Sunday, December 14, 2008

Redeeming Qualities of Bed Bugs


The oldest known bed bug on record was found by archaeologists while excavating el-Amarna,
an ancient city south of Cairo. The fossilized specimen is estimated to be 3500 years old. So bed bugs - nicknames: mahogany flats, red coats, crimson ramblers - have been bugging humans for a long, long time. Were they put on this earth simply to feed on and harass humans? Maybe not.
They may have some redeeming qualities after all. In Bugs in the System: Insects and Their Impact on Human Affairs, author May R. Berenbaum, writes that ancient Greek physician Dioscorides "attributed to bed bugs no fewer than eleven medicinal virtues." To treat wounds, for example, mix a concoction of crushed bed bugs and tortoise blood and apply liberally to the affected area. To cure nocturnal fevers, attach a single bed bug to the left arm. Berenbaum goes on to quote some traditional Chinese treatments employing bed bugs. For "lip-turning furuncle" [also known as an infected hair follicle or a boil], pound seven bed bugs thoroughly with some cooked rice and apply the paste on the lesion. It will effect a quick cure." "For stye, drop a little blood squeezed from bed bugs on the affected spot. The swelling will soon subside."It would be nice if these parasitic companions were able to give something back, to soothe some pain after all the itching and aggravation they've caused. Leeches and maggots have made a big comeback in medicine. What
about mahogany flats?

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