7 weird ways that food has been used as medicine
It was clever Greek doctor Hippocrates who first claimed that “Food is Medicine”. Though there were some funny ideas about fixing people floating around 2,500 years ago, this was surprisingly sensible advice. In the years since, scientists have discovered that there are whole heaps of foods that can have some surprising medical benefits. Whether you have an upset tummy or something more sinister, there’s every chance that you can make it better with a bit of grub.
1. Stinging nettles
When Europeans began to make long sea voyages, they also discovered one of the most unpleasant conditions on earth. Scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C, can cause mouth decay, sores and even death, so was obviously best avoided. In addition to the traditional prescription of oranges and citrus fruits, many doctors also fed their patients stinging nettles, as these too were high in vitamin C and could cure the condition.
As a staple in Indian cooking for centuries, okra has made its way to all corners of the world. Perhaps because it looks green and healthy, the vegetable has built a reputation as a remedy for all sorts of ills, but its weirdest use is as a cure for diabetes. Though it is indeed rich in potassium, iron and multivitamins that may assist with the condition, there’s no evidence that it can cure any type of diabetes.
Most famous today for ridding the world of unwanted bad breath, it turns out that there’s a lot more to spearmint than chewing gum and mouthwash. Thanks to its antioxidant and vitamin-rich contents, spearmint has been used to treat a range of ills down the years. Perhaps most notably, it was once used to treat sickly English king Edward VI and his tuberculosis.
4. Olive Oil
Though pulling wax out of an ear can be extremely satisfying, it’s not always the safest way to go. If you want to clean your ears without running the risk of going deaf, there is an old foodie remedy that can help you out. Pouring a shot of olive oil into your ears is an easy way to dislodge any unwanted waste, though you might end up smelling like an Italian deli.
Anyone who’s had to pee out something small, hard and round will be quick to tell you that few conditions are less fun than kidney stones. Caused by a build of calcified material that blocks the urinary tract, they can be extremely painful and hard to dislodge. Fortunately, an easy remedy is to drink lemonade, which along with fruit juice, contains naturally high levels of citrate which can help to dissolve the stones.
Try as they might, some people are just cursed with abnormally smelly feet. But for all fungal sprays and scientific socks available for the funky of foot, there is one remedy that is guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face. Thanks to its high alcohol content, rubbing your feet in vodka is a really effective way of killing the bacteria that cause foot odour.
For what is essentially slowly rotting milk, there are a surprising number of benefits to including yoghurt in your diet. Not only is there evidence to suggest that yoghurt can reduce the chance of contracting respiratory ailments, such as cold and flu, by up to 40%, but yoghurt has also been proven be an effective treatment for yeast infections. Small wonder we’ve been eating it for so many years.
There are literally thousands of strange remedies that have no basis in scientific fact. But, as we can see from this list, there are some things that might seem odd, but can actually make a real difference.