December 7, 2011

"Wound licking is an instinctive response in humans and many other animals to an injury."

"Dogs, cats, rodents and primates all lick wounds. The enzyme, lysozyme which is found in many tissues is what is the aid for the wounds.... Wound licking can clean wounds and accelerate healing, so it can be thought of as a form of animal self-medication (zoopharmacognosy)."

Wow! What a great Wikipedia entry. I can't excerpt all the cool stuff, but here's a taste (if you know what I mean)(links within the passage omitted):
In an unusual case, an Oregon teacher was reprimanded after licking blood from wounds on a track team member's knee, a football player's arm, and a high school student's hand. An Oregon public health officer commented that "We do know that animals lick their own wounds, and it may be that saliva has some healing properties. But my very strong recommendation is that you confine yourself to licking your own wounds."...

The Saint Magdalena de Pazzi is said to have cured a nun of sores and scabs in 1589 by licking her limbs.... Pliny the Elder in his Natural History reported that a fasting woman's saliva is an effective cure for bloodshot eyes....

There are potential health hazards in wound licking due to infection risk... The practice of metzitzah during circumcision is controversial as it can transmit the herpes virus to the infant....

Dog saliva has been said by many cultures to have curative powers in people. "Langue de chien, langue de m├ędecin" is a French saying meaning "A dog's tongue is a doctor's tongue"... appears in a 13th century manuscript....

To "lick your wounds" means to "to withdraw temporarily while recovering from a defeat."

The phrase was spoken by Antony in John Dryden's 17th century play All for Love:
“They look on us at distance, and, like curs
Scaped from the lion's paws, they bay far off
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war.”
Licked any wounds lately?

39 comments:

syd B. said...

I have a wound on the end of my fella. Any nurses in the room?

Surfed said...

My heart. TMI?

Dad29 said...

Thanks! I finally know the real meaning of the name of that town in southwestern Wisconsin!

Irene said...

That neatly explains why we've always let our dogs lick people.

Marica said...

In fact I have licked a wound recently! It was a fishing accident.

The TrogloPundit said...

Is that where kissing booboos comes from?

Shanna said...

an Oregon teacher was reprimanded after licking blood from wounds on a track team member's knee, a football player's arm, and a high school student's hand.

Ew!!! Didn’t that teacher worry about communicable diseases at all (aside from the inappropriateness of licking your students)?

John said...

John Steinbeck recommended a mixture of spider web and human piss.

If I recall correctly

John Henry

traditionalguy said...

Does saliva help clotting?

The life is in the blood, says scripture.

I never saw anyone lick a bee sting. The blood loss from a wound must be the target of the lickers.

But we draw the line at sucking blood. The goal is to keep blood inside.

John said...

When you let a dog lick you, should that be before or after he has licked his balls?

John Henry

edutcher said...

Considering how germ-filled the human mouth is, licking wounds may be a bad idea for us.

The fact dogs do it and get away with it may have something to do with the idea that all dogs go to Heaven.

Tibore said...

"The enzyme, lysozyme which is found in many tissues is what is the aid for the wounds.... Wound licking can clean wounds and accelerate healing, so it can be thought of as a form of animal self-medication..."

While true, medical science has evolved beyond the need to use basic animal responses to treat wounds. For humans within range of simple, over-the-counter type treatments, the best thing to do is probably what it's always been: Washing, antiseptic treatment, bandaging.

If medical science studies and eventually demonstrates that licking wounds is indeed the best practice, I'll then and only then change my own mind. But until then, until evidence-based medicine makes a compelling argument for change, I'll keep my tongue to myself and off of wounds, thank you.

Psychedelic George said...

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into[a] the village.”

Mark 8

In another instance, he mixed his spit with dirt and applied it to another blind man's eyes.

Henry said...

Wow! What a great Wikipedia entry.

To this subject ("wow" rather than "wound licking") I will add this example:

The article on the B-52s' Fred Schneider links to Sprechgesang, an interesting article on early 20th-century German opera.

Wikipedia is a serendipitist's dreamworld.

Pastafarian said...

You and Trooper York need to make nice. I really detest this sort of drama; and I miss his contributions to the comments.

