Home Health & Wellness Medical Myths Debunked: 5 Facts That Might Surprise You

Medical Myths Debunked: 5 Facts That Might Surprise You

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When it comes to medicine, the truth is that not everyone is an expert. Despite this, people will often feel they can come to you with medical miracles, old-wives’ tales, and facts that are simply unfounded.

From curing jellyfish stings to the dangers of waking up a sleepwalker, assertions about brain capacity usage, sleep-inducing protein sources, and the effectiveness of natural and alternative remedies, there are so many medical myths to be debunked. 

Myth #1: We only use 10% of our brain capacity

Do we really only utilise 10% of our brain capacity? The assertion is inspiring: if it’s true, imagine what we could do with the other 90%. As seen in the popular films Limitless and Lucy, accessing this elusive part of our craniums could give us superhuman power, as well as the ability to think more clearly, more quickly, and more intelligently than anyone else has before us. 

Sadly, though, this is a myth. This compelling concept is just pseudoscience: neuroscientists affirm that we use most – if not 100% – of our brains, daily. To support this, consider the facts: although different neurons fire up and down depending on what we’re doing, even when we’re asleep, the entire brain is always active, according to neuroscience researcher and deputy director of Monash University’s Brainpark, Rebecca Segrace. 

Myth #2: It’s dangerous to wake a sleepwalker

Should you wake a sleepwalker? According to legend and old wives’ tales, rousing someone from their somnambulism can cause heart attack, brain damage, or even death. The reassuring truth? This is simply a myth.

The real reason you shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker? Doing so is likely to cause them considerable distress and agitation as they come to terms with the reality of what they’re doing. Instead, try gently guiding your somnambulism sufferer back to bed without hitting, shaking or waking them up. 

Myth #3: Natural remedies and therapies don’t work

For supporters of traditional medicine, there is the misconception that alternative medicine doesn’t work. Why? Perhaps this stems from fear of the unknown, or an unwillingness to try unorthodox treatment methods.

The facts: there’s a wealth of data to show that alternative therapies can benefit our physical and mental health immensely, either in conjunction with Western medicine or on their own. 

The best part? There is a wide range of natural therapies to help manage many different types of health conditions, including mental disorders and chronic pain; from hydrotherapy and acupuncture to using turmeric or Australian medicinal plants. 

Myth #4: Eating turkey makes us drowsy 

Does eating turkey make you want to crawl up in bed? Admittedly, yes, turkey does contain tryptophan – an amino acid that can help boost your sleep quality

But if you were to consume so much tryptophan it knocked you out, you’d have to go back for multiple rounds at the Thanksgiving table: consumption of a gluttonous 20 servings of turkey would be required for sleep-inducing side effects. Why? Turkey only contains 410 milligrams of tryptophan. You need at least 5 grams before bed to get some supplement-assisted shut-eye.

Myth #5: Peeing on a jellyfish sting can cure it

So, should you pee on a jellyfish sting? Only if you want to aggravate the pain.

The truth? Unlike the episode of Friends where Monica’s jellyfish bite was miraculously cured by Joey’s pee, dousing a jellyfish sting in urine won’t do much to cure it – it may even make it worse. Instead, turn to proper medical treatment to care for the sting. Also, try applying vinegar or rubbing alcohol to disinfect the wound, minimise the pain, and help release the toxin. 

From old wives’ tales to medical myths, it pays to take unfounded facts with a grain of salt. In reality, we use almost 100% of our brains, and waking a sleepwalker is not death-inducing, natural remedies can indeed provide value, eating turkey won’t send you to sleep, and no, peeing on a jellyfish sting won’t cure it. 

Above all, if you’re unsure, consult with a professional. Whether they’re a traditional doctor or purveyor of alternative medicine, be sure to avoid the hype and take the advice of a medical practitioner you can trust.

Julian Carter, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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