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."
3Blister Beetle Poison
As you can imagine from the name, blister beetles are horrible little creatures that are real pains in the ass. Their main hobbies are slaughtering other insects, basket weaving and poisoning horses to death.
That's because they're full of a toxin called cantharidin, which is secreted by the male blister beetle and given to the female when they're mating, kind of like a really shitty fruit basket (which is to say any fruit basket). While not generally lethal to humans, their venom does cause extremely painful welts that look more obscene than genital warts.
Despite that, through the years blister beetles, like leeches, have been used for a wide variety of completely worthless medical purposes. At varying times they've been used to cure gout, rheumatism and impotency. Spanish Fly is actually made from ground-up blister beetles. Unsurprisingly, the only result has been generations of people inadvertently poisoning themselves, all bonerless and covered in wet, ugly welts.
Yet, also like leeches, modern scientists are finding out you can in fact use the poison cantharidin for all sorts of things. Today it can be found in real medicine curing warts, removing tattoos and punching cancer in the face, as scientists (in China, anyway) have discovered it inhibits the growth of a number of cancer cells.
So there's still hope for Spanish Fly, right? Are they working on that?