Wednesday 16 January 2019

Old wives tales work - and that's no porkie

There is some truth to the effectiveness of old wives' tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Centre.

Dr Sonal Saraiya and her colleagues in Michigan found that packing strips of cured pork in the nose of a child who suffers from uncontrollable, life-threatening nosebleeds can stop the haemorrhaging.

The discovery won them a 2014 Ig Nobel prize, the annual award for sometimes inane, yet often surprisingly practical, scientific discoveries.


This year's winners honoured at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine, included a team of researchers who wondered if owning a cat was bad for your mental health.

Other gongs went to Japanese scientists who tested whether banana peels are really as slippery as cartoons would have us believe, and Norwegian biologists who tested whether reindeer on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard were frightened by humans dressed to resemble polar bears.

As has become the custom, real Nobel laureates handed out the prizes and winners were given a maximum of 60 seconds to deliver their acceptance speech,

Sticking pork products up the patient's nose was a treatment of last resort when conventional treatments had failed, Dr Saraiya said, and was not recommended for a routine nosebleed.


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