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The Bacon Tampon: Doctors Find Salt Pork Stops Nosebleeds

It's better if you use raw, semi-frozen bacon instead of cooked.
It's better if you use raw, semi-frozen bacon instead of cooked.

Oh bacon, is there no end to the blessings you bestow? Stuffing raw bacon up your nose stops uncontrollable nosebleeds, according to research recently published in a respected medical journal. What other medical cure smells so delicious?

Four doctors at Detroit Medical Center in Michigan treated a child who had a rare hereditary disorder that causes prolonged nose bleeding by using what they called a "nasal tampon" made out of "cured salted pork," the Guardian reports. The so-called bacon tampon "stopped nasal hemorrhage promptly, effectively, and without sequelae [negative consequences]," they write in the January 2012 issue of the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology. "To our knowledge, this represents the first description of nasal packing with strips of cured pork for treatment of life-threatening hemorrhage in a patient with Glanzmann thrombasthenia" (a platelet disorder).

The doctors used the method on the 4-year-old girl twice. "In both applications, the patient had complete cessation of nasal bleeding within 24 hours, and was discharged within 72 hours after treatment," they report.

This is an old folk cure that dates at least to the 1800s, but doctors stopped stuffing noses with bacon because "packing with salt pork was fraught with bacterial and parasitic complications," the physicians state in their article. They speculate that the meat may have certain tissue factors that help the body stop bleeding. According to the University of Minnesota Medical Center, it could be that the cold and salt work to constrict blood vessels and the fat stimulates the clotting system. "We suggest you leave the strip in place until it falls out," the university's website states. "Some people are uncomfortable putting salt pork up their or their child's nose. This is just a suggestion that has been successfully used by many patients."

"Salt pork placed in the nose and allowed to remain there for about five days has been used, but the method is rather old-fashioned," Dr Henry Beinfield in Brooklyn, N.Y., said in a treatise called General Principles in Treatment of Nasal Haemorrhage published in 1953. In 1940, Dr. A.J. Cone of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis praised the method in a paper called Use of Salt Pork in Cases of Haemorrhage.

"As newer synthetic hemostatic agents and surgical techniques evolved, the use of packing with salt pork diminished," doctors Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin write in their current Annals of Otology piece. However, modern methods of curing bacon using sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite preserve the pork and prevent bacteria from growing.

The mind boggles. What other medical miracles might this smoky, salty elixir accomplish? Treat erectile dysfunction? Cure cancer? Maybe Paula Deen should try it for her diabetes.


Follow Samantha Bonar @samanthabonar.


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