We continue with our discussion of Tochen. The following Halachos are excerpted from The 39 Melachos, the monumental work by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, Shlita:
1. Because, as we learned last week, there is no Tochen after Tochen relating to items which are consumed, one may crush a medicine tablet (to dissolve it in sugar and water) for a child who is permitted to take this medicine. Similarly, one could crush a saccharin tablet.
2. Because the preparations of medications involved the Melacha of Tochen, Chazal forbade taking medications or undergoing therapies on Shabbos, unless such medications were permitted based upon specific Halachic factors. Accordingly, in general, on Shabbos one is not permitted to ingest pills, take liquid medications, apply topical therapies including medicated powders, apply herbal preparations, undergo acupuncture, or exercise to improve his physical constitution.
3. Ordinary foods or activities are not prohibited. For example, one is permitted to drink a hot tea with honey on Shabbos to sooth a sore throat, or take a Shabbos walk (not speed walk) to improve digestion.
4. One may remove an insect sting or splinter on Shabbos, because it is not considered curative, but only the removal of an outside affliction is permitted. If the removal will cause bleeding, however, a Rav should first be consulted.
5. Similarly, talcum powder (unmedicated) may be used to relieve discomfort from feet, because it only serves to absorb troublesome moisture, but has no therapeutic effect upon the feet or skin.
6. One may insert cotton in his ear, or cover a wound, because the covering protects from detrimental effects, but does not aid in the healing process.
7. One may put an ice cube, or press a spoon on a bruise to prevent swelling. Similarly, one may put on and wear a removable dental brace on Shabbos to straighten out his teeth. These therapies are not forbidden, because they are never achieved by use of medications forbidden by Chazal, lack the characteristics of medications and never otherwise entail the use of medications.
Of course, when one is unsure about the application of these principles to his situation, he must consult with his Rav or Posek.