The Cabbage Cure

 Posted by on January 13, 2014  Add comments  Tagged with:
Jan 132014

When I was first married, I was very interested in studying herbs. I had an impressive library of books about herbalism, and even a Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Remedies so I could insure that I was creating safe remedies with no negative side effects or contraindications.

I’ve always been interested in educating myself about the medicinal properties of plants, as they’ve been the foundation of medical treatment throughout history. While many people think of herbalism as “alternative” medicine, the fact is that conventional modern medicine makes use of plant-based compounds, as many synthetic drugs are derived from concentrated essential plant oils.

When I was breastfeeding Cakes, I had a fairly severe case of mastitis, which is inflammation of the breast caused by bacterial infection. I was very sick and fatigued, so I went to the doctor and was given a course of antibiotics. Interestingly enough, the doctor I saw also recommended that I go to the store and purchase a head of green cabbage. She said I should peel off the leaves and tuck them in my bra, because many women report great pain relief from this cabbage cure (I now know that this is a widely-known and accepted natural mastitis remedy). I took her advice, and found that the cabbage really did make me feel better. I used almost an entire head of cabbage, and my husband never complained about me getting into bed with a bra full of wilted leaves every night. God bless him.

After this experience, I did some research and learned that cabbage is known to have valuable therapeutic healing properties due to the sulfur, potassium, and vitamin K it contains. Cruciferous vegetables in general are considered “super foods” because they’re rich in vitamins, fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, but there is also evidence that when they’re applied externally to the skin, they can speed the healing of cuts, burns, eczema, and other skin conditions.

Over Christmas break, my husband cut his hand (see, I told you it was a Crap Family holiday!). In typical man-fashion, he decided that no evil would befall him, and therefore it was not necessary to cover this open wound. As a result, it became badly infected. One night I was in the kitchen and he came in, held out his hand, and asked, “Does it look like there’s a streak starting up my arm?”

Indeed there was…and it didn’t look good.

I was worried. A streak can indicate blood poisoning, and his entire hand was very red and angry-looking. I was concerned that if I didn’t take immediate action, we were going to end up in the emergency room. I started thinking about how cabbage helped draw out the infection when I had mastitis, so I reasoned that it could be beneficial for drawing out other types of infection too. Cabbage is inexpensive and plentiful, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try, so I sent my husband to the store.

From my days of studying herbs, I remembered how to make a poultice, so I boiled some water in my tea kettle, and stuffed some raw cabbage leaves in the blender. I added just enough boiling water to help them blend into a thick paste.

I spread the cabbage paste thickly over the wound, and made him sit at the table for 30 minutes (he had a new magazine to read, so it wasn’t TOO boring for him).

He had another, smaller wound on his finger so I put some on it too, just for good measure.

My husband said the cabbage felt very soothing, and he could actually feel it absorbing the heat from the infection. After 30 minutes, the wound already looked better. We washed it thoroughly with soap and water, and bandaged it. The next morning, we repeated the cabbage treatment, and after only two uses, his hand looked like this:

No more redness, and the wound is healed over.

Before and After

Now, I’m not a medical professional, and I’m not attempting to give you medical advice. I’m also not a person who will tell you to slap a poultice on a gaping wound and call it good. I rely on the services of doctors and pharmacies, and I’m grateful that I have access to them when I deem them necessary. However, I also believe strongly that each of us should take responsibility for our own health. I value education and self-sufficiency, and I have faith in my own intelligence and common sense. I can discern when something can be treated at home, and when a doctor’s advice should be sought. In this case, because my husband was not running a fever, or complaining of other symptoms of severe bacterial infection, I believed that the infection was in its early stages. If it had not improved significantly, I would have insisted that he see a doctor.

In fact, a couple days later he did see a doctor because, as I mentioned in my previous post, he had been experiencing back and abdominal pain. I told the doctor about the “cabbage cure,” and asked him to look at my husband’s hand. The doctor said his hand looked good, and whatever we were doing we should keep it up.

I stored the leftover cabbage puree in the fridge, and when we got home from the doctor’s office I said, “Well, I guess we can throw this out now.” My husband replied,” I don’t know…you’d better hang onto it in case I bang myself up again.” So, obviously he’s sold. The only downside I can see is that his hand smelled faintly of cabbage for days afterward, which he wasn’t thrilled about (though he did appreciate the opportunity to make lots of Austin Powers jokes). I asked him which he would prefer – hospitalization for sepsis, or minor cabbage odor?

I think he’ll take the cabbage.