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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mustard helps prevent blisters from burn

Q. I foolishly picked up a plastic honey bear that was in a pot of boiling water, and the honey squirted out all over the palm of my hand.

Immediately, I ran it under cold water, and then I ran to get your book because I knew there was something I could put on burns that was natural: Mustard.

I had mustard in the fridge, and I poured it all over the palm of my hand. It still burned like the devil, but I left it on while I read more. I put more mustard on, wrapped gauze bandage around it and left it on for a while until the pain subsided.

I babied the hand and was afraid it would blister. The pain did ease enough for me to go to the mall in the afternoon.

The palm was a little mottled pink, and I really didn’t notice for a couple of days that I apparently didn’t get any mustard between the pinky and ring finger over to the first knuckle. That is where a huge blister appeared!

To me, that proves the mustard worked; otherwise, the whole palm of my hand would have been blistered.

Thank you.

A. We have heard from other readers that cold yellow mustard can soothe a kitchen burn. Soy sauce has a similar reputation, and several people have reported blistering on a burn where they neglected to put soy sauce, although the rest of the burned area recovered well.

Cold water is the first measure to be taken, just as you did. Bad burns always require prompt medical attention.

Q. I was on omeprazole for gastroesophageal reflux for several years until I saw a PBS program on heartburn and acid-reflux problems. The expert said the worst culprit for heartburn is refined sugar!

Not one doctor I had ever seen mentioned avoiding refined sugar. I had eliminated all other foods that are supposed to be a problem, such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods.

The day after this TV program more than a year ago, I stopped eating refined sugar and stopped taking the medicine. I’m very strict now with my diet and get any sugar I want just from eating fruit. I have not had to take the medicine since then.

A. Avoiding refined carbohydrates does seem to ease reflux (Digestive Diseases and Sciences, August 2006).

Q. You recently had a story in which a person reported that zinc oxide worked for hemorrhoids. This made me laugh and brought back the memory of a dear family friend who has been dead for more than 45 years.

Mrs. H. had a growth removed from her face and was given a prescription for zinc-oxide cream. She found it so helpful that when her hemorrhoids acted up, she applied some to them and got great relief.

I was a college girl when I heard her tell my mother about doing this.

A. There is not much scientific evidence that zinc oxide will calm the burning and itching from hemorrhoids. It does seem to be safe for external use, however.

Q. I loved the recipe you gave for fennel tea to relieve a sore throat and sinus problems. Is there a book that would have similar home remedies, like teas for common symptoms? I have been searching for an easy-to-use natural remedies resource.

A. We recently brought out “Favorite Home Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy.” It has dozens of home remedies from readers for health problems ranging from acne and allergies to vertigo and warts (online at www With the cost of medicine so high, home remedies may be an economical solution for common complaints.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:
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