Household Food Remedies to Common Maladies | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Flashback Friday: Burned, Bitten, or Bruised? Open the Fridge or Pantry, Not the Medicine Cabinet

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Today, we look back to The 2003 Old Farmer’s Almanac for some unconventional methods to cure common problems…like eating! Foods found commonly in the fridge and pantry work as remedies for some of life’s little maladies.

Flashback Friday:

Burned, Bitten, or Bruised? Open the Fridge, Not the Medicine Cabinet


A Spud for Splinters

Some say a carpenter should always have a potato in his tool belt. Here’s why:  Potatoes can help pull out splinters that are embedded too deep in your skin to extricate with tweezers. Peel and wash a thumb size piece of a white or red potato and grate it (don’t use a sweet potato, it is too moist and sugary to attract liquid). Place the potato gratings into a piece of gauze bandage, wrap the gauze so the potato bits won’t fall out, and tape it to the area over the splinter. Leave it for a few hours, or overnight if possible, so the potato has time to dry. As the potato dries, it draws bodily fluid to it. That moisture carries the splinter to the surface so that it is easier to remove.


An Onion for Insect Bites

Why tough out the pain and irritation of insect bites when you could cure them with an onion? Onions contain flavonoids, which promote healing, as well as sulfur, which breaks down the venom and pulls out the toxin from bites, thereby reducing inflammation. Put a slice of onion over the bite and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour. You can also grate the onion to release more juice, in which case you put the juice on the affected area, tape a piece of gauze over it, and leave for 15 minutes. The stronger the onion, the more effective it is. So stick to red and yellow onions and avoid sweet onions, since they have less sulfur.


Beef for Bruises

Hollywood movies got it right when they showed boxers holding a piece of steak over their black eyes after a fight. Applying a raw beefsteak to a bruise for about an hour can reduce inflammation. As the meat deteriorates, it releases protease, which destroys the blood clot and helps speed up healing. If you don’t have beef, put a piece of pineapple over the bruise, wrap the area with a gauze bandage, and leave it on for an hour. Pineapple contains bromelain, which breaks down protein and destroys the clot.


Cabbage for Burns

Cabbage is a favorite burn remedy among short order cooks, so try it out next time you accidentally singe your skin in the kitchen. Take one or two leaves, put them in a blender, add enough water to moisten the leaves, and grind them up. The grinding will extract their juice, which contains glutamate, which helps new cells grow and prevents against infection. Put the paste directly onto the burned area and cover with a piece of gauze, and secure it with tape.


Oatmeal for Itching

Oatmeal has a calming effect on the skin and is a go-to for most kinds of itching. For a general home treatment, put a fistful of rolled oats into a thin sock or piece of gauze, tie it off, and let it float in a bathtub of lukewarm water like a tea bag. Every so often, squeeze the bag, so that the white, milky substance of the oatmeal (cellulose) gets into the water. Then get in the tub and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. For localized itching, you can make a bag as above, run warm water through it, and squeeze the milky substance into the affected area, leaving it until it dries.

About The Author

Heidi Stonehill

Heidi Stonehill is a senior editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, where she focuses much of her time on managing content development for the Almanac’s line of calendars. Read More from Heidi Stonehill

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