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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The trouble with most first-aid kits is that you don’t have them when you need them. They usually are stored safely in a bathroom closet or perhaps in the trunk of the car. What if you could put together an easy-to-carry first-aid kit from items you already have on hand?
Readers of this column frequently share the remedies that they use in an emergency. Most are simple to assemble and could be kept in a pocket or a fanny pack.
One of our favorites is yellow mustard. Next time you are in a cafeteria or a fast-food restaurant, stock up on several small packets of this condiment. It can do double duty, as demonstrated by these stories:
“I recently participated in a charity bicycle ride in Orlando, Fla. At mile 75 of 104, my right hamstring locked up pretty hard. I pulled over and stretched it a bit and ate two packets of French’s plain yellow mustard. Within minutes, I felt as if I never had the cramp and finished the ride strong. I can say that I am sold on mustard!”
Another reader also used mustard to ease a muscle cramp: “A young man was doing some carpentry for me. His back started to go into a muscle spasm.
“I had him swallow a tablespoon of yellow mustard and a sip of water to wash it down. Within about two minutes, he looked up at me and grinned. He said: ‘I don’t believe this. Normally I am laid up for hours with this kind of muscle cramp.’”
Yellow mustard also can be used to alleviate the pain of a burn. One reader shared this story: “I found out about mustard for burns when I was in college working at a pizza joint, many moons ago. I picked up a pizza pan right out of the oven and promptly dropped the entire pan. My hand immediately turned really red, and the owner, Tom, who was Greek and spoke very little English, grabbed my hand and squirted mustard all over my palm and told me not to take it off. I worked my shift one-handed. When the mustard had dried, I washed it off. No pain and no blisters.”
Another option for treating a burn is soy sauce. This also is available in convenient packets from your favorite sushi spot. Here’s a testimonial: “The other day, I burned myself taking something out of the oven. I immediately ran cool water over it and applied soy sauce, then put on more soy sauce a few minutes later. The pain stopped right away, and later that evening I realized I had no pain on the burned area at all.” Many people tell us that getting soy sauce on a burn quickly can help prevent blistering and redness.
For a minor cut or scrape that is bleeding, a packet of ground black pepper is super. Just pour it on, apply pressure, and the bleeding usually stops.
There are even a few home remedies that could ease heartburn. One reader had this experience: “Last night I had too much delicious Chicago pizza with wine and had mild heartburn. I had read that almonds could be beneficial. So I chewed six almonds thoroughly, and my symptoms disappeared immediately.”
Other items that may belong in your portable first-aid kit include sugarless gum for heartburn and constipation, castor oil for bites, bruises and sore joints, and meat tenderizer for stings. You’ll find even more first-aid hints at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Be sure to stock up before your next adventure.
Q: As far back as I can remember, my stool has floated. I never worried about it until I saw something on the web about pancreatic cancer and floating poop.
I did some research and found that if you have pale poop that floats, it could be serious. There might be something wrong with the gallbladder, liver or pancreas. Since I have lived with this for decades, I reasoned that it probably wasn’t pancreatic cancer, or I would be long gone.
Additional searching turned up celiac disease as another possibility. I have experienced quite a few symptoms of celiac disease besides tan, floating poop, though my doctors have dismissed my problems when I’ve asked.
I’ve stayed off wheat for several weeks and feel better. What else should I be doing?
A: Celiac disease is an inability to digest the protein in wheat, barley and rye. Such foods destroy the lining of the small intestine in those who have celiac disease.
Symptoms include fatty floating stool (tan or light gray), bloating, digestive distress, fatigue, joint pain, muscle cramps, anemia, osteoporosis, burning or tingling in the feet and itchy, watery skin rash. Although the variety of symptoms can make it difficult to diagnose, celiac disease is much more common than most doctors were taught. It is treated with a strictly gluten-free diet.
We discussed the latest diagnostic tests and treatments of this condition with one of the country’s leading experts, Peter Green, M.D., director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. To order a CD of our one-hour conversation, please send $9.99 plus $2 shipping and handling to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. CD-856, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2.99 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q: Please tell your readers about the side effects of cold and sinus tablets containing pseudoephedrine.
My husband has a slightly enlarged prostate that is usually not symptomatic. He developed a very bad cold and took one Advil Cold and Sinus tablet. Within 10 hours, he was in the ER, having an indwelling catheter placed because he could not empty his bladder.
The pseudoephedrine made his prostate react. The very uncomfortable catheter stayed in for about 36 hours, after which he had to have a cystoscopy and sonogram to check his prostate. All this trouble resulted from only one tablet containing pseudoephedrine.
A: Cold, allergy and sinus medications that contain the decongestant pseudoephedrine can wreak havoc for men with enlarged prostates. Inability to urinate is a potential complication that requires emergency treatment. As your husband discovered, it can require catheterization of the bladder to bypass the inflamed prostate.
We think the warning on pseudoephedrine-containing OTC decongestants is inadequate. It reads: “Ask a doctor if you have trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland.” Many men who don’t normally have trouble urinating can still end up in trouble after taking this decongestant.
Q: I suffered for years with chronic canker sores. I read that SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) in toothpaste can trigger this painful problem. How do I find toothpaste without SLS?
A: Some readers report that Biotene toothpaste is SLS-free and helps reduce canker sores. Tom’s of Maine, Rembrandt and Sensodyne Pronamel toothpastes also are devoid of SLS.
“The People’s Pharmacy with Joe and Terry Graedon” airs Saturday at 7 a.m. on WVTF (89.1 FM) and at 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on RADIO IQ (89.7 FM). Joe and Teresa Graedon’s column runs in Tuesday’s Extra.
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