Medicine is an absolute marvel of science. To think we’ve gone from at one point using poisons like mercury to try to treat diseases to being able to grow a patient a new ear using their own cells. There are new and seemingly miraculous treatments being put into use all the time. Sometimes they’re extremely in depth and the product of years of research and practice. And other times they’re just really weird. Here’s ten of the most surprising treatments for some common, everyday conditions.
10. Coke is Prescribed to Treat Some Bowel Obstructions
A can of Coke contains 39 grams of sugar, which works out to 140 calories in a can. That’s fairly significant, and it’s the reason a lot of people insist Coke and other soft drinks are bad for you. If you’re a fan of soda and need a reason to defend it against those who think it’s unhealthy, then you’re in luck. Coca-cola is prescription medication for some people.
There is a type of bowel obstruction a person can suffer caused by something called bezoars. These are caused by clumps of undigested food that sort of snowball together and get stuck in your intestinal tract, building up until they cause a blockage. They can be very serious and even deadly if they aren’t removed, which is often done through surgery, but not always.
Coca-Cola has been administered to remove bezoars successfully in some cases. Based on research, the soda is actually effective in over 90% of cases in removing certain types of bezoars by basically dissolving them. The acid in Coke has an effective reaction to these nasty little food balls, softening them up and breaking them down so they can pass harmlessly through the digestive tract. Compared to surgery, it’s a much safer and less stressful treatment.
9. The Epley Maneuver Can Treat Vertigo and You Can Do It To Yourself
They say as many as 40% of Americans will experience vertigo at some point in their lives. The condition affects your sense of balance and can make you dizzy, nauseous, cause vomiting and related symptoms. There are many causes, however, so treatments can vary and can include a number of different medications and even surgery to destroy certain nerves. That said, one of the most effective treatments is something called the Epley Maneuver.
Named for its creator, Dr. John Epley, the treatment works amazingly well, including in cases that have proven resistant to other treatments. Weirdly enough, it was widely derided and rejected by other professionals for years. They just didn’t believe the treatment could be real because it was so simple and, as a result, they dragged Epley’s name through the mud and even threatened his license at some point.
So what does this mystery treatment involve? You need to be sitting on a bed. Then turn your head 45 degrees in the direction of the ear that’s suffering problems. Next, you lie back quickly with your head still turned, resting on your shoulder for 30 seconds. Then turn your head 90 degrees in the other direction and wait 30 seconds again. Give your head and body another 90 degree turn in the same direction and, you guessed it, wait 30 more seconds. Then you just sit up. That’s it.
When used to treat certain types of vertigo, an impressive 76% of patients show improvement after using the maneuver just one time.
8. Ketogenic Diets Can Treat Epilepsy
Ketogenic diets have been fairly big in the fad diet world for a few years now. They are sometimes referred to as low-carb diets and typically involve normal protein but higher fat content than you’d get in many other diets. The Atkins diet was a famous example of keto and while some people have had success eating this way, others argue it’s fairly unhealthy, especially long term. But it turns out it does have another unexpected benefit, and that is the treatment of epilepsy.
There have been cases in which epilepsy, especially epilepsy not well regulated by medication, has been controllable thanks to a keto diet. Because your body, and your brain, rely on what you eat to get energy, a keto diet is able to alter the way you get energy from food and that changes how epilepsy works. Instead of carbs, you’re training your body to burn fat for energy. How it changes seizure activity is still a bit of a gray area, though it does seem to rely on lowering sugars while raising fats which sort of tricks your brain into functioning differently.
The approach is used frequently with children, but adults who have had poor results with traditional epilepsy treatments can benefit from it as well. It does need to be strictly monitored by doctors, however, and it’s not an overnight success by any means, it will take patience.
7. Acid Reflux Can be Treated with a Magnetic Ring
If you weren’t sure how serious heartburn and acid reflux are, you should know the global antacid market is worth $3.97 billion. That’s a lot of Tums and a lot of upset stomachs. And while antacids can often fix the problem, they can’t always do it. Serious heartburn calls for serious relief, like a magnetic ring installed in your esophagus.
The ring allows food to pass through but prevents acid from coming back up and has been approved for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease. The metal ring basically cinches your throat shut, but not with enough force to prevent swallowing. You can think of it like a balloon held between your fingers. You can still force air in, but you hold it with enough force to stop it from coming out.
6. ’90s Rap Music has Been Used to Help Treat OCD
For some years, music therapy has shown benefits in treating a variety of disorders, including anxiety, phobias, and OCD. At least one doctor has further narrowed the field when it comes to treating disorders by using rap music from the 1990s, so probably a healthy dose of Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, and Public Enemy.
