Traditional Remedies


It is always easier to take modern medicine whenever we are not feeling well but we should not ignore the benefits of traditional remedies. Do traditional remedies really work? I know some that really work…

For diarrhoea and vomiting (not due to any serious illnesses), mum would give me strong tea without sugar. Milk should be avoid until I get better. It is hard to drink cups of strong tea but it really works. Mum would also give me isotonic drinks until the diarrhoea/vomiting stops.

Young coconut water is not only tasty but is also very nutritious. Coconut water provides an isotonic electrolyte balance that makes it a good isotonic sport drink. Mum gives me young coconut water to drink whenever I have high fever or food poisoning.

The worst part of having a bad cold is blocked nose. Nowadays we have nasal spray but in the old days mum said that sometimes she could hardly sleep due to blocked nose. She had to use a few pillows to put her head up while sleeping until a close, dear friend of hers advised her to tie a piece of cloth tightly around her head until she hears a ‘pop’ sound. And it works!

Young coconut water, tea, honey and cloves are some of the items used in traditional remedies

Young coconut water, tea, honey and cloves are some of the items used in traditional remedies

Mum keeps a jar of coffee powder not only for making coffee but also for emergency uses. If she  hurts her finger while preparing a meal etc, she’ll use the coffee powder to stop the bleeding and it also helps to heal the wound.

Honey is full of goodness and is an excellent source of instant energy. If I have a sore throat or a cough, mum will gives me some honey mixed with lemon or lime juice to drink. It will really makes me feel better.

My dear grandfather taught my mum of another traditional remedy for cough. Mix some cooked rice with water and rock sugar; rest the mixture for a few hours before drinking. Another traditional remedy is tamarind mixed with rock sugar. Traditionally it should be left outside to collect the dewdrops but mum just let it rest for the night in the kitchen.

Water mixed with salt can relief a mild tooth and gum ache. Crushed clove can also be used for a relief  for tooth ache.

In Malaysian cooking, we use mortar and pastel to pound chilli and how it really hurts even if only a tiny drop accidentally splashes to ones eye (while pounding the chilli). It is believed that if the chilli got into ones right eye, rub the eye using the left knee and use the right knee for the left eye. I asked mum if it really works and mum said there is no harm in trying.

I agree with mum that we should learn more about traditional remedies. In fact we should learn more about the benefits of our herbs, plants and trees.


Mangosteen


Wow! The fruit season is back! I just love this time of the year when I can enjoy all kinds of fruits; some of which are not available through out the year. And what an awesome sight it is to see fruits of different shapes and colours being sold all around Kuala Lumpur – mangosteen, durian, rambutan, duku, dokong … just name it!

I really love the mangosteen! Although its name is MANGOsteen, it has no relation to mango. This exotic fruit is also known as ‘The Queen of Tropical Fruits’. It was believed that mangosteen was originated from the Sunda Island and the Moluccas and later on was brought to Thailand and Burma before being planted in other parts of the world.

The exocarp (the outermost layer of the fruit) of juvenile mangosteen first appear very pale green or almost white before its colour changes to a darker shade of green and upon ripening the colour changes to reddish purple and finally to dark purple. One can tell precisely the number of segments of the white edible endocarp (the part that wraps the seed) inside the mangosteen even before opening the fruit. At the bottom end of the fruit, there is a type of flower shaped scar which number of petals is similar to the number of segments (of the white flesh) inside the mangosteen.

The white flesh of mangosteen is very tasty and can be described as sweet, tasty and citrusy with peach flavour and texture. Mangosteen is not only tasty but is also full of vitamins and minerals. Mangosteen is very rich in anti-oxidant which can lower the risk of human diseases. It is also rich in vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, potassium, iron and calcium. Test tube studies proved that mangosteen contains xonthones (anti-cancer effects), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic. The rind of mangosteen can help to stop diarrhea, bladder infections, gonorrhea, skin rashes and cooling effects.

This exotic fruit is very expensive when available outside its tropics. Nowadays we can have mangosteen juice, mangosteen jam, frozen mangosteen and canned mangosteen apart from the fresh fruit. I’ve never heard of  mangosteen juice until Sept 2006 when we saw a huge billboard advertising the juice in Kalamazoo. And when mum pointed at the billboard I was speechless… What? Mangosteen juice? In America?

Anyway I just realised that I’ve never tried mangosteen picking… Mum said that atuk has some mangosteen trees in his orchard but I’ve never been there yet. May be one day I should make a visit to the orchard and try mangosteen picking.