putting his body on the line

Richard Glover is a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, who, last year, wanted to rid himself of warts…..

warthog walking stick found here

A month or so ago, I confessed to having a couple of doozies on my left hand. I’d visited several doctors who tried to defeat them in vain. I was forced to conclude medical science was not up to the job.

medicine man found here

Cue 137 readers who have kindly written about the wart-defeating method used in their household.  I’m now able to present at least 30 different cures and – by statistical analysis – list the Top Three Folk Remedies.

Karen recommends the sap from a poinsettia bush. Trevor, Kathryn, two Davids and a Rowley recommend the sap from the milk thistle weed. Bill recommends breathing on them. Fiona recommends homeopathy; Lyn prefers echinacea; and Georgie says to take two kelp tablets a day for three weeks.

learn to make poinsettia cookies here

Caro then invites me to urinate on my hand first thing in the morning. I decide against including this method in my study, however many votes it receives.

Sandie recommends vitamin E oil. Belinda and others advocate aloe vera. Mick suggests taping a piece of onion over them for a few days. Henry cites the same technique but using a slice of lemon. Jenny substitutes oranges and, in her cure, you eat them. 

purple onion skunk found here

As I open the letters and emails, things are getting weirder. Anne, Alicia and Keith all recommend fetching a snail from the garden and rubbing the mucus over the warts each day. Mary instructs me to spit on them first thing in the morning, then offers the helpful addendum: ‘‘P.S. You cannot use another person’s spit.”

snail graffiti found here

Barbara says she had a wool-classer boyfriend in the 1950s and he, along with the shearers, never suffered from warts because of the lanolin in the wool. I should give that a go, she says – the lanolin, not the shearer boyfriend.

image found here

Lynne says hers disappeared sometime during a 16-hour labour, giving birth to her first son, and suggests I close my eyes and fantasise I’m giving birth.

Tracy was told by her mum to rub the wart with raw meat then take the meat outside and bury it in the garden. Beverly has the same rub-then-bury technique but hers uses a potato. Barnie does the same but using the furry bit inside a broad bean pod.

image found here

In the 1950s, Frank lived in a small country town in which the cure was to ask a local called ”Old George Kearns” to stare at your warts, at which point they would fall off. If Old George wasn’t around, you’d tell his son, who’d ask his father to think about your warts when he arrived home. As soon as he got around to it, the warts would disappear.

Old George found here

And Anne says she’d get an empty washbasin, take it into the backyard at night and wash her hands in moonlight.

What was the cure most often recommended? Banana peel, white side pressed against the wart and then fixed in place with sticking plaster, as suggested by 12 readers.

Each day I strap two bits of peel to my hands. They have an amazing effect, rapidly eating away the warts, somewhat assisted by a bit of action with a pumice stone.

image found here

Nine days into my experiment, the warts are almost gone. I had intended to test the aloe vera cure and the milk thistle cure but I won’t have a chance.

What to do about the rough patch left behind? Thoroughly converted to the world of folk cures, I grab an empty washbasin and head out into the darkened backyard.

It’s nothing washing my hands in moonlight won’t fix.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm  Comments (53)  
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53 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Paint it with clear nail polish and maybe a penny circle size around. Keep it well painted maybe 3 weeks. It cannot breath and will die and disintegrate. Works on skin hook worm and ringworm too but need to paint a bigger patch.

    • I didn’t know that Carl. Sounds like a good trick

  2. Duct tape worked on my finger wart

  3. I think styptic pencil was the favoured thing when I was a kid.
    But sod the warts! I like all the links! Dinah wants that walking stick, please. And I love John Snail. John (Banana) Thomas is cute.But Boy George??? How did he get like that?

    • Poor Boy George. I still really love his voice

  4. I’m sure that peeing on the warts first thing would have seen them gone in days!

    • you think that would scare them off?

  5. There was a fascinating study done a few years ago which pointed out the value of the placebo effect in getting rid of warts. Whatever method you use, if you BELIEVE It works, it probably will. The study: The researchers gave ordinary unmarked ball point pens to the doctors in the study. They were told this was a new cure for warts that really worked. All they had to do was draw a circle around the wart with the “magic” pen. The doctors explained this to their patients, and the remarkable thing was the pen worked to remove warts in something like 80 % of the cases. The enthusiasm with which the doctor explained the new cure seemed to be the most important aspect.

    I personally have visualized warts away successfully on several occasions. No peeing necessary. Well, at least not on the warts.

    • so were the doctors in on the trick or did they have to believe in the “magic” pen as well?

  6. One thing science does know about warts is that there is some kind of psychological component to their appearance/disappearence. We know for sure that warts are caused by a virus, so it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that all the cures mentioned above are actually topically effective. For instance, despite Richard’s spectacular success with the banana peel, I know people who’ve tried it with no luck at all – quite obviously, then, there’s no substance in the peel itself that’s doing the trick.

