Digestion of Food
Over the years whilst compiling information for this book I have realized that there are many differing views on what constitutes a particular ailment, and never has it been more apparent than in the search for potions to remedy indigestion.To further complicate matters there are other variables to be taken into consideration the state of mind of the sufferer, the variety of foodstuffs which exacerbate individual digestive problems and a complexity of aches and pains which are frequently held to be responsible for or to be a direct result of indigestion.I shall therefore do as many old wives and modern doctors have done and put acidity, dyspepsia, flatulence, heartburn, colicky pains and general excessive windiness all under the heading of Indigestion.
The symptoms can vary from pains in the chest to a distended midriif, from a hearty belch to ominous internal rumblings, from stomach ache and nausea to that unbearable burning surge of acidity into the mouth and the general feeling of malaise that makes you wish that you had eaten and drunk perhaps a little less well and a little more wisely.
There is no doubt however that several specific circumstances can cause indigestion.Eating when you are in a state of tension taking food on the run getting up and down from a meal swallowing food too quickly without chewing it throughly taking water with meals which upsets the gastric juices and sitting badly or eating food on a tray on your lap whilst hunched over the television set which causes the intestine to become squashed are all prime causes of the above agonies.Eating late at night can lead to a bad case of night time heebie jeebies when the pain is so bad that some suffers have believed themselves to be in the throes of a heart attack.Women are more prone to indigestion during the time of their periods whilst sufferers from chronic constipation also feel the pangs rather more frequently than do other folk.Smoking can also be considered a contributory factor especially when it is allied to an empty stomach, black coffee and stress at work.
If you find the cause for your problem amongst the above suggestions then self help is entirely in your hands but there may be other causes which are purely dietary.An immoderate consumption of rich food and alcohol may seem worth the risk at the time but be sure that you have an antidote to hand.If however the problem persists beyond the normal time expected to overcome such indulgence examine your diet for specifics fatty Foods, red meat, pork, coliee, tea, red wine, sherry, smoked and very saltly ioods, acidic fruit and commercially produced foods which contain a high percentage of food additives.Gin taken with tonic water has also been known to have an unholy efl`ect on the digestion as do many wines and beers which contain chemicals.
To some extent we have brought these problems upon ourselves by relegating many of the old fashioned herb and spice combinations that accompanied our meals to the realms of fuddy duddy tradition.Roast pork for instance was cooked with sage and onion not only to lend it Havour but also to provide a very necessary insurance against indigestion when one was eating a rich meat.In France it is almost traditional to follow roast pork with an open apple tart and a glass of calvados and in northern European countries both pork and certain dense cheeses are prepared with caraway to give a distinctive Havour and to aid digestion.Two other favourites arc pork or ham seasoned with juniper, and sauerkraut served with pork.Both the Germans and the japanese have learned the benefits to the digestive system of fermented cabbage.
Greens, particularly the strong dark varieties, were the vegetables most frequently served with Sunday lunch and the water in which they were cooked was used.to make the gravy which accompanied the meat, and this same liquid can be drunk as an antidote to heartburn.
A traditional accompaniment to roast beef is mustard which will help a heavy meat be more easily digested.Both horseradish and freshly ground black pepper have much the same effect and if you are in the habit of eating cold roast beef and sandwiches it is essential that you add one of this trio.
Sage leaves are traditionally used when cooking liver and kidneys as it fixes their high iron content and makes them more digestible. Both types of offal should be left to soak well in cold water For at least two hours before cooking, I had always thought that when my mother added a tablespoon of vinegar to the water this was done to tenderize the offal but I now realize that it was probably the tail end of a long held belief that as liver and kidneys are eliminative organs the vinegar would rid them of their toxins.
Parsley, sage, thyme, garlic, marjoram, onions and lemon were and still should be used to stuff poultry and game, particularly if you have a good healthy free range bird, for they all help to cut the richness and help digestion in the same way as the astringent cranberry and redcurrant do for turkey and game.Rich oily fish baked with fennel, creamy sauces seasoned with dill and many other gourmet dishes had their beginnings in practicalities rather than in haute cuisine.Although many spices and herbs were used to disguise the taste of stale meat and to counteract its effect upon the consumer, those warm Oriental spices such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, fenugreek and cayenne were also used to add piquancy to the palate and power to the digestion when a long feast was in progress.
