There’s an article going around the Internet titled “A Great Alternative to Taking Medication! 20 Painkillers in Your Kitchen.” Several of these “painkillers” should be familiar to most of you; some are more unusual.
I’ve combed through the list to find ones that should be useful to retirees. I skipped over the treatment for PMS (yoghurt) and endometrial pain (oats). I focused instead on the ones that address my own problems and those of my fellow retirees.
Here’s your shopping list of cures to keep at the ready for ailments that you’re sure to suffer at some point in your retirement:
Ginger (fresh or dried), Cloves, Turmeric, Garlic, Cider Vinegar, Peppermint Oil, Horseradish, Pineapple, Blueberries, and
Mango Ice Cream
Mango Ice Cream
Let’s start with something simple and familiar—cloves. We’ve all heard that oil of clove relieves a toothache. I read that if you chew on a teaspoonful of whole cloves, you can reduce gum inflammation. When I was at Colgate-Palmolive, I worked on toothpaste that targeted gingivitis. So, I felt compelled to check out this clove thing. After a half hour chomping on clove stems, all I had to show for my trouble was lacerations on the inside of my mouth.
Another familiar kitchen wonder is garlic. I was surprised to learn that dropping garlic oil into your ear can cure an earache. Anyone familiar with pop culture knows the real reason for the run on garlic at farmers’ markets. It wards off vampires, zombies and other evils. I remember bringing a chunk of garlic with me to The Exorcist, just in case. I’m happy to report that I was no more full of the devil when I left the theater than when I went in. I guess the garlic worked.
A curious prescriptive is the use of cider vinegar to relieve heartburn. I’ve heard of “hair of the dog” to cure a hangover, but something acidic to prevent acid? That seems counter-intuitive. I’m more comfortable with the notion of using pineapple (another pantry must-have) to aid digestion.
My favorite piece of new information is that horseradish helps drain the sinuses, a major chronic health issue. I love horseradish and I hate my clogged sinuses. I’m just masochistic enough to tolerate that nasal zing so I can breathe more easily. It’s no surprise that the research on this came out of Germany, a country known for sucking it up in the name of superiority. One detail I initially overlooked: you’re supposed to ingest the horseradish, not put it up your nose.
The Internet article offers two treatments for muscle pain. It suggests soaking in a tub of warm water with peppermint oil. I can picture this working, but I think rubbing the aching muscle with peppermint ointment would bring quicker relief. For those reading Fifty Shades of Gray, it might serve some other purposes, as well.
The other muscle reliever cited is ginger. No, not Ginger, the “massage therapist.” I’m talking about ginger, the root that we shave and marinate to enjoy with sushi. You can also eat dried or chopped ginger to get pain relief. Though I’ve never had a massage myself, I’ll bet Ginger’s special skills also work wonders.
The final miracle ingredient in your pantry is turmeric. Well, it may not be in your pantry, but there’s plenty of it in ours. Remember, my husband is Indian. Turmeric supposedly works better than your standard OTC analgesics and NSAIDs for chronic joint pain and inflammation, especially arthritis. Add it to just about any dish you are cooking up on the stove.
Fair warning: turmeric will stain most plastic dishes and containers yellow. Also Formica countertops. You can try to neutralize the color by mixing it with crushed blueberries, but that requires a delicate balance of the two. Otherwise, you wind up with blue stains. Turmeric will also stain your skin yellow, so be sure to wash your fingers thoroughly.
My most memorable experience with this spice occurred outside the kitchen, as part of my nephew’s wedding. As his mother’s brother’s wife, I had a special role. With the help of other women, I bathed him in turmeric as a purifying ritual prior to the marriage ceremony. He wore bathing trunks and stood in his bathtub, while I scrubbed him until he was mustard yellow. No word on what the turmeric did for his joints, but he and his wife now have two adorable daughters.
If you’ve been cross referencing your shopping list, you’re probably wondering where the mango ice cream comes in. That was my own idea. No matter what ails me, I’ve always found that ice cream makes it better. I like to keep well-stocked. You should, too.