beekeeping, just think about how things would be.

And the invention of beekeeping is one of those things that puzzles me. Who was the first Egyptian to think "Oh yeah, I'm going to stick my hand in that beehive and see what happens. Maybe it's delicious. Who knows? I might be able to seal a boat with it!"

Just like the first guy to eat cheese. I'd like that guy's name. "This milk has gone so bad that it's SOLID. I'm gonna eat it!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:00 PM on July 22, 2009 [12 favorites]


I used to ponder that one as well gpm, but I think I came up with a scenario that seems to fit most cases; I always picture someone watching an animal eat whatever weird thing, and then weighing the choices of trying it themselves or just killing and eating the animal itself.

I then assume that they did both, tried them together, and that's how we got things like honey glazed ham and cheese rats.
posted by quin at 3:09 PM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Or beer. "Hey, my wheat stockpile got wet and started to rot. Guess I'll drink the fluid that pooled underneath!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:09 PM on July 22, 2009


gfm... I swear, sometimes my fingers just belong to a completely different person...
posted by quin at 3:11 PM on July 22, 2009


Yeah, I figured that the discovery of honey was way more logical than the development of hakarl. How drunk of a Viking do you need to be to decide one day that, "oh yeah, I bet you that shark would be REAL tasty if it is buried in gravelly beach sand and allowed to rot before being dug up and dried for a few months before being eaten"

Give me honey.
posted by jadepearl at 3:20 PM on July 22, 2009


jadepearl: I've lived in Iceland and about I have to say that hakarl is the WORST thing that I have ever smelled in my life, and I've dissected a goat.

In biology class, not like, for fun.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:25 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


This discussion is making me thirsty.
posted by maurice at 3:52 PM on July 22, 2009


Dear AskMetafilter:
I have found a clay jar of what looks like honey, we think it is 3000 years old. It smells OK, should I eat it?
posted by Catch at 3:54 PM on July 22, 2009 [9 favorites]


Also, metafilter is where I am a drunk, shark-drinking Viking.
posted by Catch at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't forget that the other component of honey is flower sperm.

Gotta love the vocal breatharians.
posted by univac at 4:13 PM on July 22, 2009


A medal for the first person to eat an oyster? Or an artichoke?
posted by Cranberry at 4:16 PM on July 22, 2009


Rumours about using medical hamsters for examinations are unfounded.
posted by Free word order! at 4:30 PM on July 22, 2009


That super-expensive New Zealand "Manuka" honey

Being exotic is so weird.

This is the Manuka tree at my place. Close-up of the flowers.
posted by rodgerd at 5:02 PM on July 22, 2009


Some random comments here:
Honey is indeed an amazing product - to produce a teaspoon of honey, the bees must travel (collectively) a distance equal to the circumnavigation of the planet. So no one bee 'makes' honey.
You don't have to be in the country to keep bees - in fact, there is some evidence that urban beekeeping is easier because there are more flowers (and flowery weeds) to provide them with nectar than in 'nature'. This is especially true in the lower elevations of the Northwest, after the blackberry bloom is over, there's not much in the meadows/forests for bees - except in urban areas.
We were considering growing buckwheat as a cover crop next year - and now you say its honey has magical properties, well that's it!
posted by dbmcd at 5:04 PM on July 22, 2009


Victorian prostitute wisdom:

A little honey in the cunny makes his countenance so sunny!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:19 PM on July 22, 2009


I figure the development of hakarl went one of two ways:

Villagers discover a dead shark washed up on the beach. It's starting to stink, so they bury it.

Scenario 1: Some months go by. Due to crop failure, people are starving. Someone remembers that shark they buried. They dig it up, and eat it. They don't die. Some nutcases develops a taste for it, and keep making it.

or

Scenario 2: Some months go by. A group of guys gets drunk. One of them dares another to eat some of that shark they buried on the beach. He does so, and continues to do so to freak people out. Eventually, it turns into something like a fraternity prank tradition, and then just into a tradition.

Getting back to honey, one of my favorite things to do with it is mix it with apple juice and ferment it into cyser!
posted by fings at 6:12 PM on July 22, 2009


Bee propolis has long been the perfect hive defense against intruders, bacteria and virii.

Living in Hong Kong, with its never-ending swirl of airborne bugs and pollution, I take a little propolis extract every morning (and sometimes at night) to ward off getting sick. Since I started doing that I've been down with the cold or the flu a lot less.

But if you're allergic to bees, taking propolis is not a good idea.
posted by bwg at 6:21 PM on July 22, 2009


I'm glad there's a natural therapy that doesn't creep people out.

Honey is bee barf.
posted by Balisong at 8:15 PM on July 22, 2009


And the invention of beekeeping is one of those things that puzzles me. Who was the first Egyptian to think "Oh yeah, I'm going to stick my hand in that beehive and see what happens. Maybe it's delicious. Who knows? I might be able to seal a boat with it!"

