Weird potions and remedies

This will be a quick post to find out if any of my fellow readers have ever been given some weird Asian remedy to fix their sickness.

A while back I had a pretty bad fever including really bad stomach pains and headaches.

Rabindra forced me to drink a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of turmeric and salt.

It was safe to say this was the most revolting thing I have ever tasted!!!!!!

Yes, I love turmeric in food but with water and salt- it’s a complete no-no.

I couldn’t swallow it and he was telling me that if I wanted to get better, I had to drink it. It’s something his mum used to give him if he was sick.

Have you ever tried the turmeric-salt-water drink? Ewww

Another thing Rabindra told me to try one time was a product called Sancho.

It’s apparently made out of special oils/herbs from the Himalayas and meant to treat colds, stomach ache, bad breath and insect bites. 

Even though the smell is massively intense, I was more than willing to try it since I didn’t have to swallow it. You can swallow it or apply it to your nose or forehead.

Sancho isn’t too bad but I haven’t seen any similar equivalent here in Australia.

So, have you tried any weird (or wonderful) remedies from Nepal, India or anywhere else in the world? What did you think of them? Did they work?

This entry was posted in Culture, Differences, Funny, Nepal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Weird potions and remedies

  1. blonde.bahu says:

    I’ve had to do turmeric in hot milk. It is absolutely revolting. I can barely keep from vomiting when I’m made to drink it. It was introduced to me as a sore throat remedy, but I tried to convince Mr. 4B that since milk increases mucus production it was a bad idea. He insisted the milk helped the turmeric coat your throat more. Turmeric does have health properties for your digestive system, but I don’t know if it’s been of any help to my sore throats over the years.

    One particularly potent product in our cabinet is the stuff called Kayam Churam (hope that’s the spelling). It’s basically a powder of senna leaf and black rock salt. It tastes like damp roadkill in a glass, but if you really need to get a digestive bug out of your system, it will clean everything out, if you catch my drift. I would only use it in an extreme circumstance.

    One of my sisters came to India with me for our wedding. She had very strong muscle cramps, so we went round to the local chemist who suggested some white tablets. They worked like a dream. She took the package with her to the pharmacy here in the US and asked if it was possible to get something similar. The pharmacist read the package and told her they were essentially Vicodin. No chance of getting that for cramps in the US!

    • adriana says:

      Mucus is not so bad – you want it up and out!! Turmeric milk is great for sore throat unless you need to sing.

      We had a lovely concoction of black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and ginger added to boiling water and steeped for ten minutes today, due to our domestic flu outbreak. It seemed to help and didn’t taste too bad.

      Ginger is an amazing remedy for nausea as well. I wouldn’t call these things “weird” though because they are so natural…

    • I’m glad someone agrees with me!! Yes I am pretty sure you are right about the milk

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  3. BB says:

    Well, turmeric does have some antiseptic properties, senna is a good laxative, and the white tablet for cramps most likely was an opiate. (I was a pharmacist for 15 years in the US) I like the pharmacy system in Nepal and India better than the US, prices for medications are set by the government so most people can afford them. I’ve taken some Ayurvedic preparations in the past with little to no effect.
    However, I have had a treatment performed to remove the ‘bad eye’ by a local practitioner after spraining my knee, accidentally cutting my hand with glass, and getting amoebiasis in the same week. It seemed to work, I haven’t been sick or suffered any major ‘calamities’ since.
    Interestingly, one year when the monsoon rains did not start on time a village outside Pokhara held a ‘frog wedding’. Apparently frogs are thought to have a lot of influence on rain and water in general in Nepal. The frog couple (yes there was a very tiny frog bride and frog groom) were wined, dined, and feted for 3 days. there was even a marching band with the wedding procession! I baked them a pink cake (what do you bring to a frog wedding? And guess what? After the 3 day festivities it rained!

  4. Andrea says:

    I think this is my first comment to your page.. I’m Andrea 🙂
    Ahh…turmeric. I knew it was in Indian style dishes but until I married my hubby…. I had no clue what it looked like. Turmeric is now a main spice in my masala dabba (yep…I just had to have one of those stainless steel spice containers….ya know, for all the spices I had to buy at the indian market….that all came in non-descript and non-resealable plastic bags with just the name of it written in Hindi….ugh. confusing!)

    Anyway… turmeric and milk to sip is not for me! My MIL and SIL drink it warm in the morning and they say they enjoy it…. ewwww yuck! My hubby and I however, do try to chug down a teaspoon mixed with water a few times a week before bedtime.

    I googled the health benefits of this spice and was blown away! I tried it after googling a home remedy for acne… mainly around my chin. Yup, as a 30 year old I have more acne now than I did as teenager. Turmeric is supposed to have a cleansing effect on your blood (just one of the many benefits) and because store bought acne meds weren’t doing anything… I was ready to give it a try.

