Gargling saltwater

Genre: customary lore

Category: folk medicine

Collection date: Apr.21st, 2022

Main piece:  

“Gargling salt water is a habit that keeps you healthy, just like brushing teeth. Salt can be used to kill bacteria. You use it to cure meet. Therefore, gargling salt water can clean your teeth and mouth and throat.”

Contextual data:

Social context:

The informant learned this lore from her father when she was in high school. It is a personal habit and family tradition kept since then.”

Cultural context:

The informant is Chinese. Her family is from Shanghai, China. 

Informant’s comment: 

“My family taught me, so I learned it. I think it is effective. I was having a toothache, I kept gargling saltwater for a while, and the pain was gone. Then it became a habit. Every morning and night I would gaggle saltwater when I brush my teeth.”

My comment: 

This is folklore that I’ve seen in both Chinese and western cultures. It makes me wonder how this folklore emerged and if there is a single origin for this tradition. It is commonly seen in news articles about health and wellbeing.