Humans Were Mummified into Honey Candy in Arabian Medical Practice
While ancient history boasts a host of grisly medical recipes, one of the most intriguing and elaborate was the mellified man, a human being mummified into honey candy, which was then used to mend broken and wounded limbs.
The practice is mentioned in Chinese medical sources, in particular in the definitive 16th-century medical encyclopedia, Bencau Gangmu by Li-Shih-chen. The remedy was not a Chinese one, however. According to Li-Shih-chen it was an ancient Arabic practice.
Making a mellified man involved an elderly male volunteer, 70 to 80 years old, who agreed to sacrifice himself for the greater good. He gave up eating anything other than honey and bathed in it every day. After about a month, his insides and excretions had virtually turned into honey. Obviously, a diet consisting solely of honey would eventually prove fatal for reasons of oversaturation, and when that happened, the corpse medicine process began.
In the next stage, the corpse was put into a honey-filled coffin, which was then sealed and left undisturbed for a century. When the seal was broken open, the body had turned into a giant honey candied confection that was believed to have powerful healing properties.
Honey does have great anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties and was widely used in ancient medicine to treat skin disease and protect wounds from festering. This made it a great embalming fluid as well. Herodotus mentions its use for this purpose by the Assyrians. The body of Alexander the Great was supposedly submerged in honey while being transported for burial.
What is not clear is exactly how candied human mummies were used to treat the injured limbs!
Top image: Humans were mummified into honey candy. Source: Andrey Popov / Adobe Stock
By Sahir Pandey