A Cure for What Ails You
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been sick and the medicine the doctor gives you makes you even sicker. I’ve been there, done that. A wicked bronchitis will get you a prescription for amoxicillin. That antibiotic kills the flora and good bacteria in your stomach, which helps your body digest food, and you get a wicked belly ache (and other yucky unmentionable side effects). For the past 10 years I’ve been a devotee to traditional Chinese medicine, TCM for short. It helps that I am Chinese and have an extremely talented cousin who is a practicing herbalist and acupuncturist. If I could get away with never seeing a western physician again, I would! That’s how passionately I believe in this ancient practice. It’s ingrained in my blood and culture.
So as a routine, if I have an ache, pain, or health problem, I look for a natural or herbal cure, many of them from my Chinese culture. My friends always say that I’ve got some “ancient Chinese secret” up my sleeve! Here are my top favorite cures for common ailments and problems:
1) Got a tummy ache? Get tropical!
The tropical fruit papaya has an enzyme called papain. Papain helps in digestion. Papain in powder form is actually used as a meat tenderizer, so you can imagine how it could help you break down and digest what is in your belly after a meal you wish you didn’t eat (or during your bout of bronchitis when that nasty antibiotic is messing with your flora). A couple of slices always does the trick for me. There is a supplement you can buy in your local health food store, but I have never had much luck with it. Papayas are delicious and available almost year round in many markets. I live in rural Pennsylvania, and the Weis market by me had it when I sent my husband at 11 p.m.
2) Got chronic pain? Stick a pin in it!
Dr. Oz recently published an article that the best cure for back pain is a little-known practice called Gua Sha. Now being the devotee to TCM that I am, even I have never had this done to me. But the power of Dr. Oz will shine a light on all the treatments of TCM, which remain mysterious to many. I’ve had chronic pain in my left shoulder for years, numbness down to my fingers, and a trapezius muscle you can bounce a quarter off of. Acupuncture from my cousin Mona Yuan (who practices in Oceanside, NY) has all but cured it, after years of unsuccessful physical therapy and chiropractors. Don’t be afraid to get stuck. There is little pain and only slight tingling of the needle “hitting your chi,” as Mona likes to say.
A session should cost no more than $75-100 and many times is covered by insurance. Acupuncture could help with infertility, pain management, skin treatments, lupus…and the list goes on.
3) Insomnia a problem? Nail it!
Sleeplessness affects 60 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. That’s a staggering number. A year ago I counted myself as one of those millions. The usual prescription of Ambien was not a sustainable answer for me. I woke up from Ambien feeling sleepier than if I didn’t sleep at all. It was getting frustrating tossing and turning every night. I did a lot of research and discovered something called a nail mat. It is a mat that measures about 15×28 inches and covered in 4,000-6,000 plastic spikes. Working on a principle of acupressure, the spikes are uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to them, they produce euphoric results. The spikes help the body release endorphins, which are natural hormones in the body that are pain and stress fighters. I’m not a scientist or biologist, but I know endorphins are a good thing. They make you happy, they make you calm, and if you’re calm, you can sleep! Forget the lavender and chamomile. Lay on this mat for 20 minutes before bedtime. Set your smartphone alarm to wake you up because you could easily pass out and sleep all night!
4) Sore throat? Loquat!
I swear by this “ancient Chinese secret”: Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa100% Natural Herbal Honey Loquat flavored syrup. It can be found on Amazon.
The active ingredient is elm bark, mixed with syrup, honey, loquat leaf, balloon flower root, and something called snakegourd seed—a list of crazy sounding ingredients along with peppermint, which help to soothe the throat. Mix a whopping tablespoon into a cup of hot water to create a menthol-type tea that will put out that fire and clear your sinuses.
5) Cure for the common cold? Zap it with zinc.
The cat is out of the bag on zinc. But I don’t think people remember or know how to use it effectively. The key is to head it off at the pass and stop it before it even starts. We are all so busy with our day-to-day lives that we are not in tune with our bodies. So when I feel that familiar tickling in the back of my throat, or start to sniffle more than I normally would, I run for my medicine cabinet, the drug store, or even my purse where I stash my zinc remedy for just such emergencies! You must follow the directions. Yes, zinc leaves an uncomfortable feeling in your mouth, very much as if you just licked your carpet! Yes, it makes the food you eat afterwards taste like tainted cardboard, but you will be rewarded with an almost non-existent, non-debilitating, trifling little cold!
6) Hand, Foot, What? Disease!
When my twin daughters were three, they came home with something called hand, foot, and mouth disease, or coxsackie. This horrible sounding ailment is, well, horrible! And, of course, it’s highly contagious, so yours truly got it too. It’s one of those nasty germs that lurk in daycare centers and schools, and no adults get it until their precious, germ-infested offspring bring it home. It is characterized by blisters in your mouth, throat, palms, and feet. It’s painful, and guess what? There’s no cure! So my guru, cousin, and acupuncturist Mona prescribed honeysuckle tea. Yes, that same honeysuckle that grows like weeds in your backyard. The same flower we used to pick as children. We’d pull out the stamens and hold that little drop of nectar to our tongues. Honeysuckle has a natural anti-inflammatory property. When the flowers are dried and brewed as a tea, it soothes the sores in your mouth. Then take the tea leaves, twist them into cheesecloth and use it as a poultice for the sores on your hands and feet. It is also said to help with acne and other skin disorders! Beware! Some species of leaves on honey suckle plants are poisonous. Please order the tea instead of making it on your own!
So that’s it! That’s a sampling of my “ancient Chinese wisdom,” which comes from a desire to live a more natural and holistic life, free from chemicals and one-size-fits-all medicine.