If you’re looking to get healthy, there are lots of things you can do: get some exercise, eat good food, and… smell farts?
That’s what the researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK claimed – or so everyone thought – in 2014. According to their press release, inhaling your partner’s gas comes with many health benefits. Dr. Mark Wood explained:
“Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases.”
When the news went online, multiple sources said that sniffing farts could even cure cancer or prevent heart attacks and strokes. But is that really the case?
As it turns out, it was just all a big misunderstanding.
What the press release meant was that hydrogen sulfide helps the mitochondria, which are the cell’s power producers, survive when stressed by disease. Lab experiments showed that introducing a compound called AP39 helped deliver small doses of hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria, giving the latter better chances of surviving.
“Hydrogen sulfide regulates vascular function, inflammatory responses, neurotransmission in the brain, many different things,” said Dr. Csaba Szabo, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Texas.
But this doesn’t mean you should go inhaling everybody’s farts just yet.
Szabo added: “If you incubate cancer cells in the laboratory with hydrogen sulfide or a compound that produces hydrogen sulfide, you can do two things. At lower concentrations, you can stimulate the cells, and at the higher concentrations, you can kill the cells.”
What this basically means is that the matter of hydrogen sulfide and its health benefits is complicated and needs further study. In some cases like the ones mentioned above, it could be good. However, in cases such as colon and ovarian cancer, the gas actually help the cancer cells survive and grow.
Welp. Smelling farts wasn’t an ideal medical treatment to begin with anyways.