A Tale of Tea, Homoeopathy, and Kitchen Burns

Louis the Chimp RIP - PG Tips singing simian

Louis the Chimp RIP – PG Tips singing simian

Reposted from my site for patients and the general public.  See the original post here.

With yet another festive season upon us, and the impressive way in which almost every culture has managed to herd large numbers of women (ok, and a few men) into kitchens for frantic food production instead of wandering through nature enjoying the spring, kitchen burns are almost inevitable. Few are those who emerge from the experience unscathed.

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (founder of homoeopathy), pointing out how homoeopathic methods were commonly used even when the principle involved was not recognized, recalls the following in the introduction to the main “how-to” manual of homoeopathy, The Organon of Medicine (first published in 1810):

“The experienced cook holds his hand, which he has scalded, at a certain distance from the fire, and does not heed the increase of pain that takes place at first, as he knows from experience that he can thereby in a very short time, often in a few minutes, convert the burnt part into healthy painless skin.”

Yes, it’s a stretch.   Really? I just burnt myself on steam so I should hold my hand closer to the steam? And the pain will get less?  You have to be kidding me…

I have a habit which has gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion. When weird things are suggested, I feel I have to try it out for myself. Just once. Otherwise I won’t really know, will I?

So when I heard this on my first or second day of homoeopathy studies – I thought, why not?

I tried it the next time I burnt myself in the kitchen and… I didn’t notice if it helped or not, because I did not notice the burn any more. I haven’t really noticed kitchen burns since that time (and they do happen as I’m not the most deft of mortals in the kitchen, or with an iron for that matter). The burn happens, I automatically bring my hand/arm/knee (don’t ask) close to a heat source and forget about it.

On a visit with some people several years ago, I was hanging out in the kitchen when I spilled a mug of boiling hot tea over my hand. There was a pot of soup on the stove, with a lid conveniently equipped with a steam vent. I held my hand close to the steam for a few minutes until I felt the pain start to shift. People were watching – I told them I was blessing the soup…no, not really, what were you thinking, honestly…

But there were several awkward moments while I burbled a homeopathic explanation for my hand placed in apparent benediction over the vittles.

The kind onlookers were expecting me to be in excruciating pain and came forward with butter, pitchers of cold water, and emergency phone numbers.   Within a few minutes they were all clustered around and examining my hand as if I’d just returned from Lourdes…

It’s not even red, they exclaimed incredulously, and then, as people do with homoeopathic cures, they promptly forgot about the whole thing.

I may be a pseudo-Brit of doubtful Hungarian origins – but even I know that the drink that cools you down on a hot day is a nice hot cuppa… with a rendition of “The Pianer’s on My Foot” sung by two simians in the background (obscure reference, for television-watching Brits of a certain age only…)

Oh all right, since you insisted, here’s the clip:

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