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In medieval times, instead of using potions to heal wounds, they use a healing salve that can rapidly heal open wounds of all types in, let's say, 5 minutes. (Not really severe ones or closed wounds though)

What ingredient does this salve contain?

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    $\begingroup$ What kind of answer are you looking for? If there was a real recipe for this it would have been widely known. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica May 16 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ They didn't have such a thing in medieval times. They would at best have washed the wound and stitched it closed. Nowadays we do have it. There are several substances including superglue. Try Googling "rapid wound closure" $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica May 16 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ The ingredient you are looking for is called "magic" $\endgroup$ – PcMan May 16 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ Time travel. The ingredient would have to be something that was brought back from the future, even further in the future than today. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme the Second May 16 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ I can't VTC because the question meets the expectations of the help center. However, it's a prime candidate for my Meta question, "Advice concerning questions asking HOW to implement a technological procedure or device. Anyone who could answer this question as worded and in real life wouldn't answer it here - they'd be running to the patent office. Can you help us better understand your expectations? Is the goal an actual ingredient in real life, or is the goal to help you develop an ingredient in your world? $\endgroup$ – JBH May 16 at 17:59
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Answers so far try to wiggle around the issue, but with the sole tag biochemistry there is no way around it, the answer is only

Strong No

Main reason is cells are not capable to devide that fast. They physically chemically are not capable to do so, not that they lack something like energy or nutrients and some external means can help them, no, they just can't. Even cancer cells are not capable of that and do not do that.

Bacterias E. coli is lab culture because it grows fast compared to other, not necessarily the fastest, have no such information, but it considered to be fast and it takes it about half hour to devide in ideal conditions.

Technological approaches can solve it partially, like some nanogue placing stem cells in 3d printer way, but even then process will take longer as cells have to go that intercell connection forming and morfing etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes "no" is the correct answer on WB SE. $\endgroup$ – StephenG May 17 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ only to a closed (yes/no) question, though. which this one isn't. $\endgroup$ – ths May 17 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ "Magic"/"Sufficiently Advanced Tech" is the only effective response, then. $\endgroup$ – Anon May 18 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Anon advanced tech is out by "medieval times" if there is no alien invasion, but knowing aliens tech is not given so there is no way to say what's in there as there is infinite number of answers, or as many as different kinds of aliens is possible. Indirectly the q contains multiple constraints witch yields 0 or infinite number of solutions. As I said maybe they have unicorns there, wich in fact is alien recon robot and its nanogue which it marks territory by, creating beacons, by acciden(comment is to long for reason) has perfect healing properties. Magic out by tag. Aliens story based. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg May 18 at 10:10
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16th century gunshot wound salve?

You could do worse than to copy the balm made by Ambroise Pare father of surgery. Below is excerpted the famous part of his Apologie where he is treating soldiers with gunshot wounds by pouring boiling oil into their wounds. This was done of the theory that the wounds were poisoned by the gunshot. He runs out of oil and has to figure out something else.

https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.64006/2015.64006.The-Apologie-And-Treatise-Of-Ambroise-Pare_djvu.txt

At last I wanted oyle, and was constrained in steed thereof, to apply a disgestive of yolkes of egges, oyle of Roses, and Turpentine. In the night I could not sleepe in quiet, fearing some default in not cauterizing, that I should finde those to whom I had not used the burning oyle dead impoysoned; which made me rise very early to visit them, where beyond my expectation I found those to whom I had applyed my digestive medicine, to feele little paine, and their wounds without inflammation or tumor, having rested reasonable well in the night.

Being at Turin I found a Chirurgion, who had the fame above all others, for the curing of wounds of Gunshot, into whose favour I found meanes to insinuate my selfe, to have the receipt of his balme, as he called it wherewith he dressed wounds of that kind, and hee held me off the space of two yeeres, before I could possible draw the receipt from him. In the end by gifts and presents he gave it me, which was this, to boyle young whelpes new pupped, in oyle of Lillies, [with] earthwormes prepared with Turpentine of Venice. Then was I joyful! and my heart made glad, that I had understood his remedy, which was like to that which I had obtained by great chance.

I like that he perceives his ad hoc invention (which he calls a digestive and so probably was something originally for upset stomach) to be similar to the Turinian one made with puppies and worms. The whole Apologie is great reading.

In any case: good recipes for wound balm.

I should note that healing a wound in 5 minutes is magic or miraculaous depending on how it is done. There are not medicines that can do that then or now. I can imagine a salve might soothe pain but actual healing is constrained by biology and will take time.

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'Healing' is a biological process involving a number of different cells and processes: platelets to staunch initial blood flow; production of antigens and white blood cells to counter infection; reconnection and regrowth of skin cells. Your 'herb' would have to accelerate or replicate all of these functions, and might have some serious side effects: e.g., closing a wound too rapidly might cause blood clots or serious infections as septic materials get trapped inside.

