"After thirty," says the proverb, "you're either a fool or
your own physician." Maybe before thirty, too … especially if
you live in an isolated spot and/or have a big bump of
independence. Of course, you're a bigger fool still if you
meddle with a serious or persistent condition … but both you
and your overworked doctor will be better off if you can
prevent or cure your own minor ills … as Marj Watkins began
pointing out in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 28. Here's another installment
of the health hints that work for her family.
Kitchen Medicine: Pregnancy Problems
TO INHIBIT CONCEPTION: Raspberry leaf and
borage teas are recommended by tradition. Also, it's known
that primitive mothers — northern Eskimos, for example — who
breast feed babies for two or more years have a lower
fertility rate or are sterile during the nursing period.
Don't count on such protection for yourself, however,
unless you're an Eskimo or Hunzakit!. The most modern birth
control method — the pill — is far more certain but does have
its drawbacks. In particular, it's reported to rob women's
bodies of vitamin B6, causing various minor symptoms:
halitosis, burning feet, vaginal irritation, headaches,
hair loss, insomnia, nervous disorders, visual
disturbances, and constipation. Some really serious
conditions are also connected with lack of B6: anemia,
diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cystic fibrosis,
pancreatitis, cataracts, and gallstones. Anyone who suffers
from such problems might do well to increase consumption of
natural sources of B6: liver, eggs, wheat germ, food yeast
(one teaspoonful daily sprinkled on cereal, in soup, or in
fruit or vegetable juice), rice polish, brown rice, and
yogurt. If you prefer to avoid the pill, consult your
doctor or public health service about the many other forms
of contraceptives that are available.
TO PROMOTE CONCEPTION: Eat whole-grain
breads and cereals, slow cooked. Use corn germ oil and soy
oil on salads and in cooking (keep the temperature below
375° Fahrenheit). Take vitamin E d-alpha-tocopherol, 100 units
daily. Use the rhythm system backwards: Copulate during the
most fertile period. During pregnancy, get plenty of
exercise in fresh air. Think happy thoughts. Hear gentle
music, but avoid hard rock even plants turn away from it
and cease to grow.
NAUSEA: This problem usually strikes in
the morning. Keep a few crackers and/or dried apricots by
the bed to chew before rising. Take vitamins, including at
least 5 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily. Don't overeat
during pregnancy, but don't let your stomach get entirely
empty. Carry a packet of sunflower seeds to nibble on.
Share them around. Nobody will snicker … you might even start
CONSTIPATION: Fast a day or two on fruit
juices, herb teas, and an occasional dried fruit. One or
two mornings a week have a fruit breakfast of apples,
oranges, pears, grapefruit, pineapple, or any combination
you enjoy, with berries in season. Drizzle a little honey
over the diced goodies … delicious! A mild, wholesome
laxative: one quarter teaspoon magnesium oxide in a glass
of fruit juice.
TO PREVENT OR COMBAT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE:
Eat greens — raw in salads and as cooked vegetables — for their
potassium. Eat liver two or three times weekly, and whole
grains and nuts every day. Use rice polish, whole wheat,
rye, oat, and millet flours in baking. Take a papaya enzyme
tablet (available at health food stores) with each meal for
THREATENED MISCARRIAGE: Raspberry leaf tea
contains a hormone inhibitor that slows down overactive
glands and promotes an easy delivery at the right time.
Drink one cupful twice daily. The same brew also gives you
vitamins A, B, C, E, and G, plus calcium, phosphorus, and
iron. Eat protein at every meal and snack … also creamed
cottage cheese and many fresh fruits and vegetable`
(Cranberry orange relish: whole, fresh cranberries and
unpeeled orange chopped, mixed, and sweetened with honey.
Chopped walnuts can be added.) Soy oil can be used in salad
dressing to provide vitamin E. Avoid sex if you get cramps,
and in any case at the times when you would normally be
having a menstrual period.
TO PREVENT TOXEMIA: This most feared
pregnancy disaster — one that can cost you the baby and make
you very sick — is associated with vitamin B6 deficiency.
Before conception and while you're carrying a child, eat
all the good, high-nourishment foods and avoid sugar,
coffee, strong China tea, and white flour products. Enrich
your diet with kelp, bladder wrack. dulse, and seafood for
the 67 different minerals needed by the body. Take 25
milligrams of vitamin B6 daily if you have been using birth
control pills or if your doctor warns you that you are in
danger of toxemia.
SKIN PROBLEMS ACNE OR
PIMPLES: Be cleaner than clean. Wash your hands and face twice
daily with pure soap, warm water, and a soft cloth (pat,
don't rub). Rinse by splashing on clear, cool water.
