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Hospitalism: On 'The Butchering Art' (lrb.co.uk)
33 points by Vigier 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments



Honey is making a comeback for problematic wounds. The most researched kind is from New Zealand, Mānuka honey [0], but really any kind of honey will do. I've [also] read that [white] sugar works too - from a search now, [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C4%81nuka_honey

[1] https://advancedtissue.com/2016/06/role-sugar-proper-wound-c... -- random search link with some links to papers

My favorite quote from the book review: "Unfortunately, nobody – least of all a scientist – likes to be publicly corrected. Infection was still considered by many to be inevitable, and best left to play out as Providence determined – a version, in fact, of the ‘therapeutic nihilism’ to which most Quakers, Lister’s father included, adhered. To argue the contrary was tacitly to condemn surgical practices that had been in use for decades."

Even today, many doctors are still biased towards treatments that don't actually work very well. On HN this morning there was a link about Melatonin, with some tips on how to use this substance most effectively to aid in sleep... ("Uhm... it was on slatestarcodex..." Ah, [2]). I didn't comment there, but I thought about quipping about how Ambien (and all other FDA-approved sleep medications) do not actually work very well. In recent months, I think I've figured out my own sleep issues. This has taken me 20+ years, and the FDA-approved palliative drugs aren't part of the process. Millions of people are suffering from poor sleep, but not-very-effective drugs are a first-line treatment. Why is that?

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17505380 (HN discussion of SSC article on Melatonin)

[Edit2: the quest for Manuka honey is causing some problems for New Zealanders [3]. if you have a wound that might benefit from honey, try buying local honey first. You'll save a lot of money, and probably get just as good a result.

[3] https://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-news/news/article.cfm?c_id=15... ]


I think the question is, how does one distinguish the claims above from the claims described in the article, such as "it was surmised that if he had eaten breakfast before picking up the scalpel, the food would have absorbed any poison attending the corpse"?

IMHO the article disagrees with the parent; the article refers to honey as a relic of medical practices of Ancient Greece; I'd bet ours are far more effective. The article supports the idea that scientific method, publicly reproducible empirical evidence, is the tool to separate bad ideas from good, superstition from fact.


About a decade ago I incurred a deep slice on my finger working with sheet metal. I had heard of using honey as a topical antibiotic and decided to use that over something like Neosporin. It worked great - my finger did not get infected. However it was difficult to keep on the wound and somewhat messy.


there's also ongoing research into using tilapia skin to treat wounds - http://uk.businessinsider.com/tilapia-fish-skin-burn-treatme....


The problem nowadays is complicated significantly by the presence of large amounts of pharma money. As far as I'm aware, there was no money involved in the 19th century.




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