If you are collecting social security or a pension, then you are undoubtedly a senior citizen. To be blunt, you are old. It you do not currently fall into this category and you live long enough, you will eventually be a senior citizen. I can tell you that reaching the fourth quarter of my life has brought significant changes. There are regular visits to the doctor. In addition to doctor visits, medicines prescribed by your doctor, medication advertised in the media, or remedies suggested or offered by family and friends become regular. But how many of you, rely on foods in an attempt to deal with maladies? This issue took on greater interest for me following a review of a CNN article, “Foods that double as Medicine.” Many of you have experienced the suggestions set forth in this article; a small number of physicians prescribe foods for weight management and also for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. As I focused on the relationship between foods and health, the subject for today’s column evolved. Admittedly, my knowledge was limited, and I therefore asked others who had explored this subject. I also turn to you for your knowledge of foods today that were identified as medicines, back in the day.
Coca-Cola is one food item that I have long believed to be in the food as medicine category because of its medical history. It has long been reported that cocaine was a commonly used medical substance and it was not illegal. Coca wine that eventually evolved into Coca Cola was sold to treat headaches, anxiety, fatigue, depression, fever, soothing the vocal cords, aiding digestion and more. It was specifically marketed to children, elderly and people who were in a stage of healing. Coca Cola manufactured by the Coca-Cola Company, originally marketed it as a temperance drink and intended as a patent medicine, back in the late 19th century.
Now, here is something that may be new to you. According to ripleys.com, ketchup was used once used as medicine. Yes, the sauce many of us put on fries, burgers, hot dogs, ribs and other meats, pizza and other items was created to cure diarrhea, indigestion, jaundice, and rheumatism. It was in 1834, according to this site, that Dr. John Cooke Bennet added tomatoes along with vitamins and antioxidants to the sauce that had been previously a mixture of fish or mushrooms. Soon after Dr. Bennet’s ketchup hit the market, a plethora of copycats surfaced claiming that their ketchup, in the form of pills, could cure everything. Due to the false claims, the ketchup medicine empire collapsed in 1850. Now, please do not frown as you use ketchup on various food items today. Forget that it was a medicine, back in the day.
I am a “pomegranate person!” I love pomegranate and as messy as it can be, I have no problem eating one. I consider a pomegranate to be fruit. According to the National Library of Medicine, it has been used in many traditional medical systems throughout history, particularly in Central Asia and throughout China. Pomegranate was used for the treatment of atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, several types of cancer, as well as for peptic ulcer and oral diseases.
While I am not a fan of Fig Newtons, also according to the National Library of Medicine, back in 1892, they were considered to be digestive aids. They were initially fig rolls instead of the square pastry that we are accustomed to today. While you may be like me and have no love for Fig Newtons, perhaps you will keep a container in your kitchen after reading this column given some of its medicinal benefits. On the site, theweek.com, an article titled “10 Snack Foods Originally Sold As Medicines,” 7-UP soda is identified as a medicine to food item. It was originally called, “Bub-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda and was marketed as a hangover cure. It contained lithium which was removed in 1950. Many of you drink 7-UP today as a refreshing beverage while your ancestors turned to it as a remedy for drinking too much alcohol, back in the day.
Ginger is known for its health benefits as it can help prevent cancer because of the chemical properties that make up the plant and root. It is a spice and is known to help relieve an upset stomach. It is also known to cleanse the blood which has a positive effect on the heart and all other bodily organs. Besides an upset stomach emanating from car sickness, air sickness or taking a cruise, ginger is proven to be most effective in treating this ailment. It is also effective in treating arthritis and colds. Today, ginger is available for purchase in most grocery stores as a spice for use in many dishes to add to their taste.
Based on various Internet postings, I have learned that medicine becoming a food has been around for millennia. Food as medicine across the globe is steeped deep in history. The site Futurelearn.com, “How and Where Have Foods Been Used as Medicine in the Past?” digs deep into foods that treated and prevented diseases. I ask, as I did in the beginning of this column, what are your experiences with foods that originated as medicines, back in the day?