USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘herbal remedy’
Folk medicine
Homeopathic

Peppermint Oil Remedy

The informant is marked EL. I am CS. She shared with me a few forms of folk medicine practices she has learned over the years.

 

CS: “Any other folk medicine you can think of?”

EL: “Yeah we also did this one that helps with anxiety. I think it is Peppermint essential oil that does the trick.”

CS: “How long have you been doing it for?”

ET: “Whenever I’m stressed my mom makes me do it, so yeah…it’s been a while.”

CS: “Does your entire family follow this folk remedy?”

ET: “Definitely, we all do this one. It’s nice to do before like a test or something to detox after. It helps kinda clear and cleanse your mind.”

 

Context:

Met for coffee to record her different encounters with folk medicine and remedies.

Background:

ET is a first year student at The University of Southern California. She was raised in Dallas, Texas.

 

Analysis:

I thought this remedy was not only interesting but something I personally would love to try. There is nothing too odd about it, and it seems very likely to work. It would be interesting to research and try to discover other similar essential oils and if they have different effects than peppermint.

 

 

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Foodways

Chinese Cooling Tea

Contextual Data: I came home to my roommate boiling this loose-leaf tea on the stove. It was unlike most teas that I had seen before — there seemed to be sticks and roots poking out of it and it was almost an opaque black. She mentioned that it was a kind of herbal remedy and I asked her to explain to me a bit more about what it was and where she learned about it and why she was drinking it. The following is a transcript of her response.

“So what it is, is just this concoction of, like, all these different roots and herbs and dried things… I dunno, but after you—they’re, like, dried and aged and after you boil it in hot water for, like, uh, maybe like…just until it boils. Maybe like thirty minutes. It turns into this really weird black concoction and then it comes in, like…uh, different bitterness. So like the bitterer—the more bitter and more, like, black it is, the better it is for you. And then there are also, like, the really, like, light ones that you just put like sugar in and it tastes just like a sugary herbal tea drink. And then, um… So what it’s called trans—directly translated into English is called ‘cooling tea.’ And… um…So cooling tea. It comes from this whole theory in China—in Chinese. We just believe that there’s like a yin and a yang to everything that you eat. So we think that, um, that there’s things that are really hot and there’s things that are really cool. And then, um, if you have too many hot things you’ll, like, have—break out in acne, you’ll get a sore throat, and then you’ll get sick. And if you have too many cool things, then also bad things will happen to you. I dunno what, though. And so, and there’s also things like, because my mom made a lot of cool things when I was, like—when she was pregnant with me. Lots of like watermelons, and cucumbers are cool, and like Korean pears are cool. And then like chocolate and deep fried things and stuff would be like hot things. And like mangoes would be hot. So I have a cool base inside of me, so I can eat a lot of hot things and I’ll still be okay. But then if your mom ate a lot of hot things when you were… she was pregnant with you…and then you have a hot base, and then you can’t—you have to eat like a lot of cool things to like counteract that. So it’s just this whole balance between it. And so this cool—this cooling tea is just when I think I have like a sore throat or I just feel like… [Laughs.] There is really no scientific background to it. But I—and I’m like pre-med so I believe in science, but I also believe in this, ‘cause after I drink it I feel a lot better. I guess it’s like placebo effect, but I get—I feel a lot better after I drink this, uh, black herbal tea.”

End Transcript – 

My informant did a fairly thorough job of explaining the significance of this herbal remedy. It is interesting to note that as a pre-Med student, she values science and scientific proof for different practices, but that she does still believe in the tea as a type of medicine, which can point to the either the value of the placebo effect or the fact that while herbal remedies may not have any scientific backing, they can still be valid and useful. The fact that it does seem to work is a big part of the reason why her family taught it to her and why she still makes it and drinks it.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Foodways

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

This folklore was collected from my friend who practices acupuncture and uses herbal medicine instead of drugs. It has to do with her culture as a Taiwanese-American. She learned the practice from her father. The practice is important to her because not only is it a large part of her culture as an alternative medicine that originated from Asia, but it is also important because it is a way that she can help other people develop good health. To her, it is a way of embracing her individuality and her culture while being utilitarian. We were talking about the concept of balance within the body one day after learning about how the body balances its own changes to ensure that the body will be able to survive. She brought up how acupuncture uses another standard to determine the state of illness and uses less unnatural means of treating disease.

