Do you know what Mickey Mantle and World War II soldiers had in common?
Limbs…many of their limbs (and soldiers’ lives) were saved with penicillin.
Mickey Mantle developed a bone infection when he was in high school. His doctor wanted to amputate the infected leg, but fortunately, his mom wanted a second opinion. The second doctor successfully treated the infection with penicillin, and young Mickey went on to create his legendary pro baseball career.
Penicillin is a group of antibiotics originally derived from common molds. These were some of the first medications that could fight infections caused by staphylococci, streptococci, and other bacteria. Penicillin has been used since 1942.
It has been used for so long, in fact, that many types of bacteria have developed resistance to it. Certain strains of some target bacteria, including staphylococci, secrete an enzyme called penicillinase. This enzyme inactivates penicillin.
For this reason, newer penicillins have cropped up in recent years. Methicillin, for example, is more effective against bacteria that produces penicillinase.
Penicillin was originally sourced from the fungus Penicillium. But of the 132 or so strains of Penicillium, only a small number are safe for humans.
Life before the discovery of penicillin was precarious. Dire outcomes after sustaining small injuries and diseases were common. A small scrape on the knee that got infected, disease like Strep Throat, or sexually transmitted diseases often ended in death.
Treatment Before Penicillin Discovery
Dr. Morton Paterson, a retired professor, recalls how penicillin impacted his life. He was 7 years old in 1942 and streets in his town were covered with chunks of waste from the local smelter mine. One day he fell in the street and scraped a knee.
After blood infection set in, he fell into a 3-day coma. Infected blood settled in his left hip socket and became osteomyelitis, a bone infection.
Long story short, penicillin was not yet around so little Mortie suffered a lot. In the hospital, his doctor repeatedly scraped out the infected bone after making a large incision in Mortie.
Imagine…the incision was left open because nurses had to pack it every day with new gauze. And to let oxygen in to heal the infection. A few months and several surgeries later, little Mortie finally went home.
But that wasn’t the end of his troubles. In 1946 osteomyelitis came back. He went again to the hospital, but only for a short visit—thanks to penicillin.
Producing Your Own Penicillin From Oranges
It’s risky to treat infections with this or any do-it-yourself version of penicillin because:
Mold grows on any type of fruit. Here are steps to grow your own mold on oranges.
- Leave one orange in the crisper of your fridge until mold appears.
- Identify Penicillium. Not all of the several species of it produce penicillin. Be careful, as some other types of mold resemble Penicillium. Aspergillus is one of those. The surest and safest way to identify these is under a microscope. (See table below)
- Grow more Penicillium from the mold you got in step 1. Here is one way to do that, offered by Thought.Co.
- Extract the penicillin. The method Thought.Co suggests is to mix a weak form of acid, like citric acid, cream of tartar, or vitamin C and water to the mold. Then pour that liquid through a coffee filter. You’ll then have diluted penicillin.
Infected wounds must be treated immediately. Now that you see the distinction between several types of wounds, we hope you take to heart the importance of keeping your immune system strong. That way it will always be on the ready to combat harmful bacteria, a measure to prevent your overall suffering.
If you or a loved one have an infected wound, please follow the suggestions in this chapter and seek medical attention. Often when a person starts feeling better, they mistakenly believe an infection has resolved itself. Don’t make that mistake.
Finally, following a healthy lifestyle by eating a plant-based diet and staying active will help you minimize the negative effects of any infection you do get and prevent it from spreading. It’s our hope that you’ll feel better and enjoy life in your pursuit to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy under every circumstance possible.
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