Quick Fixes

Informal, uncomplicated, non-medical, non-nutritional remedies for some common problems.

Eric Armstrong

Blisters on your Feet - Linen Socks

As a youngster, I got massive blisters playing basketball, mostly as a result of my feet sliding around in my shoes during all the sudden stops, starts, and changes of direction.I found a simple remedy that completely eliminated them: Thin linen socks inside of cotton socks. As soon as your foot starts to sweat, the linen sock clings to it, becoming a second layer of skin. From then on, any slipping occurs between it and the cotton sock, and the foot remains blister-free. (I tried every possible combination of socks, and that's the only one that worked.)

Bright Lights Hurt Your Eyes - Yellow Sunglasses

It turns out that is the blue spectrum of light that hurts. It's more of a problem these days, because there are more cars, and the newer ones tend to be equipped with super bright lights that include a lot of blue. The simple fix is yellow sunglasses. They filter out the blue, so the lights aren't as painful.

Chronic Cough -- Vinegar Tea, Avoid Dairy, Wheat

A chronic cough comes from post nasal drip, a result of thickened mucous that doesn't flow along the membranes like it's supposed to when it's more viscous. The quick fix is vinegar tea. A small amount in a glass of hot water (with honey for sweetener) thins the mucous pretty quickly.

The next step is to avoid dairy products for a few days. (Something that singers tend to do to keep their throats clear.) That works because dairy products that aren't fully digested tend to thicken the mucous. If you notice a difference, its possible that you have a dairy allergy. But if a dairy wasn't a problem when you were younger, but is now, then it's virtually a forgone conclusion that your are gluten-intolerant. (See What's Wrong with Wheat?)

In that case, the final step is to eliminate gluten from your diet.When you have a problem with gluten, the very first thing to go is the enzymes that digest dairy products. It can take up to a couple of years to heal the digestive tract--longer, if you don't religiously avoid gluten in the interim. But as you heal, you'll notice that dairy products have less of an effect.

In fact, you can use your response to dairy products as a way to guage your healing--because dairy processing enzymes are also the last to recover. When I first identified gluten as problem, I had a congested nose fir a day or two after consuming diary products. When I eliminated gluten, the problem steadily receded until I had congestion for a day, then mild congestion only for the morning after, and then finally, virtually no reaction at all.

Jammed Finger/Sprained Toe -- Wrap to Adjoining Digit

When you go to the doctor with a foot injury, there's not much they can do. When you go in with a finger injury, they'll probably put it in a finger-splint. The splint protects it, but makes it pretty impossible to play your sport. Athletic trainers, on the other hand, have a simple solution that works beautifully: Use strips of tape to join the finger or toe to one next to it. Avod the joints so the are free to bend, and you lose very little in the way of manual dexterity. The adjacent digit, meanwhile, acts as a protective splint, and you can keep playing until the injury heals. (Use this one judiciously. Sometimes, a visit to the emergency room is appropriate!)

Kidney Stones

Short Version:
Take a hot bath, or put a heating pad where your lower back hurts. Take a muscle relaxant like Tylenol during the day, or Tylenol PM at night, to help you sleep.

Long Version:
Kidney "Stones" ought to be called kidney *caltrops*--spiky little things that Ninjas drop on the ground, because no matter which way they land, there is a sharp spike waiting to hurt you.

They form in the kidneys as minerals accrete into a crystalline formation, and hurt like hell when they are finally dislodged, and begin to make their way down the urinary tract, tearing and scraping as they go.

The thing to know, though, is that they don't go all the way at one time. They move in fits and starts, generally getting hung up at some point along the way. When they're stopped, you're generally not hurting. When they move, you are.

So the thing to understand about kidney stone pain is that it is *transient*. You still want to see a urologist. They can prescribe some medications to help it pass, and they can do more serious procedures if they're called for. (This is one area where I've found modern medicine to be extraordinarily helpful. I don't have much use for it when it comes to chronic complaints, but when it comes to acute cases like these, they have my gratitude.)

But now the question arises: If kidney stone pain is supposed to be transient, how come I've been in agony for hours?! The answer is almost always a *muscle spasm*.

Your body reacts to the pain by tensing up. Tensing up constricts the vessels, which makes the pain worse. So your body tenses up more.

