Thursday, February 18, 2010

Topfen: Part Of This Complete Breakfast

Laugh if you want, but Lindsey Vonn just won Olympic gold thanks in part to an Austrian cheese spread. Trainers slathered the yogurt-like topfen or quark on her badly bruised right shin to reduce swelling. Our favorite (serious) explanation of the treatment, from Slate:

In all likelihood, topfen's physiological benefits redound to its spreadable texture. Unlike other cultured dairy products like buttermilk or firm cheese, topfen can be slathered on like any other medicinal cream. When chilled, the product would feel cool on an inflamed limb and act as a mild analgesic. The cheese may also simply serve as a placebo, providing a small degree of mental comfort to an injured athlete. Since the brain plays such a significant role in the perception of pain, even discredited therapies can be slightly effective in treating injuries like Vonn's, where pain is the primary factor preventing peak performance.

We're loath to judge, considering that milk, honey, cereal poultices, and live maggots still pass for modern wound care in certain corners of the world. And there's no arguing with Vonn's success in the downhill.

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