I’ve been thinking about wellness and how people try to cure illnesses ever since that lecture a few nights ago. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about it because of the various home remedies associated with stories I’ve heard. Here’s a brief list:
1) Vapo Rub—I don’t know if it’s the case in all communities, but in the heavily Latino community where I was raised Vapoh Roob (as it is pronounced) is the ointment of the gods. While it is often used in the ways recommended by the distinctive blue container (i.e., for relief of muscles aches and coughing by either direct application and inhalation), in my neighborhood, Vapoh Roob is also believed be an effective treatment for chapped lips, eye sties, and for those who don’t really have asthma, but whose parents think they should just generally have clearer nasal passages. My poor friend William says of his excessive exposure to Vapoh Roob, “I’m the only 36-year-old Cuban I know who doesn’t have chest hair. My mom must’ve burnt off the follicles with the Vapoh Roob.”
2) Roasted Tomatoes—Apparently, the way to a person’s lungs is through their feet. Several friends have had large slices of freshly roasted tomato placed on the soles of their bare feet. The remedy is said to cure sore throats and respiratory illnesses.
3) Cow Manure—When she was a girl, a woman I know had her hair cut short by her mother, in an attempt to spite her father (who loved his daughter’s long hair) for some unknown reason. To get the mother back, the father shaved his daughter’s head. The mother greatly lamented her daughter’s loss, but quickly decided on a home remedy—cow manure. She smothered the girl’s bald head in cow manure and sat the girl in the sun for a few hours. It is unclear if the home remedy worked the, but the girl eventually got her hair back, and now, in her 70s enjoys a full head of hair. I call her Chia Head (but not often and not to her face).
4) Egg Cleansing—One of the thing curanderas use in order to cure some ailments is an egg cleansing. My understanding is that they move the egg around the afflicted person in an attempt to remove any of the bad energy, spirits, call it what you want, that are making the person ill. If you then crack the egg and pour its contents into a cup, the appearance of an amorphous shape signals you are cured. The appearance of a church-like image means you’re supposed to hurry off to the nearest house of worship and start praying. A friend tells the story that her two-year-old brother had seen such cleansings performed so often in his house that one day, when he had a headache, he walked to refrigerator, pulled out an egg, and waved it around his head. Don’t know if it worked, but he feels well today and is glad there are no pictures of his exploits.
5) Iodine Soaked Chicken Feather. Supposedly, soaking a chicken feather in iodine and then rubbing the soaked chicken feather down the throat and alongside the tonsils helps treat sore throats, strep throats, and other trachial ailments. From the sound of it, it must somehow also treat the gag reflex.
© Laura Genao 2006