    Honestly, I did see an improvement. I faithfully drank turmeric nightly for 3 weeks before our trip to India. Can’t meet the in-laws with a big ol’zit right? I was also doing a face mask of turmeric, crushed methi seeds (fenugreek), yogurt and honey. I do agree though that the gag reflex is right there when drinking turmeric. The first couple gulps go down okay…but then the powder coats and it’s tough to get it down!

    Ayurvedic medicine is incredible. My hubby’s dad is Doctor in India. The things he has told me to take (spices) really do work. I’ve never been a fan of taking too many manufactured “western” medicines and really started to appreciate the natural stuff. I have type 2 diabetes and so does my FIL in India. Tried and tested way to maintain his sugar is to soak methi seeds over night and then ingest it all in the morning. I was impressed at how fast it worked. Actually… it made my sugar a bit too low (I am on western meds prescribed by my Doctor) and using them both at the same time was a bit of an overkill…. but for times when I need to bring my sugar down quick (like after I over indulge on cake!) I sip some hot tea with methi seeds and down it comes.

    Wow..okay. First post and I’ve totally rambled on and on. Sorry bout that! Perhaps this is a sign I need to get on my blog and do some writing… apparently I’ve got the urge to type tonight!

    • Taswin says:

      One of my uncle’s in Nepal told me that tumeric has antiseptic kind of properties and it’s widely used across the sub-continent to counter-balance poor water quality…never tried or heard of tumeric mixed with water or milk myself but if it’s effective in getting rid of acne must be pretty potent stuff!!

      My mum used to give me honey mixed with the juice squeezed from freshly grated ginger when I had a sore throat. It would clear my throat for about 10 mins before going back to normal, but I remember it tasting so much better than cough medicine!

      • Andea says:

        My Mom gave us the honey and lemon remedy as well. It seem to soothe the hacking cough just long enough to fall asleep. We also did a lot of gargling with warm salt water… helped sore throats, swollen gums and the occasional cut. When we had ear infections we’d use cotton balls dipped in a little warm mineral oil to keep the cold air out. As and adult I still love what a day at the beach does (don’t forget the sun screen though!). The sand exfoliates your dry heels, a little sun is good for the spirits (and Vitamin D) and the salt water is a cure all. Helps dry out any blemishes on the skin…. and a trip to ocean even cured my poison ivy once. Anything I can do without forking over my hard earned money for manufactured drugs, I am all for it!

      • You’re uncle is right. Lots of other people also agree 🙂

    • Hey thanks for your comments Andrea.Like you, until I met my man, I never used turmeric. Now it’s a staple. Also I am going to try your face mask idea 🙂

  5. americanepali says:

    One word– Hing. Once I had really bad gastrointestinal stuff going on and P made me drink it. I can barely sit in the same room with a fresh jar of hing (even if it is tied in a plastic bag, in a plastic container, tied in another plastic bag, then put in a cupboard!) the smell is so over powering, let alone would I want to DRINK it. But alas, it seemed to help.

    P really likes this thing called “Dabar Chawanpras” It is some sort of ayurvedic mixture of herbs that is ground into a brown paste. P will have a spoonful and tell me it has all these healing vitamin properties. Err… I’m not interested in trying, it looks questionable, although I’m sure its fine.

    One of our Indian friends has a whole drawer filled with ayurvedic medicines she brings from home to use throughout the year. P loves it. Again, I’m not overly interested in trying. I’m more in the school of “let a sickness run its course” rather then do a lot of self medicating. Although I have joined the Vicks Vapor-Rub train.

  6. thedosagirl says:

    I love this topic! I am trying to learn more about healing properties in food, herbs, etc.

  7. intercultured says:

    Wow, cool topic. 🙂
    I know a couple, surprisingly great stuff.

    1. I have blocked/runny nose like… most of the time. At some point when I additionally caught a cold and it got worse A. gave me these: Zandu Balm (and Tiger Balm, which is like 100 times stronger than the Vicks Vaporub). Smells the same, looks similar, but squeezes the tears out of your eyes – because it burns when applied directly on to the skin, and gets to the center of your brain when inhaled. I survived, plus, it got better the next day!

    2. There is this weird looking Vicco turmeric skin cream. It’s basically for skin irritation and blemishes. Looks kinda yellowish. Because it works like a nice antiseptic and smells sandal wood (which I love) I used it a few times for skin cuts and scratches. Worked really fast.

  8. luckyfatima says:

    I hesitate from using the word “weird” as that is totally subjective. But I have had indigenous South Asian remedies and cures suggested to me on occasion. Some are available in packages and I have no doubt that you could find them at your local desi grocery: Isap gol, which is for an off tummy. It is basically psyllium husks. There is also Johar Joshanda, which is a tisane taken to alleviate cold and flu symptoms.

