坊間的醫療傳說 – strange Chinese medicine

Winter time in Northern California is not what I expected – one day it’s extremely warm and I can go out wearing no-sleeve shirt, then the very next day the temperatures are so low that we have only 12C inside our flat. In Poland it might be -25C outside but you come back to a nice, heated room later you take a hot bath in your hot bathroom… In the end I got sickChinski_sposob_na_katar_1

Not really sick – I just wake up with a runny nose every single morning but besides that I’m 99.9% OK. Of course not to my husband. Whatever hurts me – it has to be a cancer or other disease. He even told me that since the time we started to date he actually thinks of me dying one day so he ‘can be prepared’ – same goes for our cat. Now you can judge who of us is more weird – him for saying that or me by my comment ‘Why do you assume I die before you? Everyday I’m still 5 years younger than you’.

Now you know how any sickness in our house looks like and it really bothered me WHY he behaves like that? Why his whole family is just obsessed by health, eating habits etc. I understand love and so on, but often it gets ridiculous. For me he and his mom are still quite easy-going but I don’t even want to imagine what will happen once I get pregnant. Already Ruth from China elevator stories (congratulations once again!) has to deal with all the believes about health – for example even thought being intimate during pregnancy is proven to be fine if there’s no other medical medical condition I read while preparing the article that it is forbidden because not only a man can ‘deform’ a child but also (that’s just my favourite) CHILD WILL REMEMBER IT. I cannot remember my lunch from last week, how on Earth I could remember this? Of course forget about brushing your hair and cleaning your teeth after delivering a baby – why? No one knows, but that’s the way it is.

I tried to find the answer why that kind of strange believes are still in Chinese culture – probably it has to be tradition, because ‘mom said it so it has to be true’ and some of those old Chinese medical rules can actually cure you. Don’t get me wrong – my country used to believe that tiny bugs with a black head are destroying your teeth. I really hope no one still thinks it’s true. And no matter what no one can deny how much old Chinese medicine influenced today’s world.

I want to share with you my favourite things I’ve read or heard from our family members. Don’t be shocked that most of that is connected to food or eating – food is important for Chinese people, at least most of them, and having a Cantonese man by my side makes food and cooking even more serious

  • Chinese people, especially older generation, really care about the body type and they match their diet to balance hot and cold, wet and dry. When I started to cook for my husband he didn’t say a word but once we got married he used to stand behind my back and making comments like ‘This veggie is cold, add some ginger – it’s hot’ or ‘Babe, I cannot eat tropical fruits – I’m hot and they are hot too’. 12350636082884318829After weeks of taking care of it and balancing his meals he doesn’t know that fried napa with a soy sauce has no ginger inside. His life was a lie but he is alive and somehow didn’t have any stomach problems. Is it true? Maybe, but for me as a main cook (only cook) it’s a pain in the ass.
  • Cold water is bad for you. Not even water – any cold dish is not healthy. Food should have at least room temperature (good luck with Hong Kong having 4C outside). Cold water on a period even thought it’s 40C outside? My husband and his mother had a fight in a restaurant about it – according to her I will not only damage my stomach but also I will damage my uterus and in the end cannot give my husband a Prince Perfect Jr. but I still take a risk. That is something I cannot get used to – summer, winter, I don’t care I love ice in my drink.
    I thought maybe it’s just my family but once our landlord’s wife saw me giving my cat food taken out from a fridge and asked me seriously do I want my cat to have a cancer. She told me back in China her 3 dogs NEVER ate a cold meal. Always same, warm meat as them. Biscuit fat belly doesn’t seem to complain about the food temperature.
  • Cold is bad but hot is bad as well. Perfect soup temperature is 60C – over that you will, again, damage your stomach. 60C is the most nutritious time for soup.
  • If your stomach is already destroyed you can start to think how to damage your kidneys. You don’t know how? Don’t worry, here’s the answer: to make your kidneys bad you should… eat a cold watermelon from the fridge before you sleep. Watermelon is cold and wet = KO, warm body.
  • That lovely charming man in the first photo claims that if you let a small snake go though your mouth and nose you will get rid of a runny nose. I’m afraid since Sing now knows how to cure my terminal disease I might wake up with my nose stuffed… with a snake. image
  • Once the snake is dead you can use it’s raw gut, cook it and have a very precious Chinese medicine ingredient. For what? I have no idea. Why? According to my husband there was one guy who wrote a really big book about medicine and he said so. I say chocolate and pizza can make you lose weight. Now I only need to wait until you start to believe in it, get fat and let me be the slimmest person around without a constant diet. Great, evil plan.
  • Have problems with getting an erection? Forget about blue pills. Also forget about hot food and food made from cold ingredients. You think there’s nothing you can eat? Of course you can – eat animal penises. If you eat a pig’s penis it will also help your kidneys damaged by that bastard, watermelon.
  • 以形補形 – since we`re in a topic of ‘exchanging’. If you have a problem with an organ… eat the organ! If you have problems with your ovary eat an avocado – it will increase your female hormones, cut tomato and it will fix your heart. Cannot see properly? Eat a fish eye, but don’t throw the fish away – use it’s gut to cure your blood pressure and breathing problems but it works only if you swallow a raw gut. Your bones hurt? Pork bone soup will be perfect. You wish to have bigger boobs? Drink milk… At this point I just can’t resist a comment – if it’s true then think about all those poor pornstars spending thousands on fake boobs… I seriously published that?
  • If you don’t really want to eat a soup made out of penises you can try a tea I found yesterday in a shop… HORNY GOAT WEED. I think the name doesn’t need a further comment.

