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Discovery Magazine 6/1/1995

Tongues Tie Bugs

Have you ever tried to put a Band-Aid on your tongue? It just will not stick, and besides, it would make it hard to eat and talk. But what happens when you cut your tongue on a piece of paper? You would think that the body would have a hard time healing the wound. After all, it is covered in food and washed in saliva nearly all the time. That does not sound like a clean, healthy place for a cut to heal. Surely bacteria, fungi, and viruses—the things that can cause disease—would find a nice home in the cut, and make it sore for a ling time. Yet the tongue heals faster than almost any other part of the body. Why?

One reason is that the saliva itself is very good at killing harmful "bugs." Another reason is that the tongue has its own medicine factory. If you should scrape or cut your tongue, a layer of cells just beneathe the surface will begin to make special chemicals. These can kill unwanted invaders, adn encourage the wound to heal.

So thank God for the midicine factory in your tongue. It means we quickly get back to chewing swallowing, tasting, and talking.



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