Rather than an herb, you might think about living thing — a moss, fungus, or slime mold, or similar 'stuff' say — that when exposed to blood quickly grows into an antiseptic 'artificial' skin. For all intents and purposes, the wound would look and act as though it were healed, but it would simply be sealed and knit together by the 'stuff'. The wound would continue to heal at its normal bodily rate, and the 'stuff' would die and flake off as it lost access to the blood supply and the skin regrew.

You wouldn't want to use this 'stuff' on a severe wound because such a thing would be parasitic by nature. A deep wound would mean the 'stuff' could work its way into the system so it never lost access to the blood supply, and then all sorts of bad things might happen (from anemia to toxicity to turning users into fungus-people, depending on how ridiculous you want to be with it).

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  • $\begingroup$ Fubgus people aka zombies, hmm, I like that, lol $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg May 16 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg Fungus people aren't really that ridiculous, as in it's not likely but it isn't a biological impossibility, particularly if they behave more like the aliens in alien or some other parasites in using the host as a way to create more of it rather than shambling around and moaning UUUUHHHHHH. $\endgroup$ – Madman May 17 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Madman didn't mean that they should be like in the movies, and may be not necessarly be even zombies, as behavior so as state of live, maybe orks or those tree people. For a plant like creature gaining mobility is already on achivement. And I guess almost anyone knows about existance of that ants parasitic Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which converts them in a transport for that fungus. I just was struck by picturing half mammal half plant creature. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg May 17 at 7:44
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While full healing is probably not possible in 5 minutes, cauterization, which essentially seals the wound to prevent blood loss, would be possible through chemical means. One chemical that was used for this procedure is call "lunar caustic", and is just silver nitrate. As silver itself was believed to have healing properties for a long time, a derivative of silver is a natural choice for testing, and solutions of silver nitrate have in fact been used for hundreds to thousands of years as a disinfective agent. In high concentration, though, it chemically burns flesh, leading to the cauterization effect.

To produce silver nitrate, all you need is silver and nitric acid. NileRed could probably come up with a precise synthesis, and I am not a chemist, but from my reading so far it looks like it could be produced like this:

  • Gather some saltpeter (generally mined, or could be produced from bat guano)
  • Combine it with acid mine drainage, a source of sulfuric acid
  • Put the mixture in large pots, and warm it up to around 83 C to produce nitric acid vapors
  • Hang plates or rods of silver above the pots to catch the vapors, scrape off the white layer as it forms, this is the silver nitrate

Visually, this salve would have a white tinge to it from the silver nitrate, but once applied, it would form a grey tinge on all flesh that it came in contact with. This is due to the silver nitrate interacting with chloride ions in the flesh and transforming into metallic silver and saltwater. The remaining silver in the would would likely have some antiseptic effect, although I don't know how strong it would be or how long it would last for.

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    $\begingroup$ Cauterization was my first thought as well. For small stuff though styptics like alum, or hemostatic dressings based on kaolinite are probably even more accessible in a medieval setting and likely to be both just as effective as chemical cauterization and significantly less unpleasant for the patient). $\endgroup$ – Austin Hemmelgarn May 16 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for knowing who NileRed is $\endgroup$ – Mrpenguin May 17 at 3:45
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Light amounts of bleeding can be stopped by touching a material called a styptic. It is made of aluminum sulfate (alum), which was available in the medieval era. It constricts the local blood vessels and initiates the clotting process. They are sold today especially to stop shaving cuts, and for veterinary wounds, but can be used for other small wounds.

styptic pencil

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  • $\begingroup$ For extra fun, they burn like the dickens. Although I suppose that's secondary when you've just been shot. $\endgroup$ – William May 17 at 21:24
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This salve would need to have some sort of magical property or ingredient for it to be that effective. Though there are some real herbs that help the body heal, none of them are anywhere near effective enough to heal that fast. My recommendation is, if you have some sort of magic in place, to try to use that to explain the salve's healing properties. If that doesn't work, try making a new plant. You could let it naturally have the healing property, or you could make it so that the plant needs special cultivation for it to be effective.

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Close enough for government work:

Dried potato flakes.

In a time period where germ theory is unknown and where healing processes are not understood, hemostasis of an open wound is pretty magical to witness.

Still is pretty magical!

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  • $\begingroup$ As a bonus, there could just be a local potato variety that are particularly good at this because they, uh, have extra-long starch chains... or something. $\endgroup$ – William May 17 at 21:26
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Something that mimics surface structural proteins of target cells, forming a biocompatible continuous sheet with a proper seal.

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