That's the very definition of a "spasm".

The key then, is to get the muscle to relax. Heat does wonders for that. In fact, it's often even more effective than drugs! So sit in a hot bath, or put a heating pad on it. In about 10 minutes, you should feel better. In 15 minutes, you should begin to feel it relax. In 20 minutes, you should be feeling fine.

If you need extra pain relief, a muscle-relaxant like acetomenophine can help. (The main ingredient in Tylenol.) Or take the PM version, which contains a sleep aid, as well.

That should do the trick. If you're not feeling better after 30 minutes. You've got to figure that something else is wrong. So if you're not already in the doctor's office, head there now, or go to the emergency room!

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps after exercise generally point to a magnesium deficiency. People like me who drink a lot of coffee and acidic beverages generally have that problem, as well as a need for more calcium, as both are taken from the bones to neutralize acids. The solution: A Cal-Mag-Zinc supplement.

Poison Ivy / Poison Oak / Poison Sumac-- TecNu

I used to go the doctor when I got poison ivy, because nothing on the shelves at the time did any good at all. Not callamine, or any other cream or ointment I could buy. The doctor would give me cortisone shots and a prescription for cortisone pills, because that was the only they new to bring it under control. It worked, but cortizone works by suppressing the immune system. That's a dangerous medical practice that can lead to Lupus--a disease that occurs when the immune system has been totally demolished. But there is a much simpler remedy. Since discovering it, I haven't needed to go to the doctor once--even after a couple of truly major exposures to the stuff.

The remedy is a soap called TecNu that has been formulated to break up the oils those plants contain--urishol. (You'd think that dish soap would work, since it's formulated to break up oils. But I never had any success with it.

Originally formulated for the U.S. Forest Service,TecNu is available in drug stores and supermarkets these days, and it works a charm! You just rub it gently for a couple of minutes, and then rinse it off with cool water. Bingo! Problem solved. (For more, see Curing Poison Oak and Poison Ivy)

I've found that TecNu's shelf life isn't all that great. It definitely goes stale a month or
two after a bottle has been opened, but it might be that it goes stale after sitting on the
shelf for a year or so.

So my recommendation is:
   1. A couple of weeks after you use it, throw it away.
   2. Keep one unopened, for the next time you need it.
   3. When the next occasion comes, use what you have, but get a new bottle immediately.
   4. If the new case isn't fully under control in a couple of days, use the new bottle.

Swallow a Fistful of Pills without Gagging

I have a major gag reflex. Just ask any of the dentists I've seen. So it came as a surprise when one of them commented on easily I swallowed the supplements he gave me. (I was having mercury amalgams removed, and the supplements were intended to combat the effects of any mercury that came loose in the process.)

It was an interesting comment, because to me it was "only 4 or 5 pills". Not many at all, in my book. (I'm used to taking vitamins by the dozen.) So why was it that it was so easy for me given that, as I say, I'm known to have an acute gag reflex?

Watching myself as I swallowed vitamins for the next couple of days, I realized there was a trick to it:

  1. Pop the pills into your mouth, making no attempt to swallow them.
    Instead, hold them at the front of the mouth, just behind the teeth.
    Since they are nowhere near the back of throat, there is no tendency whatever to gag.

    With many pills, you may find that pressing your tongue towards the bottom of the mouth
    helps to make room for them.
  2. Tilt your head back ever so slightly and sip water through slightly parted lips.
    The pills are still at the front of the mouth. The head is tilted back enough to keep them
    from falling out, but no so far that they fall back towards the throat.
  3. Watch for the moment when the pills start to float.
    It doesn't take long. The pills' pressure on your tongue goes away as they lift off,
    floating on the water.
  4. Swallow the water.
    As you do, the pills go along for the ride like a raft on a river. You may feel that at the
    top of the back of your throat, but you won't feel them at the bottom, where the esophagus
    is. As a result, you will completely avoid the gag reflex.

Copyright © 2011 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
Subscribe for announcments.
Contact me to send feedback, make a donation, or find ways to help others.
And by all means, be sure to visit The TreeLight Store.

§  Home  ·  Books  ·  Health  ·  Music  ·  Dance  ·  Golf  ·  Yoga  ·  Essays  ·  Store  §