The whole point of modern society is separating humans from the unspeakably gross things that keep humans alive. No, you don't want to see how the sausage is made, and you don't want to see where your poop goes. This goes double for medical care, where you expect everything to be sterile and white and made by people in spotless laboratories. But if you're willing to keep an open mind about horrifying things, you'll be pleased to find out that ...
#5. You Can Use Decapitated Ants as Makeshift Stitches
If you're adventuring through the deepest jungles of Africa, it serves you well to take precautions, because it's safe to say you probably won't have access to the highest caliber of medical care. So what happens if you fall down and give yourself a nasty gash? If you're not carrying a needle and thread, the best thing you can do is shove your bleeding arm into an ant's nest and start collecting a few of the little bastards.
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
We recommend feigning a picnic.
Driver ants are fearsome South American and African critters that hunt in swarms. They are so aggressive and their bite so powerful that when they raid, even elephants flee from them.
But industrious humans, unwilling to bow down to a master shorter than an eyelash, simply wondered what the bane of the jungle could do for them. And before the age of medical-grade sutures, early humans discovered that ants were remarkably good at stitching up wounds.
We can safely speculate that the first person to do this was wacked out fucking crazy.
Nicknamed "surgery ants," their pincers are so powerful that they can staple wounds together. This isn't a pleasant operation for the ants themselves -- you have to make them angry enough to bite you, and when they're good and pissed, you twist their bodies off to lock the pincers in place.
It's hardly an effective remedy for an ax wound, but it's so effective for minor injuries that ant stitches have been used for thousands of years, and in some remote parts of the world they're still used today. So if there are any doctors reading this, try it! And then send us video of the patient's reaction.
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Bonus points if you can do it while maintaining a creepy stalker smile.
#4. You Can Relieve Psoriasis by Letting Flesh-Eating Fish Chew on You
John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Psoriasis probably won't kill you, but it still sucks -- it's a chronic skin condition where your skin cells replicate too fast and turn into red, itchy scales. It can seriously affect self-confidence, if nothing else, because the lizard-person look is rarely in fashion. Treatment options are wide and varied -- your doctor might prescribe a lotion, or a pill, or phototherapy ... or a mineral bath containing hundreds of tiny fish that eat the top layer of your skin off.
Via Wikimedia Commons
"We shall de-feet you!" (We are so sincerely sorry about that.)
It can be difficult to find a treatment for psoriasis that works well, so people who suffer from the condition may turn to some pretty unconventional solutions. That is, insofar as "climbing into a pool filled with creatures that will eat the flesh right off your body" can be considered unconventional. So for a mere $3,000, not including airfare, sufferers can travel to the hot springs of Kangal, Turkey, to pay a visit to the so-called "doctor fish," a minnow-like species that usually prefers to feed on plankton but is not averse to nibbling on dead human skin, which is something that psoriasis sufferers have in excess.
It sounds ridiculous, but up to 87 percent of people who try it report that they look and feel better afterward. The idea is that the pool is rich in selenium, which is an element with skin-healing properties. So after the fish nibble away at all the excess skin, the water can get in and help your dermis to help itself. And unlike drugs, fish don't usually carry side effects.
Well, maybe a slight case of the willies and saying "BLUUGH!"
This leaves unanswered the most interesting question, which is, of course: Who was the first person to try this? Did they just fall in on accident and get pleasantly surprised by how good their skin felt afterward? Were they trying for a particularly slow and gruesome suicide, and profoundly disappointed? Unfortunately, the answer has been lost to history.
#3. Got Bowel Inflammation? Try Drinking Parasitic Worms*
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that feels exactly as unpleasant as you might expect from something with "ulcerative," "inflammatory," and "bowel" in the description. There aren't too many effective treatments, but science is looking into a new solution that has been showing positive results. It involves infecting yourself with intestinal parasites.
Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
"CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!"
Studies have been done for some time that suggest that pigs with intestinal worms suffer fewer bowel conditions. Not willing to wait for human trials to give a verdict on his bloody diarrhea problem, one unnamed ulcerative colitis victim took it upon himself to swallow a bunch of whipworm eggs to see whether they offered any relief. We're not sure where he got them -- apparently there's a black market for that kind of thing?
Regardless, the results were a lot more favorable than what you could usually expect from deliberately ingesting parasites. The condition actually went into remission for four years and counting.
Now that's the look of a man with a healthy poop shed.
As explained by Dr. Gerard Mullin, director of integrative nutrition services at Johns Hopkins, the effect is due to the fact that the body's immune response to whipworms is the opposite of the way it reacts to inflammatory bowel diseases. When infected with worms, the gut responds by producing extra mucus, which in this case is exactly what you want, as it protects against the ulcers that create the inflammatory response. And to think his friends probably called him crazy.
*Just because it worked on this occasion doesn't mean that you should try to cure your own chronic illness by eating random parasites. That's still usually a bad idea.
"Ugh. Why'd I eat all that E. coli?"