Do you know any other interesting believes? Or maybe you can answer where did those one came from? Does people in your country still use traditional, but little bit crazy medicine? Share your stories! 🙂

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29 thoughts on “坊間的醫療傳說 – strange Chinese medicine

  1. Hahaha, horny goat weed! I don’t think that all of these traditions are utter nonsense, but some of them do not really make sense to somebody who didn’t grow up in that culture. I try to remember those things I think might be useful (I have a weak stomach and some of the tips I have gotten made sense, especially after trying them out – while others just didn’t). Even if you go see a TCM doctor there’ll be a 100 different things different doctors will say, so you just have to trust your instincts and do what feels right for you. But I agree, it can be annoying to get tips all of the time, especially if you’re just about to enjoy a food and someone tells you you shouldn’t eat it.

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  2. Oh dear god, the endless “hot” versus “cold” debate. The looks I used to get when I ate cold cereal dunked in cold milk on a winter morning. I don’t think it’s all that big of a deal (and probably also because I don’t think the debate isn’t worth a damn). As a result, I’m a North American, which is leveled at me as if it were supposed to be insulting. Well, guess what, it’s not, I *am* Canadian, and a good one at that … where are my maple donuts? But I would also go farther out on a limb, and assert I’m more European than North American … weil ich kann und auch sehr stolz darauf bin! Finally, you might also gently remind your hubbie that on average, women *live* longer than men. 😉

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  3. the hot thing bothers me. Most of the time i have been out for launch or dinner here in Shanghai, i see Chinese people around me eat really hot foods. For me they seem to hot, i can burn my tongue a bit, especially noodles sometimes, but Chinese around me, just slurp it down like it’s nothing. I don’t think they know these secrets…

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  4. Oh yes, the traditional Chinese believes. Now that my mother-in-law is here with us for helping us out with our baby we had already some discussions about it. When she arrived 2 weeks ago there was a huge argument because my wife was eating ice cream so mother-in-law was all like “You will get stomach cancer from this and bla bla bla” but once she saw it was Häagen-Dazs the world was alright and she also ate it…

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  5. I think there definitely is some truth to Chinese traditional medicine and its related advice. But boy, as a vegan, I really have to watch out with the medicine. As you mentioned, a lot of remedies involve animal parts. One time I was given rhinoceros horn, something I only learned after taking the medicine. Yikes!

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  6. My MIL was explaining to me recently how my husband got childhood asthma because at 18 months old someone let him eat a whole banana. She also believes she has ulcers because she are too much watermelon when she was young.

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  7. This post has completely made my day!! TOO funny! I can totally relate to this as I have heard similar things from my family, and it sounds crazy to me since I grew up in UK. I’m always telling my family, you can’t just make stuff up! My favourite is “papaya makes your boobs” grow. I don’t like it but I have been eating it since I was 13 and nothing happened. My cantonese friend said.. its papaya MILK!! and you have to massage them daily!! That’s how I got my D cups! … now I feel cheated and its too late! 🙂

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  8. Dear, thanks for visiting my blog all the time. 1st, congrats on your domain name. Wow, it’s really cool. I hope to get one soon/someday. Sorry, I’ve been really busy since earlier this year. Plus I have some poems published via online/paperback journals. Nothing big deal but it keeps me going. But I’m taking a break from work cos’ I’ve gotten slight flu since yesterday. The weather is a real killer. It’s hot, humid and super-dry. Even my cat just vomited her lunch just now. I’ll monitor her further. You take care of yourself too. Also, I’ve been setting up an online store to sell used & un-used (good condition) clothing. Will update you sooner. I wish you abundance of health in the galloping horse year. XOXO…

