Torn hamstring? Try horse placenta

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When it comes to innovative and bizarre remedies for injuries, professional athletes have long been trendsetters. And the latest trend in hamstring and ligament repair among English Premier League footballers is no exception. Robin van Persie, who plays striker for Arsenal, was scheduled to fly to Serbia this week to meet with a daring new doctor who hopes to fix up his partially-torn ankle ligaments within the month. Her method of choice? Incorporating fluid from horse placenta into physical therapy and massage sessions.

Dr. Marijana Kovacevic delivers the treatment, which supposedly benefits the patient by introducing proteins from the horse placenta at the injury site, according to Sky News. Doctors back in the U.K. are skeptical of the treatment’s healing powers, to say the least. As Dr. Carol Cooper told Sky News: “It’s an unproven remedy. It’s wacky but it’s not going to do any harm… Some footballers will try almost anything to get better more quickly.”

It may as yet be unproven, but that’s not stopping the flow of players making the trip to see Kovacevic. In fact, in addition to van Persie’s treatment, two Liverpool players, Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun, also made the journey to Belgrade in hopes of speeding up healing time for their respective hamstring and calf muscle injuries. The treatments were apparently so successful that both players may be back on the field as soon as this weekend. And now two more lads from Liverpool, Glen Johnon and Fabio Aurelio, are following in their footsteps, according to reports from the Liverpool Echo.

Of course, this isn’t the first weird remedy to be used by elite athletes. As the Independent highlights, in the past, professional soccer players have tried everything from Viagra to faith healers to improve their play. And when it comes to the varied applications for placenta, professional soccer players aren’t the only ones experimenting. As TIME columnist Joel Stein imparted shortly after the birth of his son, in the U.S., there is an entire industry dedicated to cooking, packaging and preparing human placenta for consumption by new mothers.

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