    Turmeric has antiseptic properties, and I have been told to mix this with mustard oil and apply it to cuts. Ginger can be used to increase bodily warmth, so one must increase its use as a cooking ingredient in the winter. Ginger tisane as well as lemon in water can be used for nausea and morning sickness. Fenugreek increases milk supply. Ajwain stewed in water and taken by a lactating mother will reduce colic symptoms in a breast fed baby. This ajwain water can also be spoon fed to the colicky newborn. Bitter gourd (karela) will clean the blood and help regulate blood sugar, but one must consume its juice or raw grated flesh. Cooked won’t do. You can also purchase karela powder to stir into water. Papaya seeds can be ground and consumed for an upset tummy. Pregnant women should not consume too much papaya or other “hot” (ayurvedically hot) foods because it causes hormone imbalance and is bad for the baby. Drinking tamarind water after delivering a baby will help clean out your uterus. Consuming a mix of fattening nuts, khoya (milk that has been made into a solid by boiling away the water), ghee, and sugar will restore strength after delivering a baby. Ground up orange seeds can be applied to the face to cure acne. Lemon juice, turmeric, and yoghurt can be applied to the face to improve skin quality. Various oils can be applied to the hair to improve thickness, blackness, and strength. Ground almonds or almonds ground in milk can be taken to improve brain function. Lemon juice and turmeric can be applied to fish for a marinade to reduce fishiness in taste but also reduce “wai” or “havas” (windiness or *ahem* flatulence). Hing (asofetida) can be added to foods, especially certain lentils to reduce flatulence. When one has a cold, one should avoid sour preserved foods like desi pickles and ketchup.

    Hmmm, that’s all I can think of off of the top of my head. Hmmm, you can basically tell all of the ailments I have ever suffered from by reading this list. I must be very gassy. 😀 I think that what you have labeled as “weird” cures are actually based in the Ayurvedic and Yunaani medical traditions of South Asia.

    • Hey LF, you have lots of great tips and new things to try. If i ever get sick, I’ll check out your list. You are right about ‘weird’ being subjective. I don’t mean weird in a negative way really because I do support Ayurvedic remedies. It’s ‘weird’ if you are only hearing about and using this stuff for the first time (which, for a lot of it, i only found out about it recently). we use a lot of ayurvedic creams like moisturisers and they are fantastic!

  9. luckyfatima says:

    Oh, on re-reading this I should have written hava for wind and not havas. Havas is something else 🙂 But I wanted to add some: that post natal massage was also recommended for me and my baby. There are actually special baby massagers for hire, too. Some people also do post natal waist wrapping to the mother. A dupatta or other large thin material is bound around the new mother’s waist to help the uterus go back into shape and also to help the waist eventually return to a slim shape. Maternal health workers discourage this practice, though.

    • Ashli says:

      Healthcare workers do not recommend this practice anymore in the states atleast because the newer studies show that the abdominal muscles do a much beter job of returning to normal when they are made to do the work rather than an external support.

  10. ~rangi-changi~ says:

    I use Vicco turmeric cream on my face as a moisturizer in the winter and it works pretty well. I also use this Ayurvedic laxative sometimes – it’s got ‘Sat Isabgol’ which is psyllium husk, plus some Ayurvedic herbs – I find it does the trick more quickly than drugstore stuff and is gentler on my system. I had a stuffy nose in Nepal(the dust during the pre-monsoon will do that) and was told to use Sancho, which worked pretty well. I think it works very similarly to Vicks or Tiger Balm only it is an oil base rather than an ointment. It works pretty well on sore muscles too.

  11. Broadway says:

    We have stopped using tiger balm. Its makers have cut its potency by less than half. Back in the early 90s, it would feel as if someone poked hundreds of needles in you at once and you would have to walk around and flex your muscles like a cat for a few minutes before you could adjust to the pain of the balm. The balm was so intense that it would kill the muscle acne within a few hours.

    Problem is that your body acne becomes immune to any antidote less potent than tiger balm. When tiger balm became less potent, we had a hard time getting used to normal balms.

  12. cagey says:

    My husbands swears by drinking a glass of water after cutting oneself. He claims it stops the bleeding. I think it is silly, but since it simply involves water, I just go along with the flow and save my arguments for something more important.

  13. renxkyoko says:

    Infusion of guava leaves for foot fungus. Both my parents are pharmacists, and my mother swears to this. Boil the guava leaves, and pour the liquid ( hot that you can tolerate ) on your affected foot.

  14. Ashli says:

    I am not saying this was a weird remedy as I agree with what someone previously mentioned about weird being a subjective term. But I gag every time we are in the indian grocery now and I see a bottle of Hajmole. It is a bitter salty tablet that my MIL gave me once for nausea while we were visiting. I will say that my favorite remedy ever is the Pudin Hara capsules. I never would have survived my first trimester without them as I couldnt really tolerate ginger then.

  15. Michelle Gurung says:

    My husband has this dark brown dealt that stinks of sulfur that he dissolves in hit water for stomach troubles. It makes you burp and…break wind. Eesh. It smells up the whole kitchen with just one hot cup of it. And hing……I once threw away the contents underneath a sink because I thought the sink had backed up and spoiled everything underneath. No disrespect meant….but hinges also called “devil’s dung” and that makes me laugh.

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