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  9. Bahaha. Really enjoyed this. Like many of the commenters have pointed out already, I don’t think it’s all nonsense. But a watermelon before bed ruining your kidneys? C’mon. That’s a bit far-fetched to say the least. My Taiwanese husband sometimes tells me that these things are true for Chinese people (different composition, his reasoning) but not necessarily foreigners. Here in Taiwan, they’re pretty serious about avoiding cold drinks/food, particularly in the winter. But I’ve also noticed big, long queues at the local convenience stores in my neighborhood recently, as they are featuring “Hokkaido strawberry soft-serve.” So I guess that means “follow the rules until something is irresistible.” Fortunately, my MIL never told me what to eat/not to eat/drink. My sisters in law told me that they don’t like to drink cold water after a meal “because if you eat any fats, they will harden inside your body and you will gain weight.” Nonsense. But it is true that drinking water after a meal too soon can interfere with digestion. Whatever about to the good old western tradition of “washing it down” with something? Maybe that’s not what we’re doing. Instead maybe we’re just diluting our gastric juices? I really don’t know what to believe. As for hot food that’s too hot, Taiwanese people must have teflon coated mouths. They are unfazed by scalding temperatures, they just dive right in. I’ve been told that hot food is “more delicious.” I’ve never heard the locals here say anything to infer that “too hot” (food) is even possible. Apparently, certain things vary between here and the mainland.

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  10. I had never heard anything bad bout eating watermelon until I read your post and some of the comments. I did grow up being cautioned not to eat seeds or swallow gum, but aft I proved that an apple tree wouldn’t grow in my stomach after I deliberately ate apple seeds, I felt free to eat whatever I wanted.

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  11. I have to say that thank goodness my parents didn’t overly impose on us some of the really far out “beliefs” about certain foods. We didn’t get into eating much home salads when I was a child. But it was more my mother unfamiliar with raw food and how to make salads. Not because eating raw, uncooked food is believed to be bad.

    There is an underlying Chinese culture belief that over hundreds of years, that food is medicine: which is NOW fashionable to say in North America and Europe: you are what you eat.

    But what do I know: I’m just a Canadian-born Chinese and have lived in Canada all my life. My parents didn’t worry about ying and yang of food (hot vs. cold that would affect “chi”). I’m eternally grateful to the nutritional legacy of my mother’s healthy home cooking: it was and continues to be traditionally healthy with adaptations to Canada.

    You might tell your Chinese husband, there ARE healthy North American Chinese who didn’t pay attention to ying and yang, but are prudent in their daily eating habits and food selections. I suppose he maybe like my 85 yr. father who likes ice cream but in 35 degree C humid summers in Ontario, he drinks hot water. 🙂 Or does he tend to drink pop (real shame!!! :))?

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  12. Wonder how your hubby will react to this post 🙂

    As a Chinese, I’ve not heard of many of your 医疗传说, but seriously some of them i think really doesn’t make sense. What does it feel by drinking hot beverage at hot 30C weather?

    Life is short, let’s not too restrict your diet!!! Anyway you brighten up my night by some of your funny comments like drinking milk and eating penis as part of 以形补形!!!

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  13. Firstly, was wondering how your hubby will react to this post?

    Personally as a Chinese, I do not understand what is wrong by drinking cold beverage as my country is forever hovering around 30C all year round.

    Your post had made my night surely, by some of your comments over 以形补行 such as drinking milk and eating penis!!!

    Life is short, enjoy the food and not too strict diet with “happy food” will makes life a better one.

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  14. Really interesting post. We met some medical students in Hong Kong and they were researching traditional Chinese medicine: using scientific methods to test traditional remedies in order to prove their effectiveness. However, they said they met with opposition from people who thought that these remedies should just be accepted as they had been used for hundreds or thousands of years, and that it was an insult to challenge them using ‘Western’ methods. Perhaps they were worried that some of the findings would effect sales of obscure animal parts. I don’t know.

    I think a focus on what you eat is important, and you can see that they take diet seriously if you go into any hospitals in Hong Kong. Perhaps more of a focus on healthy eating in hospitals in the West would aid patients recovery, instead our canteens serve cheap rubbish. But I don’t believe in this hot vs cold stuff, all you need is a varied and balanced diet with the right mix of vegetables and proteins etc.

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  15. i would be intrigued to try that horny goat weed. just out of curiosity. or maybe to better my chi. not that i need it or anything. really. i don’t. honestly.

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  16. My god,that all sounds like a mess. I’m currently studying abroad in Beijing and have yet to run into the “hot vs. cold” debate, but it sounds bizarre. My friends have told me to go see a doctor of traditional medicine at least once while I’m here, just for the experience, but I doubt I could handle the snakes. Snakes aside, I love your blog! You write from such an unique perspective and are funny to boot. Keep writing, it makes my day!

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