Monday, March 17, 2014

Adventures at the pharmacy

So lately I have run into one ailment after the next. My boss told me that in Kunming during this time of year, it is really easy to get sick. It would seem that way. She also said that Kunming produces some special medicine that I should try out if I get sick, and I took her advice. I have made a few trips to the pharmacy recently, and I thought I would share some of the things I got, because they are slightly different that what you get in your western pharmacopeia.

Last Friday, I came down with a little cold. I picked up some "Cold Medicine." This medicine is specifically for colds caused by excessive heat in the body. The ingredients include parsnip, dwarf lillyturf root, bitter almond, dried orange peel, and mulberry root bark, among other things. It comes in packets of powder to be mixed with water. The taste is bitter, and seems to help me feel better during the day. 

The next day, I developed a cough, and so I picked up some cough syrup, which also seems to be completely made up of herbal ingredients, including loquat leaf, mulberry root bark, and menthol.

Then to my surprise and dismay, and slight disbelief, my cold had given rise to this earache that I developed, according to the pharmacist. He suggested that I pick up a pack of "Gentian Root to Soothe the Liver." He said the pain in my ear was caused by my liver fire being excessively strong. Again, full of herbs. He also said I should pick up a pack of these mysterious white pills.

So I get all this stuff home, and I am taking these white pills, and I'm like WOW these taste awful. And then I crack open the instruction manual, to find that these pills are definitely not Chinese medicine, and that they are in fact antibiotics. Over the counter antibiotics! This always drives me crazy that you just purchase them like that. Especially given the fact that the pharmacist didn't even bother to tell me what they were, even though I specifically requested no western medicine. I'd been taking them one a day on and off for a while there! Not good! Really not happy about that situation!

So anyways, after like 4 days of this, I have a fully stocked home pharmacy, a lingering cough and a nasty ear infection. In the beginning, this whole getting sick thing was somewhat of a novelty, but now I kind of just wish this earache would go away. I should probably just throw in the towel and go to the doctor, I don't really know what I didn't do that in the first place. But there is a little introduction for you about medicines in China! Cheers, R.