Handy Home Remedies

Whether it’s to cure an ailment, or to rid the symptoms, home remedies are sometimes the most effective, natural and cheapest option to stop your suffering. Here’s what you can do at home.

Hospitals are such stressful places inundated with suffering patients, poker-faced nurses, around-the-clock doctors, what’s even worse—contagious germs. People always feel rather reluctant to go to the hospital. Some may prefer to try certain home remedies if they are dealing with a minor health issue. Some home remedies are very popular among both Chinese and expats, even though the formulas vary from country to country. Take lemon and honey for example. The Vitamin C in the lemon, Vitamin E in the honey and other nutrients are very beneficial. Honey is even believed to be somewhat effective at fighting against inflammation. If you drink fresh lemon and honey with hot water, you will feel much better after gentle perspiration.

However, “my arsenic, your honey,”—a Chinese saying—means exactly the same as: one man’s meat is another man’s poison, especially in the case of chicken soup. In the West when someone has a cold, it is a very nice gesture to serve them a bowl of hearty chicken soup, which can provide essential nutrients for him/her to recover quickly. On the contrary, in China, it’s petrifying to merely hear of this idea. Most forms of sustenance are considered counter-productive and destructive, while plain rice porridge is restorative. It does have a scientific stance if you have a bacterial cold. To cut down the nourishment in your blood is to slow down the process of bacteria’s reproduction. Nowadays, many Chinese also think it is acceptable to eat soup when you are sick, as long as it is not slow-stewed.

It is not too difficult to deal with a common cold along with its several symptoms, for example, a runny nose. Go to the pharmacy and ask for a bottle of TCM universal oil, which has eucalyptus oil, menthol, camphor and borneol. Apply it first on your fingertips and then to your cervical vertebrae (nape of the neck), the back of your ears and your shoulder blades, possibly on your throat too. It’s much better if you massage it in and wrap a towel over your head (leave out the eyes and nose) for a few minutes, until you feel the warmth. Try this several times a day. It works like a charm.

If you catch it in time, you can even treat the flu at home during the early stage. Kiki from YYL Hospital, Director of Customer Service Dept., shared her precious formula with us: “Prepare some unsalted fermented soybeans, available at most pharmacies, along with several Chinese shallot roots and some purple perilla leaves. Cook in water for a few minutes, then drink the broth. It’s very good for the flu and all natural.” She added, “We seldom take medicine because Li Yibing, renowned TCM gynecologist from YYL Hospital, has created many effective formulas as home remedies that she has been kindly sharing with family, friends and patients for years.” Doctor Li offers another easy solution for a sore throat: cook 50 grams of fresh fishwort in some water (better with a preserved honey date without the pit) and drink the liquid.

Manta ray gill plates are also recommended by many TCM doctors. Those who use them brush the gills clean, put them in a small filter bag and cook them in porridge. They supposedly have an effect on reducing body temperature and they are believed to be good for lung recovery to treat pneumonia or even bronchitis. It doesn’t have any weird taste or smell like you may expect. However, many animal activists have supported campaigns all over the world, to advocate abandoning the use of manta ray gills. There are other ways to lower body temperature after all. Also, due to pollution in the oceans, manta ray gills may contain poisonous heavy metals such as mercury, which is no good for anybody’s wellbeing.

In my hometown in Sichuan, particularly some rural or mountainous areas, shamans once played an important role as a healing force. Even nowadays, you can see some of their legacies. Uncooked—better if freshly harvested—gall bladders taken from poultry are a solution to chronic coughing or any form of inflammation. Yuck! Dried chicken crop is mashed with brown sugar and usually made into a ball to help treat indigestion. I guess some really are just poison…

All in all, home remedies should serve as a supplement, not a substitute, for any medical treatment. The key is to make a wise call whether it is medically critical or not. Stay healthy folks!