Moose are interesting animals. Like camels, they are particularly slobbery creatures. Yet, this excess saliva has an unusual benefit for the animal, York University biologist Dawn Bazely told the CBC. Apparently, moose saliva helps reduce the amount of fungus picked up from the vegetation it eats. Some of their favorite grazing plants use fungi for self-protection — and too much fungi makes a moose sick. Can moose saliva be used in foot fungus treatments one day? Perhaps!
How Does a Moose Kill Environmental Toxins?
York University researchers began their experiment based on observations that grazing animals significantly affected the local plant life over thousands of years. Through evolutionary prowess, plants have developed spines, thorns, and bitter berries to prevent animals from munching on them. They can also “phone a friend,” says Bazely. “And one of the friends they can phone is a fungus. Many plants have hidden inside them a fungus that is living entirely within the plant.” This type of relationship is called mutualism, and it is observed between the red grass fescue and its fellow fungus, the Epichloë festcuae.
According to Phys.org, “The fungus produces the highly toxic alkaloid ergovaline when the plant is wounded, which if consumed can cause disease which might lead to loss of a limb. Evolutionary pressure favours grazers [like the moose] who can chomp their way through the grasses while avoiding these nasty consequences.”
After applying moose drool to samples of toxin-laden grass, researchers found that, within 12 to 36 hours, the grass was producing significantly fewer toxins. They’re not exactly sure how the spit works to reduce fungal colonies, but they are at least pretty sure that the antifungal saliva works to suppress future growths on their “home turf,” rather than neutralizing the fungi immediately as the animal feeds.
Will Saliva Be the Next Frontier in Fighting Foot Fungus?
There is still much to discover about the ways in which saliva may be used to heal foot fungus. As The Smithsonian points out, Dutch scientists figured out that human saliva also contains a wound-healing compound that can help people with foot ulcers. In their research, saliva-treated wounds were almost completely closed after 16 hours of treatment, compared to the control — which was still open. The scientists said their research proves there is a healing factor in human saliva — histatin — that accelerates wound closure.
“This study not only answers the biological question of why animals lick their wounds,” said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, “it also explains why wounds in the mouth, like those of a tooth extraction, heal much faster than comparable wounds of the skin and bone. It also directs us to begin looking at saliva as a source for new drugs.”
“There’s a medicinal value in saliva that’s not appreciated,” saliva expert David Wong told Boston.com.
Perhaps those people who let their dogs lick their feet aren’t so crazy after all!
What to Do About Foot Fungus Treatment in the Meantime…
Let’s face it: we are FAR from accepting saliva as a legitimate treatment for foot fungus. There is just something so inherently… gross… about it all. Until these compounds can be effectively isolated and reproduced in a sterile laboratory setting, we’re not likely to see much news we can use.
It is rather interesting, but for now, we’ll continue our own experiments with creams, pills and lasers to see what works with our individual constitutions. To prevent these persistent fungi from returning, we will refrain from drooling on our socks and sneakers — and, instead, use the podiatrist-recommended SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer, which can kill up to 99.9% of the fungal colonies in footwear within just 45 minutes. We much prefer this natural cure for recurrent foot fungus. Get yours here!