    You can kind of tell that something else is going on just by looking at the sheer number of suggested ‘remedies’. Obviously, everyone who suggests a remedy thinks this works for them, and equally obviously, there is no one thing common among all those cures. Commenters here at the Gimcrack even have their favourites. It becomes clear that we’re not even talking about a biological effect when we get suggestions such as ‘washing your hands in the moonlight’ or ‘staring’ at the warts.There are so many ‘cures’ for warts that if you set about trying them all, you’d no doubt conclude one was effective when the warts eventually disappeared of their own accord.

    This is just another case of humans not being able to sort observational data properly, possibly combined with psychological ‘self-healing’ effects of the body, which, although known to exist, are poorly understood (a phenomenon broadly understood as the Placebo effect).

    Richard (and some people who read this blog) will go away swearing on the banana peel cure. If anyone tries it, and it doesn’t work, they are not likely to make much of a deal about that. But if it does you can bet they’ll tell everyone they know. This is what scientists call ‘a badly reported data set’, or more commonly ‘cherry picking’.

    On the face of it, it looks a lot like the banana peel caused Richard’s wart to vanish. But you know, I want to see that ‘rough patch of skin’ he’s talking about there at the end. And I want to know what happens in a week or so, or a month. Because you can bet your sweet bippy that if Richard’s wart comes back, we’re unlikely to hear about it. And we’ll be left with only a much-cited endorsement in print of how effective the banana peel wart cure is…

    • the voice of reason emerges from Melbourne

  7. The banana peel cure sounds a lot nicer than the liquid nitrogen zap I had to have years ago – and you get a healthy snack with it…
    (one of my sons used duct tape!)

    • I remember the liquid nitrogen zaps… I had several of them

      • That was the only thing that worked for me – liquid nitrogen. Then rubbing at the spot zealously with an emery board if any of them stuck their heads up again.

        I don’t have any now but I think that is because, as anaglyph said, I’m over the virus. Took 11 years though. I was mentally over it way before the physical.

  8. That is one pretty snazzy warthog walking stick…Want.

  9. I used to have a wart when I was a child but I can’t remember how I got rid of it. I think I painted some chemical stuff on it.

    • I’ve never had any on my hands but I had a bad case of verrucas on one foot when I was about 11

  10. If you ask someone to urinate on your hand, they might charge you extra.

    The cure in my old world Italian grandmother’s home was to rub a raw potato on it. I think I remember it working.

  11. Amputation also works, though it is a bit awkward.

  12. had always heard the ‘rub and bury’ trick, with a potato. but it had to be done as the moon was waning – and you had to say “Things i see before me grow smaller” or something… i prefer liquid nitrogen.

    but at the moment? i really want a banana…

    • No, Daisyfae, you want *that* banana!

  13. Yep, we painted clear nail polish on them. It helped a bit, but you had to chew the last bit off with your teeth.

    AND I love Richard Glover.

    • It was you who brought my attention to his column queenie xx

  14. That painted snail is cool!

  15. Anyone here have a wart? I’ll be happy to think about it for you. My fee is $10 plus one purple onion skunk.

    • Cheap at twice the price!

  16. Mucus from a snail and urine??!! Aiks! I hope i never get warts!

    • Sabrina – you’re back!

      • Hee hee yes! Hopefully for good :))

  17. Never had a wart in my life. Not sure why, but I don’t recommend following anything I do. But I did like the poor graffitied snail

  18. Hi there little lady,
    I’d sure like your advice on this one: I have a wart on my old wangdoodle. Now, living in Tennessee, I can’t go around with nail varnish painted on it so I kinda like the idea of the banana skin cure – wrapping the big boy up in a banana skin sounds good to me. Now, I live near a lil biddy town called Wartrace, just off Knob Creek Road, and I can’t always get bananas there. Do you think it’d be all the same if I hollowed out a corn cob and sort of cocooned my boy in that?

    • I’m sure it works for some folks, don’t know about the warts though…

      The King

  19. I have heard of disolved disprin – pasted on the wart and voila!

  20. Wouldn’t want to get too close to Bill

  21. The phallic banana is hilarious! Reminds me of something I read in the book, “Sex in History”, by Reay Tannahill: In Victorian times, young ladies were instructed by their mothers not to eat bananas in public. They were told it was unbecoming a lady, but were never told why!

  22. Luckily I’ve never been troubled. I think the snail mucus would be last on my list, childbirth being completely out of the question.

  23. I’ve never suffered from warts, even though I don’t spend much time with sheep.

    I wonder if all my wrinkles would disappear if Old George Kearns had a good stare at them?

  24. The onion skunk is adorable! To look at, anyway. :)

  25. I don’t care, Bill’s answer was hands down the best. From now on, my advice for everything is going to be “Just breathe on it.”

    • Halitosis as cure!

  26. Well for the natural cure, I’d go the lanolin route – would work on the rough skin too. And for the wart, I would have a doc burn it off. Too gruesome?

  27. Love the picture of the onion skunk, and the painted snail.

    I wonder why is he so averse to peeing on his hands… it’s just pee.

  28. I have bookmarked this post…. just in case…
    Sx

  29. This might sound drastic but putting a band-aid over it for a while to get it to soften up then slicing it out with a razor blade worked for me. Lots of blood, though.

  30. I suppose eye of newt is passe these days …

  31. Love the half shorn sheep.


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