Checkup: Salted Pork for Nosebleeds
A little while ago, some doctors in Michigan, at the Detroit Medical Center, were presented with a patient, a little girl, with a bloody nose. But not just any bloody nose.
Because the girl had a rare genetic disorder, her nose would not stop bleeding, no matter what the doctors tried. And so they did something a little weird: they stuffed her nose with pieces of salted pork. And it worked. The so called meaty nasal tampons not only soaked up all the blood but stopped the bleeding.
Now, as both a vegetarian and as someone who wouldn’t eat pork even if I did eat meat, my first reaction upon reading about this was: that’s pretty gross. But my second thought was, how does salted meat cure a bloody nose? I asked Valerie Dean O’Loughlin, a medical sciences researcher at Indiana University, what she thought.
"Salt attracts water, so the water in fluid from the nose will be attracted to the salted pork, and as the salted pork will absorb some of that blood it will swell like a tampon and it can act as a really good, solid packing material that can ultimately compress some of those blood vessels in the nose."
Plus, there may be proteins in pork that make blood coagulate. I’ll be honest -- I still think it’s kinda gross. But interestingly, using salted pork to treat nosebleed has a long history as a folk remedy. Evidently, before old-time doctors knew much about bloody noses -- or about germs, for that matter -- pork up the nose was a common way to treat nasal hemmorhage.
Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting that the next time you have a bloody nose you should grab whatever pieces of pork are lying around. And neither is Professor O’Loughlin.
"I think there are other things that can be used without having problems of introducing bacteria or other sorts of pathogens in the nose. So for a person that has the occasional nose bleed, a tissue or a tampon in the nose should work just fine."