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Key Remedy Rescues Indian Princess

Posting Date: 05/23/2005

Q. I have read with interest your columns reporting keys as a solution for nosebleeds. I've been reading ?A Princess Remembers:The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur,? an autobiography by Gayatri Devi.

In talking about palace guests whom she particularly admired as a child of 11 (in the early 1930's), she describes: "...the especially thrilling Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., the great swashbuckling film star. Later he came to Cooch Behar on a shoot and I had an even more unexpected bit of luck. My nose began to bleed and (he) looked after me and put a key down my back to stop the bleeding."

I've never had nosebleeds but can't help being intrigued by this lore.

A. Thank you for sharing this fascinating anecdote. We have heard from dozens of readers that putting cold keys down the back of the neck can stop a nosebleed quickly. Who knows where Douglas Fairbanks learned this folk remedy, but it has obviously been around for a very long time.

Q. Here?s a remedy for carpenters and parents. If you smash your finger with a hammer, plunge it into turpentine and keep it there a few minutes till the pain goes away. It prevents a blue fingernail.

I keep bottles of ?medicinal turpentine,? available in drug stores, in every medicine cabinet. My drugstore also sells a product called Apinol. The pharmacist says it has the same active ingredient.

When my son was two, I slammed the car trunk lid on his finger. By the time I found the key and opened the trunk, he was screaming blue murder. We were in a shopping center, so I carried him into the drug store, found the medicinal turpentine, sat down on the floor, opened the bottle and stuck his finger in it. When he quit hollering and said his finger had stopped hurting, I paid for the turpentine. He had no more pain and no blue fingernail.

A. Although we have never heard of this remedy before, a pharmacist assures us that there is ?medicinal turpentine? which contains turpentine oil. It is used as an external analgesic and is also found in Vicks VapoRub.