Many people are allergic to certain foods and drinks but getting the burps when we have eaten cucumber is usually
as a result of having peeled it, for the skin normally acts as its own built in digestive.In fact we should not peel many of the fruits and vegetables we eat. Apples and carrots are both valuable additions to the diet and also keep our bodies working smoothly but they are more effective if they are left unpeeled J although with todays proliferation of pesticides it is necessary to make sure that they are well scrubbed in several changes of water.
Raw grated carrot is considered a trustworthy antidote to dyspepsia and so are fennel and parsley although l am certain that the notorious radish and spring onion could do battle with the most iron constitution and win.Both celery and fresh pineapple, eaten at the end of a meal, will improve the digestive processes.
For some unhappy sullerers from indigestion the cause may be far more difficult to identify.Although we usually know what we are allergic to some conditions can be created by the wrong combination of foods eaten at the same time.One of the most potentially damaging meals can be steak with baked potato or chips and salad followed by a sweet fruit dessert.A steak eaten with a bread roll can I am assured, take up to 90 hours to be digested and eventually eliminated from the body.This is because the digestive juices can’t easily cope with this combination of foods.Some people cannot tolerate cheese and
Fruit together whilst others baulk at a meat sandwich with pickles.Unrefined carbohydrates and whole milk may also create problems.Bread made with quick rise yeast can also upset the digestion quite considerably.Although alcohol particularly some of the nasty chemical varieties on the market will not do you a lot of good when taken in excess an aperitif taken before a meal, a glass good white wine with the meal and a digestif to Follow were and still are considered to be not only a civilized pleasure but an exquisite necessity for the well being of the body.Unfortunately as is the case with so many good things, we cannot resist an occasional overindulgence.If you suffer from indigestion which is persistent or if it should become progressively worse you should take professional advice.
Aid and Antidote
Eat plenty of raw grated carrots, fennel, parsley and green vegetables if you suffer from dyspepsia.The water in which well washed new potatoes have been cooked or the cooking water from dark green turnip tops will counteract acidity.
if you like wholemeal bread but it does not like you try adding well crushed coriander, caraway, aniseed or
fennel seeds to the basic dough.
Chew black peppercorns or suck liquorice wood slowly.
* Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice One teaspoon of either in ig cup of warm water every 15 minutes will relieve
acidity and heartburn.This may seem to be fighting fire with fire but using antacids provokes the body into pro
ducing yet more acid.
* Bicarbonate of soda One teaspoon in hot water relieves heartburn, acidity and dyspepsia.An even better method is to mix 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of
soda with 1 teaspoon of ground ginger and take 1 teaspoon of this mixture in hot water before breakfast.
* Carbonated lemonade The old fashioned colourless variety drunk warm relieves flatulence and stomach ache.
* Soda water This relieves flatulence and the type of fuzzy headache that sometimes goes with indigestion.
* Water Drinking lots of water dispels heartburn.Lemon barley water and pure lemonade taken by the small glassful will also help.
* Barley water, oats ar porridge All of these will settle flatulence and heartburn.
* Yoghurt The plain live variety will soothe digestive disorders.
* Goat’s milk This will ease persistent heartburn and flatulence.
* Slippery elm To soothe and reduce acidity mix 1 teaspoon oil the powdered bark to a paste with a little cold water
and add to 1 cup of boiling water.Season with nutmeg or cinnamon to taste and sweeten with honey.
* Charcoal Charcoal biscuits or tablets are a very old fashioned remedy for wind, heartburn and more severe
tummy troubles, especially nausea.Powdered chalk was also used as an antidote for acidity and although l cannot recommend the latter both the charcoal biscuits and the tablets are easily available and are invaluable.
* Clover A drop or two of oil of cloves in hot water, 6 cloves steeped in a cup of boiling water and drunk as a tea or the cloves chewed as they are will all dispel pain and Hatulence.They will also make the breath smell sweeter.
* Ginger Soak 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a cup of boiling water.Stand for 10 minutes and drink warm.
* Fenugreek tea This tea is specially good if a catarrhal condition is the cause of digestive problems.
* Garlic One clove of garlic should be crushed or chopped into 300ml of boiling water.Cooking with garlic will also reduce the chances of digestive problems and I suspect that this very useful remedy may also have been used
as an antidote to food poisoning.
* Bay tea Take 2 bay leaves and the peel of 1/2 a well washed orange, cover with l50rnl of boiling water and leave to stand for 10 minutes.Strain and drink warm.If you are prone to digestive problems use bay leaves in cooking as much as possible.
