Earlier this year, testimonials began surfacing about the effectiveness of treating burns with flour, as opposed to using traditional first aid on the wound. According to the emails and websites, completely covering or immersing the area afflicted with the burn not only eliminated pain, but also effectively healed the burned skin. Some proponents of this idea even went as far as to claim that flour still retained these miracle properties on severe burns, and could even extinguish and eliminate burns from someone who was on fire.
While it would be convenient if flour truly was a miracle treatment for burns, scientific skepticism must be utilized when evaluating this claim. Because this assertion is so extraordinary, equally extraordinary evidence must be presented in order to support it. However, the evidence provided was largely anecdotal. In addition, these results have not been replicated with an experimental design, and have not been supported by physicians since the early to mid 1800s, which was before the medical field gained more credibility. This leads me to conclude that the evidence and reasoning supporting this claim is not sufficient based on the six principals of scientific thinking, and therefore is more pseudoscience than science.
The idea that flour can treat burns was originally adopted by some in the 19th century. However, as medicine evolved, it was largely discredited, and even viewed as harmful, since it was to be used instead of other first aid treatments that have now been proven to be more effective. The reemergence of this claim may be a result of this home remedy being passed down by a family and readopted as a treatment. The placebo effect could have also played a role in this myth. While this effect likely would not produce the miracle healing results, it could have produced a psychological belief that it was working, which could have been distorted and exaggerated over time as this claim spread across the internet.