Otherwise, keep your hands away from your face. Eat
whole-grain cereals and breads, "an apple a day", peaches,
fresh parsley, watercress, sorrel, collard greens, and
green or red bell peppers. Also steamed spinach, baked
yams, dried apricots, cantaloupe, papaya, persimmons, and
grated carrot and raisin salad. Also poached or broiled
swordfish, lamb, beef or chicken liver, and poached or
boiled eggs. Drink milk three times a day and enjoy cottage
cheese or yogurt. Sunflower seeds are good for snacks.
Don't eat candy, syrup, cake (especially frosted), soft
drinks, chocolate, or other hard fats, except for a little
butter. Take daily 50,000 units of vitamin A, 100 units of
vitamin E and a B-complex preparation containing BI, B2,
B6, B12, pantothenic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid, choline,
ECZEMA: Follow the diet suggested under
ACNE OR PIMPLES, with lots of green salads, sunflower
seeds, whole oranges, and fresh or dried apricots. Take the
vitamins listed in that section, with extra B6 and E.
According to Adelle Davis, vitamin B6 applied to the skin
will relieve itching almost instantly. You can mash the
tablets finely and dissolve them in honey and peach kernel
oil lotion, which is healing in itself.
HIVES OR INSECT BITES: Wash the skin with
cool water and apply honey and peach kernel oil lotion to
relieve itching. A friend of ours — a hospital administrator
— successfully treated severe hives with mashed–up
antihistamine tablets combined with cold cream. Some
antihistamines, however, can increase the skin's
sensitivity to sun and cause even worse hives. I'd rather
stick to my own method.
CHAPPED SKIN, SORE LIPS, CRACKS AT CORNERS OF
Eat wheat germ, liver, and food yeast for their pantothenic
acid and take a 100milligram tablet of the same vitamin
each morning. A delicious natural lotion for chapped lips:
Mix a drop of honey with one-half to one teaspoon of
apricot kernel oil with the fingertips. Apply it to the
lips and rub them together. Try not to lick off the
SUNBURN: Bathe the affected skin gently
with vinegar water, a wet tea bag, or peppermint tea. This
cools the skin, deals with bacteria, and starts the healing
process. Replace the natural oil with apricot or peach
kernel oil lotion. Para–aminobenzamine lotion cools
inflammation, relieves itching, and promotes healing.
POISON IVY, OAK, OR SUMAC: Know the toxic
plants and avoid them. Remember the old warning rhyme,
"Shiny leaves three, don't touch it, flee." The poison
sumac of the northeastern U.S. is a swamp-loving shrub or
tree resembling the common stag horn sumac but with
untoothed leaves and white berries. While camping in Maine
(York County, near the coast) I had a very unpleasant
experience with a plant which a local Girl Scout leader
identified — too late — as poison mercury. (I used a leaf for
toilet paper and it took weeks to get rid of the blisters.)
The culprit doesn't look a bit like any of the other toxic
species: It's a shrub two to three feet high, somewhat
resembling the elderberry except that the bush is smaller
and twiggier, the wood firmer, and the leaves shorter and
fatter. They grow three or five — sometimes seven — to a spray
and are about the same length as poison sumac leaves, but
lighter and wider. The foliage is matte, not shiny, and a
nice inviting apple green in color. The plant grows along
railroad tracks, at the edges of woods, and by roads
through wooded areas. (None of the nature guides I've
consulted list poison mercury. Can any Maine botanists
furnish more information? — MOTHER.) If the worst happens,
take Euell Gibbons' advice and apply the juice of jewelweed
immediately after exposure. Or scrub the skin immediately
with soap and cold water. (Beware of hot water! It spreads
the rash.) Then apply cool soda packs, followed by calamine
lotion to relieve itching. Vitamin C — 1,000 milligrams with
a glass of milk every four hours — will help combat the toxin
HANGNAILS: Gently apply apricot kernel oil
to the skin around the nails. Eat more protein, vitamin C,
and very green leaves.
HORIZONTAL NAIL RIDGES OR WAVES: These are
often coincidental with menstrual difficulties and indicate
a need for more vitamins A and E.
VERTICAL NAIL RIDGES: A warning of anemia
(see MOTHER EARTH NEWS N0. 29) … or a sign that you're using strong
detergents without rubber gloves.
DANDRUFF: If the condition arises from dry
skin, add liver, food yeast, and wheat germ to your diet,
cook with natural oils and — for baking — mix 1/8 cup soy flour
with each 7/8 cup of whole wheat, rye, or buckwheat flour.
INFECTIOUS DANDRUFF: Wash and brush your
hair well and often. Make your own dandruff-remover shampoo
of one part Listerine to one part shampoo, mild detergent,
or dissolved soap-cake leftovers.