Treating Pets With Eggplants?

Many cultures have medicinal remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation. Some have proven valid even in today’s scientific world, while others have failed and slowly faded into cultural folklore. As a veterinarian, I rarely encounter these ethnic cure-alls, since applying these principles to pets can be tricky. One day, however, I came across a most-interesting discovery.

Mrs. Shimabukuro came in with her 12-year-old mixed-breed dog Sassy. It had been six months since Sassy’s last visit, and like clockwork, Mrs. Shimabukuro returned for her semi-annual visit.

“Well, how has Sassy been?” I asked. “Eating? Pooping? Acting normal?”

Mrs. Shimabukuro reported that everything was just fine. Sassy was a healthy, happy dog enjoying her senior years. Proceeding with the exam, I paid special attention to Sassy’s left ear. A large tumor the size of a pitted black olive rested snuggly at the edge of the ear canal and had been growing slowly for the past two years. To my surprise, the tumor was no longer there. I double-checked the notes from my previous exams, then returned to my patient, searching feverishly for the offending lump.

“Hmm,” I hemmed, “I don’t seem to be able to locate the tumor that was in Sassy’s ear. Is it my imagination or were we contemplating surgery at the last visit?”

It was at this point that I noticed the big smile on Mrs. Shimabukuro’s face. “Well, Doc, as we discussed before, my family is reluctant to put Sassy under anesthesia because of her age and the risks associated with surgery. So, anyway, we decided to try an old remedy that my grandmother used for warts. We used a nasubi to remove the tumor.”

“Nasubi? You mean you used an eggplant?” I queried.

“Yes, sir. We cut the end of the eggplant off and rubbed the cut surfaces together. It gets kind of gooey. Then we wiped the slimy substance on the tumor and, presto! No more lump.”

I contemplated what Mrs. Shimabukuro said. From a scientific standpoint, I surmised that the acidity of the eggplant sap may somehow eat away at the lump. If done repeatedly, it may erode the mass to nothingness. Yeah, that’s it.

“How many times did you do this?”

“Oh, we did it just once. Oops … I forgot the most important part. After we rubbed the tumor with the eggplant, we buried the eggplant in the yard. The theory is that as the eggplant deteriorates in the soil so would the tumor. It’s like the two entities were now somehow linked together.”

With mouth agape, I nodded as the story came to an end, not sure about whether I believed it or not. The fact that the tumor was no longer there must mean something, but my science background didn’t understand this mysterious home remedy.

Later that week, I found myself examining a geriatric patient who had a mass on his back. Because of his age, the owners were reluctant to take him to surgery. Ignoring reason, I took a deep breath and said to the owner: “This is going to sound a bit strange, but do you know what a nasubi is?”