According to her, disease is not specifically caused by the diseases that people normally suffer from. Instead they suffer from an imbalance of qi in their body, which is wreaking havoc on the internal balance that is usually present. People are a balance of yin, yang, and the five traditional elements of fire, water, wood, metal, and earth. When there is a buildup of one that affects the body, the qi loses its effectiveness in flowing throughout the body. That then causes the illnesses which people identify through the symptoms of the patient and their pulse. When qi is stagnant and is not flowing readily through the body, which poses a serious risk. As a result, acupuncturists will use needles in order to stimulate the acupuncture points. Qi is said to flow in channels along the body with a large number of accompanying and interconnected acupuncture points. In stimulating specific acupuncture points, a specific area of the body will be affected and allow the qi to flow properly. The proper points must be stimulated, however. According to the speaker, by stimulating the wrong points at the same time, there could be much more massive harm done to the ill person. This is why during headaches, it is recommended to not rub the center of your forehead. There is a pressure point there, but that is along a meridian that is very influential on your health. Stimulating that specific pressure point by rubbing it or tapping on it will only make it worse. Stimulating the acupuncture points on the side of the head are usually more effective because they help to relieve the stagnating qi flow and balance out the elements within the body.

Acupuncture is not the only way to healing illnesses. Usually, more often than not, food can also help heal the illnesses without requiring acupuncture. Along with poor qi flow within the body, are also external factors such as temperature and humidity. For example, when the body is too hot, which is indicated through fever, redness, swelling, and other such symptoms, the body must be cooled with a food item that has the innate property of coldness such as peony. In counter balancing the elements that are in disharmony, the body will eventually recover and will no longer be ill. In this way, bodies that are suffering from cold must be warmed with something hot. Something that is chill will be cured with something warm. There must be great caution not to be excess, or the body will again be imbalanced and a new illness will erupt. Perhaps the most common herb is ginseng. It is widely acknowledged as a powerful medicine. It has wide effects, and is known as a warm herb. It will cause an increase in energy, blood flow, and is widely good for health. The meridian it stimulates helps regulate qi flow as well. However, in excess, its medicinal properties are too strong, and it will be dangerous for the health to continue taking it. In most cases, acupuncture and traditional medicine will go together to work in unison to help cure the problem. Acupuncture places a burden on an ill person especially since it involves regulating qi flow. If the qi flow changes very suddenly, then it can be dangerous to the person’s health. As a result, by using food along with less intensive acupuncture, the person will more naturally adapt to the change and be much healthier. Adding yin to excess yang and adding yang to excess yin is one of the fundamentals. Balancing fire, water, earth, wood, and metal with their respective counter elements is also an essential part of this. When the cycle continues naturally, then the person will be at optimal health.

These are holistic forms of medicine and curing disease. Although they are not “proven” because they use Eastern ideas instead of western, they still provide means of providing aid for people. By balancing out their internal state, they will find true harmony within themselves and be at peace. They will no longer be ill through this curing of the body’s ills.

I find the concept of acupuncture very interesting. I do find that it is effective, having undergone it myself. It is also important as an Asian cultural practice. It reveals another way of looking at medicine instead of being limited to one way in particular. In doing so, it opens up the possibilities that a better cure will be found for diseases that are known and present. While listening to her explanation, it seemed to make sense. In a sense, it is a cultural legacy that is passed on from generation to generation. The Asian people are indicated to be very in touch with nature through this particularly because the concepts of the body and the natural occurrences of illness are all linked to natural elements of the earth. In maintaining harmony within the body with the elements and outside of it, then everything has met its equilibrium point. It is an indicator that people are constantly searching for harmony in their lives. Without it, people find that they are ill and need to regain that inner balance.

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