Joe and Teresa Graedon: Cold yellow mustard soothes burn

Jan. 30, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

Q. You have written several times about putting yellow mustard on a burn for relief. Thank goodness I have known about this emergency approach for more than 30 years.
About eight years ago, when my twin girls were 3 years old, I was cooking myself a cup of noodles in the microwave. I had set it on the kitchen counter, and one of my twins picked the cup off the counter and tipped it up as if to drink it like juice. She spilled boiling-hot noodles and liquid all over her front.
I immediately took off her shirt, grabbed the mustard out of the fridge and applied it heavily to her chin, neck and face. I covered the burn with paper towel. In the morning, I was surprised that there was no blistering. Just a tiny speck of redness remained.
A. We continue to be amazed by reports that cold yellow mustard eases the pain and redness of kitchen burns. Others say that soy sauce also helps. A severe burn always requires immediate medical attention.
Q. I want to pass along a tip that I’ve been using for 20 years. I put about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in my coffee filter and then put coffee grounds on top. I get the benefits of the cinnamon, and it cuts any bitterness from the coffee. I turned all my family and friends on to this, and my mother-in-law was able to go off the diabetes medicine that she’d been on for years!
A. For years, researchers have been investigating the use of cinnamon to keep blood sugar from rising too quickly after a meal. In a three-month placebo-controlled trial, cinnamon capsules significantly reduced HbA1c in type 2 diabetics (Diabetic Medicine, October 2010). This is a measure of blood sugar over several weeks, not just at one point in time.
We discuss details of using cinnamon and other nondrug approaches to help control blood sugar, along with the pros and cons of medications, in our brand-new Guide to Managing Diabetes. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (66 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DM-11, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.
Q. I am plagued with ugly cold sores. You wrote once that buttermilk might help. Do you drink it as a preventive measure? Or do you apply it topically on the cold sore to make it heal faster? I know that sounds odd, but people suggest the craziest things to get rid of these awful sores. I’d really like advice on preventing them.
A. Several years ago, we received a letter from a man whose pharmacist told him to drink buttermilk to avoid cold sores on the lips.
Another popular approach is the dietary supplement L-lysine. Many readers report that 500 mg daily can prevent outbreaks. Unfortunately, there isn’t much recent research on this approach, so we don’t know whether it would hold up in a placebo-controlled trial.
Q. I read your column about gout and tart cherries. Celery seed extract works better and quicker.
I take two capsules a day, morning and evening, with food. If my gout flares up, I double the dose. The active ingredient is 3-n-butylphthalide, or 3nB for short.
A. Herbal expert James Duke, Ph.D., has been singing the praises of celery seed’s healing power for decades. We’re glad it works so well for you.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their website www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”