Whether you have had the misfortune of falling victim to a bed bug infestation or not, you have definitely heard of the insect pests, and it is highly likely that you know someone who has dealt with an infestation before. We all know that the global bed bug population has reached an all time high, and all people in the world today are united in their hatred for the blood sucking pests, but it is hard to imagine a world where bed bugs were valued as an essential type of medicine. The idea that bed bugs could be used as a form of medicine seems absurd, but in reality, bed bugs were considered a go-to treatment for a variety of medical conditions.
Bed bugs have been collected, saved, ground up, and consumed as medicine for thousands of years. De Materia Medica is one of the earliest known texts that describes the medical application of bed bugs. This text was used by ancient Roman physicians for preparing medicinal bed bug stews. These bed bug stews were then consumed in order to treat fevers and flu-like symptoms, and ground bed bugs were mixed with salt and breast milk in order to create a topical substance for the treatment of eye infections and many other afflictions. Amazingly, this text became the precursor to western medicine and was referenced by physicians in Europe for another 1,500 years.
During the sixteenth century people would consume beans that were stuffed with bed bugs as a cure for malaria and the following century saw people mixing bed bugs with tortoise blood in order to heal snake bites. The odor of bed bugs was even touted for its ability to cure certain ailments. For example, the odor of ground bed bugs was believed to reverse cataracts, eliminate lethargy, cure earaches, and even eradicate kidney stones. The height of this medical madness may have peaked during the eighteenth century when bed bugs were fed to women in order to ease their symptoms of “hysteria.”
Do you believe that our ancient ancestors may have been on to something when it comes to insects as natural forms of medicine?