Dog Poop Was Once Used To Cure Sore Throats

Ancient history is full of strange and unusual medical treatments, such as bloodletting with leeches, as History notes. The founder of modern medicine himself, Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, posited in the fourth century B.C. that hemorrhoids could be treated by cauterization with a hot iron, according to Pharmacy Times (no thanks). Lucky for us, many such medical interventions turn our stomachs today and their efficacy has long since been disproven.

On that note, the health benefits of having a dog in your life, which include companionship and providing a good reason to get outdoors for some exercise, are widely known, as Harvard Health Publishing reports. There was a time in history, though, dating all the way back to the Egyptians, when concoctions including dog excrement — as well as the waste from a number of other types of animals — were believed to have medicinal qualities, even for treating such common ailments as a sore throat.

The theory of humorialism

To better understand why doctors in ages past may have thought that treatments including fecal matter could be effective when treating a number of a health disorders, it's important to first understand the theory of humoralism. It's the idea that proper bodily functioning relies on the perfect balance of four substances: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. Feeling a bit melancholic? It could be an issue with your black bile and the bodily organs that produce such substances, like your spleen — or so doctors believed long ago, as the National Library of Medicine explains. One way to better balance your humors was thought to be the ingestion of animal dung, including, but not just limited to, dog feces.

Ancient Egyptian doctors, in fact, thought that poop from donkeys, gazelle, and even flies all had medicinal qualities, as History notes. In China, brewed fecal concoctions — poop tea, if you will — were prescribed by doctors to treat far-ranging ailments for thousands of years, as the Medical Daily also notes. Overall, dogs were thought to have well-balanced humors, and that ingesting canine bodily substances could be an effective way to rebalance those humors in humans. How about dog brain soup for a broken bone? That was recommended in the 17th-century text "Panzooryktologia" by Robert Lovell.

Dog poop ointment was used to treat a sore throat

One use for dog excrement was to treat a sore throat. The 17th-century Italian medical practitioner Salvator Winter prescribed a mixture of honey and dog poop, according to Modern Farmer. So, too, was dog poop ointment recommended in the anonymous medical guide "The Queen's Closet Opened" from around that same period. Not all medical practitioners from those days bought the hype, though, as Modern Farmer goes on to explain. Around 1700, English doctor Everard Maynwaringe (above) called such medicines a "loathsome nasty Physick" — and we agree.

Clearly, animal waste — or even human waste, for that matter — should not be used to treat a medical ailment or ingested at all, for any reason. Recent scientific development shows that ancient doctors were not entirely off-base, particularly when it comes to using animal excrement to treat gastrointestinal ailments. Animal poop, such as what comes from a  dog, does contain healthy microflora. Good to know, but luckily, there are much more safe and sanitary ways to keep those helpful gut plants in check than by ingesting Fido's feces, according to History.