Ever wonder why doctors in Thailand seem to prescribe so much medication? Often it’s because patients want it. Nat, however, wants to try traditional home cures first.
Living with only one bathroom can lead to a free-for-all. Especially when it rains. And especially when you live with other Thais. The reason for this is that, when it rains and any one of us gets caught in it, there is a mad rush to take a shower. Imagine a whole family of people racing each other for the bathroom, with perhaps one valiant family member heroically sacrificing him or herself for the good of others.
You see, if you take a hot shower after getting soaked in the rain, you won’t catch cold. I was brought up on this traditional wisdom since goodness knows when, and I have never caught a cold if I immediately showered after getting drenched on my way home.
What people used to do before there were hot water heaters I have no idea, but that isn’t any of my concern. What matters to me is the fact that this works. And, because it works, I will continue to do it even if there is no scientific basis for it.
Apparently Chinese people believe a shower will prevent illness as well, but the only proof I have of this shared belief is the shocked reaction of an American-born Chinese friend who couldn’t understand how I, an educated, Westernised Thai, could do the same things as some of her crazy relations fresh off the boat from Chaozhou.
My grandmother had a cure for sore throats that I used to dread. She would mix some salt with lime juice and then, using her index finger, rub it on the back of my throat. If I managed not to vomit, it sort of worked.
In this age of antibiotics and laser surgery, I still have not found anything that matches the above remedies for the common cold, an illness modern medicine seems unable to thwart.
I take Chinese medicine. I work out, get colonic irrigation and take vitamins. Although I admit that only a proper doctor can set a broken bone, install a stent or surgically remove cancer from one’s body, I also believe in the body’s ability to heal itself, given the proper encouragement like hot showers, hot toddies or Mandl’s paint.
My parents, however, are firm believers in Western pharmaceuticals. They take handfuls of medication every day to control everything from their blood pressure to their bowel movements. After all, why go to a doctor at all unless you get medication at the end of it?
Perhaps I’m being unfair. It’s just that I’ve always wondered why I often leave a doctor’s office in Thailand laden with medication that I don’t take, whether it is Tylenol or antibiotics. Of course some of it is due to the fact that, in Thailand, a doctor will make money from the medication he or she prescribes and unscrupulous medical practitioners will prescribe pharmaceuticals quite liberally, especially when a patient wants to be medicated.
I think this comes from an era when one surrendered responsibility for one’s health to a doctor who would prescribe copious amounts of medicine, not necessarily to cure the client but to satisfy him instead.
But nowadays, we work out, eat right and get enough rest because we are told that our health is our responsibility. So, unless I have something really bad, I’ll try a home remedy first, even my grandmother’s salt and lime cure. For anything worse, I’ll go straight to surgery.
27/06/2011 - 12:55