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People’s Pharmacy: Watermelon soothed symptoms of canker sores

Q. I have suffered with canker sores my whole life despite trying numerous remedies like rinsing my mouth with peroxide, salt and water or a benzocaine solution.

Eating is excruciating when they are present. In trying to stay hydrated and satiated recently, I bought a watermelon. At first, like all other food, it burned. By the time I ate half a melon in a few hours, though, the pain in my mouth was greatly relieved, and the burning was gone.

Have you ever heard of watermelon being good for canker sores?

A. This is news to us, and a quick check of the medical literature suggests that most doctors haven’t heard of it either. We did see a few anecdotal reports suggesting that others also have found watermelon helpful for canker sores.

Chronic canker sores could be a signal of a more serious condition. Ask your doctor to test for celiac disease. A blood test for tTG (tissue transglutaminase) antibody is a good place to start.


Q. I played senior softball for 20 years. At many tournaments, our team might play several games a day, sometimes several in a row. Our bat bags were full of bandages, knee braces, bat gloves and yellow mustard. One packet always stopped leg cramps within seconds.

As a youngster growing up playing hardball and throwing curves, I developed tennis elbow. This ailment continued to be a problem until senior ball, when I learned that gin-soaked raisins are a remedy for tennis elbow. I used one empty quart jar, filled it with white raisins and gin, closed the lid and soaked them for eight days.

Then I poured off the gin, put the raisins in a covered dish in the fridge and ate at least 10 every morning. Within about six weeks, my arm was healed. I played several more years without arm problems. I have no clue why this worked, but it did.

A. We love your senior softball first aid, with yellow mustard for leg cramps and gin-soaked raisins for sore joints. Your recipe varies ever so slightly from the one we offer in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis, which also provides other remedies and herbs for joint pain. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. AA-2, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: