Quark could truly be called an “international” cheese, but could it also be a secret cure for injuries and inflammation, overlooked for decades?
The mystery of Quark
Like a secret agent with many identities, Quark can be found around the world in many different forms, with many different names.
And now, it may have totally different uses as well.
What might be called Quark in Germany, Scandinavia, and Australia could be called Zernyony Tvorog in Russia and Queso Fresco in Spain. This unique cheese is thought to have originated in Central Europe sometime around the 1500s.
The mystery cheese is made from soured milk, often pasteurized (but not too much!) and slightly fermented with mesophilic bacteria, a common bacterium which flourishes between 60- and 100-degrees Fahrenheit, which may be the source of its healing properties!
Quark is also often referred to as “Baker’s Cheese,” as its versatility helps support both sweet and savory dishes. It can be used in all kinds of recipes, from cheesecakes and dips to smoothies and sauces.
Would you put it on your body?
American downhill skiing sensation Lindsey Vonn would, as would former German soccer coach Felix Magath, who suggested that one of his athletes pack an inflamed thigh muscle with Quark to try to reduce the inflammation.
This begs the questions: could this overlooked home remedy really be the next “miracle cure” for common inflammation?
A bit of history
The idea harkens back to the 15thcentury, when a soft, moist mass of material, usually of plant fibers or flour, would be applied to the body to relieve soreness or reduce swelling.
Called a poultice, people would often smear a heated and sometimes medicated mass onto the area of the injury, letting it remain in place for hours, or even longer.
It has been used not only for reducing inflammation, but also to drain abscesses (like those caused by a bee sting, flying arrow or angry dragon!) or burned skin from an errant campfire.
Quark and athletic injuries
In the case of 34-year-old American athlete Lindsey Vonn, she and her doctors saw noticeable reductions in the swelling and inflammation from her injury when she used the cheese as part of her healing and therapy routine.
She predominantly used it to reduce pain in her knees and joints from the dramatic pounding she took flying down an ice-covered mountain at 90 miles an hour, and for bruising during one of her legendary race car-style crashes.
She combined the Quark-cocktion to the sore, inflamed area, keeping it in place with a cold compress, the injured area looking like a cottage cheese-filled mummy wrap.
Traditional remedies for reducing swelling in athletes commonly include the RICE method, which stands for Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation, and has been proven for decades to move blood out of the injured area so that more efficient healing can occur.
Aside from the more common compression and elevation, with the addition of Quark to the treatment, does the bacteriological effect amplify the healing properties when added to the more traditional remedies?
Quark cheese's healing properties
Some chemists surmise that the cheese itself may contain some anti-inflammatory compounds that would originate from the fermentation process.
Like other cheeses and yogurts similar to Quark, there does exist a high concentration of live lactic acid-producing bacteria, and they could possibly be just acidic enough to destroy any bad bacteria that may already exist on the skin, essentially cleansing the area so more efficient healing can occur.
Since any of this material would have to penetrate the skin, some people believe that the benefit of slathering cheese on an injured limb is psychological at best.
Is it yet another version of the placebo effect, where comfort or improvement is triggered simply by the patient believing that it is working and having a positive impact on their body?
Maybe, but ultimately when you have athletes like Lindsey Vonn believing it, and repeatedly using it to heal her battered body, would you blame her for sticking with it?
I personally am not one to argue with a four-time World Cup champion and one of the most celebrated athletes (male or female) in the world of downhill skiing.
Like many home remedies, while there may not be “scientific” evidence of its effectiveness, the proof just may be in the pudding (or in this case, the cheese).
While hardly anyone could argue that a creamy yogurt does wonders for your body from the inside, could it have overlooked benefits for the body from the outside as well?
It may very well!