Just like the first guy to eat cheese. I'd like that guy's name. "This milk has gone so bad that it's SOLID. I'm gonna eat it!"


I feel sorry for the poor bastard that found out beer was OK. I imagine that it went something like this: "This porridge has been sitting out in the sun for a while, is all bubbly and smells funny. But I am SO HUNGRY right now, I'd rather eat it than starve."

Then a little later: "This rotten porridge has dried out, but I am SO HUNGRY that I'd rather eat it than starve."
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:17 PM on July 22, 2009


Just stay away from the Nightshade Flower Honey. I have heard that it is toxic.
posted by ovvl at 9:44 PM on July 22, 2009


I have this printed out in my serendipity recipe book.

Honey is bee barf.


Man, I'm too tired to dig up the Baby Blues cartoon.
posted by lysdexic at 10:53 PM on July 22, 2009


ArgentCorvid: I have that doubt about chili peppers.

"Hey, this looks good, all red and everything, wonder if it's a berry. AAAAAAAAH! IT TASTES LIKE BURNING! Cool, I'm gonna put it in my food."
posted by qvantamon at 12:14 AM on July 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also is the crappy supermarket honey that's been heavily filtered and boiled to maintain shelf life (by preventing crystallization) as good as the natural "raw honey" sold by hoity toity independent bee keepers? Or that just a hippy conspiracy?

Well, my experience with the honey in supermarkets is that once you read the label, you realize it's only a little bit of honey with a whole bunch of corn syrup and chemicals. Not that is says so in any really large letters on the label, of course.
posted by Orb at 2:25 AM on July 23, 2009


At this point, some thought must be given to their disposal.

Wait a minute -- the leech feeds and falls off one time and then you kill it? Since the patient has to have leeches applied repeatedly, why can't you leave a few leeches in a container in the patient's room and reuse them?
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:41 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honey is bee barf. Google Books link.
posted by lysdexic at 8:15 AM on July 23, 2009


FelliniBlank, once the leech has been used for therapy, it's contaminated. (Maybe a good analogy would be to think of it as a needle. Dirty needles aren't stored with sterile ones and dirty needles aren't reused.)

(AzraelBrown, I feel I should apologise for derailing the thread a bit - really enjoyed the post, thanks!)
posted by arachnid at 8:44 AM on July 23, 2009


I then assume that they did both, tried them together, and that's how we got things like honey glazed ham and cheese rats.

What the hell is a cheese rat?
posted by AceRock at 9:54 AM on July 23, 2009


But it's not a needle -- there aren't going to be remnants of blood lying around on some inanimate surface that can decompose or collect germs. I can see why you wouldn't reuse a syringe even on the same person unless you cleaned and re-sterilized it first, but how is a leech that just sucked my, and only my, blood capable of harming me if it sucks my blood again tomorrow? Assuming it doesn't step out for a night of anonymous rough unsafe PnP in the interim.

I guess it's just part of hospital SOP to treat everything, except linens and scrubs and such, as if it is contaminated after it touches blood once, just for consistency. At least the leech gets to have a great last meal.

Less derailishly, the label of every container of supermarket honey I've bought says, "Ingredients: Honey."
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:59 AM on July 23, 2009


THIS IS GROSS

My mom is a home health RN. When I was in high school and thought that I'd some day be a doctor, I would drive her to her patients during the summer and weekends, chatting with her patients and watching her work. She's an awesome nurse, meaning I think her bedside manor is incredible. The insurance companies paying the home health company would want my mom to teach patients/family how to do routine procedures themselves, so they wouldn't have to pay for my mom to drive out to someone's house anymore.

Because of this, I got to see my mom teach, not just work. It was a great learning experience and life lesson. My mom mostly specialized in wound care and diabetic treatment. Wound care. People with wounds. Wounds that were so big that you can't take care of them on your own; you need a nurse to drive to your house to change your bandage. Wounds.

So we're going on vacation for a few days, and my mom is changing this guy's wound. I think it was a bedsore on his calf. The tissue was borderline necrotic and my mom was doing everything she could to prevent a skin graft, or worse, this guy needing an amputation. She puts on a special dressing that's designed to trap moisture and an antibiotic ointment in, to prevent the wound from drying out.

"The most important thing" she tells the guy "is that you do not remove this dressing. At all. Not even to peek at the wound. Nada. No air should get to this wound. This is sterile and I'm going to be gone for a few days. This dressing will last until I get back, so just keep your leg elevated and keep yourself entertained. But whatever you do, do not fucking remove this bandage for even one second."

Of course the guy removes the bandage. You know, just to make sure that the wound is still healing and he's not going to lose his leg.

Well, a few days later we're back from our camping adventure in Arkansas, and we drive out to the guy's house to check things over and change the dressing.

Excuse me, I just threw up a little in my mouth.

We walk into the patient's bedroom and the first thing we notice is the faint smell of ammonia. Then we notice the bandage. It doesn't look like one of my mom's professional dressings. It. Looks. Different. It's pulsating.

