By Karen Garloch The Charlotte Observer
Summertime is full of hazards: from bee stings to muscle cramps to motion sickness.
Joe and Terry Graedon, famous for “The People’s Pharmacy” syndicated column and National Public Radio show, suggest looking in your kitchen cabinet for first aid.
“It fits with ‘The People’s Pharmacy’ mantra,” said Joe Graedon. “Might help. Won’t hurt. Doesn’t cost very much.”
He’s a pharmacologist, and she’s a medical anthropologist. Here are some of their favorite home remedies:
Burns: If you happen to burn yourself while grilling hamburgers, one of the best remedies may be nearby.
“Grab the yellow mustard, especially if it’s cold,” Joe said. “Just pour it on the burn and let it dry. You will be surprised. The yellow mustard takes away the pain.”
Do this after first running cold water on the burn, they said.
The Graedons heard about the mustard remedy from a caller to their radio show. The caller remembered that his twin brother burned his hand on a wood stove, maybe 40 years ago, and their mother stuck the child’s hand into a big jar of mustard.
It dried like a yellow mitten, with no blisters or redness.
Why does it work? They think it’s the turmeric and vinegar. Soy sauce also does the job, they said.
Cramps: Got muscle cramps? Grab the mustard again. “Swallow a teaspoonful of mustard. It’s about the fastest remedy we can think of,” Joe said.
Another caller said he was on a 120-mile bike ride when he developed cramps. He sucked down a few yellow mustard packets and his cramps were gone in less than a minute.
Minor cuts: To stop the bleeding from cuts and nicks, pour on finely ground black pepper, the Graedons said.
You can wrap the cut with a towel or bandage, but you don’t have to. “Basically, it’ll just stop bleeding within several seconds,” Joe said.
The Graedons don’t recommend it for more serious cuts.
Stings: You can soothe the sting of a wasp or bee by holding the cut side of an onion on the sting, the Graedons said.
They believe it works because onions contain anti-inflammatory agents.
Two alternatives: Meat tenderizer or baking soda. Make a paste with the powder and water. Slather it on the sting immediately.
Allergies and asthma: If your allergy medication isn’t handy, drink two cups of coffee, maybe three if they’re small.
“Caffeine in the coffee is almost as good as an old asthma medicine called theophylline,” Joe said.
Motion sickness: Ginger is an ancient Chinese treatment. Make a tea or just eat candied ginger.
Rash: If you come in contact with poison ivy or poison oak, first wash the area with soap and water or alcohol wipes.
Then slather a soothing film of milk of magnesia on the rash, the Graedons said.
It also works for jock itch and other fungal infections. The Graedons said their website has become popular with women looking for relief from what is called “breast fungus” or “bra fungus.”
Listerine also works, Terry said.
Nosebleeds: Put something really cold — such as a metal key or an ice cube — at the back of the neck.
One woman told the Graedons she keeps a butter knife in the freezer just for this purpose.
Why does it work? “It probably has something to do with reflexes and the way the nervous system and vascular system interact,” Terry said.
Perspiration: Apply milk of magnesia to underarms instead of deodorant. The Graedons heard about this from a woman who forgot her antiperspirant on vacation.
It’s a little messy, though. And one of the ingredients — sodium hypochlorite, commonly known as bleach — is a cause for concern, they said.
So the Graedons came up with their own product: milk of magnesia roll-on deodorant. It sells for $5.95, plus shipping and handling, on their website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Look in kitchen