Since I became interested in nutrition, I knew Hippocrates was right but I didn’t get the experiential part of it in a really dramatic way until last Sunday. I’d be having jaw pain when chewing for a couple of weeks but I thought it was my normal stress-related muscular tightness. On Sunday night, while sleeping, I noticed the pain increased, but I thought it was due to me sleeping on my stomach (and my cheek) and being too sleepy to turn on my back. When I woke up the mirror showed me in a quite shocking way the source of my discomfort: the right side of my face was terribly swollen and very sore. Al said I looked like a frog.
Al and I went to the hospital, where I had three doctors look at and poke my cheek and my neck (ouch!). The final diagnosis was parotid (salivary) gland blockage due to a stone. Never heard about it? Me neither. But apparently is not an uncommon situation. The most senior doctor who saw me said sometimes biting on a lemon helps to get a rush of saliva that washes the stone out of the duct. They found a wedge of lemon for me but it didn’t produce the expected result.
I was discharged with an order for an ultrasound, a follow-up in the ear-nose-throat clinic and prescriptions for antibiotics and pain killers. I was also advised to continue consuming sour foods. I had a huge salad with tomatoes and lots of lemon juice but I didn’t feel much relief. I had baked a Paleo cake (recipe coming soon) the day before because we had invited friends over for lunch (which we had to cancel). I had a bite of the cake and I felt an acute, sharp pain. I think the cake did the trick and expelled the stone from the duct, because both the pain and swelling got a bit better in the following hours, and by Monday night I was almost back to normal.
So why was it the cake and not the lemon that solved the issue? I can explain the lemon bit: I’m Peruvian, and therefore used to the “sourer” sourness of lime juice. Regarding the cake, the most logic explanation would be that the glands produced saliva in response to the starch… except that this particular cake had no starch in it! Maybe it was a response to a food I don’t have very often? I don’t really know. I just know it feels good to have my face the normal size again.