We love international food. Dishes from around the globe are common in even the most Americanized restaurants, and many foods have been co-opted by leading supermarket processed food brands to the point we don’t even recognize their international origins (Doritos, anyone?). But as much as we love food from exotic places, many of us have little knowledge of—or experience with—folk medicines from those same regions. We still often turn to Americanized factory pharmaceuticals to heal or treat even the most mild health issues.
But just as international foods highlight the magic of certain ingredients from varying regions, folkloric medicine from those areas can be just as powerful. Here are a few noteworthy folk remedies from around the world.
- Japan: Ginger and lemon tea for cold/flu. This one is fairly popular among Westerners, and for good reason. It can ease symptoms of congestion, aches and pains, and nausea. Grate about 2 inches of fresh ginger root and boil in 1 cup of water for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Squeeze in a fresh lemon and sweeten with honey.
- Germany: Apple cider vinegar for sunburn relief. I remember my parents using this one as my sister as a kid. She used to burn pretty bad. Even though vinegar may sting initially, it can drastically reduce the burning feeling because of its alkalinity. Use a cotton swab to dab vinegar on a burn or add a few cups to a cool bath and soak in it. Russians also use this method to decrease fevers.
- South Africa: Honey and cinnamon for acne relief. Cinnamon is a potent anti-inflammatory (in the body as well). Applied with honey, which has healing, antibacterial and potent moisturizing abilities, this mixture can relieve redness and itchiness as well as speed acne blemish healing. Mix 2 tablespoons of pure, raw honey with 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. Apply to affected area and leave on overnight (sleep on a towel).
- Indonesia: Train track cure. Here’s one you might not want to try unless all else fails. According to io9, the electric shocks generated from railroad tracks seem to have curative properties. So, Indonesians with ailments ranging from a cold or flu to cancer can be seen laying on railroad tracks.
- Finland: Black currant juice for respiratory infections. If you’re sniffling or wheezing in Finland, don’t be surprised if someone pours you a glass of black currant juice. The vitamin-C rich berries are believed to help reduce the symptoms of stuffiness connected with cold and flu.
- Peru: Ayahuasca for many ailments. The highly psychoactive combination of two South American jungle plants in a brew called ayahuasca is revered for its spiritual benefits as well as its physical. A strong purgative, people suffering from ailments as serious as cancer have sought out this remedy treasured by cultures in the region for centuries.
- Native Americans: Boneset tea for flu. One of the most common remedies used by several native tribes, tea made from boneset was valued for its abilities to reduce fever, decrease stomach discomfort and general aches and pains.
- India: Turmeric for diarrhea. This curry essential is now being widely embraced by the planet for its potent anti-inflammatory benefits from heart disease to arthritis and more. But you’ll also see it delivered for quick relief from diarrhea (good to know if you’re traveling to India where many Americans suffer from digestive issues). Mix a bit of ground turmeric with water, milk or juice or take in capsule form.
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