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Time for a refreshing facial of…bird poo?

Feeling stressed? Run down? Is your face not as chipper and toned as it might be? Of course you are. We all are from time to time, particularly as we journey into middle age and beyond. So what better than a bit of pampering at the spa? There’s nothing like a soothing facial to get the skin toned and the face all relaxed. But what kind of facial? What is best to get that blood flowing, those dead skin cells exfoliated, and that skin all toned and tight?

Bird poop, of course. Just check out the Ten Thousand Waves spa in New Mexico and its Japanese Nightingale Facial:

This is our signature facial. We are the exclusive importers of processed nightingale droppings, which have been used for centuries by geisha in Japan to brighten and smooth their skin. The droppings are dried, pulverized, and sanitized with ultraviolet light at the nightingale farm. We add essential oils to the powder to use as a cleanser and/or mask, formulated for your skin type.

That’s just what I want, bird poop slathered all over my face! And what a bargain, too! It’s only $115 for the basic facial and $159 for the “deluxe custom facial.” After all, if it’s good enough for Victoria Beckham, it’s good enough for you, isn’t it? It’s also offered in New York, too.

Personally, I like this supposed explanation for why nightingale poo is supposed to do such wonders for your face:

Uguisu no Fun’s main effect – that being bleaching and exfoliating the skin – is a result of Guanine, a naturally occurring enzyme found in nightingale droppings.

This explanation is repeated here.

Uh, no. Guanine is not an enzyme. It is one of the nitrogenous bases found in the nucleic acids RNA and DNA.

Of course, this whole nightingale poop facial thing makes me wonder. Why nightingale poo? Why not pidgeon poo? Surely that’s much cheaper. Or does pidgeon poo not contain guanine? Inquiring minds want to know!

In the meantime, I think I’ll pass. Paying over $100 to have someone smear bird poop on my face just doesn’t seem like a particularly good use of my funds, even though Oprah seems to think it would be.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

58 replies on “Time for a refreshing facial of…bird poo?”

I could actually see this being useful.

For weight loss. Severe nausea does tend to do that.

Glad that they dry it, pulverize it and expose it to UV. I’d hate to think about the possible parasites that could be in it otherwise.

And on the “no Fun” thing, “fun” is Japanese for poop and rhymes with “tune”, as in “You’ll be singing a different tune with a face full of uguisu no fun.”

Surely nightingale poop is loaded with urea. So it’s not preposterous to think that it might have a cosmetic effect.

I can think of easier ways to get my hands on urea, though.

OTOH, I would like a tour of a working nightingale farm.

This is further proof that the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was warrented.

Some birds poop urea, many poop guanine. Sea birds in particular poop guanine. Sea gulls, cormorants, etc. It’s a more efficient way to excrete nitrogenous waste, in terms of the amount of water carried out (eg, the osmotic pressure of guanine is less than urea, per nitrogen atom contained).

The name for the chemical guanine is derived from the word “guano.”

@David
Yeah, well think of all the guanine you could extract from a heap of albatross turds. Too bad that nightingales are prettier creatures whose poops are that much daintier.

It’s all about being a charismatic species.

I have parrots, but somehow I am not tempted to rub their poo on my skin, even after reading this. (Maybe if I had nightingales instead?)

Fortunately there is a cheaper product.

http://www.purebarnyard.com/cockadoodledoo/

I have actually tested this material and it is a very powerful nitric oxide source. Add about 0.7 parts water and 10 grams will produce about a nM/min nitric oxide for an hour. This is enough nitric oxide to have physiological effects, and I think it the basis for the ancient Egyptian folk remedy of crocodile dung applied as a pessary (look it up if you don’t know what that means 😉

This nitric oxide has the effect of causing vasodilatation due to the relaxing of smooth muscles.

This remedy is described in the oldest known gynecological texts, a papyrus from ancient Egypt. Unfortunately there is a hole in the papyrus, so what it was indicated for is unknown. There have been various hypotheses, my own is that as a nitric oxide source it was the ancient Egyptian equivalent of a selective phosphodiesterase inhibitor type 5 (if you don’t know what that means, look that up too 😉

Vasodilatation of the skin would improve blood flow, accelerate healing, and likely prevent acne. This may have been the basis for use of nightingale dung as a traditional health treatment in Japan. The modern practice of sterilizing it with UV probably makes it into a placebo 🙁

This is our signature facial. We are the exclusive importers of processed nightingale droppings, which have been used for centuries by geisha in Japan to brighten and smooth their skin. The droppings are dried, pulverized, and sanitized with ultraviolet light at the nightingale farm. We add essential oils to the powder to use as a cleanser and/or mask, formulated for your skin type.

