Kitchen Medicine: Treating Allergies, Relieving Burns, Preventing Colds

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No doubt you have most of what you need close at hand to practice kitchen medicine.

“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. In “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 the next installment.

Treating Allergies

If anybody in your family has a “cold” that goes on forever, you might do well to suspect an unrecognized allergy to house dust, pets, feather pillows or wheat (the most common problem food). At any rate, it’s worthwhile to kick the known allergens out of the house.

Dust can be kept down by proper cleaning methods: Dust with a damp sponge and damp-mop–don’t sweep–uncarpeted floors. (Incidentally, Kay Holly, author of the book No More Colds, recommends that the inside of the nostrils be coated with pure olive oil to protect against airborne allergens.)

You can also try dusting household animals with a damp cloth … or vacuuming them if they don’t mind the noise. Although most pillows now have synthetic foam fillings, any that do contain feathers can be restuffed with clean rags. Sifted oat flour is a good substitute for wheat flour in most recipes, and a very little potato flour will thicken gravies and sauces.

An allergic person benefits greatly from eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and high-protein foods, and less or no starches or sugar. His only starchy dishes should be whole-grain cereals and flour other than wheat, potatoes cooked with the skins on, soybeans, brown rice, and millet. Sweets can consist of dried fruits and honey, which supply natural sugars and much else: minerals, vitamins and enzymes.

Tomato juice is anti-toxic and seems to counteract allergens (besides calming a queasy stomach and cooling a feverish mouth and throat).

DECONGESTANT DRINK: 1 bouillon cube, 1/4 teaspoon powdered kelp, and 1 cup boiling water. Stir, sip, stir, sip. Don’t let the kelp sink to the bottom and just lie there … drink it, too.

ASTHMA AND HAY FEVER: People here on our Puget Sound island say that eating the local honey protects them from allergies produced by this area’s pollens. Some asthmatics claim that eating a bit of native honeycomb gives instant, though brief, relief from an attack and that even smelling the honey helps. We haven’t had occasion to check this out, but you might like to try it.

Countering Anemia

Anemia is characterized by paleness, fatigue, dizziness, headaches and depression. The condition can be caused by lack of iron or of folic acid (found in green leaves and the livers of pasture-fed animals), vitamin B-12, magnesium and perhaps zinc.

Liver seems to contain all the anti-anemic factors. Heart, kidney, brown rice, apricots, dates, dandelion and mustard greens, soybean products, kelp, bean sprouts, prune juice, almonds and torula yeast also help combat anemia-causing deficiencies.

If you’re tempted to take iron pills or vitamins which contain iron, note the form in which the mineral is present. Ferrous sulfate is toxic … ferrous gluconate is the compound our bodies can use.

Relieving Burns

Cold counters heat and stops pain. Immediately run cold water over burn-reddened skin or grab an ice cube or piece of frozen food and pass it gently over the injury. If you’re quick enough you may prevent blistering. A cold, wet tea bag comforts a small burn.

A bachelor friend reports that while frying chicken he spilled boiling oil down the underside of one forearm. He took 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, soaked the injury in ice water for the next two hours and spent the night with his arm on an ice pack. The next morning, what had looked like a third-degree burn was gone except for a few blisters.

Vitamin E stops pain and prevents scarring. If the area to be treated is small, puncture a capsule with a sterile needle, squeeze the contents on the spot and cover the hurt with a band-aid. For larger, deeper or electrical burns, take vitamin E d-alpha tocopherol orally.

Preventing Colds and Treating Colds

TO PREVENT COLD SYMPTOMS CAUSED BY HOUSE DUST OR AIR POLLUTANTS: Keep your nose and sinuses clean. Wash well morning and night, gently clean the part of the nose you can reach and bathe the rest with nose drops of warm, mild salt solution. When you know you’re going to be exposed to an unusual amount of dust or pollen, you might try Kay Holly’s method of coating the nostrils with pure olive oil (see Treating Allergies above).

TO PREVENT COLDS CAUSED BY BACTERIAL OR VIRUS INFECTION: Keep your body’s defense system healthy with fresh air, exercise, wholesome food, and enough rest.

One or two tablespoonfuls of cold-pressed cod-liver oil taken daily (with orange juice to cut the oiliness) will prevent many colds, pneumonias, and respiratory distresses. Refrigerate the oil so it won’t get rancid.

TREATMENT: If a cold strikes anyway, immediately take 100,000 units of vitamin A (50,000 for children) and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C. Repeat the vitamin C–preferably with milk–every four hours and cut down on activity. Chew a clove or two for their antibiotic effect and to soothe or prevent a sore throat.

Vitamin C is reported to combine with viruses and render them inert and helpless. The fresh vitamin found in oranges or newly gathered rose hips can be seen (by means of special photographic techniques) to radiate life. The catch is that sometimes you can’t take sufficient amounts in this form without fouling up your digestive system. A good substitute is …

VITAMIN C SOLUTION: 1 teaspoon powdered vitamin C (used to prevent browning in frozen fruits) in a cup of hibiscus and mint or peppermint tea or hot lemonade. Sip the drink cold if you’re feverish.

