5 Real Medical Treatments That Seem More Like Sick Pranks
All of the below treatments sound like bullshit. If your doctor suggested them, you'd probably say you wanted a second opinion, then run out of the clinic and leave him or her a scathing review on Yelp. But sometimes the craziest ideas have science on their side, so don't be so quick to call your doctor a quack if he or she recommends ...
Curing Cancer With Herpes
You don't normally see doctors taking a "divide and conquer" approach to curing disease. If you tell the doc you've got both food poisoning and pneumonia, you rarely hear him say, "Good! Let those fuckers fight it out!" Yet a London hospital found that the herpes virus, used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, helped kill cancerous cells in 93 percent of patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer (the article offers no explanation as to what in the blue-haired goblin balls led them to this discovery). So, yeah, apparently some diseases will turn on each other if they both invade the same spot in your body. Maybe they're like gangs fighting over street corners.
Or Liu Kangs fighting over street corn.
In the experiment, a genetically altered version of the herpes virus was injected into cancerous cells, exposing them to a super-mutant variant of herpes that destroyed the cancer from the inside out. The altered virus didn't spread to healthy cells and simultaneously acted as an immune system whistle-blower, alerting the body's immune cells to the cancer's presence. From then on, things played out like the bathroom fight scene from The Warriors, with cancer playing the part of the roller-skating gang member who gets back-flipped into a toilet.
The researchers stress that the treatment is most effective if cancer is detected in its early stages, but out of their initial test group of 17 patients, only two experienced a relapse after being dosed with Ultra Herpes. While their group consisted only of patients with head and neck cancer (which includes cancer of the mouth and throat), they are confident that herpes might one day be used to fight all types of cancer. The technique is currently being tested on skin cancer and even breast cancer, which has the potential to lead to some of the most disquieting pickup lines ever belched out by drunken STD farms.
Treating Depression by Blasting Your Brain With Magnets
Let's say you went to a medical professional to seek help for the hideous depression that's been crushing you into tiny shards of shame and defeat for the past several weeks/months/years. You'd probably expect them to refer you to a therapist, or maybe write you up a slip for some pills, or both. We're pretty sure the last thing you would expect is for the doctor to whip out his or her prescription pad and scribble down "Giant Fucking Magnets" with a purposeful nod.
However, Brontosaurus-burger-sized magnets are a viable treatment option for people suffering from bipolar depression. As it turns out, the electromagnetic fields generated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines may be able to improve a patient's mood for several days. Scientists figured this out when a Harvard study on bipolar disorder utilizing MRIs found that every single one of its non-medicated participants reported feeling less depressed after being placed within the impenetrable darkness of the hollow tube of loneliness (clinical terminology).
"Yeah, whatever, Emo, just get in the fucking tube."
These periods of relief lasted for hours, days, and in some cases even weeks after the MRI. This came as a total surprise to the researchers, because no part of the study was designed to make anyone feel better -- they were just trying to take brain scans of people affected by bipolar disorder, and suddenly everyone started hopping off the exam tables and whistling like Bobby McFerrin.
"... did that guy just tap dance out of here?"
A follow-up study was conducted to narrow down whether this was a freak coincidence or actual science. Patients who suffered from depression were either put in a real MRI machine or shoved inside a fake one that made noise but generated no electromagnetic field. Those who were put in the real MRIs reported feeling relief from their woes twice as often as those who were just subjected to the ear-piercing tunnel of lies.
Those of you without health insurance are advised to hide in a local McDonald's jungle gym.
Scientists have yet to completely explain this phenomenon (however, the Insane Clown Posse made a particularly noteworthy attempt). Desynchronized neurons are thought to be the cause of many brain disorders, so the most accepted theory is that the fields generated by MRI machines temporarily synchronize those misfiring neurons, essentially acting as antidepressants.
Despite being given what can generously be described as a cursory mad scientist explanation, the FDA approved the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat depression when medication fails. TMS involves the use of a machine filled with magnets (similar to but more powerful than those found in MRIs) blasting polarized electromagnetic waves at your skull until joy occurs. You can check it out in action right here, because as science has proven time and again, there is absolutely no downside to the application of technology without fully understanding how or why it works.
"And have you noticed any changes in your hair?"
Using Baby Foreskins to Treat Skin Ulcers
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Miami recently demonstrated the effectiveness of a new form of "spray-on skin" treatment for leg ulcers that contains a protein-clotting solution mixed with skin cells from babies' foreskins. Some quick definitions for you before we continue -- an "ulcer" is an open sore prone to hideous infection, and "a baby's foreskin" is the tiny hood-flap of an infant's penis. So, "spraying infant penises onto oozing leg wounds" is where we have arrived. You may read on.
WE FUCKING SAID READ ON, PUSSY!
The spray is made up of cells normally found in skin and connective tissue, but of course the reason we're talking about them is the fact that they were grown from samples of newborn foreskins, although how or why this particular procedure was conceived and developed is best left to the darkest corners of our screaming imagination. The best case scenario that is a hobo with oozing leg sores kicked a nude baby in the crotch and found that the activity had magical healing powers.