* Angelica Sweet, rnusky angelica was considered to be a forceful weapon against the plague.The fresh stern can
be chewed raw to alleviate stomach pains but make sure that it is angelica from your garden and not its lookalike
hemlock gathered in the wild which would assure the contrary result.Avoid taking angelicajust before retiring as it
is also a stimulant and may keep you awake.
* Cardamom To dispel flatulence chew the seeds as they are or simmer 6 pods with a pinch of ground ginger or
grated nutmeg in 2 cups of water. Cardamom seeds crushed and kept in with the fresh coffee will also reduce the
chances of indigestion.
* Camomile tea A tea which calms and soothes.Add a pinch of allspice and 1 teaspoon of honey for extra benefit,
especially for children.
* Cinnamon Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in 1 cup of warm milk with honey or cinnamon tea made with hot
water will dispel windiness in all degrees.
* Caraway Crush 1 oz of caraway seeds and leave them to steep overnight in 600ml of boiling water.Strain, bottle and keep refrigerated to relieve the misery of wind and heartburn.
* Peppermint A few drops of oil of peppermint in hot water will relieve pain and flatulence.Peppermint tea made
with 1 teaspoon ofthe herb to 1 cup of boiling water will also bring relief.Peppermint also relieves period pains.
* Marjoram If you suffer from digestive disorders always cook your meat with marjoram when appropriate or
make a tea with 1 teaspoon of the fresh leaves to 1 cup of boiling water.All varieties of marjoram are extremely
easy to grow in the garden and make superb variegated rockery plants which the bees love.Thyme should also be
used in exactly the same way but for other meats, especially game and poultry.
* Basil Use basil in cooking and particularly chopped on tomato salads to reduce the risk of acid heartburn.Make
a basil tea with 1 teaspoon of the fresh herb to 1 cup of boiling water or even more deliciously macerate 1 handful of
fresh basil in 1 Iitre of white wine for three days.Strain and re bottle and take one small glassful after meals.
* Hop syrup Many people suffer from acidity, heartburn and dyspepsia after drinking beer and lager, especially those containing a high percentage of chemicals.Perhaps the following old fashioned remedy is the answer.Brew 1 cup of strong hop tea with 1 tablespoon of glycerine.Stir well cover and steep for Eve minutes.Strain and drink one
hour before meals.
* Mustard Amongst country folk one of the prime remedies for a painful digestive problem was to nibble the leaf
of wild mustard which was searingly fiery enough for the remedy to have stated that good draughts of water be
taken withal.We now know that we should cat mustard with food that may be difficult to digest but a tea made
with mustard seed is also remarkably beneficial.To 1 cup of hop tea add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds.Leave to
steep and drink warm with the seed which should be swallowed.Take 1/2 cup twice a day before meals.
*Aniseed Make some aniseed tea in the proportions of 1 teaspoon of the crushed seeds to 1 cup of boiling water.
or make a syrup by boiling 2 tablespoons of crushed aniseed and 2 tablespoons of honey in 600ml of water.Take 2 tablespoons of the tea or syrup before each meal.Both of these relieve heartburn and flatulence.
*Juniper The berries steeped in hot water or 1 tablespoon of gin taken in hot water will bring relief from stomach
ache and flatulence.
100g juniper berries
a piece of finely pared lemon rind
1 litre water
2 tablespoons honey
Simmer the berries and peel in the water until they are soft.Press as much of the mixture as is possible without undue force through a line sieve. Stir in the honey and reheat the mixture to boiling point.Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator and take 1 tablespoon after meals.
* Sage Use this herb when cooking fatty meats and offal or make a tea with the leaves.
Sage Tonic for Wind and Fevers
25g torn sage leaves
50g clear honey
3 tablespoons lash lemon juice
1 litre boiling water
Put all the ingredients into a jug, cover and leave to stand for one hour.Strain and keep refrigerated.Use hot or cold
and take by the teaspoon as often as needed.
Sage and Cider jelly
50g dried sage
150ml boiling water
450ml sweet cider
900g unrefined cane sugar
150ml liquid pectin
a few pieces of fresh sage
Crumble the dried sage, put it into a china bowl and cover with the boiling water.Leave to stand For 15 minutes
then strain through a muslin cloth.Put into a large saucepan and add the cider and sugar.Heat gently and stir well
until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil.Pour in the pectin, stirring constantly and take care that the whole lot does not boil over. Boil hard for one minute and remove from the heat.Skim and leave to stand for several minutes.Half fill hot, dry, sterile jars with the cooling liquid.Pop a decoratively shaped and clean piece of sage in to each jar and fill up.Seal when cold.This jelly has a delicious and unique flavour but more to the point it improves the digestibility of cold pork, goose and ham.