In one case, a woman with a severe fear of thunderstorms was rendered literally unable to leave her home due to the fear that consumed her. After her therapist had her listen to Hypnotize by the Notorious B.I.G. and focus on the clapping beat, she was able to keep herself distracted by the beat long enough to actually go for a walk outside with her therapist since her brain, and therefore the phobia, was otherwise occupied.
5. Cone Snail Venom Can Treat Chronic Pain
The ocean is an inhospitable place at the best of times. Drowning is always a risk, and no one needs to be told about sharks anymore, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even snails in the ocean can kill you. Untreated, the venom from a cone snail could kill you in as little as one hour. And as dangerous as that sounds, is valuable stuff. Cone snail venom is also a potent pain killer and cancer treatment.
One of the many compounds in the venom of certain snails can be used in the treatment of cancers and endocrine disorders, as well as severe and chronic pain. Somatostatin is made by humans as well, and it’s a hormone and neuropeptide. The snails make a chemically similar compound that is much more stable. The human version has a half-life of only three minutes. The snail one last for nearly a week.
Painkillers like Prialt already exist and have been derived from snail venom, but they need to be injected into the spine, making them hard to use. They are, however, even stronger than morphine, so the hope is to one day improve on how they’re administered.
4. Botox Injections are Used to Treat Chronic Migraines
Migraine headaches can be extremely painful and debilitating. Often, standard treatments you might use for normal headaches have no effect on a migraine, and those afflicted may just have to ride them out. But the FDA has approved one unusual treatment that, while not a cure, can certainly alleviate symptoms – Botox.
The treatment is not for everyone. You need to have a serious migraine issue, meaning around 15 days’ worth of migraines per month for three months. But because Botox has the effect of paralyzing muscle and nerve receptors, it’s believed that, when injected in the forehead, scalp and surrounding area, it is able to block pain receptors associated with migraines as well.
3. Depression May Be Treated with Sleep Deprivation
Depression is one of the most common conditions in the world and affects an estimated 280 million people. For some, it can be treated with medication, but for many, it can prove to be quite resistant to medications. That leads to long-lasting struggles that, in some cases, may never be treated.
There are alternatives to medication and some of them are more surprising than others. Arguably one of the most unusual is sleep deprivation. In studies, it has been shown to reduce symptoms almost immediately in about half of patients. This is quite a step up from traditional medications, which can sometimes take weeks to show results.
For many patients, sleeping again after the deprivation will suffer a relapse, but it may only be partial and the benefits can last for weeks. Combined with medication therapy, the benefits may be stabilized and improve the effects overall. There’s also reason to believe partial sleep deprivation can be as effective as total sleep deprivation, which means being awake for upwards of 36 hours. As for why it has any effect at all, well, that’s still a bit of a mystery.
2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Treat Back Pain
Upwards of 65 million Americans reported recent back pain according to one study, and it’s about 8% of all adults who deal with chronic back pain. Life is a pain in the back. So what can be done? Usually it’s over the counter painkillers like Tylenol and Advil that carry the weight of back pain, but there is a curious alternative with no medication required. Cognitive behavioral therapy, the same psychological treatment used for things like depression, can help treat back pain.
Comprehensive studies that covered over 13,000 patients have shown that when a physical and psychological approach is taken to treating the pain, the results are far better than either one alone. The approach needs to be comprehensive, and obviously it won’t address the physical cause of the pain, but it can help a patient learn mechanisms to deal with psychological comorbidities. So if your back pain is also making you depressed, anxious, angry or anything else, it can help you overcome that which, in turn, causes an overall reduction in the amount of pain perceived.
1. Fish Scales Can be Used to Treat Burns
There are close to half a million burns treated at hospitals in a given year. Of those, around 40,000 may be so severe as to require hospitalization for treatment. And if you’ve ever been burned yourself, you know you don’t want to be burned so badly that you need hospitalization. It’s one of the most painful injuries you can endure.
One of the most horrible parts about severe burns is the damage it can cause to skin. Skin grafts are some of the only treatment options in this case, which involve moving unburned skin from a healthy part of the body to the burn so that it can heal.
It’s been shown that fish skin can actually greatly accelerate the healing of wounds in animal testing. Treated with silver solution, fish skin greatly reduces infection risk by lowering bacteria counts and accelerating the growth of new skin. The same fish, tilapia, have been successfully used in treating human burns. Their skin is loaded with something called Type 1 collagen that is very crucial to healing. Once sterilized, the scales can be applied just like a bandage, but they don’t need to be changed. Human skin is, of course, more ideal, but in a lot of developing nations that’s just not an option. Since tilapia skin has no purpose after the fish have been processed, it’s an untapped resource with some clear benefits.