Is this post meant to invite him back, or kick him in the nuts? Or a little of both?

bearing said...

I always assumed this was the source of why mothers offer to kiss their toddlers' boo-boos to make it better. We all know that it helps, even if we don't know why.

Ann Althouse said...

"Is this post meant to invite him back, or kick him in the nuts? Or a little of both?"

This post is about a figure of speech that I find fascinating and a cool Wikipedia article with some amazing stories in it. I go where I go for whatever reasons I have, and I bring back what I find interesting for the general reader. You're bringing up interpersonal stuff that I don't want on the blog anymore. Stop being an example of what you don't like. The subject is closed. Email me if you need to talk about it.

mccullough said...

I only lick my wounds after someone else pours salt on them.

bandmeeting said...

Split Enz, "Nice to Know":

I been licking my wounds
Sick of holding my tongue
I been sweating my way up those blue hills
Now I'm taking the plunge
I been stealing my nerves
And I'm breaking a lot of wishbones
Hope I'm displaying manly virtue
Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew

Chip S. said...

@mccullogh: ✓

Don't Tread 2012 said...

I have always been a (self) wound licker, swear by it. My dog has a good licker, too, and likes to provide soothing relief to my often sweaty, cracking feet.

"Pliny the Elder in his Natural History reported that a fasting woman's saliva is an effective cure for bloodshot eyes...."

I guarantee, you will have bloodshot eyes one way or the other if you try to make your wife fast for her saliva...!!!

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Tibore

Not a self-wound licker???

Don said...

"The practice of metzitzah during circumcision is controversial as it can transmit the herpes virus to the infant...

Hmmmm...would that be the only reason? I had never heard of that custom before.

http://www.ou.org/index.php/jewish_action/article/8976/

LordSomber said...

I've heard that one's own (and only) saliva will break up their blood stains in clothing. Something about enzymes.

Or is that an old wives' tale?

ndspinelli said...

Lordsomber, Ask Dexter.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Q: Why does a dog lick his balls?

A: Because he can!

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

My great-grandfather was a seventh son, and so was believed to have healing powers. People would come to him when they had eye infections. "Spit in your eye to cure a stye." He supposedly could also cure a baby's thrush by blowing in its mouth.

Toy

Crimso said...

I wouldn't go getting all excited about the whole lysozyme thing. I've busted open E. coli many times, and it was always a major struggle. Supposedly, lysozyme digests the cell wall, thereby making it easier to break open ("lyse") the bacteria. I don't doubt it does just that, but it never seems to work as well as advertised. French press (not like the one for coffee; French pressure cell press is what you want to look for on Wikipedia) is the only way to go. Of course, you don't usually have any in your saliva...

ken in sc said...

When I was in the Philippines, I learned that some Filipino mothers sucked their infant son's penises to make them bigger in adulthood. It makes sense to me.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Licked any wounds lately?

Does a gash count?

Mick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mick said...

yeah, I've licked some gash.

Coketown said...

Did you look this up because you said many commenters were going over to trooper york's blog to lick their wounds? It was an amusing image.

Anyway, I use hot, soapy water in lieu of saliva. That's what separates us from the apes. But I do lick mosquito bites since I heard saliva makes them stop itching. Whether it truly does, or if its just a power of suggestion thing, it seems to work.

ndspinelli said...

Ken in SC, I have so much I would like to say but I'm under surveillance. So, thanks for the insight.

just sayn'

windbag said...

Want to talk about comments?
Here's the permanent location for complaints and suggestions and discussions about the comments here on the Althouse blog. Meade and I will pay attention and participate, so you don't need to email us anymore. Just comment at that link. The thread will go on indefinitely. Enjoy the meta-conversation!

Email me if you need to talk about it.

Mike_K said...

Human bites, and probably licking wounds, is harmful because of mouth organisms.

Mike_K said...

Ann, that comment went through with no problem. I don't think I'm paranoid.

Lucien said...

Took me right back to "Bananas" :
"Snake Bite! Snake Bite!

ndspinelli said...

I know a guy who has a lawn mowing biz. He has to prick his prick w/ a fork. That's the only way his prissy bride will lick it..only for healing, not pleasure!