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Adjuvants have been whimsically called the dirty little secret of vaccines in the scientific community. This dates from the early days of commercial vaccine manufacture, when significant variations in the effectiveness of different batches of the same vaccine were observed, correctly assumed to be due to contamination of the reaction vessels. However, it was soon found that more scrupulous attention to cleanliness actually seemed to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines, and that the contaminants - "dirt" - actually enhanced the immune response. There are many known adjuvants in widespread use, including oils, aluminum salts, and virosomes, although precisely how they work is still not entirely understood.
Because of their prevalence, chestnuts have been used in traditional medicine and for a variety of other commercial applications for centuries. Extracts of the bark have been used as a yellow dye, and the wood has been used for furniture and packing cases. In the western United States, the crushed unripe seeds of the California buckeye were scattered into streams to stupefy fish, and leaves were steeped as a tea to remedy congestion. The horse chestnut has been used as a traditional remedy for arthritis and rheumatism, as well as for gynecological bleeding and as a tonic. Even though the seeds are toxic, several traditional methods were employed to rid them of their toxicity. Seeds were buried in swampy, cold ground during the winter to free them of toxic, bitter components, then eaten in the spring after boiling. American Indians roasted, peeled, and mashed the poisonous nuts, then leached the meal in lime water for several days, creating a meal used to make bread.