Chinese Remedies

In my last post I mentioned Wesley’s tummy troubles. We have been given a couple of Chinese Remedies to help. Thought I’d share them here. Abe goes to a Chinese Bible study on Friday mornings. The people in the Bible study knew we had just had Wesley and one particular Friday morning the ladies in the study asked asked Abe how the baby was doing. Abe mentioned he was a bit fussy and having some gas and stomach trouble. The ladies quickly said they had something to help. One lady went straight away to the pharmacy next door and returned with a small pink tin with Chinese writing on it. She explained that the bottle of oil inside should be massaged on the baby’s tummy. She stroked her hands in the air showing Abe how to do it, “down” she said. I was a bit reluctant to try it but after an evening of constant crying I gave in. The oil had a strong menthol smell, reminding me of Icey Hot. We put a couple of drops on, massaged it in and it did seem to work a bit. It just felt nice to do something. Later on that week we heard from an American friend at church that he was given some Chinese oil for a sore back shortly after arriving to Hong Kong. He agreed that his oil had a menthol smell as well. He also told us that it contained fox urine. I’m still hoping ours was a bit different. 🙂

A week or so later at church our Chinese pastor told us that he heard Wesley was having some stomach trouble. He explained that they use something with ginger that can help if ingested by the mother. I thought he mentioned it being a tea but I must have been mistaken. Pastor and his wife came over for dinner soon after our discussion and they brought the ‘ginger remedy’. It was a large glass jar with a dark liquid inside along with chunks of other ‘goodies’. They explained that it has vinegar, pork (PIG FEET!!!) and ginger in it. His wife said that she eats it with rice. It is common for Chinese women to eat this during their confinement period after delivery.

After they left I took a better look inside the jar. I was expecting a foul smell but really it didn’t smell to bad…maybe it was the vinegar overpowering the pork feet. Yes pork feet! I also saw a boiled egg inside as well as large bits of ginger. I left it on the counter unsure if I should put it in the fridge. I wanted to try it but I had to muster up the courage.

After a few days (okay almost a week) I still hadn’t had the courage to try it. Abe mentioned that it should probably be put into the refrigerator. It then stayed in the fridge for another week. I finally took it out and set it on the counter it was now congealed. A day later I took off the lid and now the smell was foul. So…. into the waste bin it went. I got out of trying it! 🙂

An American friend of mine and I did a bit of research for the recipe online and found this traditional soup. See the link here. (Naomi, Lisa Marie…this recipe just might come in handy! hehe) In talking with another new Chinese friend here she confirmed that the soup is very traditional and used after delivery. She also told me that Chinese women refrain from washing their hair for the first month after delivery. The belief behind both this and the mentioned soup is that women after delivery need to add warmth to their bodies. It is amazing the different traditions and ‘remedies’ that each country has. What do you think some of our American traditions are surrounding pregnancy and delivery?


4 thoughts on “Chinese Remedies

  1. Okay…the oil…I have some at home too…here in the States, given by my mother. Needless to say, my mom’s house has the same oil. My mom thinks the oil is like a magic potion…okay, my mom is a Christian too and she doesn’t really believe in magic, but I am sure you know what I mean. My mom puts one bottle of this oil literally in every room in her house so she can reach for it quickly if she needs it. When my mom doesn’t feel well…anything from gas in tummy, to stomach problems, to when she feels fainting…she uses this oil and it works every time. There is another oil and I almost want to say it’s from Jamaica but I could be wrong. The box has a big lion on it. It’s great for bruises and cuts and it stops bleeding right on the spot. Works every time!!!

    Regarding the pig feet/vinegar/ginger soup… Hahaha, Holly, I may be the only Chinese on Earth who HATES it!!! (Okay, so hate is a very strong word, but let’s say I really really dislike the soup.) My mom made it after I had Ari, hoping that I would at least eat the egg. Well, I gagged every time when I looked at that soup. I think I ate the egg and drank a little of the soup just to please my mom since she spent so much time and effort on the whole production. The soup was actually a little sweet, gingery, and not too sour. I didn’t put the soup over rice though. I think you should have put the whole jar in the fridge earlier and you might be able to enjoy it. =) Also, you would need to bring the whole thing back to boil before drinking it. Never drink it cold…it’s the warmth thing after birth that Chinese people believe in.

    So, after I had Ari, my mom made ginger water for me to take a shower/bath. The idea of the ginger water is to warm my body so I wouldn’t catch a cold since I just gave birth. My mom probably bought all the ginger available at the grocery store…no jokes! I think my overly anxious mother (she is known as the “Queen of Anxious” in her family) put way too much ginger in the ginger water. I really thought I was going to die after my first shower/bath at home. The ginger in the water gave out so much burning sensation that I really thought my entire body was on fire. Also, the warm spring day in April didn’t help. After that shower/bath, I pleaded with my mom that I couldn’t use the ginger water any longer. She wasn’t very happy with me at first, but then I never got sick after giving birth to Ari. By the time Eli came along three years later, my mom had totally given up on the ginger water and the pig feet/vinegar/ginger soup. I think she made the pig feet/vinegar/ginger soup for herself and for her friends to celebrate the birth of her grandson. =)

    Regarding hair washing…Hahaha…That was the biggest thing before I went to the hospital to have Ari. My mom said, “You must NOT wash your hair after giving birth or else you’ll catch a cold and it will be very bad for you!!!” Well, I threw up quite badly while I was pushing Ari. I never threw up during my pregnancy and I actually threw up while giving birth. I was told it’s a rare thing but it happened to some people. It was bad because all the puke was all over my hair. Needless to say, I MUST wash my hair after giving birth. I told my mom and she had nothing to say because she agreed my personal hygiene was more important in this case. By the time Eli came, again, my mom gave up on the “must NOT wash your hair after giving birth”, just in case I might puke again. (I didn’t, but I had a C-section with Eli.)

    Oh…another thing…my mom thought it was a bit crazy for the hospital to give me ice chips and jello before/after giving birth…because those are COLD food items. I told her I couldn’t eat anything but only those two things to keep me hydrated. My mom gave up on her position.

    Sorry this is so long, Holly, but I truly hope you enjoy reading it. Seriously, I just laughed so hard after reading your blog because I can totally understand what’s going through your mind and I am a Chinese who was raised in Hong Kong!!! (I don’t mean to laugh at you though. I hope you understand.) Anyway, I don’t know if the oil has fox urine in it. I need to look at my bottle at home for the ingredient and maybe I can tell you later. BTW, there is a balm version for the oil and my mom thinks it’s better…more potent…that’s what she says.

    • Vinny I loved reading your comments! Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. It is so interesting learning of the cultural traditions here! My mother-in-law just came to visit and I think I got her hooked on the Chinese (menthol type) oil! She took home a few bottles. Hope you are well. CBS started back this past week right? A friend gave me the link for the new website. Will try and track with you guys this year and listen to the lectures online. So great! Take care Vinny.

  2. Thank you, Vinny. What fun to read these traditions of the Chinese culture. We have our own, but can’t think of any that even come close. Of course, our American culture is only, what, 350 years, as compared to centuries! One thing I have learned: Asian medicine truly focuses on prevention rather than waiting to treat the symptoms.
    Always fun to read your posts, Holly. See you soon!!

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