Q. I dropped a jug of milk on my foot recently, causing swelling, extreme pain and black and blue marks up to my ankle lasting more than three weeks. At that point, I decided I must see the doctor.
While preparing for the visit I soaked the foot in a strong solution of vinegar and water, as I would for a pedicure. The next morning, you couldn’t tell I had ever injured my foot. A bit sheepishly, I canceled the appointment. Skeptics would say the injury just ran its course, but up to that morning I could hardly walk.
Fast-forward two weeks. While I was in the grocery store a can fell off the shelf and injured the exact same foot with more force and pain than before. (I know, that foot seems cursed.) I went home and soaked the foot in vinegar and the next day I had neither pain nor swelling.
I am cognizant of the fact that this does not seem possible. I am 100 percent sure the vinegar did the cure, based on my experience.
You had a man write in who thought fire ant stings helped his arthritis. Instead, I believe it was the vinegar and baking soda he used on the fire ant bites that helped his joint pain.
A. There is no science to support the use of vinegar for healing such injuries, but an old nursery rhyme suggests your remedy may go back a long time:
“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
“Up Jack got and home did trot as fast as he could caper. He went to bed to mend his head with vinegar and brown paper.”
Another old-fashioned way of treating bruises involves castor oil. A caller to our radio show told us many years ago that her mother-in-law had sat in a rocking chair that collapsed. Although the caller had been concerned about the older woman’s injuries, the mother-in-law brushed them off with an assurance that castor oil would prevent serious bruising and pain. To our caller’s surprise, it worked perfectly.
We have heard from others that castor oil can be helpful in preventing bruising. Here is just one testimonial:
“Whenever my children hurt themselves, the first thing I reached for was the castor oil. My mother-in-law’s uncle was a boxer and always used castor oil after a boxing match to prevent hematomas and bruising. It works like a charm. It has been passed down as a remedy in my family for many years.”
If you find such stories intriguing, we have hundreds to share with you in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You will learn about using castor oil for all sorts of other common complaints including fire ant bites, muscle cramps and warts. Arnica gel can also be used for preventing bruising. And vinegar is extremely versatile, since it can be used to treat athlete’s foot, body odor, bee stings, dandruff, diabetes, dry skin, heartburn, hiccups, high cholesterol, leg cramps, nail fungus, rosacea and warts. Take advantage of our special sale for the next two weeks, 20% off everything in the store. To benefit, use the coupon code: NEWSITE20 at checkout.