6 Disgusting Ways Animals Can Improve Your Health

By and large, nature is disgusting. It's chock full of bugs and hobos and other things that roll in feces. But amidst that slurry of nasty, science has been finding a number of medical breakthroughs. Nauseating, repulsive medical breakthroughs.

#6. Hippo Sweat

Hippos are the guidos of the animal kingdom. They're huge, oily and they never sunburn. They're also known for being ridiculously territorial animals capable of gnawing a man to shreds with their vicious gums and Rubenesque, flapping jowls.

But, in studying these chubby, ill-tempered animals from a distance, one of the first things scientists noticed was their sweat. Rather than being clear like human sweat, hippo sweat is red and viscous. Noticing this was totally weird, researchers collected a bunch of hippo sweat probably by sacrificing a few grad students and running a swab across some hippo ass while they were distracted.

After a few hours of hard sciencing, they discovered that the sweat turned out to be a first-rate sunblock. It's filled with little microscopic structures that actually break up and scatter light molecules. It's also a first-rate antiseptic and an effective insect repellent. Kind of makes your sweat's ability to scare away women look pretty shitty by comparison, doesn't it?

Also this is how Hippo Trees are made.

Considering all the things it can do, hippo sweat is the obese, aquatic mammal wet-dream of any cosmetics company. As soon as scientists find a way to make it not smell like hippo B.O. and advertisers find a way to disguise the fact that it rolled off a hippo's ass, expect to see squeeze tubes of this stuff being sold around the globe.

#5. Maggots

Maggots have the worst P.R. department in the whole fucking insect kingdom. They're famous for turning up in the most horrible situations, from the basket of ham you left to rot on the back porch to the corpses of L.A. Hookers. To make matters worse for the maggot, their whole purpose of life is to grow up into a fly, which would be sort of like Andy Dick metastasizing into Carlos Mencia.

As it turns out, maggotkind's shitty reputation isn't entirely deserved. They're basically nature's answer to antibacterial soap. Maggots eat dead flesh, and doctors long ago realized that the maggot's tendency to wolf down dead skin can help people with infected wounds from succumbing to gangrene, at the low cost of stomach turning revulsion.

With the advent of modern antibiotics, Maggot Therapy declined in use but doctors never took it off the table entirely and, thanks to an increase of ultra-badass anti-biotic resistant bacteria, it's been making a notable comeback.

That's right, our mortal medicines cannot harm these highly advanced mutant bacteria, but they're not shit when put up against the heroic maggot. While bacteria can evolve to become capable of fighting off medicines, they haven't quite figured out how to jump their last evolutionary hurdle and become uneatable.

While drug laws haven't relaxed quite enough to let you buy cartons of medical maggots for home use, any doctor in America can prescribe them as treatment. And if you want to get them under the table you can always just leave some sausage out in the sun for a few days and cultivate your own.

#4. Leeches

You probably know that back in the day, medical professionals used leeches to treat pretty much everything from fevers to leech allergies. This old Greek fuck named Galen postulated that there were four humors in the body--blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile--and that an excess of one fluid over the others lead to the vast majority of ailments. If a patient presented with bloodshot eyes it wasn't from a late night grog bender, it was because they had too much blood and needed to be drained. All that extra blood can really fuck a guy up.

As you can imagine, this was all about as scientific as anything taught in a Deep South biology classroom. But, thanks to the reverence future generations of doctors held Galen in, it remained a prominent medical treatment for centuries.

As doctors began to refine their craft with innovations like washing their hands and not spitting in open wounds, leech medicine fell out of favor. But sometimes we see that the crazy old-time bastards had it right.

Recent studies have shown that leech saliva is basically a damned miracle elixir. Their spit is lousy with anesthetic, antibiotics and beneficial enzymes and anticoagulants that could prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The problem is, of course, people aren't huge on the idea of their surgeon striding into the operating theater with a big-ole jar full of leeches and pond water. So the research now is about trying to get the leech benefits without the leeches, probably the most hilarious being the "mechanical leech." Yeah, that'll make people feel better.

"Ms. Jones, you're going to feel a little pinch. But don't worry, that's just the leech cyborg clamping down on your neck."

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