Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 5 – Ancient Asian Secret

Visit the sick, and you will heal yourself.
The ill person may be a Sufi master,
And your kindness will be repaid in wisdom.
Even if the sick person is your enemy,
You will still benefit,
For kindness has the power to transform
Sworn enemies into firm friends.
And if there is no healing of bad feeling,
There certainly will be less ill will,
Because kindness is the greatest of all balms.

Natural health was always taught to me by mum. She had the strangest cures and the greatest knowledge. She was never afraid to try something new if it was a natural remedy.
Growing up, there was the big bottle of Japanese medicine…otherwise known as the rabbit poo medicine. We called it that because it looked like little rabbit pellets and smelled like ick. Thankfully it did not contain rabbit feces, that I know of. It was used to cure any ills from stomach aches to fever to anything else that was wrong. I can still picture where it was located on the shelf of my parent’s closet and the feeling of dread when I had to get the bottle. Recently, I found out that my dear friend in college whose mother is Korean also had the rabbit poo medicine growing up and his grandfather who is a medicine man still makes it.

I recall an episode where mum was staying on top of health by taking a spoonful everyday of a concoction she had made. She minced up garlic and mixed it with honey and kept it in a cream Tupperware container. As a hungry kid, I would venture into the fridge looking for nosh and would forget about what was in that Tupperware until I opened it and got hit in the face with a horrid smell. She didn’t take this concoction for a long time but it sure seemed like it lasted forever in the fridge.

Green tea was a staple in our house and still is in my own home today. It still is the best cure for stomachaches and overeating. It also helps with homework as there is nothing better than having a hot cup sitting by as you are studying.

Mum also dabbled in acupuncture. Japan has acupuncture needles attached to Band-Aid like patches although the needles aren’t as long as one’s in an acupuncturist’s office. I was having pains and I can’t remember where exactly but the origin was in my hand. I remember the actual pain site was far from it but the meridian pointed towards a spot on the back of my hand. She had a chart that would dictate where to put the needle. She followed the location on my hand and went to put the Band-Aid needle on my skin. Unfortunately she hit a nerve instead and it hurt! She quickly found the right spot and it did help. I still have a few of the needles (which are maybe a centimeter long) but without the chart I’m at a loss as to where to stick the needle. It seems crazy that you can purchase acupuncture at the drugstore but that’s the American in me. I wish I had studied acupuncture but unfortunately there aren’t schools located nearby.

Health is such an aspect of Japanese culture that many products are geared for improving vitality. Mom had outdoor sandals that had nubs where the foot rests. They stimulated acupressure points along the feet but if you weren’t prepared for it they were pretty sore shoes to wear. If they were the only shoes available to step outside I had to deal with the discomfort but it never lasted long. Sometimes I would purposely pick those shoes to wear.

Mum also loved vinegar for its many health advantages. Along with food preparation, she used vinegar to prevent foot issues, bug bites and heat rashes. My poor son was the recipient of vinegar therapy and many other natural therapies as I inherited mum’s love of natural healing. His favorite tale is my adventure with spirulina. I purchased a bottle of this dark green powder and read that it can be mixed with juice. We had a burgundy colored fruit juice so for dinner I mixed a spoonful of spirulina. Being algae, it didn’t mix well and coagulated alongside the edge of the glass mimicking a swamp pond. Since this bottle wasn’t cheap I didn’t want to waste any of it so I went out and got capsules since the juice wasn’t working so well. I elected my son to help me fill these capsules which wasn’t an easy task. (I recently did the same with bee pollen but this time I found a device that is made to fill the capsules…who knew they made such things!) He also went through a natural remedy for attention deficit disorder that he was diagnosed with. There is still quite a look of disgust on his face when he thinks about taking the spoonful of the horrid orange mixture that was called Kidalin….herbal Ritalin. I suppose the rabbit poo medicine experience lives on to the next generation!

Recently I watched a show on eating disorders and a cure was to approach food as medicine and to take the appropriate dose for what is needed. I realized that mum’s approach to natural health was the same and I adore that ingrained within me is this approach to illness. Western medicine has its place but is challenging at best and I like the Eastern medical philosophy that mum instilled in us. It may not be as pleasant but it sure makes me feel better knowing what is going into my body.

So many thanks, Mum, for a lifelong gift.

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