Saturday, March 03, 2007

Traditional Remedies and the Man on the Moon

My aunt and two cousins Hean and Joanne from Penang came here for a short visit during CNY. We met up twice with my uncle and his family for dinner. I come to realised that during both occasions...

4th Uncle + Eldest Aunt + Oka-san = Interesting Conversation

This is a two-part series, of which each has its own interesting conversation topic.

The first conversation took place last Sunday at our home. Not sure what triggered this (something to do with garlic pills) but it was really an eye opener when my relatives shared some of the traditional remedies that were practised during their time, before the era of modern medicine. Even more surprising is that some of them are still being practised because it actually works.

Toothache - Bite off head of baby cockroach. Rub the juices of the cockroach onto the infected area till you see some white worms come out from the tooth. We debated whether the worms were from the tooth, or the cockroach, but of course no one wanted to be the experiment subject.

Shingles - This is a skin disease with hard painful blisters growing around the skin. Some Chinese term this disease as "snake" in various dialects as the blisters spread like a trail. They believe that since this is a "snake", one should blind the eyes of the "snake" by burning both ends of the blisters on the skin, which I can imagine being so painful.

Oka-san shared that when she was young, she was unfortunate to have what they called "Flying Snake", whereby the symptoms is similar to shingles but it spreads everywhere without a trail. She consulted an Indian medium, who sipped on some home-made solution and spitted on her everywhere! Yuck! At least she was cured though.

Asthma - Get a newborn baby rat (those with eyes not yet opened). Wrap the rat around some herbal leaf and swallow the live rat.

Boils - Drink boiled remedy containing seahorses. My elder cousin Hean said it was torture every time he had to drink the remedy for apparently it tasted really bad. According to Oka-san, I drank it once as well when I was a kid.

My uncle also mentioned that when my cousin was younger, he had some sort of skin condition. They took him to some lady who practise traditional medicine. They saw the lady boil some spiders in water and then asked my cousin to drink the water. Disgusting? My cousin was cured though.

Dengue - When the fever doesn't subside, one must rub the body of the dengue-infected person with chicken feathers (not sure cock or hen) submerged with water (I presume must be cooked with the chicken itself). Keep rubbing the body until you can see feathers growing out from the person's skin. Once the feathers start coming out from the person's body, it means they are cured. Again, we are not sure if the feathers came from the chicken or not, but this remedy seemed to work.

On a side note, we know about the superstition of pointing at a full moon (not sure if applicable only on Lantern Festival). Apparently we are not supposed to point at a full moon, or else our ears will get cut. My uncle actually confirmed it is true, because he did just that when he was young, and the next day he had a cut on his ear.

However, recently he used my cousin as the experimental subject, and nothing happened. So his theory was that prior to the first man landing on the moon, there were probably fairies living on the moon, so the the superstition was still being observed, and my uncle was the unfortunate victim of not following the superstition. But ever since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, he probably chased those fairies away, so the taboo is no longer applicable now.

Part two coming soon......


Laurie said...

Well, I have a wicked toothache but I'm not particularly willing to attempt to find out the origin of the worms either. Good tip though :)

lilium said...

Ewww..what a remedy for a toothache..I rather suffer by going to the dentist.. =)

And the shingles..yeah, I've heard of treatment before. Apparently in cantonese "Chuk seh"..literal translation to English "Catch snake"..hahahaha