This really reads like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

“Processed nightingale droppings” sounds like a band name. Or possibly a blog name; if I’d known about this a few days ago, I might have briefly considered it as the name for my blog, though I doubt it would have, er, stuck.

@Tlazolteotl

Parrot poop? I’d be worried about C. psittaci.

/uses Japanese skin care products, but AFAIK they aren’t made with bird crap

This is very suspicious.

Orac makes fun of the practice of using nightingale droppings for expensive facials.

In his previous blog article, he approvingly notes a malpractice suit filed against two DAN! physicians, one of whom is named Dr. Rossignol.

Rossignol is the French word for nightingale.

Does this mark an Oracian campaign against nightingales? What did these wretched little birds ever do to you? Did their song awaken you on a Sunday morn after a night of debauchery?

We need an explanation of this very peculiar “coincidence”.

Hey, if you can’t make a facial out of it, you could combine it with other ingredients and make gunpowder!

I can’t believe ppl actually pay this kind of cash to have shit on their face. Pay a few extra bucks to maintain a healthy diet and live longer? No way! But have strangers put bird shit in my face for hundreds of dollars? Absolutely!

He he, what’s next? A MooPooPedicure? Pretty easy to administer in most rural areas, give me a hundred bucks and take a barefoot walk outside.
Reminds me of an ad here in Oz for Green Tea where woman goes to spa for a mudwrap and is offered a cup of Green Tea:
Woman: I’ve heard this is really good forya!
Therapist: Just as well, because our treatments have no theraputic benefit whatsoever.
Just sayin…

Hey Daedalous (did I get that wrong?)
wouldn’t vasodilatation cause your face to redden? I’m pretty sure that is one thing most women would like to avoid. And it’s probably one of (scary music) “The Seven Signs Of Ageing”!! Dum duuuum…

So, SO, much woo out there in the beauty world, Orac could do an everyday dose of woo on it and never run out of material.

I just can’t get the image out of my head, nor can I stop laughing about it.

Just imagine! There I am, some sort of licensed therapist. I know all about the skin of faces and all the skinny on feces. Avian feces. Of a certain oriental specie of nightingale. I am fully informed about the effect of the feces on the faces.

I get paid to bring the two together. Manually. In person. One on one.

Priceless. Absofuckinglutely priceless.

Hello, I’d like to fill out a job application.

Really, I couldn’t. But what if I did? What if we all did? Are there enough celebrity guinea pigs shills official spokespersons copping squeeze sponsors to keep us all busy and well compensated?

BWAAahahahahaaaaa!

*if it wasn’t for my wholesome (and mostly religion-free) upbringing I’d say “go for it.” but still . . .*

Man, I am probably going to cement a reputation here as a SHIT (She Has Idiotic Tendencies) poster, but I just can’t get the image out of my head.
Just imagine the shit you could do with shit!

Hot Goat Pellet Massage, anyone?
BITCH poo theraphy (because we all know bitch means “Being In Total Control , Honey”
Toad Turd Touch Therapy (all T’s, must be good for you)
and why not Superduper Healing Integrative Therapy (SHIT)

I could go on all night, husband says put a cap on it.

Ooh, before I go: Singularity Holistic Intensive Treatment (also SHIT).

Do the Nightingales use Genuine Bipedal Opposable Thumbsucking Long Pig Shite for that shiny beak?

@15 Ebohlman
To stay in the MP spirit:

– What is your favorite color?
– Vert caca d’oie (“goose-poo green” – I swear, it’s a real color in French)
– What is the daily amount of guano of a unladden nightingale?
– What do you mean? A Chinese or Japanese nightingale?

Ugh! So this is what they mean when they say: “All natural and organic.”

I think I’ll take the nice processed stuff, if it’s all the same to you.

And always, when this sort of remedy crops up, I get a flash of who-came-up-with-this-one-and-how: elder geisha doesn’t want to lose face after getting crapped on by a nightingale, and probably gets a real laugh out of her proteges smearing their faces in bird shit?

