by Jamie Freveletti
|Red Peppers are said to have curative properties|
My thriller series features a chemist with a knowledge of both chemicals and plants, both healing and poisonous, that she searches for the world over. Think MacGyver meets Indiana Jones, but make them a woman and you get the drift. When I first started writing Emma Caldridge, I was a lawyer at a firm that focused on work for pharma companies dealing with drugs and medical devices. It gave me a fascinating insight into the research and issues surrounding the chemicals we ingest and the food we eat every day.
In fact, the active ingredients in many drugs were initially discovered in plants. Aspirin was found in the herbs meadowsweet and willow bark. Digitalis, the pill for the heart, is derived from the plant Foxglove, ginger is believed to help with arthritis and garlic is a natural antibiotic. Capsaicin, found in peppers, is said to act as an antioxidant and to help clear congestion.
There are many benign cures for colds and flu as well. We all know about Chicken Soup, which our grandmothers swore by when we had a cold, and recently scientists have found a basis in fact for this homemade cure. Apparently the soup inhibits the movement of neutrophils, the white blood cells that fight off infection, and allows them to stay put to do their work.
Likewise, another home remedy for cough is rather unusual: rub the soles of your feet with Vicks Vapo Rub. For years the People’s Pharmacy articles in the Chicago Tribune has received many raves for this home remedy. You can read some here. Most people rave about it. I’ve tried it and it works well, but it could most likely be a placebo effect. Whatever it is, however, it certainly is welcome when trying to sleep while down with a cold.
In our house, we use the red hot pepper cure to stave off the congestion of a flu or cold. This recipe, below, which I found in the Chicago Tribune years ago, is for a spicy soup filled with peppers, onion, ginger and chicken broth. It’s delicious as well as beneficial. But beware: it is quite spicy so you must be prepared.
Each one of my Emma Caldridge books contains facts about plants or chemicals and each contains an “Author’s Note” that explains which are true and which fiction. Many are true, because we live in an endlessly fascinating world. If you read the books I hope that you like them, and if you try the recipe I hope you enjoy it as well!