Mellification: The Process of Turning Oneself into Honey in the name of Medicine

I have just been searching through Facebook and discovered a link to a list of weird ancient medical treatments on Listicles.com. One I found particularly fascinating is the consumption of a honey-coated cadaver. Being naturally curious as to the truth behind this assertion, I researched on…

Reported in Chinese sources, significantly of the 16th Century, elderly men would offer themselves for mummification in honey to turn their bodies into medicine. In an act of self-sacrifice, the mellification process began prior to death with the donor consuming and bathing in only honey. Eventually this process would cause the man to excrete only honey in his faeces and sweat (according to legend). Proving a fatal diet, the body would be placed into a coffin filled with honey for a period of roughly one century. The end product would be sold in street markets as an expensive but effective healing confection for broken bones and other illnesses.

Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, notes that the reporter of this legend (16th Century pharmacologist, Li Shizhen) is unsure as to how much truth is behind the tale.

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