I have a long-standing interest in quack medicine and a couple of recent examples caught my eye.
The pain from a bad back can be debilitating and sufferers are often desperate to get their hands on anything that will relieve their pain. But here’s one remedy not to try – injecting yourself with semen.
The Irish Medical Journal, a must-read in any household, reported, in an article wittily called Semenly Harmless Back Pain: An unusual presentation of a Subcutaneous Abscess, that a 33 year-old man had injected himself with his own semen to cure his chronic back pain.
It didn’t seem to help and on a visit to the quack to get a more conventional treatment, the doctor noticed that the man’s arm was red and swollen. Further investigation showed that the man had a skin infection and that an abscess had formed under his skin.
He was put on an intravenous antimicrobial drip which seemed to have helped relieve his back pain but the patient discharged himself before the medics had the opportunity to drain his arm. Perhaps he was attached to it.
In other parts of the world, they swear by camel’s urine, claiming scriptural provenance for its healing qualities from a passage in the Hadith, a collection of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad. Bottles of the stuff fly off the shelves in Saudi Arabia and if you get your hands on one, be sure to mix it with milk is supposed to release its healing properties.
But, you need to be sure that what you are drinking is the real deal.
Reports have reached me that Saudi health inspectors raided a shop in the port city of Al Qufudhah after receiving reports that the crafty shopkeeper was selling his own urine instead of going to the trouble of getting a camel, a notoriously bad-tempered creature at the best of times, to point Percy at a bucket. Seventy bottles were taken away for analysis.