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February 27, 2018

BehindTheMedspeak — "Lick your wounds" isn't just a figure of speech: It's good medical advice

Wrote Mary Roach in the New York Times:


"As a germ killer itself, saliva has few rivals. Its anti-clumping properties keep bacteria from forming colonies on the teeth and gums. And it contains histatins, which not only kill bacteria but also have been shown to speed wound closure independent of antibacterial action."

"It is a known observation among the vulgar that the saliva is efficacious in cleansing foul wounds, and cicatrizing recent ones," wrote the 18th-century physician Herman Boerhaave. He was correct. Wounds that would take several weeks to heal on one's skin disappear in a week inside the mouth.


Only after I read the paragraph above did I get to thinking about whether that is true in my own experience: I think so.

Readers, what say you?

Can you bring sustenance to this table?

Ms. Roach's book, "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal," is perhaps more amusing and unsettling than her previous efforts, which is saying something.

Caption for the video up top, among the most bizarre things I've ever seen on YouTube: "Histatins are a group of electrophoretically distinct histadine-rich polypeptides found in humal saliva. They have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflamatory properties. They are also a major wound closing factor; they do not stimulate proliferation, but do induce cell spreading and migration, two key initiating steps in reepithelization."

February 27, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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