Gargling—An American Oral Tradition
How you doin’? With all the visiting with friends and family, and the exchange of gifts like colds, flu and other delights, I thought some sage advice might be in order. And while most of my blogs incorporate complete recipes, I thought I'd highlight some of the many individual ingredients that have health and healing properties on their own.
For instance, black pepper reduces inflammation and is considered an antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Garlic has long been associated with health benefits from curing a cold to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic also contains vitamins C and B6, manganese and selenium but it's a chemical called allicin, a type of antioxidant, which is thought to be responsible for its positive effects on health. It also keeps vampires at bay. Consuming curry powder may boost brain and digestive health, improve feelings of fullness, lower blood sugar levels and provide antibacterial effects. Our ancient civilizations found way to keep health without antibiotics and addictive drugs.
Salt (sodium—atomic #11 – symbol Na) is one of the least expensive “chemical” compounds and is plentiful around the globe. One story goes that the earth was hit by a cosmic solid salt meteor billions of years ago that salted our oceans and rained this element down around the globe.
Salt has pluses and minuses—too much salt can raise blood pressure and cause some stomach distress but there are many more positive attributes to salt. Salt can draw poisons from open wounds and gargling saltwater can help relieve and prevent infection. It may also help reduce symptoms of other issues affecting the respiratory system such as allergies. Something I remember from my mother and my local dentist, saltwater gargles are a simple, safe, and affordable home remedy.
Saltwater gargles are most often used for sore throats, viral respiratory infections like colds, or sinus infections. They may be effective for both relieving infections and preventing them from getting worse, as well. I got my Covid vaccines but still rinsed my mouth out with warm salt water and never got the dreaded virus (study of one).
Since it’s also a natural, affordable and convenient remedy, it’s considered a standard go-to home treatment for various ailments. They’ve been used successfully as alternative treatments since before modern medicine. In fact, research and modern medicine still support saltwater gargles today as an effective approach for certain mild health issues.
This makes simple saltwater gargles valuable for blocking viruses and bacteria, reducing the chance of infections in the mouth and throat and relieving inflammation in certain cases. These include sore throats, especially effective for colds or flus that cause a mild sore throat. Saltwater gargles can relieve severe sore throats better with the help of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
Studies also show that saltwater may help reduce infection severity, whether it’s from a viral or bacterial infection. This includes colds, flus, strep throat and mononucleosis.
Since inflammation of the throat can also occur with certain allergies such as pollen or dog and cat dander, saltwater gargles may also help with uncomfortable sore throat symptoms due to these allergic reactions.
Saltwater has been shown to draw out water and bacteria while protecting the gums, so saltwater gargles may be effective for improving gum and dental health. They may also help prevent gingivitis, periodontitis, and cavities. Along the same lines as sore throats, saltwater gargles can alleviate canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers. They may do this by easing the pain and inflammation these sores cause.
Making a saltwater gargle is quite easy. It requires only two ingredients—water and salt. It takes very little time to make and apply, and it’s completely safe for children over 6 years old to use and for anyone who can gargle easily. The exception would be children under 6 and anyone who has a difficult time gargling. Just mix about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt for every 8 ounces of water.
The water may be best warm, since warmth can be more relieving to a sore throat than cold. It’s also generally more pleasant. But if you prefer cold water, it shouldn’t interfere with the remedy’s effectiveness.
Warm water may also help the salt dissolve into the water more easily. Better dissolving salt might be ideal if you’re using coarse sea salts or kosher salts instead of finer iodized or table salts. You can use any type of salt for saltwater gargles.
In case you missed the class Gargling 101, gargle the water in the back of your throat for as long as you can stand. Then, swish the water around your mouth and teeth afterward. Spitting it out into a sink is recommended when you’re finished. However, it can be swallowed if you get off on that sort of thing. In the case of infections, spitting out salt water is considered better at keeping the infection at bay. Be careful if doing multiple mouth rinses per day and swallowing too much salt water, as it can dehydrate you. Drinking too much salt water can also have health risks, such as calcium deficiency and high blood pressure. Gargling at least twice a day is recommended. You can safely gargle many more times than that, too.
ChefSecret: If you really hate the taste of salted water, you can improve the taste by adding a little honey and lemon.
Quip of the Day: Q. Why did the pony have to gargle? A. Because he was a little horse.
Do you have a question or comment? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. All recipes and cooking tips are posted on our website https://www.perspectives-la.com/covid-19-survival-guide.
To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Take a breath and count your blessings, and if you have a little extra to share with others, please consider donating to Feeding America, Tunnel To Towers, Union Rescue Mission and/or American Red Cross.
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