TO CLEAR A STUFFY HEAD: Hot onion soup, bouillon with kelp (see Treating Allergies again) or mint drink: 1 teaspoon sassafras, 1 teaspoon hyssop, juice of half a lemon, 2 cups boiling water and 4 drops mint essence with honey.

Apply hot wet packs to forehead and cheekbones. Gargle with hot salt water and use a weak, sterile salt solution as nose drops. Lightly pound the top of your head with your knuckles. At night, sleep on alternate sides and you’ll at least have one clear nostril at a time for breathing.

HOT FEELING IN MOUTH AND THROAT: Sip ice-cold apricot or tomato juice or a cold lemon and honey drink. Gargle with half a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of cold water.

RUNNY NOSE: See Treating Allergies above. Take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C four times daily. Blot the nose or blow it gently so as not to force infection into the ears.

SWOLLEN GLANDS AT ANGLE OF JAW: Eat chicken gizzards simmered until very tender in water to cover along with a bay leaf, a stalk of celery (sliced), 3 or 4 peppercorns, and a pinch of tarragon.

Gently massage camphorated oil into the glands, wrap the throat with an old fuzzy sock or piece of flannel and stay out of the wind.

SORE THROAT: Pour a cupful of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of whole cloves, steep the mixture covered for 15 minutes and sip this tea frequently to allay pain. Or keep a whole clove or two in your mouth and bite down on them once in a while to release the numbing juice.

Gargle with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 cup hot water, or 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves steeped in 1 cup hot water and 1 teaspoon vinegar.

Take 100 milligrams of pantothenic acid–a B vitamin–daily and eat additional sources of the acid such as liver, kidney, rice polish, food yeast, wheat germ, soybeans, peanuts, and egg yolks. As a happy by-product of adding these to your diet you may find that your corns, calluses and bunions bother you much less and that you look and feel younger.

Try this “fountain of youth” recipe for calf’s liver teriyaki: Wipe slices of liver and cut them in inch-wide strips. Dredge the pieces in rice bran, rice polish, or brown-rice flour and brown them in sesame oil. Sprinkle the slices well with teriyaki sauce and a pinch of sweet basil and cook them covered over low heat just until no redness is left in their centers. (Long or fast cooking toughens liver.)

EARACHE: Apply a hot, dry towel or a half-filled hot water bottle wrapped in cloth. If pain persists, warm olive or saffron oil (wrist-test it for comfortable temperature) can be dropped into the ear with a medicine dropper and a hot, dry pack applied. Sharp pains in the ear can be countered by brief application of a cold, moist pack.

Sage, red clover or peppermint tea, fresh orange juice, lemon juice, and honey or all of these in turn can be sipped by the patient, who should then sleep. The orange and lemon juice supply live vitamin C and both remedies make the person feel better and help fight the infection.

FEVER: Under 102° F: Eat chilled custard, jello, applesauce, and small amounts of lean beef. Drink apricot juice, lemonade, fresh or reconstituted frozen orange juice or chilled rose-hip or pink mint tea with 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C every two hours. Keep warm and out of drafts.

Over 102°: Sip cool liquids reinforced with about 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid or dissolved vitamin C tablets, 1,000 milligrams per cupful. Stay in bed. Lightly wash the face, hands, arms and neck with a cool, wet cloth continually recooled in a basin of cold water. Consult a doctor if sore throat, vomiting, abdominal pain or chest congestion are also present.

A person who is recovering from a fever should stay indoors–and preferably in bed–until his or her temperature has been normal for 12 hours, or the fever may return.

HOARSENESS OR LARYNGITIS: Eat chicken gizzards and sunflower seeds. Chew cloves, or use them in tea. Drink hot alfalfa-mint, violet, or hyssop tea with lemon and honey. Keep your throat warm. Don’t talk. If you stay in bed when you have just plain laryngitis, you can sometimes prevent a bad sore throat or cold.

COUGH: Mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice with 1 tablespoon honey and take a teaspoonful as often as needed. Or sip crime de menthe. Or drink anise seed tea and chew up a few of the seeds.

CROUP is a strangling cough that won’t stop long enough to let the victim catch a breath. It usually strikes a child or an old person who has had a cold for a long time.

Instantly slap a cold, wet washcloth around the throat. The shock will stop the cough for a few breaths. Turn on the shower and have the patient breathe the hot, steamy air, but without getting wet. Then boil water, put a teaspoon of camphor oil into it, make a blanket tent and let the sufferer inhale the moist fumes. If you have no camphor, use a few drops of peppermint extract or a handful of peppermint leaves, dried or crushed, with the boiling water poured over them.

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