Glow in the Dark Wounds

The Civil War was an extremely violent period of American history, and soldiers from both the North and South faced terrible violence and painful situations. There were many wounds and casualties during the war, some of the worst and most grotesque in all of American history. Even the lucky ones who survived had many serious wounds and injuries that continued to affect them for the rest of their lives. 

One day, during the battle of Shiloh, something extremely surprising occurred. The soldiers from the North and South were at a standstill, and they ended up sitting in mud and rain for two whole days. Even soldiers with serious, open wounds had no choice but to sit in the mud, which allowed bacteria and eventually infection to begin attacking their bodies. While normally the infections would simply lead to amputations or even death, at Shiloh, the soldiers’ wounds, filled with dirt and detritus, began to glow. . This glow was named the “Angels Glow.”

When the doctors treated them, they had never experienced anything like it. It was already strange to see glowing wounds, but what’s more, the wounds healed faster because of a bacteria called Photorhabdus Luminescens. This species of bacteria was found in parasites, plants, animals, and insects. The P. Luminescens bacteria would release bioluminescent toxins to kill other parasites and bacteria it was competing with, keeping the wounds of the soldiers cleaner and healthier since there was relatively less bacteria to infect them.  

So, why don’t we see this happening more often? While it can’t be proven exactly where this species of bacteria came from during the battle of Shiloh, researchers think that the soldiers probably got the bacteria from insects that were in the dirt of the battleground during the war. The insects may have regurgitated on the soldiers wounds, hoping to use their flesh to eat or breed. This regurgitation on the wounds may have left a scent, which possibly could have attracted the glowing bacteria. So, researchers thought that  when  the insects threw up,  the bacteria probably went into the wounds to get to the nutrients of the barf. Little did the bacteria know that this would actually lead to more rapid healing for the soldiers. 

The men who got the bacteria experienced their wounds healing a lot faster than normal, and in the dark, they would glow. They healed faster because, according to iflscience, the bacteria that was in the soldiers’ wounds fought off the bacteria that was harmful, causing them to be safe and heal quicker. 

…it’s possible that the Angels Glow reported by Civil War doctors and soldiers may have been a bacterial species simultaneously fighting off infection and preventing the rotting of wounds until doctors could arrive, all whilst glowing to demonstrate their otherworldly healing.

In 2001, the bacteria was actually isolated and discovered by a man named Bill Martin. One day, he was out in the battlefield of Shiloh and heard about the Angel’s Glow. He wanted to do research about it. His mom was a microbiologist who studied soil and he decided to find out how it helped the soldiers’ wounds. Bill and his research partners soon figured out that there were actually worms that had a very bright blue color and that bacteria living in the worms, the same Photorhabdus Lluminescens I mentioned before, could fight off other bacteria that did harm. Bill succeeded in discovering where exactly this bacteria came from, but there are still many mysteries to solve. 

The Shiloh soldiers experienced something that no one has ever experienced before. Even though BIll  found out about the worms, people still do not know the full explanation of where the worms live most often, or if they can be used in a laboratory or medical setting. Maybe in the future the glowing worms and their associated bacteria will become a specific type of medicine that people can use to help with the healing process. 

Turmeric & Tumors: How The Spice Can Help

What do head, neck, skin and breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, upset stomachs, Alzheimer’s and melanoma have in common? In scientific studies, turmeric is either proving or showing solid results of kicking all of the above’s ass.

Turmeric is a spice of Asian origins and has a long history of being used as both food flavoring agent and medicine in the Indian subcontinent as well as China. The American Cancer Society confirms that curcumin (an active ingredient in turmeric) demonstrates some anti-cancer effects.

Several types of cancer cells are inhibited by curcumin in the laboratory, and curcumin slows the growth and spread of some cancers in some animal studies. Clinical trials are underway to find out if it can help humans as well.

Curcumin is being studied to find out whether it helps other diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and stomach ulcers. It is also being studied to see whether it can help lower “bad cholesterol” and improve outcome in kidney transplants. A few early studies have been done in humans, but much more human research is still needed to find out if curcumin can be effective in these uses.

From the University of Maryland Medical Center, we learn that this same curcumin in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant.

Antioxidants scavenge molecules in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can fight free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

In addition, curcumin lowers the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. It also stops platelets from clumping together to form blood clots.

They go on to note a string of conditions for which turmeric may be of help, including stomach ulcers, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis and indigestion.

Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition!

Several UCLA studies focus on turmeric and curcumin. The first was a 2005 study done by Marilene B. Wang, M.D. and showed that curcumin suppressed the growth of head and neck cancer in mice. Another study in 2010, again conducted on cells and then mice, found that

curcumin suppressed head and neck cancer growth by regulating cell cycling.

Drs. Wang and Eri Srivatsan, Ph.D. have both been studying curcumin and its cancer-fighting properties for over seven years.

Turmeric is also known as a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Dr. Randy J. Horwitz, Medical Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine (Tucson), writes in his paper for the American Academy of Pain Management:

Turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available

Referencing a University of Arizona study on rats, Horwitz concludes that

turmeric completely inhibited the onset of rheumatoid arthritis,

in the vermin.

Additionally, curcumin extracts in pill form have been shown to reduce the size of Alzheimer’s-associated brain plaque by 30% in just one week in clinical trials published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.

Related Article: Black Seed: From King Tut to Now

One week! This is just the tip of the iceberg. As more and more research is being done (and turmeric has been a very hot topic as of late), the health benefits of this amazing spice just keep increasing.

ProTip: it’s also great in omelettes.

 

Resources
American Cancer Society: Turmeric
University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
Primary Compound of Turmeric Kicks Off Cancer-Killing Mechanisms in Human Saliva
The Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric
Efficacy and mechanism of action of turmeric supplements in the treatment of experimental arthritis.
Discovered: Indian spice reduces Alzheimer’s symptoms by 30%