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Sun, Dec 21, 2014

DR. KESTNER: Gator bite victim used spider web to stop bleeding

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You may have seen the news earlier this week about a young man named Kaleb Langdale. Langdale was viciously attacked by an aggressive 11-foot alligator in Florida.

According to the news story, Langdale narrowly escaped possible death and saved the lives of his friends as he managed to tear free from the jaws of the alligator after losing the lower portion of his right arm. The alligator was satisfied enough with the arm to leave Langdale and the others alone long enough for them to escape.

There are a number of fascinating aspects of this story. Langdale had the presence of mind to save himself from the infamous death roll maneuver that has caused many a life to be lost to a large alligator. Even though he was likely terrified, he maintained enough mental clarity to essentially sacrifice his lower arm to save himself and his friends.

After he was able to free himself from the alligator, he managed to drag himself onto land. When he tried to stand he lost his balance and fell into a cactus. In his words, “It was there that I found the spider webs I used to help stop the bleeding.”

Wow! That’s a story that will be repeated for generations!

Although I have never used the remedy myself, I have read that spider webs historically have been used to stop bleeding.

Spider webs are composed primarily of protein. Because there are thousands of various species of spiders, the actual composition of the spider silk used to weave a web varies among these various types of spiders.

There has been a lot of interest in scientific research communities about the various medicinal and industrial uses of spider silk in the past decade.

Spider silk has several unique properties to make it valuable as a fiber element.  However, one problem with commercialization of spider silk is that the spiders don’t produce sufficient amounts of silk to use for many applications.

One fascinating development was created when a company called Kraig Biocraft Laboratories introduced genetic material from spiders into silkworms, resulting in silkworms that produced spider-type silk. (To make sure that the genetic transmutation was effective, the researchers also altered the genes to make the affected silkworms eyes turn red.)

The resulting silk has exceptional strength, making it useful for such products as automobile airbags, bulletproof vests, parachutes and other applications requiring very strong fabric.  

It has also been used to produce specialized bandages that accelerate healing.

The fabric made from the spider silk can be used in surgical repair of tendons and ligaments as well, as it makes an ideal matrix for new tissue growth with little chance of rejection.

Although I am thrilled to read that Langdale had the knowledge to realize that the spider webs would be helpful and was fortunate enough to literally fall into a spider web. I am glad he was able to successfully gather enough spider web to be helpful (without also grabbing the spider). Yet, I wonder how often this remedy might come in handy.

In cases where bleeding is not stopped with a little bit of sustained pressure, how likely are you to quickly locate an appropriate spider web? I don’t know if this is the sort of material that you could collect in advance to have handy for when a need arises.  Perhaps this story illustrates the ideal combination of an acute need and the presence of the remedy.

I have also read that cayenne pepper will quickly stop bleeding and surprisingly will not cause pain. I haven’t tried this remedy either so I cannot speak from experience. I have used cayenne pepper for a number of other medicinal uses, so I might venture to the spice cabinet the next time I get a shaving nick, just for the sake of research. (My guess is that most readers will think, “Yeah, you go first.”)

If you have tried the spider web bleeding stop method, I would love to hear from you.

Don’t miss this column on Sunday, where you will learn about some truly remarkable research being carried out locally at MTSU that is bringing the ancient benefits of botanical medicine into the 21st century!

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Tags: 
Alligator Attack, Dr Mark Kestner, First Aid, Health Care, Kaleb Langdale, Living Well, Spider Web, Voices
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