Arak to cure a stomach ache

L is 20 years old and a student at USC. She grew up in Michigan, but spent most summers in Lebanon with family. Her dad grew up in Lebanon and immigrated to the United States in his early 20s, and her mom grew up in the United States in a Lebanese immigrant family.

L and I were sitting a coffee shop talking about all of the homeopathic remedies our parents taught us for curing ailments and she shared a Lebanese one with me; she said that if you have a stomach ache you can pour arak (Lebanese liquor/moonshine) on a towel and put that over your stomach to make you feel better.

L learned this from her mom and dad, who learned it from their parents and other family members that grew up in Lebanon or grew up around Lebanese Culture.

L doesn’t necessarily believe that it works, but it was a big part of her childhood and she has strong memories of her mom telling her to do it whenever she had a stomach ache.

What interests me the most about this folk remedy is that L didn’t really have any idea how it was supposed to work, but knew that it was widely-practiced by people in her community and in her culture. While she was talking about it, I could see that L was a bit confused herself as to why she so easily believed it to be a natural course of action when one had a stomach ache. It certainly speaks to the power that folk remedies can hold through generations; so much so that even though more recent generations may not have any reason to believe it will work, they’re still ready and willing to practice it.