Asian Girl Problem #89: Cough Voodoo

If I hadn’t moved to America and stayed to pursue a career in China, I probably would’ve granted my parents’ wishes and became a doctor. Because back there, Eastern and Western medicine are equally valued at most large medical institutions, and I’ve always been fascinated with the former. The concepts of qi, yin-yang, the meridian network, herbal medicine–grow up seeing your grandma scraping her skin with buffalo horn and pots of undecipherable twigs on stovetop rotation, and you become a believer. Bottom line, that stuff works.

My parents would much sooner give me bitter potions (even if they made me throw up) and acupressure than painkillers. They weren’t hot on the idea of vaccinations, which worked out for my five-year-old self, who wasn’t hot on needles. Will I drop dead from Tetnus one day, like my doctors warn, or have I built up an uber immune system? Will a Malaria mosquito bite me in the ass for not getting any of the recommended vaccinations prior to visiting Southeast Asia? Most people tell me it’s only a matter of time.

Invincibility complex aside, I take traditional Chinese medicine all the time. Just for coughs alone, these are the remedies that hold a special place in my heart.

Yum: Honey Loquot Syrup. Like my favorite cough drops, liquified in to a thick, sweet paste. Not the most effective for long-term coughs, but with a medicine that could also double for pancake syrup and triple as a cocktail mixer, you’re getting a bargain.

Yum: African Underwater Sea Coconut. If you’ve ever wanted to swallow your mouthwash, this is the best. A thin syrup that leaves you cool and tingly all the way down, and has a picture of what looks like a hairy butt on the package to boot. Also winner of the best name, though there’s nothing in it that even resembles an African ingredient.

Yuck: Tan Ke Jing Cough/Phlegm Powder. The dubious-looking little tin has a tiny spoon in it, which you use to place dabs of the white powder at the back of your throat. And then you’re supposed to hold it there for as long as possible for it to take affect. This is the motherfucker of cough remedies. In return for tasting like the devil’s dandruff, it will cure everything wrong with your throat.


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