If you cook, you can’t avoid using a knife. And it’s easy for a simple slip to result in a nick.
It’s also easy to get cut or scratched outside while gardening, hiking, or biking. How can you keep cuts and scratches from bleeding all over the place?
One of the most intriguing simple health remedies we have come across is putting ground black pepper on a cut to stop the bleeding.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) has been valued for medicinal and culinary uses since the time of Hippocrates. It is also used in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine to treat a variety of ills.
We first heard about using pepper to control bleeding from a reader named Nell, whose brother-in-law Wendall was a woodcarver and had learned from his carving buddies to put black pepper on minor cuts.
While Nell, her sister, and Wendall were visiting Yellowstone National Park in an RV, a coffee mug fell out of a cupboard and hit him on the head. The cut bled profusely, but the bleeding stopped when they applied ground pepper. It healed up without a scar.
We’ve since tried this trick for kitchen cuts and found it works quite well. Though many people shudder at the thought of putting pepper on a cut, most find that it doesn’t hurt.
It always helps to put a bandage over the cut once the pepper has been applied. Don’t forget that applying pressure is an important first aid action for bleeding, and remember that serious injuries deserve medical attention — not just a home remedy.
“At Thanksgiving, my son-in-law was sharpening my knives and he cut his thumb and finger badly in the process,” a reader told us. “His thumb probably could have used a suture, but I live on top of a mountain, far away from a hospital. So I said, ‘Let’s put pepper on it.’.
“He thought I had lost my mind, but after he looked it up on his smartphone, he agreed. I had only whole peppercorns, so we had to grind them. The pepper worked like a charm to stop the bleeding, and the cut healed up nicely by the end of the weekend. I now keep ground black pepper in my first aid kit in the car as well as in the medicine cabinet. Thank you for alerting me to this remedy.”
Once again, we caution people to use pepper only for minor cuts, and to get medical attention for serious wounds.
Another handy kitchen remedy to stop a cut from bleeding is coffee grounds. Quite a few people have told us that applying ground coffee to a cut has stopped the pain as well as the bleeding.
We first heard about this remedy from a man whose German shepherd had been wounded by another dog in a remote part of Brazil. They were hours away from any veterinary care, and the wounds were bleeding profusely. A local man applied coffee grounds to the cuts and the bleeding stopped quickly, saving the dog’s life.
There have been questions as to whether this remedy calls for ground coffee (dry, prior to use) or coffee grounds (used, probably damp). We have received testimonials from people who have used one or the other, and it appears that both work. Even instant coffee powder may do the job.
“I fell while visiting South America and a woman rushed to my aid from her post at the jewelry store,” wrote another reader. “She started packing dry instant coffee onto my shin, all the while saying she was a nurse and all her co-workers agreeing (in Spanish).
“It was unused dry instant coffee, and she just kept packing it on and we kept wrapping it with paper towels until I could pull myself together and sit down.
“It healed beautifully, with minimal scarring. When I cleaned it later, I gently rinsed it off and let the coffee do its thing. It was no worse than a shaving cut by that time. Thank you, lady in Cartagena.”
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