According to a recent New York Times article, people are traveling from near and far to two small towns in Montana so they can drink radon water and inhale radon gas in caves.

Never mind that the United States Environmental Protection Agency says exposure to radon causes lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US leading to approximately 15,000 deaths per year.

Why would anyone inhale or drink radon? It supposedly cures arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, and “allergies (in a dog).” Some people would rather risk a fatal disease in an attempt to ameliorate a nonfatal one.

So-called “wellness influencers” are claiming that pink Himalayan salt is cleaner and more nutritious than regular salt. The notorious women’s health website Goop says scrubbing with Himalayan salt (Goop sells it for $40) can “detoxify” your skin, and another website is willing to sell you an inhaler of Himalayan salt that will cure asthma.

There is not a shred of scientific evidence that Himalayan salt is better than regular table salt, which in the US contains iodine to help prevent hypothyroidism. Not only does Himalayan salt not contain iodine, it does contain small amounts of arsenic and uranium.

Last week’s most bizarre story is from the Irish Medical Journal and involves the first reported case of someone intravenously injecting semen in an attempt to cure pain. A 33-year-old man was seen at a hospital in Dublin because of the sudden onset of severe lower back pain after lifting something heavy. He had no neurological findings on examination, but his right forearm was red and swollen. An x-ray showed subcutaneous emphysema. See x-ray below.

He revealed he had been treating his chronic back pain with monthly injections of his own semen for the last year-and-a-half using a needle and syringe he bought online. For this episode, he injected three “doses” of semen both intravascularly and intramuscularly.

Antibiotics were begun, and after an unspecified duration of hospitalization, his back pain improved. Declining incision and drainage of the abscess, he signed himself out of the hospital.

The authors searched the medical literature and could find no other case involving IV or other type of semen injection to treat any illness. Why the man treated his back pain with injections of semen is unknown.

Warning: Do not try this at home.

Sources: New York Times, US EPATonic.Vice,com, Irish Medical Journal

 

Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For the last 8 years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog has had more than 3,000,000 page views, and he has over 19,000 followers on Twitter.