* Coriander One teaspoon of the crushed seeds in 1 cup of boiling water will relieve indigestion.So will the
leaves if scattered in a salad.
* Fennel and dill Both of these herbs are constituents of gripe water for babies.Take a large dose in hot water to get rid of windiness and hiccoughs.A tea made from 1 teaspoon of either fresh herb to 1 cup of boiling water will also help.
An Elixir to Relieve Flatulence
15g fennel seeds
15g coriander seeds
15g caraway seeds
15g angelica seeds
1 litre brandy or eau de vie
Make sure that thc dried seeds are freshly bought from a good source stale herbs will turn the mixture musty.Put
all the ingredients in a large jar seal and leave to macerate lor two weeks.Filter and take by the small glassful when necessary.This recipe is also reputed to increase the flow of milk to nursing mothers.
* Mint Mint tea made in the proportions of 1 teaspoon of fresh mint to 1 cup of boiling water with a pinch of
powdered ginger added is very comforting in a crisis.Cold mint tea without the ginger is a most refreshing drink in
the summer and mint sauce is a very necessary accompaniment to lamb, particularly shoulder of` lamb and lamb
chops which can be extremely fatty.
* Gilly flower syrup This syrup is recommended to cure stomach pains and wind.
A Syrup for the Gripes
1 cup each of raisins and prunes
2 litres water
1 cup red grape juice
2 peeled sliced lemons
Leave the fruit to stand in the water overnight.Pour the fruit and water into a pan with the grape juice and lemon
slices and simmer until very soft.Pass through a sieve return to the pan with enough honey to sweeten and bring to
the boil. Pour into warm jars then seal when cold and keep refrigerated.Take a spoonful when necessary.it probably
relieves constipation as much as indigestion.
Cranberry and Crab Apple Jelly with Thyme
500g crab apples
1 large bunch fresh thyme
2 large lemons
Wash the cranberries and wash and slice the apples.Take two thirds of the thyme and crush it well to release the
pungent oils.Squeeze the juice from the lemons and reserve.Put the pips into a preserving pan with both fruits the thyme and just enough water to cover.Simmer gently until all the fruit is very soft.Turn into a jelly bag and leave to drain overnight into a clean china bowl.The next day measure the juice and for every 600ml of liquid take 450g of warmed sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice Return all the juices to the pan and heat gently adding the sugar and stirring well until it is dissolved.Bring to the boil and boil hard until a set is obtained.Skim and half fill hot, dry, sterilized jars with the jelly adding a decorative sprig ol the remaining thyme to each jar.Wait until it begins to jell then fill up with the remainder of the jelly.Seal when cold.This is an excellent, piquant jelly to eat with rich game meats and turkey, both hot and cold. It assists in the digestion of those creatures which have been hung and cooked in rich sauces.
Hiccoughs or hiccups can be a source of merriment, embarrassment and intense irritation and they can if they last for too long become exhausting and painful.They are caused by a nervous spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm which causes the victim to in hale suddenly and the vocal cords to close quickly thus creating the hic which is followed by the relaxation of the muscles and the cough.Most attacks of hiccoughs are only of short duration although in some cases have been known to become almost permanent.
The cures for hiccoughs are legion and many of them almost come into the category of party games.I know of only
two that work very well, one of which has a perfect physical explanation while the other I believe is psychological.
When an attack of hiccoughs starts take a paper bag and breathe into it 20 times the effect being that you take
back into your lungs the carbon dioxide that you have exhaled.When you breathe in stale or bad air the brain the
automatic centre of control for breathing calls for deeper breaths, regulating the control of the diaphragm and thus
enabling it to break the spasm.
The second practice is even more fun and works particularly well with susceptible children and adults. Make the victim stand with their arms stretched high above their head whilst you give them sips of water.The exquisite tension created by the certain knowledge that their exposed ribs are a vulnerable target for tickling Fingers combined with the effort of trying to breathe calmly and drink at the same time is all too much for any hiccough to survive.
Other Cures to Try
All of these remedies to some extent or another seek to regulate the breathing but some also work on the digestive
system.Do be careful how you implement those relying on fright or your victim may end up suffering more than you intended.
