Kitchen Medicine: Mood Disorders, Digestive Problems, and Low Energy

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The doctor may not be near at hand, but your own kitchen medicine remedies certainly will be if you prepare in advance.

“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 even so, both you and your overworked doctor will be better off if you can prevent or cure your own minor ills. “The Home Medicine Cabinet: Remedies for Pain Relief,” Marj Watkins began offering her own kitchen medicine health hints that work for her family. Here’s another installment.

Mood Disorders 

The following natural tranquilizers can be taken as remedies for nervousness, in the form of delicious teas with honey and lemon: the flowers of linden or chamomile; anise or fennel seed; or dried savory leaves. Eat brown rice, bananas, fish, crunchy apples, carrots, celery, cottage cheese and yogurt. Drink milk. Shun brewed coffee, strong China tea, soft drinks, sugar and white flour products.

If one is depressed, bleak and/or crotchety, 100 milligrams of niacinamide–a B vitamin–taken with a glass of milk two to four times daily will lift the mood. Be sure it is niacinamide, not plain niacin, which makes you feel as if you’re blushing all over, inside and out. The sensation is anything but calming.

Peppermint tea is cheering and stimulating. Drink it, or put two strong cupfuls into a tub of water for a long hot soak (a tepid soak in hot weather). Or try a soothing pine needle-scented bubble bath.

Raise your spirits by doing something vigorous: walk, swim, scrub floors, build, paint. Rub your hands together and crack your knuckles to spend tension.

Digestive Problems 

Try the suggestions under DEPRESSION AND NERVOUSNESS. In addition, eat only when you’re really hungry. Then start with fruit (especially applesauce) or tomato juice or water, go on to rice, and finish with lean beef or poached fish with lemon.

QUEASY STOMACH: Sip peppermint, papaya-mint or rose-mint tea. Wiggle your ears and massage lightly under your eyes with the fingertips, and your sympathetic nervous system will tell the digestive juices to get to work. Increase your magnesium intake by eating half a cup of sunflower seeds daily.

GAS: Pat the abdomen lightly to expel wind. Chew caraway, fennel, anise, or dill seeds. Begin meals with fresh herbs: sorrel, oxalis, chickweed, or young dandelion leaves. Season these with fresh or dried basil, tarragon and/or parsley in oil and vinegar dressing.

Cook meat with marjoram leaves or with cumin, cardamon or coriander seeds. Chicken can be combined with tarragon. Prepare pork by browning it. Then sprinkle the meat with thyme, sweet basil leaves, and salt or soy sauce and pour pineapple juice over it. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat for the remainder of the cooking period. Poach fish with lemon juice and dill seed in a covered pan at a very low temperature.

ACID STOMACH: Drink while fizzing: 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar. A dried prune or salty umeboshi plum (chew the pit a long time) promotes much saliva to assist the digestive juices.

VOMITING: Rinse the mouth after an attack with water to which half a teaspoon of baking soda has been added, and drink a little of the liquid. Repeat as needed. Rest sitting, wrapped up in a blanket or beach towel to prevent chills. Continue to sip soda water. If vomiting persists or is accompanied by a fever, consult a doctor.

Babies who spit up after every feeding can be helped by the addition of 1/4 teaspoon of magnesium oxide (from the health food store or pharmacy) to each batch of formula. Breastfed babies seldom upchuck much because magnesium comes to them from their mothers’ bodies. A nursing woman who is deficient in the element will suffer from calcium imbalance and develop cramps and pains in the joints, back and muscles.

Whole grains, nuts, nutmeats, and seaweed are good sources of magnesium. People who can’t chew can take these foods in gruels and soups.

Nausea and vomiting can result from low blood sugar. If severe headache occurs at the same time as a stomach upset, suspect this condition. Counter it by eating dried apricots first and then easily digested food like applesauce, cottage cheese and rice gruel, followed by rice and lean meats.

DIET FOR RAPID METABOLIZERS: Rapid metabolizers are people who need to eat frequent small meals of high-energy food. (Food, not candy or soft drinks! Such sweets should be used only medicinally, when nothing better is available to forestall dizziness, headache, and extreme fatigue.)

The following is a good diet for such a person:

Breakfast: chicken livers sauteed with mushrooms, herbs and wine or teriyaki sauce; sliced oranges; jasmine tea with honey; chapati made of oat and buckwheat flours.

Mid-morning: yogurt and fruit. Sunflower seeds and raisins if on the go.

Lunch: salad of fresh greens, cottage cheese and pineapple; egg salad or tuna salad sandwich on wheat-berry bread; apple juice or pink mint tea.

Mid-afternoon: banana and milk, or milkshake with egg, or half a packet of instant-breakfast product blended or whipped with one teaspoon sesame oil and one glass of milk.

Supper: brown rice; thinly sliced, stir-fried assorted vegetables; chicken, fish or lean meat with fresh parsley. Eat the parsley too.

Bedtime snack: cheese and rye crackers, an apple and a glass of milk.

You see the pattern: five or six light, high-protein meals daily.

Low Energy

In the evening: Have an herb bath (try rosemary for a stimulant or valerian root for a restful night). Do sleep with a window open or partly open, but not while you’re lying in a draft. You’ll wake up feeling more lively.

In the morning: Stand by an open window or go outdoors. Fill your lungs completely by inhaling three times without exhaling. Then count to 20 and exhale slowly. Repeat this several times.

Gently pound with your knuckles along the outside of each arm, then along the inside, to stimulate lung and heart action. (Read The First Book of Do-In by Jacques de Langres, distributed retail by Tao Books. This work is being reprinted and will probably cost around $2.00. The Second Book of Do-In should be available shortly.) Stretch every finger and toe, rotate your thumbs, rub your hands together, and gently move your fingertips all over your face, beginning with the eye sockets. Take a shower and finish with cool water. By that time you should be ravenously hungry and ready to remake the whole world right after breakfast.

Eat calves’ liver sauteed with tamari or teriyaki sauce. (See “Kitchen Medicine: Treating Allergies, Relieving Burns, Preventing Colds“) Also sliced oranges, with some of the peel. Likewise sunflower seeds, raisins, yogurt, and alfalfa sprouts. Drink one teaspoon honey and one teaspoon vinegar to a teacup of hot water. Build your endurance by walking each day and going a little farther every outing.