Friday, January 19, 2007

Have You Tried. . .

Some of you know that recently I had my turn in the family at being under the weather. I just had a mild case of the flu—starting with a sore throat, then fever for a few days, and now a lingering cough. All of my Asianese friends have been very concerned and offered lots of advice. They have their own ideas about natural medicine and healing which sometimes I think have some merit, and sometimes I think sound totally crazy.

One of the basic concepts is that of “losing fire/gaining fire.” For example, in this traditional medicinal system, if you get a cold sore, you have too much fire, and you should eat various foods that are “cold” foods (not in temperature, in their system of classifying things. For example, pears are cold but peaches are hot. Brown sugar is hot but white sugar is cold…and on and on). In the past, especially after having my babies, I was told that I needed to eat lots of “hot” foods because having a baby causes a woman to lose lots of blood, which is considered heat, so to replace the heat, you should eat hot foods. Make sense? (Or clear as mud, as my dad would say?)

Not only that, but in cases like that, the folk wisdom handed down from the grandmas insists that it is right no matter the consequence. This is why a woman who has just given birth should not take a shower or “touch cold water” for 30 days because if she does, she will compound her heat loss and get sick. No matter if she doesn’t get sick for the next year, the next time she catches a cold or anything like that, the grandmas will insist that it was because of that one time, after giving birth, when she washed her hands or ate the cucumber or whatever the offense was.

You can probably guess that my Asianese friends were shocked, SHOCKED to find that I had not only showered within 24 hours of giving birth, but that I was up and around and on my feet again, eating whatever appealed to me right after Clara Anne and Chloe were born. They were even more shocked to find that I was taking care of the new baby by myself (with John’s help, of course) and didn’t have a month to rest in bed like their new moms do. No matter how I insisted that I wasn’t sick, that I felt well and it actually felt good to get up and around, they were appalled. They were also quite surprised to find how quickly I returned to my normal shape and lost my weight again! I wonder why?!

Anyway, to finally get to the point of this post, I just wanted to pass along some of the remedies that have been suggested to me in the last few days, and see if you think that any of them would be things that you would like to try the next time you get sick. Here they are:

  • One of my salon ladies told me I need to drink a mixture made from boiled leeks, fresh chunks of ginger, and brown sugar. The leeks and ginger are strained out and the brown sugar is just for sweetening. (This is actually quite good, I’ve tried it before.)

  • My other salon lady told me I definitely should not drink that mixture, it would do bad things to me, so I should just soak my feet in hot water and try to sweat a lot.

  • Mimi, my ever-resourceful house helper, made me two helpful mixtures: one was a fried egg that then was simmered in brown sugar water, (tasty but a little strange) and the other was pears, boiled and pureed with a little white sugar. The egg-brown sugar mixture was supposed to be especially great for women’s health, but only if you eat 6 of them at once. “SIX!” I said, I don’t think I could eat six! But Mimi insisted that I should try. I gave up after the third egg; we saved the other three for my next meal. The pear mixture was just fine; I’m not sure that it really helped me, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

  • My tutor brought me a large jar of honey, saying that I should drink it in hot water. That’s a remedy we even use in the West!

  • Everyone who knew I was sick reminded me with strong words that I should not drink cold water, only hot water. The hotter, the better! They all said I needed to lose fire, and somehow, drinking hot water would make me sweat and therefore lose the extra fire. Um….ok!

I truly appreciated everyone’s concern for me, and have actually tried all of these things over the last few days. But the “creeping crud” is still in residence in my chest, so I shall have to continue my at-home remedies. I am thankful to have my energy back and hope to get rid of the cough soon too.

In the meantime, I’d better go mix up another batch of the leek-ginger-brown sugar brew! Cheers!

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