This example of a practical design in nature
may lack appeal but it is vitally important to our health. A common phrase is to “lick one’s own wounds.”
This saying expresses the effort to care for one’s own needs and generally look out for oneself. However, there is a
more practical application. Dutch researchers are studying the chemical compounds in human saliva. They find an abundance
of simple proteins called histatins that actively fight infection. Also present are compounds that cause epithelium skin cells
to close quickly over a wound. Most of us have experienced the benefits of these saliva components. Small cuts inside the
mouth tend to heal more rapidly than external injuries, and mouth healing leaves little scaring.