* Cold water or an ice cube Hold your breath whilst drinking a glass of cold water or hold an ice cube in your mouth.
* Oranges Eat an orange or drink 2 tablespoons of pure orange juice.
* Gripe water or dill seeds Take a good swig of gripe water or chew a few dill seeds.
* Cinnamon or slaves Put 3 drops of the oil of either herb on a sugar lump.Hold it in your mouth until it dissolves then slowly swallow.
* Shock A cold key, the large type rather than Yale should be slipped down the back of the neck or an unexpected thump administered between the shoulder blades! Indeed any kind of shock or fright should do the trick.
* Holding your breath Hold for a count of 20.
* Sneezing Induce an attack of sneezing.Some sources recommend a feather under the nose others suggest snuff.
* Charcoal At one time it was suggested that charcoal straight from the bonfire was the answer but a charcoal tablet taken with cold water is the modern solution.
To everything there is a reason and there is always a reason lor nausea and vomiting an infection, poisoning, stress, among others.Until you have managed to pinpoint the cause here is one piece of advice given to me years ago go to bed, drink plenty and if you want to be sick, be sick, for it is nature’s own way of ridding the body of unwanted matter. For any tummy upsets from gastro enteritis to salmonella or stress add 1 teaspoon of salt to 2 litres of water and drink in small quantities through out the day.Do not take food, sugar or aspirins which might exacerbate the condition.Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in warm water may help if you feel that the problem lies in something that you have eaten.lf the feeling is one of general queasiness take a soothing brew of camomile, mint and eatnip tea.Hot water with ground cloves or nutmeg are old fashioned revivers and so are charcoal biscuits, better by far than placing a raw onion on the stomach.If you are not sure why you feel sick try simmering a pinch of freshly grated ginger root with a few leaves of basil in a mug of hot water for 10 minutes, after which time it will either kill or cure.
* Tarragon wine Crush 25g of fresh tarragon leaves and place them in a jar with 1 stick of vanilla 150g Sugar and 600ml of brandy.Leave to macerate for one month on a warm windowsill, shaking daily.Strain bottle and keep for curing nausea in emergencies.
Travel sickness giddiness, nausea and headaches may be caused by the movement of any vehicle from a Rolls Royce to a roller coaster.Modern remedies suggest taking vitamin.BG before a journey to calm the nerves, hypnosis and acupuncture to cure sea sickness, diverting children’s attention from the possibility of being sick by game playing and suspending a small chain from the back of the car in which you are travelling a remedy which I find also requires suspending disbelief.One cure which works is Dr Bach’s Rescue Remedy and so too do the following.
Suck a slice of lemon or a piece of ginger root or sip tincture of ginger in hot water.Valerian pastilles or tea are useful too.
Press just below the wrist with three fingers and take deep breaths.
On a sea journey take hot sweet tea and ginger bread for the children and Whisky Mae in moderation for yourself.Do not go below deck unless absolutely necessary.
On any journey do not give children orange juice and chocolate.This fatal Combination will cause the most stalwart child to throw up.
FOOD AND ALCOHOL POISONING
It has to be stressed that everybody should have a working knowledge of which berries and plants are poisonous
and it anything dubious is swallowed it is essential that you get to a hospital immediately.The same applies to pills or household cleansers that might be swallowed or are suspected of having been swallowed by a child.It does not
matter if you are wrong just dial 999 immediately.
The taste in your mouth and instant queasiness may tell you that you have eaten had food.The old fashioned remedy to clear the stomach of some thing unpleasant was to swallow a strong solution of salt or mustard water Followed By castor oil alter the Former had been expelled.Stewed fennel the leaves oil horseradish or a strong dose of apple cider vinegar have all been utilized in it hid to clear the stomach of had food and many people swear by 2 tablespoons of olive oil as an emergency measure.However for those people who have managed to poison themselves with an excess of alcohol give them lots and lots of water and keep them upright awake and moving.When they have returned to some semblance of consciousness and then only administer weak black coffee, dry toast and vitamin B or yeast tablets and keep the patient walking.
In times past those at risk of being poisoned by their enemies ate great quantities of figs pounded with
hazelnuts as a preventative.
* Half a pin of vegetable oil I have seen this remedy poured clown the throat of someone who was suspected of having eaten a toadstool when they were far from home and far from help.The results were spectacular and it is recommended as an antidote in most situations when you cannot identify the poison or cannot immediately reach an emergency service.