Actually, the scientific basis for this treatment is lysozyme, not guanine. Lysozyme is a enzyme which catalyzes hydrolysis and is found abundantly in nightingale droppings. Besides its use as a cosmetic, nightingale droppings have been also been traditionally used in Japan in the textile industry as a bleaching agent. Due to the difficulty in breeding nightingales, droppings from the red-billed leiothrix which are easier to breed, are often used as a substitute.

And #10, go fuck yourself.

SkydiverIm, ever heard of rouge? Or blush? Or red lipstick? Those are cosmetics that simulates vasodilatation by producing a reddening of the skin. One of the first signs of sexual arousal is vasodilatation. Vasodilatation is obligatory for sexual arousal of males and is positively correlated with sexual arousal in females. That is why red cosmetics are used, because they simulate and stimulate sexual arousal.

34

Actually, the scientific basis for this treatment is lysozyme, not guanine. Lysozyme is a enzyme which catalyzes hydrolysis and is found abundantly in nightingale droppings. Besides its use as a cosmetic, nightingale droppings have been also been traditionally used in Japan in the textile industry as a bleaching agent. Due to the difficulty in breeding nightingales, droppings from the red-billed leiothrix which are easier to breed, are often used as a substitute.

And #10, go fuck yourself.

Posted by: Mixolydian | March 6, 2010 5:21 PM

Yup, yup and yup. It really is an old Japanese facial treatment.

By the way, some of the people here should look up the etymology of the word “ammonia” sometime. Oh and if any of you lot fancy sweaters or Highland tweeds, the woven wool cloth for these items was for centuries, up until the 1950s, “waulked” in fine Highlander piss.

Daedulus2u
Sure, but in the modern cosmetics world they will have you believe that it is the artfully applied blush and lipstick that makes you desirable. You add the colour on top of the products (concealed and foundation) that you first apply to conceal or tone down the natural redness of the skin. It’s all there in the advertising and package inserts: helps even skin tone, combats redness, flawless cover, etc. For the modern, western woman, redness is not desirable, other than the colour you yourself elect to add. I’m not disagreeing with you, but I don’t think a product that “brings out the natural redness of your skin” will be a best seller.
And are rouge, blush and lipstick vasodilatants? I thought mostly they were coloured gunk that you put on your face.

Oprah uses it?

That should not really be a surprise. She already is full. The only place left to add pooh is on the outside.

Maybe this is just a form of nightingale editorial.

My friend’s little sister used to work for 10,000 waves and got my friend this facial for her birthday. When my friend found out what it was she flatly refused. “I will not have bird shit rubbed on my face!”

“It’s ‘nightingale droppings’, it’s good for your face.”

“It’s bird shit, and it’s disgusting.”

Needless to say, one birthday present that didn’t go over well. Come to think of it, I will pass this post along to her so she can revel in the happy memory of when her sister tried to get someone to rub bird shit on her face…

PT BARNUM… would smirk, chuckle, and no doubt quietly say

I TOLD YOU SO!

and so did CNN… why this wasn’t on their weird news section instead of style… I cannot explain.

Orac:

Uh, no. Guanine is not an enzyme. It is one of the nitrogenous bases found in the nucleic acids RNA and DNA.

“Enzyme” seems to be one of those sciency words that can be used to spice up any bit of advertising copy without triggering bogus meters in many of the audience. I’m not entirely sure why; maybe something about that “z” sound makes it appealing? It sounds exotic? People do know that enzymes are important, but they don’t really understand exactly how or why, and this is perhaps why they a) don’t realize what *isn’t* an enzyme and b) don’t realize that enzymes aren’t all good. I just finished reading the current issue of National Geographic, and it has a lovely article about carnivorous plants, and it talks about the enzymes that most of them secrete to slowly digest their food (and the huge tradeoffs they make to produce those enzymes; they’re expensive for the plant).

Even forgiving that guanine is not an enzyme, I’m just not clear on why so many people think it sounds good to smear enzymes on their faces.

As far as why this particular poo — well, not all poo is created equal (the diet of the animal has a lot to do with it), and maybe this one really is better as whiteface. (That seems to be something else overlooked by the importers of this bird poo; the geishas who used it were not using it to improve their skin but to cover their skin entirely. If you can get over the eww factor, bird poo has a consistency and texture very much like greasepaint.)

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