"And that's how my nickname changed from 'Jeff Legsores' to 'Chad Babypunter.'"
The study involved 228 adults with skin ulcers and concluded that the refreshing application of baby-dick spray once every two weeks (in addition to compression bandages, which help stop the wounds from bleeding and are a standard part of skin ulcer treatment) could actually heal the ulcers without the need of skin grafts. In addition, the spray could also treat people whose skin doesn't respond to the more conventional (read: less infant-genital-centric) methods. So in summation, you can mist an aggressive skin sore with liquefied baby wing-wangs to keep your leg from rotting off. Hooray for science.
Taking Tylenol to Heal Emotional Pain
Everyone at some point experiences what's referred to as social pain (bullying, rejection, debilitating awkwardness, etc.) that leaves them feeling crushingly vulnerable. Granted, it's often not the type of thing that's severe enough to need a huge dose of antidepressants, so you wind up just locking yourself in your room and listening to some angry music for the rest of the night. It's not like you can go to your medicine cabinet and swallow a pill for your hurt feelings, right?
Wrong, jerkloser. It turns out there's a pill you can take for the pains of social failure, and it's been right in front of our picked-last-for-kickball faces this whole time. The wonder drug in question is standard, over the counter, any-asshat-can-buy-it Tylenol.
"I am so pissed off right now. Hand me a razor blade and a straw."
In 2009, a research team at the University of Kentucky conducted two experiments to see whether acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain relievers) could be used to treat psychological pain as well as physical. In the first experiment, a group of 62 volunteers were given either 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen or a placebo and were then asked to provide daily reports on the amount of social pain they'd suffered by making notations on the "Hurt Feelings Scale." The level of social pain steadily decreased over time in the group taking the actual drug, whereas the control group experienced no change whatsoever.
The second experiment gathered a smaller group of volunteers, again split into treatment and control groups, with the treatment group receiving twice the dose of acetaminophen from the previous experiment. Both groups were then made to play a computer game that simulated feelings of social rejection (like a version of The Sims where your character does nothing but sit in an empty house and stare at the telephone). MRI scans of their brains were taken during the course of the game, which we assume did nothing but enhance everyone's comfort level.
"It looks like he may be immune. Let's put him on World of Warcraft."
As the experiment went on, the areas of the brain associated with pain (both psychological/social and physical) lit up like a barren, giftless Christmas tree for the placebo group. However, those same areas remained politely Zen in the acetaminophen-treated group -- their experience of emotional pain had been dulled to the level of robots and serial killers (not mutually exclusive). Keep in mind, physical and social pain activate the same brain regions -- when Surly Jim calls you "dickpigeon" in homeroom, your brain processes it in the exact same way as when Surly Jim punches you in the stomach (and then calls you "dickpigeon").
The researchers concluded that drugs such as Tylenol, typically prescribed as painkillers, could just as effectively be used to combat abstract pain like loneliness and embarrassment, in addition to treating headaches and punches in the face.
"If we'd sneaked Tylenol into his cereal, maybe Jeff would be alive today ..."
Treating a Heart Attack by Getting a Little Sun
Considering America's collective decision to embrace obesity-related heart disease by enjoying diets consisting largely of deep-fried mayonnaise, we're surprised that McDonald's doesn't hand out chewable aspirin and rib spreaders with every value meal. Or, we could just start eating all of our cheeseburgers outside, because heart attacks and a host of their nasty consequences can be foiled by copious amounts of sunlight, apparently.
A team of researchers from the University of Colorado discovered this effect after inducing heart attacks in groups of laboratory mice, presumably by feeding them nothing but selections from Guy Fieri's cookbook.
"Put him in the beaker in preparation for the sputtering angry napalm shit that is sure to follow."
Prior to their coronary episodes, one group of mice spent their time bathed in the warm glow of sunlamps, while the other group existed entirely under the gray and depleted indoor lighting enjoyed by most prisons and mental institutions. The scientists observed that the mice who had been exposed to sunlight recuperated from their heart attacks much more quickly than their less-illuminated counterparts (after accounting for a control group that had been eaten by someone's cat).
Why such a difference in recovery periods? The sun-blanketed rodents produced higher amounts of a type of protein that plays an important role in preventing tissue damage and keeping the heart metabolized during a heart attack. As for why the sun would make you produce more of those proteins, it has to do with your sleep cycle. The circadian rhythms that determine when you get up and when you go to sleep also make your organs produce specific proteins at certain times of day. Turn on a sun lamp and your body will think it's daytime. Or if it is daytime, get some goddamned sun so that your body knows.
But for God's sake, first put on some clothes that don't make you look like a total fucking embarrassment.
A scientist involved in the study felt that their findings could influence treatment in the future, suggesting that "... daylight exposure inside of the hospital could reduce the damage that is caused by a heart attack," which seems like a polite way of saying that maybe they should just move patients closer to the damned window.
You can contact Eddie with writing opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more ridiculousness from the people who are supposed to save us, check out 8 Medical Terms Your Doctor Uses to Insult You and 5 Insane Doctors From History Who Put House to Shame.