Gulp

My mom asks if he's removed the bandage. He insists that he hasn't. My mom asks again, calmly, if he's removed the bandage, just to look at his wound. He replies that yes, he's removed it the first day and left it open to the air overnight because he wanted to let the wound air out, because oxygen is good for a wound, you see, and he really doesn't want to risk losing his leg.

My mom slowly unwraps the bandage, and finds a large, writhing mass of wait for it

MAGGOTS

OH MY FUCKING GOD they're all over the wound. I freak out. My mom is cool as a cucumber, doing her best Fox-Mulder-has-alien-goo-on-his-hand-while-Scully-pukes-in-the-corner impression. She gets a waste basket, discards the, uh, unwanted organic matter, and finds wait for it, wait for it

THE WOUND IS HEALING

The maggots did a body good. As much as I love to tell this story, my mom loves to more.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:00 AM on July 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


Q: What the hell is a cheese rat?

A: Delicious!
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:12 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Agh, these beans are horrible. I'll wait until they're overripe. Agh! Ok, maybe if I pull the rind off. Agh! no, that's worse. Well I might as well throw them in the fire. Huh. Nothing. Agh, still taste horrible. What if I dry them out first then burn them. Ick, no. Ok, I'll crush them. Yuck. Although that's not bad. Maybe if I boil the whole thing. For hours. And add mustard and egg whites. Hmm. Maybe if I take the ripe berry, take just the seed, roast that for a specific length of time, then crush it up and put it in a bag, then put boiling water on it? Hmmm, ok. Still, this all might be improved with some sort of perforated metalwork. Oh, wait, I'll boil the water but take the condensate and drip that through a paper lined strainer filled with the ripe, roasted, crushed beans that only grow in certain pain in the ass areas with a specific soil composition, yeah, that'll learn it to try to not be consumed by humans.
Only way it could be better is if some specific kind of animal with the right enzymatic content in it's gut ate the stuff first then crapped it out so we could wash/dry it, roast it, crush it, boil it. Mmmm, yummy.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:24 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


there aren't going to be remnants of blood lying around on some inanimate surface that can decompose or collect germs.

No, but there will be waste byproducts (leech poop) in their storage jar that would allow for bacterial growth and prevent sterility. I'd assume the "fresh" new leeches are grown in sterile medium, kept in sterility until exposed to the patient and hospital environment which is notoriously lousy with some pretty hardy bacteria. It would be pretty damn difficult to re-sterilize the leech without killing it.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:25 AM on July 23, 2009


Ah, good point. I just feel sorry for the patient who recovers and says, "I'd like to shake the hand of the leech who saved my life. . . . . You did WHAT to it?"
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:35 AM on July 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Q: What the hell is a cheese rat?

$20. SAIT.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:10 PM on July 23, 2009


arachnid: I apologize for nothing! Everyone's having a good time, I'd be an ass to break up the fun.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:25 PM on July 23, 2009


I actually liked hakarl. Of course, I liked it after 2/3 of a bottle of Black Death vodka.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:32 PM on July 23, 2009


A little honey in the cunny makes his countenance so sunny!

If you put that inside your twat, he'll beat you with a baseball bat.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:23 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Avocado honey is where it's at. It's very dark and has an intense über-honey flavour.
posted by deborah at 10:31 PM on July 23, 2009




I thought you needed special medical grade honey to actually use on wounds, or is that just a Big Pharma conspiracy?

from one of the links

The enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide in honey is destroyed when honey is exposed to heat and light. But the unique, non-peroxide, antibacterial activity of manuka honey is stable, so there is no concern about true Active Manuka Honey losing its activity in storage.


Store bought honey is lacking the special enzyme and likely to be boiled and exposed to light so i don't think it's going to do much good.

Here's another link which provides a slightly more detailed explanation of how it all works.

The honey was turning off the genes that allow the bacteria to reproduce. But the honey also seemed to be activating huge numbers of the bacteria’s defence genes. It was like nothing Shona had seen before; the bacteria was acting like it was under attack from a whole range of assailants from acid, to salt and heat. The honey was overwhelming the bacteria by attacking it on so many levels at once.

One last link which identifies the active ingrediant as methylglyoxal which has been touted as a cancer treatment.
posted by onya at 12:41 AM on July 24, 2009


I liked it after 2/3 of a bottle of Black Death vodka.

If it was real "Black Death," it was Brennivín, not vodka. I'm surprised you were still standing after 2/3 of a bottle. Really, the fact that you lived through this experience suggests that you just may be a literal Viking - that takes some serious fortitude.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:20 PM on July 24, 2009


NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
posted by eamondaly at 10:01 PM on July 24, 2009


yes?

[NOT-CONTRARIANIST]

posted by quin at 10:14 PM on July 24, 2009


maybe
posted by onya at 7:06 AM on July 25, 2009


« Older Leszek Kolakowski dies at age 81.   |   These guys play rough Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments